Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut

Chiropractic Beaver Dam WI Leaky Gut

Today health care professionals are understanding how leaky gut affects your overall health, and today I want to help you understand it too. In the last article about inflammation I promised you I would explain Leaky Gut…. and here it is!

What is Leaky Gut?

In order to understand leaky gut, you should first know the basics on how a normal gut functions. Any interruptions to “normal” processes can begin to cause problems. Our digestive system starts with your mouth. We chew our food to start the process of breaking it down. For proper digestion, you should be chewing your food until it is close to a liquid consistency in your mouth. After you have chewed your food, you swallow it and it ends up in your stomach where your stomach acid breaks down your food even further. If you haven’t thoroughly chewed your food, you are causing your stomach to do more work than it was designed for. Overtaxing the stomach may cause symptoms such as acid reflux, or can cause the stomach to dump food into the small intestine without being properly broken down.

The small intestine is where a majority of our nutrients are absorbed through the gut wall and into our bloodstream to be transported to where they’re needed. All of the nutrients we need throughout our body depend on the small intestine for proper absorption. Anything that cannot be absorbed by the small intestine continues into the large intestine where water is taken out of the food to become a solid stool. We then eliminate the stool from the body.

When a person has a leaky gut, the majority of the dysfunction occurs in their intestines. The small and large intestines are made of tiny portals that small nutrients pass through to get into the bloodstream. Our body needs those to pass all the good things we consume as part of our healthy diet where it is needed. When the system is stressed these portals can be stretched, allowing other particles of food into the bloodstream that are not meant to be there. This is where the term “Leaky Gut” comes from.

How does our Body Respond?

Our immune system realizes there is a problem and kicks in to fight these particles that are not meant to be in our bloodstream. The immune system fights by causing inflammation, which signals the body to send healing cells. (This is the same response that works to fight a sprained ankle or cut into your skin. Once the particles are removed from the bloodstream and eliminated, the inflammation goes away and the immune system returns to normal.

That is the optimal function of a healthy gut. However, in many people with leaky gut, the system does not balance to normal and the inflammation remains constant. They have to figure out what is causing their leaky gut, and then fix it before the inflammation will go away. Inflammation from leaky gut presents differently in everyone. People assume that gut problems cause stereotypical problems such as constipation, diarrhea or gas, and it can. It can also cause Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, but the disease is not limited to the gut. One person may experience achy joints and headaches while another person will experience fatigue and allergies. The inflammation causing these symptoms most likely is coming from the gut.

What Causes a Leaky Gut?

There are a multitude of things that can cause a person to have leaky gut. The main cause of leaky gut is a poor diet. Pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals used in our food are never meant to enter the body. The body considers them foreign substances and the gut does not know how to digest these chemicals. The majority of packaged and processed foods have these chemicals. Also non-organic fruits and vegetables have these chemicals as well. Any meat that does not say “pasture raised” or “grass fed” also has chemicals in them.

Two hundred years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1970, we ate 123 pounds of sugar per year. Today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. Sugar is inflammatory to our bodies. The inflammation caused by sugar will stretch the portals that transfer nutrients allowing bigger particles through. Sugar is 10 times more addictive than cocaine. That is why it is in a multitude of packaged foods. It keeps you coming back to that same food. The answer is not to switch to artificial sweeteners. They too cause leaky gut. The body does not identify artificial sweeteners as food and therefore doesn’t know what to do with it, instigating an inflammatory response.

American adults on average are on 7 medications at once in their lifetime.Leaky gut can also be a side effect of medication. The side effect isn’t often listed as leaky gut, but as ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain.

Sleep is also an important factor when talking about leaky gut. Sleep is when our bodies heal. If you do not get an adequate amount of sleep, 7 to 10 hours per night, you are not giving our body that time to heal, making your leaky gut worse.

Who can get Leaky Gut?

If you guessed everyone, you’re correct. Even children can have leaky gut. Children’s digestive systems are not fully developed until the age of 2. That is why babies start out on breast milk or formula before switching to more solid foods. (All formulas are not created equal, and must be chosen carefully if for any reason breast milk is not available.)

In our culture, the “go to” start for baby food tends to be cheerios or cereal. Many of them contain gluten. Gluten is a large protein and can be rough on a digestive tract that is not fully developed. Also, wheat is one of the top ranked crops for pesticide use.

Another large molecule is corn. If you ever look at baby formula, corn syrup or corn syrup solids tend to be close to the top of the ingredient list, so those may be difficult for some baby’s to digest. So is milk the answer? No, dairy also has large molecules in it because milk from a cow is meant to grow a cow, not a human. Our digestive systems aren’t able to process these large molecules at any age in our lifetime which can lead to leaky gut.

As you can see, leaky gut can begin during childhood, or can develop as an adult. It is safe to say that most people have some stage of leaky gut due to our american lifestyles.

Can Leaky Gut be Reversed?

The good news is Leaky Gut is reversible. Once you eliminate processed foods and start eating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and pasture raised meat, the gut is able to repair itself. Oftentimes, changing your diet can help decrease the amount of medications you’re taking. Getting on a sleep routine where you can get 7-10 hours of sleep will speed up the healing process. There are also supplements to help decrease acid reflux, decrease inflammation in the gut, and ones that can help shrink those portals back to their original size.

For the patients we see at the office, chiropractic and cold lasers are great ways to begin your return to health and wellness. To further increase your health and to begin to heal your leaky gut, personalized nutritional counseling is the next step. If you are interested, but aren’t sure where to start, give our office a call. We can schedule you for a nutritional consultation to design a personalized plan to start healing your gut that works with your lifestyle. It’s just a simple call to get you started on your health journey. The first step is the hardest. Once you begin on the road to wellness, the rewards make the journey so worth the trip!