If you have heard of leaky gut, chances are that you have dealt with a host of stomach and/or intestinal issues and you’re looking for a way to get your gut health back under control. What you may not be aware of, however, is the link between your gut health, your immunity, and autoimmune conditions. Often, those of us with stomach issues could also be dealing with a number of other conditions as well, that could very well be stemming from one essential problem: leaky gut. I want to talk about what leaky gut is, what it has been connected to, how we can go about healing leaky gut naturally, and in the process, heal other issues going on within our bodies.
What leaky gut is
Leaky gut deals with toxins in our stomachs literally leaking into the rest of our body, causing a whole host of other issues. The obvious conditions are digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. But it can also cause other problems like headaches, fatigue, and even things like urinary tract infections. While medical professionals debate existence of what we are calling leaky gut, one thing is for sure: a healthy gut is essential for a healthy immune system, and without a healthy immune system, we often develop tons of other problems and even autoimmune diseases.
Leaky gut and autoimmunity
There are a variety of health professionals out there that believe that leaky gut/gut health and autoimmunity are undeniably linked, and often do not exist without each other. These autoimmune conditions include thyroid diseases, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, alopecia and a number of others. If you are interested in learning more about the connection between gut health and autoimmunity, I suggest reading Dr. Amy Meyer’s article here.
What is important to note is this: leaky gut can cause inflammation and a symptom of autoimmune disease is also inflammation. Inflammation is our body’s response to toxicity and invaders in attempts to expel them from the body. In today’s world, we are exposed to so many toxins that many are living in an almost perpetual state of inflammation, bringing rise to the massive prevalence of autoimmune diseases that exists and is growing.
Understanding inflammation and its role in leaky gut is key to treating both naturally.
Causes of leaky gut
There are many suspected causes of leaky gut that lower our immunity and therefore cause autoimmune conditions. Processed and sugary foods are on the top of many lists, and that includes this one! These foods can contribute to the overgrowth of toxic bacteria in our stomach that cause problems.
Other known causes are alcohol consumption (I have noticed an huge effect when I drink high sugar alcohols like white wine) and the exposure to other various toxins. That doesn’t mean we cannot still manage leaky gut if we consume these things, however. In many of my posts, I do touch on the importance of diet and will be continuously adding ways we can slowly but surely change/substitute certain toxic foods in our diets, or at least reduce our consumption of them, but for the sake of this post, I am going to simply touch on causes and leave it at that!
So knowing all of this, what are some ways we can heal leaky gut naturally?
How to heal leaky gut naturally
Understanding what leaky gut is, what causes it, and what results from it is crucial in understanding how to heal it. Here are some relatively known and unknown remedies:
Many of us are aware of the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics contain microorganisms that help restore the balance of healthy bacteria in your stomach necessary for optimal functioning. What is really important to note, however, is the amount of strains of different bacteria they contain and the amount (in billions) of cultures that a particular probiotic contains. If you are dealing with gut issues, I have found that anything under 50-100 billion live cultures doesn’t really do the trick. Additionally, it is really important to get probiotics that have about 10 strains of bacteria or more in order to really get gut health back in line. While probiotics can get expensive, I notice a HUGE difference when I take ones that are sufficiently potent. I have linked my review of the best probiotics here.
Spirulina algae has been found to support healthy bacteria growth similar to probiotics. It also helps fight inflammation, which is great because it is fighting our stomach problems on two fronts. Spirulina is great to add to smoothies or even a salad.
3. Chlorella Powder
Chlorella is another algae that is gaining more and more recognition lately. What is great about chlorella is that it helps rid the body of toxins that are causing our leaky gut and inflammaton issues. I usually put it in my morning smoothie right behind the spirulina (more about my morning smoothie below).
4. Ginger and Turmeric roots
Ginger not only helps with digestion but also helps with inflammation. Turmeric is also great for inflammation. There are many people who take these things in pill form, but I try to go right to the source by adding it into juices, smoothies, or boiling it with tea.
5. Beet Juice
I am not a fan of beets, so I juice them for their benefits and I notice better digestive health the next day. I feel cleaner in my stomach after drinking them. You can certainly eat them or add them to a smoothie, but however you get it done, make sure you get them into your diet one way or another. And don’t be alarmed when you’re seeing red in the toilet the next day- that is totally normal and nothing to be alarmed about!
Beets are great for digestion and blood sugar. I don’t suggest buying beet juice from the store, however, because most juices come with added sugars, which are counterproductive to healing our gut health.
6. Collagen Powder
I haven’t found too many sources for collagen powders benefits for leaky gut, but some sources suggest that it may heal the breaks in the intestines that are allowing toxins to escape. I still take it anyway for its benefits with skin, joints and bones.
MOST IMPORTANT FOR IMMEDIATE DIGESTIVE RELIEF: APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
I know. It is terrible to think about drinking apple cider vinegar. And if you have already, you know it isn’t great. My husband gags when he watches ME drink it! But I have to honestly tell you that I don’t really see much work as fast and as well as a shot of ACV mixed with water (and chased down with water.)
Apple cider vinegar helps control blood sugar, fights harmful gut bacteria and possibly inflammation and a TON of other things. I have even seen my tummy flatten our from daily use of ACV.
It is recommended that you get ACV with “mother” in it, as it is said to be the most beneficial and effective.
Putting this all together
I know it may seem like I just talked about a whole bunch of things you need to do with your diet, but the truth is, you can incorporate almost all of this into one 20 minute routine: a morning smoothie.
My morning smoothie has become sacred to me and I feel the difference when I don’t have them.
This is what I include in my morning smoothies:
–Coconut water (for the potassium and better flavor over regular water)
–Spinach (because sometimes I feel like I don’t get enough veggies in my day)
–Ginger and turmeric roots (just a thumb nail amount with the skin cut off- if ginger or turmeric is not available at your local grocery store, you can always try powder form)
-Spirulina, chlorella and collagen powders (just the recommended amount on the package)
–Frozen berries (usually a mix of blueberries and strawberries, as I love their flavor and they have a ton of antioxidant and other nutritional benefits)
–Triple Zero Greek yogurt (Optional) yogurt has great digestive benefits but I add it for the protein as my smoothie is my only breakfast.
I blend them all together and that is it! This may seem like a lot but when you realize you are only spending 20 minutes to make something that actually tastes really good and you start to feel really good, too, you will become a believer!
**For more awesome smoothie ideas, go here.
Note: I drink my shot of ACV at night and make a beet juice with my juicer a couple times a week.
I hope these natural remedies to heal leaky gut and manage autoimmune conditions help you the way they have helped me. Leave comments below to let me know which of these natural remedies have helped you!