The intestinal walls are one of the most important barriers between the outside world and our inner body. Just like the skin, the intestines are very selective to what molecules are allowed in and keeping everything else out – a function that is super important to keeping us well and healthy!
In fact, the small intestine is responsible for absorbing the nutrients that we need to thrive and be healthy. Yup, all the nutrients enter in through that one area. So you can imagine just how important it is to have a properly functioning intestine.
But just as important as nutrient absorption is the intestine’s role as a barrier against unwanted molecules. Things like toxins, undigested food particles and anything else that doesn’t belong in the body.
The problem is that, for many of us, the barrier is not really as protective as it should be. Just look at the evidence.
How many are suffering from allergies or food sensitivities? How many have digestive problems like bloating, gas or IBS? Or skin issues like acne, eczema or psoriasis? How many people are battling an autoimmune disease? How many suffer from other “random” symptoms like low energy, slow metabolism, problems losing or gaining weight or brain fog?
All of these things are indicative of a gut barrier that isn’t 100% protective. It isn’t protective because the intestinal walls have become damaged. Just like a damaged roof that constantly allows water and other debris to get in, a damaged intestinal wall will allow toxins and other unwanted molecules to enter the body. Hence the term, leaky gut.
Imagine you were responsible for cleaning up the water and mess created by the broken roof. No matter how well you cleaned it, more water and debris would always be getting in and you would constantly be cleaning. And then a storm hits and there’s such an overwhelming amount of garbage to clean up that you never get a chance to ever fully make it clean again.
This is exactly what happens with a damaged intestinal system. The body has to constantly be cleaning up the excess debris that gets in. Eventually it gets too overwhelmed and can’t keep up anymore. And this is where the development of allergies, acne, eczema, autoimmune disorders – and many other health issues – starts.
But it’s not like these illnesses develop overnight. It takes a long time of toxins and waste entering the body through a damaged gut before the body can’t handle the toxin load and develops chronic health problems.
How a Leaky Gut Leads to Health Problems
It starts with an inflammatory response, where the immune system is sent out to deal with the unwanted substances entering in through a leaky gut.
As this continues over time, it impacts the efficiency of nutrient absorption by the body, which of course can eventually lead to nutrient deficiencies (which then starts to impact OTHER areas of the body that are relying on those nutrients to function properly).
Eventually, food intolerances or sensitivities develop. Because your body is so used to responding to the various undigested food molecules getting in through the gut, it flags those molecules as “foreign invaders” and can no longer tolerate that food whenever you eat it.
The immune system, being the fighter and protector of the body, has been working in overdrive this whole time. And as anything else that works non-stop with very little maintenance, it starts to malfunction. And this is when an autoimmune disease starts to develop.
Here’s a quick recap:
- A damaged intestinal wall allows larger food particles and toxins to get into the body.
- This causes an inflammatory immune response to deal with this substance overload that essentially has no use or function for the body.
- Eventually, the absorption of nutrients is impacted, leading to nutrient deficiencies, which can also lead to problems in other areas of the body.
- Over time, food intolerances and sensitivities develop because the body flags the larger molecules that come from these foods as “invaders”.
- The immune system becomes ridiculously overworked and crashes – leading to the development of other health problems, such as autoimmune disease.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
So now that we’ve looked at the general overview of why a leaky gut leads to the development of symptoms and illnesses, let’s back up a little bit.
What is it that damages the intestinal wall in the first place?
There’s no single answer to this question because it’s really a number of different things that, over time, take a toll on the gut. Things like:
- a diet high in sugar, gluten, conventional dairy and other processed foods
- NOT eating foods that support a healthy gut (like probiotics)
- lack of sleep
- lack of exercise
- medications (antibiotics, steroids, aspirin, etc)
Have you experienced any of these? I certainly have. And along with it came a battle against eczema all throughout my childhood and early 20s.
But it was when I realized the importance of nutrition, and more importantly, healing the gut (along with reducing stress and a positive mindset) that allowed me to fully step into good health and well-being. This was when I FINALLY became free of eczema, for good.
Foods That Heal a Leaky Gut
Part of healing leaky gut involves eating a diet of wholesome, nourishing foods that support a healthy internal environment. But in addition to that, here are the foods that specifically have a beneficial effect for healing a leaky gut:
Bone broth is a gut healing superfood. It’s filled with tons of amazing nutrients that specifically support the health of the gut. Glutamine, an amino acid that gets depleted with stress, helps promote the growth of intestinal cells. Another important amino acid found in bone broth is glycine, which helps with proper digestion (by producing stomach acid and bile), as well as reducing inflammation. Bone broth also contains gelatin and collagen, which together help produce the intestinal mucus that protects the cells and that are needed to help the good bacteria grow and thrive. These nutrients also help decrease inflammation and promote the healing of intestinal cells.
A vegetarian option that’s just as beneficial as bone broth is fresh cabbage. It’s a great source of glutamine (promotes the growth of intestinal cells), as well as many phytonutrients and antioxidants, which are important for reducing inflammation and also help with detoxification.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir are loaded with the good bacteria that support the health of the gut.
Coconut helps heal leaky gut two ways: first, it stops the growth of the bad bacteria in the gut and second, it’s a source of fuel for the intestinal cells and promotes their healing.
Fibre-rich foods help to keep things moving through the intestines for regular elimination. This is essential for healing leaky gut since the body is constantly detoxifying and getting rid of waste. So by supporting the elimination process, there’s no accumulation of toxins in the gut that would otherwise inhibit the healing of the gut.
There are a lot of different factors that come into play and that work together in order to bring about healing.
But taking care of the gut is absolutely one of the most important things you can do to heal – whether you’re suffering from digestive issues, skin problems, hormonal issues, difficulty losing weight, an autoimmune disease, or other chronic symptoms.
Start including these gut healing foods in your diet today as you continue on your journey of healing. It’s probably one of the most important steps you can take.
Now I want to hear from you: Have you considered the health of your gut to be a contributing factor to your symptoms or illness? What’s the easiest way you’ve found to include these gut healing foods in your life? Share below!
With all my love,