Leaky Gut & Collagen Treatment
Your gut is actually your body’s biggest immune system organ. If you’re suffering from leaky gut syndrome, you might experience bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivity, and aches and pains. Unfortunately, the “syndrome” isn’t a diagnosis but rather an indicator that there’s something going on that isn’t quite right.
What is it?
Technically, leaky gut—otherwise known as intestinal permeability—is a condition where the small intestine’s lining is damaged, which results in undigested food particles, toxic waste products, and bacteria to “leak” through the intestine’s wall into your blood stream. Your gut’s “junctions” – the parts that control what passes through the lining of the small intestine—don’t work properly when you have a leaky gut. These malfunctioning junctions let substances leak into your bloodstream.
When your body senses these foreign substances, your autoimmune system kicks into gear, which can cause chronic inflammation and a whole host of other symptoms. Unfortunately, you may experience inflammatory and allergic reactions including migraines, irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Plus, your intestine’s damaged cells can’t (or don’t) produce the enzymes to allow your digestive system to work properly. Without the ability to absorb essential nutrients, you may suffer from hormone imbalances and a weakened immune system.
- Diet may cause a leaky gut. The bodies of people with a sensitivity to certain foods like gluten or soy and dairy may treat those foods as “foreign invaders.”
- Chronic stress
- Certain medications, like antibiotics, steroids, over-the-counter pain relievers can irritate the lining of your intestines and damage protective mucus layers. Once the irritation begins, it can cause a never-ending inflammation cycle that leads to intestinal permeability.
- Underlying conditions, like Crohn’s or celiac disease
- Gastric ulcers
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Esophageal and colorectal cancer
- Respiratory infections
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac, or Crohn’s.
- Acute inflammation conditions including sepsis, SIRS, or multiple organ failure
- Chronic inflammation conditions, like arthritis
- Poor immune system
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Cravings for sugar or carbohydrates
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating
- Skin rashes or acne, eczema, and rosacea
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
With so many possible causes and the fact that leaky gut’s more a symptom than a disease itself, it’s a challenge for doctors to diagnose, and tricky to heal. But you can start simply by evaluating what you eat. Work with a nutritionist for guidance. Keep a food diary. Consider eliminating foods to see if that changes your body and how you feel. For example, eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. It may take a few weeks, but if you start to feel better, and any of the symptoms listed above disappear, you may have solved your problem!
There are other foods that you can and should introduce into your diet, too, which will help to repair a leaky gut. For example, add in healthy fats like fish, coconut and olive oils, avocados, and flax. Restore healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract with probiotics. Heal your intestinal wall with L-glutamine, an amino acid.
Key supplements for a leaky gut
Here’s a little more detailed information on some of the key supplements that help to improve gut health.
Certain strains enhance immune function; other strains promote health or hormone imbalance. This site provides a much more detailed overview on the benefits to probiotics and how to determine which are most effective for you.
Research the different brands and companies.
Make sure the probiotic has at least 15 billion CFUs.
Look for supplements with multiple bacterial strains.
Take 2 – 4 caps daily.
Ever heard of bone broth? Its main “power” is collagen, the protein that strengthens bones, cartilage, and tendons. When cooked, it becomes gelatinous. If you add collagen to your diet, you can boost your gastric juices. Collagen also contains proline and glycine, two amino acids that are building blocks which contribute to fixing a damaged intestinal lining. Here’s a tasty recipe for bone broth from Epicurious.
Probiotics can’t live without fiber. High fiber foods, including sprouted chia, flax, and hemp seeds, are great. Steamed vegetables or fruit work well, too, especially if your gut is very unhappy.
Take one or two capsules before and after each meal. Why? Enzymes help break down proteins, complex sugars, and starches. If you know that you suffer from lactose intolerance, choose an enzyme (like lactase) that breaks down lactose in dairy. Other enzymes include:
Protease, which breaks down proteins like gluten.
Amylase, which breaks down starches.
Lipase, which breaks down fats.
Your intestinal wall’s cells use this essential amino acid as fuel. It helps keep the lining healthy, and—if you’re prone to stress—these levels decrease and leave you more susceptible to leaky gut. This NIH study shows additional benefits on adding L-Glutamine (about 2 – 4 grams 2 or 3 times a day) to your diet.
This plant polyphenol (or plant pigment) is found in many plants and foods like red wine, onions, green tee, berries, and apples. Its claim to fame is that it helps to reduce inflammation. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “it acts like an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory, and may help protect against heart disease and cancer. Quercetin can also help stabilize the cells that release histamine in the body and thereby have an anti-inflammatory effect.”
N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG)
Experts have discovered that NAG’s anti-inflammatory effects make it another popular choice for helping to protect the intestine and stomach’s linings.
DGL Licorice Root
Suffering from emotional stress and feeling those effects in your gut? This root helps your body to maintain the linings of your stomach and duodenum. It also helps your body to absorb and metabolize cortisol, necessary for alleviating adrenal fatigue.
HCL with Pepsin
Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid to break down proteins and start the digestion process before food enters the duodenum and intestines. If you’re taking certain medications, like antibiotics or birth control, your stomach acid may be lower than optimum. People who suffer from GERD or heartburn often supplement with HCL to help get those stomach levels to the right place – and those same supplements also help people with a leaky gut.
This particular supplement is tricky, so consult with a natural health provider to determine the right levels to take. Also, you should only take this supplement with meals that contain protein.
While you wouldn’t want to depend on this solution for long-term treatment and relief, anti-fungal agents, like oil of oregano, caprylic acid, or cellulose balance your gut’s good and bad bacteria, which takes some of the pressure off your intestines, and allows them to heal.
If you suspect you’re suffering from a leaky gut, make an appointment with your health care provider, because it’s possible that a leaky gut results from more serious, underlying medical issues. The key is finding a treatment plan that works for you, leads to improved health and feeling better.