To talk about healing the gut, we first need to learn about the jobs it’s involved with. We have to understand how it all works!
The gut-brain connection has been talked about for thousands of years – since Hippocrates! Your gut (also referred to as your microbiome) is the hub that regulates your whole body. It communicates constantly with your immune system, nervous system, skin, heart, and brain. If this central hub is not working properly, it will affect any and all of the other parts of your body. The brain and the gut can be seen as truly inseparable!
The microbiome of your gut houses trillions of bacteria – the friendly kind of bacteria that help digest and process, and release toxins as well. These bacteria have direct communication with the brain through the “bidirectional highway.” (1) There is an extensive network of neurons (as well as chemicals and hormones) that provides information about hunger and stress. Think about when you’re stressed or nervous about a presentation at work… Do you feel that pit in your stomach? You’re on edge, and your gut gets the signal.
Having healthy gut flora is crucial to keeping the rest of the body running smoothly. Gut health leads to optimal overall health! Too much bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria can throw off your whole system – leading to allergies, arthritis, autism, dementia, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
The gut’s nerve cells also produce 95% of your serotonin, and every neurotransmitter in your brain also resides in your gut. Your gut actually has more neurotransmitters than your brain!
You can understand, then, why you need a healthy balance in your gut for your brain to be in balance too.
YOUR GUT FROM BIRTH
The health and diversity of your microbiome (2) is heavily influenced by your environment from birth. How you were born (C-section or vaginally), if you were breast-fed or bottle-fed, your diet, drugs, inflammation, toxin exposure (such as metal from cavity fillings), and stress all influence your overall microbiome.
When giving birth vaginally and breastfeeding, the mother will pass on colonies of essential bacteria to her baby. In this way, a baby’s microbiome will resemble the microbiome of his/her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. When the baby enters the vaginal canal during birth, it is exposed to the mother’s vaginal microbes. They coat the baby’s skin and enter the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears… Some are even swallowed. Breast milk has special sugars called human milk oligiosaccharides (HMOs) that the baby ingests. These are designed to feed the mother’s microbes to the baby’s gut.
With a C-section and formula feeding, the baby is not likely to get the full microbiome from the mother’s vaginal, gut, and breast milk microbes. With formula feeding, the baby will not receive some 700 species of the microbes found in breast milk or the oligosacharrides. Formula milk also contains other bacteria that are not supposed to be there…
The health of your microbiome is heavily influenced by your environment from birth.
This sets the tone for your child’s lifelong health, but do not worry if you did not breast feed or had a C-section. In my program, there are steps to rebalance the microbiome and improve your overall health.
First, What is Leaky gut?
The gut is like a house, and the lining is like the door to enter and exit. When leaky gut occurs, it’s like one of your kids left the door wide open – letting dirt, leaves, and debris to blow in and out, and making quite the mess for you to clean up.
The gut is a permeable membrane. Very small molecules need to pass through in order to absorb nutrients. In people who have sensitive guts, gluten can cause cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart the tight junctions in the intestinal lining (3), making it more permeable than normal. Many (if not most) autoimmune conditions are characterized by high levels of zonulin including celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and IBS (inflammatory bowel disease). There are other factors as well, such as toxins, bacteria, stress, and medications that can lead to inefficiency in the gut’s tight junctions. When these tight junctions are no longer secure, it leads to leaky gut. Then things like toxins, microbes, and undigested food flows into your body from the intestines into the blood stream. The body then tags those particles as foreign invaders, and launches an attack – eliciting an immune system response. This is intended to protect you, but the result of the immune response is inflammation. If these toxins are encountered on a regular basis, it leads to chronic inflammation.
Leaky gut wreaks havoc on the body, resulting in food intolerances, weight gain, constipation, diarrhea, autoimmune diseases, candida overgrowth, and sugar cravings.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
The main culprits of leaky gut are an unhealthy diet (filled with processed foods and sugar), bacteria, and toxins in the form of medications, such as ibuprofen, acid reducing drugs, steroids, stress, inadequate digestive enzymes, antibiotics, mercury, pesticides, and BPA from plastics. Gluten remains the main cause of leaky gut. Other inflammatory foods, such as sugar, alcohol, and processed foods can also be a factor, and so is stress!
Signs That You Have Leaky Gut
- A poor immune system
- Headaches, brain fog, and/or memory loss
- Excessive fatigue
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating
- Skin rashes and problems like eczema or rosacea
- Cravings for sugar or carbs
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, or ADHD
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or Crohn’s
- SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
What Tests Should I Have Done?
1.Zonulin Test: Zonulin is an inflammatory protein that helps regulate leakiness in the gut by opening and closing the spaces (or junctions) between cells in the intestinal lining. We like to have some zonulin in order to let nutrients into the blood stream, but too much is a problem. The test uses an ELISA test to test for serum levels of zonulin.
2. Lactulose Test: This test will measure for two sugar molecules, mannitol and lactulose. It will check the levels of these two sugars in your urine using a sample collected six or more hours after ingesting the sugars.
3. IgG or IGE Food Intolerance Test: This will tell which foods you are allergic to. Ignoring food sensitivities will only make the matter worse.
4. Stool Test: This will test for beneficial bacteria levels, intestinal immune function, inflammation markers, candida, infection from parasites, viruses, or bacteria, nutrient absorption, and the pH of the stool.
4. C-reactive protein: This test is a marker for generalized inflammation.
5. Autoimmune markers: ESR, anti-CCP, TPO and ANA
Nourishing the gut and supporting intestinal happiness is critical to your health. It is similar to tending to a garden: the soil needs to be just right, and we need to feed the plants properly for them to produce food and/or flowers. My Golden Goddess Plate is designed to heal your leaky gut.
MY GUTLOVING, INDISPENSIBLE TOP FOODS
I am a gutloving fanatic, so I stock my refrigerator with these clean protein foods:
- Grass fed beef is one of the best sources of protein because it is rich in vitamin A and E, and rich in antioxidants. 3 ounces has 22 grams protein.
- Organic chicken is a source of B vitamins that are important in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, treating diabetes, lowering LDL cholesterol levels (the “yuck” fat), and supporting brain health. 3 ounces has 20 grams protein.
- Bone broth improves joint health, reduces inflammation, treats leaky gut, and boosts your immune system. 1 serving has 20 grams protein.
- Wild caught salmon is NOT the same as farm raised salmon. Wild caught salmon is not only high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, it also contains vitamin B12, vitamin D, potassium, and selenium. 3 ounces has 17 grams protein.
- Lentils are the perfect vegetarian option, as they are high in fiber, iron, phosphorous, potassium, and B vitamins. Lentils are important for cardiovascular health, digestion, regulating blood sugar levels, and balancing pH levels in the body. 1 cup has 18 grams protein.
- Organic, free range eggs have a complete amino acid profile, which means they contain all the essential amino acids that we need to get from food. They are rich in biotin and vitamin B6.
You MUST remember: your mental and physical health are related, and it all starts in the gut. Keeping your microbiome healthy is the most powerful way to manage how you feel, how your brain works, your moods, and so much more. It really is all tied back to your gut – and as we’ve learned, the food you eat is either helping or hurting!