Founder’s Note:As promised, we’ve asked Dr. Sanjay Jain back to share some insight on a health issue that affects millions of Americans. Yet it’s misunderstood – and often ignored – by conventional medical doctors. Read on to learn about this frustrating condition and how you can help yourself or loved ones overcome it.
Being diagnosed with a chronic health condition can feel like a life sentence filled with pain, discomfort and endless pills.
But what if the root of the issue was not something misunderstood but instead treated seriously?
Millions of Americans experience symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. Yet it isn’t recognized as a legitimate medical condition, isn’t taught in medical school and therefore is rarely diagnosed by conventional medical practitioners.
So if you’re suffering from a condition whose root cause could be leaky gut, let’s talk more about what it is and ways to improve your health.
What Is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut, as the name suggests, affects your digestive system. The lining of our intestine acts as a barrier with tiny holes to control what gets absorbed into our bloodstream.
With a healthy intestinal wall, we absorb the right stuff from the food we eat and send the wrong stuff out of the body. When that barrier breaks down – developing larger holes or cracks – toxins, partially digested foods and germs are able to get into our bloodstream and make us sick.
The body then tries to fight off and kill these foreign invaders, causing inflammation, flare-ups and autoimmune reactions.
Leaky gut symptoms include allergies, bloating, food sensitivities, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, irritable bowel syndrome and skin problems.
I could go on, but the picture is clear. Leaky gut can lead to a host of serious – and chronic – issues in the body.
How to Treat Leaky Gut
So if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and your doctor won’t call it leaky gut, what can you do?
Fortunately, many functional and integrative medicine providers have a much greater understanding of this condition and are much more likely to call it what it is. If you seek one out, they’ll be able to offer you tools to help you improve your health.
And despite a lack of “quality” research that the conventional medical industry requires for an official diagnosis, there are many published studies in a variety of scientific and medical journals that have led to a better understanding of how our gut functions.
Some have examined the relationship between our gut bacteria and our immune system. Others have specifically looked at the effects of fiber in the gut.
Significantly, research published in Frontiers in Immunology in May 2017 determined that gut flora play an important role in the strength of the intestinal wall. Having the right gut bacteria may even reverse the breakdown of the wall.
That means you can take steps to improve your digestive health. Let me show you how.
First, eat a balanced diet rich in foods that also help in the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including:
- Vegetables of all kinds (green and leafy in particular)
- Roots and tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips)
- Fermented foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, kefir)
- Fruits (berries, citrus, grapes, bananas)
- Raw nuts and sprouted seeds (walnuts give an extra boost with omega-3s)
- Healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil)
- Fish (rich in omega-3s), meat and eggs
- Whole grains (buckwheat, brown rice).
Second, keep a journal of the times you feel discomfort or have abnormal bowel movements. Write down what you eat to see whether you can connect days of discomfort with sweets or processed foods or even food that is supposed to be healthy. It may be that certain foods don’t suit your body well.
Third, consider lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and getting more sleep.
These are simple steps you can take to discover what your body needs. The more you know about your body, the more you’ll be able to work with your doctor on finding treatments and solutions that improve your quality of life and tackling any issues you may have.
We’d like to hear from readers on the subject. Have you or someone close to you been frustrated by a lack of diagnosis? Do you have questions your doctor couldn’t answer? Send your questions and comments to email@example.com.
Dr. Sanjay Jain, MD, MBA