Leaky gut is a fairly new term. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t quite make it to the bathroom on time (!), but is actually a term that refers to the permeability of your intestine. Read on to find out more, whether you might be experiencing symptoms, and which supplements can really make a difference to this very real health issue.
The function of the intestinal wall is a barrier between the inside of your gut and your bloodstream. A healthy intestine has minuscule gaps, called tight junctions, which allows water and various other nutrients through to the bloodstream. At the same time, these tiny gaps block access of harmful substances, protecting the body from unwanted toxins or undigested food molecules. Intestinal permeability refers to the ease at which substances pass through your intestinal wall. A high permeability means an easy transition.
When the gaps become loose, the intestine becomes more permeable, allowing undigested proteins such as gluten, toxins, microbes and candida, to pass into the body unchecked. This phenomenon is known as ‘leaky gut’ or intestinal hyper-permeability.
If you are one of the many who suffer from fatigue, brain fog, headaches and migraines, consistent gas and bloating, chronic diarrhoea or constipation, regularly catching colds and flu, mood swings and bouts of depression, skin breakouts, sugar cravings arthritis and joint pain – it might be that your intestinal wall is compromised.
The good news is that with some changes to diet and lifestyle there are plenty of things to do to help a leaky gut.
Incorporating a low GI, high fibre diet including an abundance of vegetables is a great start. Lowering gluten and sugar intake is also a tremendous help to your intestines. Gluten can have an inflammatory effect on the gut cells. Sugar can feed an overgrowth of unwanted intestinal bacteria, and sugar harms the intestinal barrier.
Supplements to support your gut health and bring back your intestinal permeability to healthy levels are also plentiful.
We have chosen our top five: Marine Collagen, Probiotics, Zinc, L-Glutamine and Dietary Fibre.
There are also many others including Aloe Vera, Caprylic Acid, Digestive Enzymes, Liquorice Root, Marshmallow Root, Turmeric and Slippery Elm.
Here are our top five faves:
Collagen forms the building blocks of our body ‘structures’ and is what gives your body tissues their elasticity. One of the most immediately obvious is it’s effect in the skin as you age your skin begins to lose its elasticity owing to the naturally decreased production of collagen within your own body. Collagen is readily absorbed in supplement form and is a primary component of all connective tissue found in the whole body, including your intestinal wall. Collagen contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which are the building blocks of your intestinal lining.
These are the ‘good bacteria’ that help keep your intestine in tip-top health. They not only play a vital role in digestive function, but they also boost the immune system, help you sleep and assist with the synthesis of certain vitamins. They also prevent the colonisation of the harmful bacteria in the gut, which can then leak into the body.
A good probiotic supplement is the perfect support for your digestion and to balance your gut flora. Probiotics also occur naturally in some fermented foods such as kefir, live yoghurt and kombucha. They are best taken or eaten daily to keep up a healthy balance of microbes.
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant and is vital for overall health. It helps to build up immunity and boost your body’s resistance to viruses. It also helps to support a wide range of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, and alleviate digestive complaints owing to its anti-inflammatory properties.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid which effectively feeds your stomach cells, giving them the capacity to maintain the integrity of the gut lining. High-stress levels deplete glutamine levels due to the associated rise in the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol rises, glutamine plummets, leaving you more susceptible to a leaky gut. Fortunately, L-Glutamine as a supplement can help repair and reverse this damage, restoring a healthy intestinal lining.
Fibre is one of natures’ natural wonders! The soluble fibre found in vegetables, fruits, seeds and whole-grains, feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut, thereby improving your gut health and preventing hyper-permeability. You can now also add more fibre to your diet in supplement form, which is excellent for those that might need a boost!
Effectively fibre helps to support your body to digest non-fibrous foods and keep things moving! The fibrous material doesn’t pass into your body, it remains in the digestive tract, working its magic by transporting other material and offering a feast for your healthy gut bacteria as well. It helps your healthy microbiome flourish and effectively cleans you from the inside out.
When it comes to gut health you literally are what you eat. If this is an area of your health and wellbeing that you struggle with, then try to remember to go easy on the refined carbs such as white pasta, white rice, fruit and sugar. Stock up on natural, low GI whole foods, a few key supplements and plenty of probiotics.
When choosing your supplements focus on looking for natural or bio-available sources, and high quality, high purity. What you put in your body directly affects you and your wellbeing, so quality really is everything!
Support your digestive system to bring you back to the best of (non-leaky) gut health. Let your good bacteria and good health flourish!
Stay well and happy beautiful one, lots of love,
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