How Leaky Gut Affects the Whole Body
By Stacia Briscoe
Hi there! Today I would like to talk to you about something known as leaky gut. This phenomenon causes symptoms that often lead you to the doctor’s office. These symptoms include bowel issues, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, anxiety, depression, and autoimmune disease. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often treated with medications that further contribute to leaky gut. I truly believe knowledge is power, and I hope to open your eyes to another possible cause of these symptoms. Often these symptoms can be cured, or at the very least greatly improved, by diet and lifestyle changes alone.
So, what is leaky gut and why is it so harmful to the body? The gut, or gastrointestinal tract, is a long tube that begins at the mouth and ends at the anal passage. Your gut is lined by a wall that sort of acts like a mesh filter. It will only allow certain substances through and it also acts as a shield to keep larger, more harmful substances from passing.
When someone has a leaky gut this lining is damaged and can no longer function as a barrier and a shield. Larger more harmful substances then pass and enter your system. These foreign substances will put your immune system on high alert. This will eventually burn out your immune system, and afterward, when it encounters a virus, or something worse, such as a cancer cell, it cannot fight it off. If some of these unfriendly particles reach the bloodstream it creates a state of chronic inflammation.
Do you want to know what this low-grade inflammation does to our bodies?
- Joints (stiffness, aches, swelling)
- Muscles (soreness, cramping, poor recovery from workouts)
- Skin (acne, eczema, psoriasis)
- Brain (anxiety, depression, memory issues, brain fog, ADD/ADHD)
- Heart (increased blood pressure, elevated cholesterol)
- Endocrine (Thyroid issues, hormone imbalances)
- Inability to lose weight (secondary to hormone imbalances and inflammation)
So what causes leaky gut?
FOOD– The most common foods are processed foods, gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol, however, any food you have an intolerance to has the potential to damage the gut lining if eaten on a regular basis.
STRESS– Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be financial, emotional, food intolerances, environmental toxins…….ANYTHING! This puts the body in a state of fight or flight. Cortisol is then released which damages those tight, mesh-like junctions further. Digestion is slowed which leads to constipation and then overgrowth of bacteria. It is all connected!
MEDICATIONS– Several medications, including Ibuprofen, many antidepressants, oral contraceptive pills, proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Protonix, Dexilant, Nexium), and even antibiotics.
Okay so now that we know what leaky gut is and what causes it, what can we do about it?
You guessed it!
- Remove foods that are an issue for you.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Decrease the amount of sugar in your diet.
- Decrease stress and/or learn to manage what stress you have.
- Limit the use of medications such as Ibuprofen and antacids.
- Try to eat whole foods. Focus on nutrient-dense foods such as wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork and eggs, healthy fats, and vegetables.
- You can also add in superfoods such as bone broth, liver, fermented foods, omega 3 fatty acids, and sea greens.
Just remember. You do not need to make all these changes at once. Focus on one thing and continue it until it becomes easy. Until it becomes a habit. Then add in another. Try to find balance. Changes that work for you and your family. Once you find that balance you will be able to sustain the changes and you will see your health and your life improve.
Find more health and wellness articles on the US Wellness Blog.
If you decide you need help I do offer 1:1 coaching. My name is Stacia Briscoe. I am a Nurse Practitioner and a Functional Medicine Health Coach with a passion for wellness. Feel free to reach out with any questions.
You can find me at