“Leaky gut syndrome” seems to be the newest buzzword, and to be honest, it’s almost worthy of being laughed at when you first hear about it!
Because this “leaky gut” thing is so misunderstood, I want to do my best to make some sense of it…
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
“Leaky gut syndrome” does in fact have a fancy medical name: increased intestinal permeability. Leaky gut syndrome, or increased intestinal permeability, is a condition characterized by microscopic holes in a person’s digestive tract.
Our digestive tract, or digestive system, is actually considered an “external” system. It is a 25 to 35-foot hose that runs from mouth to anus, with one primary function: to turn the foods we consume into microscopic particles which are absorbed into the body and used by our cells for energy (and to rid itself of the remaining waste).
Because the digestive system is an external system, it acts as a barrier between the outside world and what is actually being absorbed into our bodies. Because of its critical role as a barrier, the digestive tract plays an important role in immune function.
As I previously mentioned, when a person suffers from leaky gut syndrome, they have microscopic holes in their digestive tract. Their digestive tract is no longer able to act as a barrier between the outside world and the rest of their body, and unwanted bacteria, protein, food particles and other waste particles are allowed into the body.
3 Reasons Why Leaky Gut Is So Harmful to a Person’s Health:
1. Holes in the digestive tract allow undigested food particles, bacteria, and yeast to leak out into the bloodstream.
The digestive tract is naturally “permeable,” meaning it naturally allows liquids, nutrients and small particles to pass through it. This is how the nutrition in our food makes its way from our digestive tract into our blood stream, then ultimately to our cells for nourishment.
The problem results in there being unwanted waste seeping out into the blood stream. This is associated with many unwanted health conditions, such as arthritis and inflammatory joint disease; skin problems, such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis; food allergies and sensitivities; asthma; autism; Crohn’s disease; chronic fatigue syndrome and celiac disease.
2. Holes in the digestive tract allow good bacteria to escape from the gut and allow bad bacteria into the gut.
One of the roles of the digestive tract is to keep an optimal balance between good bacteria (gut flora) and bad bacteria. A leaky gut allows too much bad bacteria into the gut and too much of the good bacteria out.
This is harmful to a person’s health for two reasons:
1. Without a proper amount of beneficial bacteria, known as flora, a person cannot have proper digestion of food and elimination of waste through the stool.
2. Unwanted bacteria in the gut often form chemicals that are harmful to the surrounding cells. Unwanted bacteria produce many different chemicals, including amines, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. In addition to producing chemicals, the “bad” bacteria within the gut also become a hindrance to good digestion and the healthy elimination of waste.
3. Leaky gut can lead to a compromised immune system.
70% of our immune system is found in the gut-associated lymphatic tissues (GALT), which is located in the lining of the digestive tract and in the intestinal mucus. Leaky gut syndrome is a disruption of our digestive tract lining and the associated mucus, disrupting our immune system as well.
Primary Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome:
There are many different causes of microscopic holes in a person’s digestive tract, known as leaky gut syndrome, including genetically modified foods (contain GMO’s), poor diet (particularly too many sugars and simple carbohydrates), antibiotics, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), chronic stress, too many toxic substances and environmental contaminants, as well as a bacterial imbalance in the gut.
What to Do to Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome:
There are a number of steps that can be taken to begin to heal the lining of the digestive tract.
1. Remove GMO’s and other gut-damaging foods from your diet, such as refined sugar, grains, conventional meat and dairy (they contain antibiotics given to animals) and gluten.
2. Replace with gut-healing foods. These foods include (but not limited to):
* All “cultured” or “fermented” foods are great for overall gut health! Put as many in your diet as you possibly can.
3. Use supplements to continue to heal the gut lining and fight dysbiosis (the imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria). These supplements include (but not limited to):
During a live blood cell screening, there are several cell forms that reveal digestive issues and there are two in particular that point specifically to leaky gut syndrome. These cell forms are referred to as symplasts and protoplasts and are visible particles of undigested food that are floating around in the blood.
Having a live blood cell screening is one way to gather information about the condition of your digestive tract and about your overall health in general. Schedule your live blood cell screening today if you’re ready to take this next step toward a healthier gut, better digestion and improved health in general!
Related blog posts:
If You've Ever Taken An Antibiotic, You'll Want to Read This!
3 Reasons Why Good Digestion Is SO Important for Optimal Health
Are You Experiencing Symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis?
If you’re the kind of person who thinks eating all the right things (a.k.a. veggies and grass-fed, lean meat) and hitting the gym a couple times a week is all you need to do to get fit and healthy, then this one’s for you!
Proper digestion can literally change the way you feel and the course of your health!
When I’m talking about proper digestion, I’m talking about the body’s ability to eliminate waste. It should take about 12 to 24 hours for food to pass through the digestive tract – this is TOTAL transit time. A person with healthy digestive habits will have a large bowel movement (what I like to call a “complete elimination”) at least once a day. A complete elimination happens when ALL waste is eliminated from the bowel. (Hint: If you wipe and it’s not clean, you didn’t get it all. It’s not a complete elimination).
I know you’ve heard the saying, “what goes up, must come down.” I have to admit that I’m still not entirely sure what that saying is all about, but I’ve come to know and believe in a similar saying: “what goes in, must come out!” Input should equal output, and if all is running (or should I say, “moving”) smoothly, output should equal input! I think you can see where I’m going with this…
Although there are numerous reasons why digestion is vitally important for optimal health, I want to give you three specific reasons why you should focus more of your energy on improving your digestion (but keep eating those veggies and hitting the gym, too).
1. 70-80% of the immune system is found in the gastrointestinal tract (gut). The immune system is just that, a system, which is primarily located within the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a large system as well and, as you might expect, is primarily located within the gut! The part of the lymphatic system that takes place in the gut has a specific name, known as the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT).
To understand the importance of this information, I think we need to better understand what happens when the immune system becomes compromised. As you might expect, a person could get a runny nose or a cold when their immune system becomes compromised. But in addition to that, they could also develop more serious illnesses and diseases. The immune system is the body’s army, or defense system, fighting all disease that enters the body.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “disorders of the immune system can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer.” That’s right, a strong immune system can offer protection against almost all illnesses and diseases, even those for which a cure is unknown.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that “a strong immune system may offer protection from seasonal illness such as the flu and other health problems including arthritis, allergies, abnormal cell development and cancers.”
2. The gut is where almost all nutrients are absorbed from the food you eat. Many people use the saying, “you are what you eat.” However, especially for those with digestive issues (96-99% of the population), you are not what you eat –you are what you absorb. Even if you’re eating a spinach salad with a side of asparagus every night with dinner, you’re only as healthy as the number of nutrients your gut is capable of absorbing.
Nearly 90% of nutrient absorption happens in the small intestines. At this point, the nutrients are deposited into the bloodstream where they are used by the body. When waste isn’t moving through the intestines, it is blocking the ability of the intestines to properly absorb nutrients. A healthy gut and proper digestion will lead to better nutrient absorption!
This leads me to the next reason why proper digestion is so important…
3. What you do not eliminate, you accumulate! It is very important to eliminate waste from the body. When waste is not eliminated from the body, it doesn’t just stay in the bowel - it recirculates through the body, leading to more toxicity, inflammation and stress on the body and organs.
I hope you’re starting to see that improving your digestion REALLY IS one of the greatest things you can do for your health! And if I haven’t convinced you yet, let me leave you with one more thought. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said, “ALL disease begins in the gut.”
I believe this to be true for many different reasons, but primarily for the reasons listed above. When the gut is unhealthy, leading to suboptimal digestion, the body is incapable of absorbing the nutrients it needs. As if that isn’t bad enough, our immune system is also much more likely to become compromised, considering the large majority of the immune system is located within the gut. On top of all that, when we aren’t eliminating our stool, it begins to recirculate throughout our body, leading to unwanted stress, toxicity and inflammation.
As I’ve stated, 96-99% of the population suffers from some sort of digestive issue, and I want you to know that I am part of this large majority of the population. In no way am I above the information I am sharing with you. I share this information with you because it has impacted my life in such a strong and profound way. Having this information has changed my life in a positive way, and I want it to change your life and your health, too!
Please hear me when I say that I want to help you.
If you don’t know whether or not you suffer from digestive issues, err on the side of caution (actually, err on the side of health) and just assume that you do! At least assume that your digestion could probably be improved! Better digestion is for all people, not just those with cancer.
There are numerous different cell forms (at least five) I can see during a live blood cell screening indicating digestive issues that need to be addressed. This will allow us to discuss a plan of action to get you eliminating waste from your bowel better! Please give me a call or send me an email to schedule your appointment today!
Plus, I have other blogs that will provide you with more detailed information about digestive health. A blog about “good” gut bacteria can be found here and a blog about good food combining can be found here. And if you’ve ever taken an antibiotic, you’ll also want to read my blog about the side effects of antibiotics here.
Adding kombucha (a sweet and tangy fermented tea beverage) to your daily regimen is one very beneficial thing you can do to better improve your digestion. Kombucha is rich in probiotics (good gut bacteria) and is an easy, fun and cost-effective way to improve your digestion. For more information on kombucha, read my blog here and watch my YouTube video here.
Although these bacteria are throughout the entire human body, some areas of the body are more concentrated with bacteria. One of these areas is the gut, or gastrointestinal tract.
Some experts claim there can be as much as 2 to 3 pounds of bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract. Undoubtedly, these bacteria are a very important part of our gastrointestinal tract, and thus, our digestion and overall health!
As with all of the bacteria in the body, we strive for a healthy ratio of 80% beneficial bacteria and 20% harmful bacteria in the gut. A few of the “bad guys” are actually okay because they help keep the immune system in check and working properly.
What we do not want is for this ratio of beneficial versus harmful bacteria to get out of balance (for example, only 60% beneficial bacteria and as much as 40% harmful bacteria). This imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria is known as dysbiosis and is very damaging to our overall health.
There are many symptoms of gut dysbiosis, including but not limited to the following:
Many diseases and conditions are the result of poor gut health and poor digestion.
Hippocrates was a Greek physician who lived more than 1500 years ago and was known as the founding father of modern medicine. Hippocrates understood the importance of good gut health when he said, “all disease begins in the gut.”
If you struggle with digestion or are unsure whether or not dysbiosis is a condition you are living with, I highly recommend having a live blood cell screening. It will reveal indications of gut dysbiosis and other gut related health concerns.
This will allow me to make recommendations specific to your own needs to reverse the negative effects of poor gut health, and likewise, poor digestion.
Call today to make your appointment and let’s get started replenishing the good bacteria and fighting the bad!
Health experts believe that 96-99% of the population suffers from digestive issues.
The body uses five different digestive juices to digest food: saliva, gastric juice, pancreatic juice, bile and intestinal juice. What is important to understand is that different juices are used to digest different foods.
The digestion of starch begins in the mouth with saliva. Saliva changes the starch to maltose in an alkaline condition. The body completes the digestion of starch using the pancreatic juices to turn maltose into glucose.
Proteins are digested very differently than starches. The body uses the gastric juices in the stomach (hydrochloric acid and pepsin) to digest protein. Given that hydrochloric acid is an acid, proteins are digested in an acidic environment.
In order to optimize digestion, it is advised to NOT eat protein and starches together. The alkaline condition that starches are digested in and the acidic condition that proteins are digested in neutralize each other and send foods to the intestines undigested.
Undigested foods in the intestines will begin the process of fermentation, creating a wonderful place for yeast, pathogens and parasites to live and grow.
Vegetables are digested based on the type of nutrients in them. For example, a potato, a starchy vegetable, is digested in the saliva and pancreas like all other starches consumed. Vegetables that are high in protein are digested in the stomach, as with other proteins consumed.
An example of a meal that takes into account the principles of good food combining would be broccoli (a protein vegetable) eaten with a lean piece of meat.
Fruits, because of their high sugar content, are digested very quickly. When they are consumed with other foods, they sit in the stomach too long and begin fermenting very quickly. Therefore, fruits should be eaten alone.
Avocados and tomatoes follow slightly different food combining rules than other vegetables and fruits consumed. Avocados combine well with all foods except proteins and melons. Tomatoes can be eaten with non-starchy vegetables and proteins.
If you’re part of the 96-99% that suffers from digestive issues, I hope you’ll consider following these food-combining guidelines. They’ll help your digestion tremendously!
Also, if you’re part of the 96-99% that suffers from digestive issues, I hope you’ll call today to schedule a live blood cell screening!
As I mentioned, fermentation takes place within the gut and provides a safe place for yeast and other harmful pathogens to live and grow. This condition can be seen in a live blood cell screening!! There are several other indicators within a live sample of blood that help me understand a client’s digestion (and of course, make recommendations for improved digestion)!
Let’s get started today; I have the tools to help you!
Elizabeth Shepard, BS
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