Leaky gut is a major issue today and a condition I believe to be responsible for many diseases and autoimmune issues. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, occurs when the tight junctions in the gut open up and allow antigens to escape through the gut and get into the bloodstream. These antigens can react with antibodies and cause allergic reactions in the body. They can also lodge in various organs and glands in the body and contribute to inflammatory reactions. They are detected as foreign, shouldn't be in whatever location they lodge in and can cause our own cells to attack the corresponding organ tissue.
It's important to remove many of the triggers and causes, such as: gluten, sugar, conventional dairy, hydrogenated oils as well as stress to just name a few. I go into more depth on these in my blog titled, "Why Leaky Gut is a Big Problem!"
Fortunately there are some health-promoting foods we can incorporate to start to bolster the lining of the gut and create a healthy internal state.
First I'd like to highlight bone broth. This is a powerhouse anti-inflammatory and has tremendous ability to heal the gut. Bone broth is full of collagen, even gelatin that is broken down to collagen, as well as key amino acids. These amino acids are proline and glycine, which are important for overall immune system optimization. This immunity bolstering is so important because about 70-80% of the immune system is located in the gut in what's called the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT.) It also has a powerful amino acid called glutamine which is a key player when it comes to strengthening the lining of the intestinal wall.
Certain fermented foods are also critical to combatting leaky gut. Raw goat milk kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are some of my favorites in this category. They contain live, active cultures that colonize the colon with beneficial bacteria and this then crowds out the bad/pathogenic strains. These probiotics can help with enzyme production as well as vitamin biosynthesis of the b vitamins and vitamin k.
Healthy fats are a must when it comes to defeating leaky gut. I recommend patients to incorporate more coconut oil, avocados, organic eggs, wild-caught salmon, chia and flax seeds, almonds and walnuts as well as ghee. Coconut products in particular are an incredible source of medium chain triglycerides that are extremely antimicrobial in natural and healthful to the gut microbiome. Ghee is a source of short chain fatty acids, specifically butyrate, which is very healthful to the colonocytes of the large intestine.
Apple cider vinegar is a very health-promoting beverage that I think should be consumed regularly. I like to add it to water with lemon juice and cinnamon for better palatability. It is a source of acetic acid and has powerful antimicrobial and anti fungal properties.
As I mentioned above, glutamine is a supreme amino acid for gut wall integrity. It's a component of bone broth but I also like to supplement it for patients in higher quantities at times. This is one of my go to supplements for patients who have a permeable gut.
Lastly, I will spotlight ginger in this protocol for eradicating leaky gut dietarily. Ginger is a spice that has numerous functions. It helps to relieve a queasy stomach and is therefore great especially for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. It's main bioactive compound called gingerol is a powerful immune system player. Ginger also helps bolster stomach acid production as well as pancreatic enzyme secretion. This helps with better digestion and absorption of the macronutrients.
Coconut provides medium chain triglycerides and possess antimicrobial properties.
Incorporating these foods on a regular basis while avoiding the leaky gut contributors mentioned above will start to revamp the gut properly. Sealing up the gut is one of my initial steps when working with patients to eradicate really any and all symptoms they're having. It's so important to address the state of the gut as a foundation for healing the body. Lets work on incorporating more of these healthy food options on a regular basis and then reap the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome.
Dr. Seamus Allen
CFMP, DACBN, DC