Did you know that a diet high in processed foods can tear open your gut lining and allow “inflammatory invaders” to enter your bloodstream? This condition, known as “leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability, leads to inflammation spreading through your body. When inflammation reaches the brain, it can cause “leaky brain”. If a leaky gut isn’t healed, it leads to a continuous, inflammatory gut-brain cycle and a host of problems body-wide.
All of these will be explained in this video. Specifically, we’ll talk about the top 8 foods causing leaky gut you’ll want to avoid to protect your gut lining. Make sure you watch till the end, cause some of these are hidden food additives. We’ll also reveal 2 steps you can take right now to repair leaky gut and support healthy gut function. So if you’re ready, let’s get into it. As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice, we are not doctors.
First, let’s understand how leaky gut happens.
The inside of your gut (small and large intestines) is lined with a single layer of epithelial cells that separate the gut contents from the bloodstream (gut lining). This layer of cells act as a protective barrier, and is held together by tight junctions. Microscopic gaps allow nutrients into the bloodstream, while keeping out harmful compounds. One protein that regulates the permeability of tight junctions is called zonulin.
Our gut microbiota is full of billions of good bacteria (probiotics) that play a key role in supporting the gut barrier and ensuring the junctions are tight and healthy. Unfortunately, environmental factors like stress, medications, food additives, and chemicals disrupt the healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. This bacteria imbalance causes gut inflammation and breaks open the tight junctions. More zonulin is released and intestinal permeability increases. Now the gaps are bigger and “leaky”, and foreign intruders (undigested food, bacteria, viruses, and toxins) can seep through the intestinal barrier.
Your immune system detects these foreign intruders and sounds an alarm throughout your body and up the vagus nerve into your brain. This alarm leads to inflammation, and triggers your immune system to attack these pathogens. Many studies have associated increased intestinal permeability to symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue, joint pain, allergies, acne, and obesity, and autoimmune diseases, like Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis.
So, how does leaky gut lead to leaky brain?
Like your gut, your brain has a protective blood-brain barrier. When inflammation reaches your brain, it can break this barrier and leak toxins into your brain. An inflamed brain leads to a slew of cognitive issues, including depression, anxiety, and brain fog. The inflammatory signals travel from your brain back down to your gut, and kick off a new round of inflammation. This bi-directional “expressway” between your belly and your brain is called the gut-brain connection; it is a major pathway by which leaky gut negatively affects your brain.
Next, the inflammatory foods that destroy the gut lining and cause leaky gut.
Number 8. Gluten-containing grains.
Gluten, or more specifically its two components gliadin and glutenin, have both been found to promote the release of zonulin regardless if a person has the gene for celiac disease or not.
Zonulin is a protein produced in the gut barrier. As mentioned earlier, when more zonulin is released, intestinal permeability increases. The two most important triggers for zonulin release are bacteria and gluten – whether or not a person has autoimmune disease.
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2006 concluded that gluten increases intestinal permeability in all persons, but more so in celiac patients. Common grains that contain gluten include wheat, rye, and barley.
Number 7. Hydrogenated oils.
Artificial trans fats are often listed as partially hydrogenated oils on food labels. They are added to processed foods to extend shelf life. In one study, researchers found that margarine, which is made from hydrogenated oil, was responsible for altering gut physiology by increasing intestinal permeability and inflammation. Partially hydrogenated oils are most commonly found in shortening (used in pastry), packaged snacks, frozen meals, fried foods, and coffee creamers.
Number 6. Artificial Sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, and Stevia are found almost everywhere. They’re in diet soda, candy, pre-made baked goods, and much more. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners alter the gut microbiota by encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast that induce inflammation.
Number 5. Emulsifiers.
Most low-calorie or fat-free salad dressings sold at your grocery store contain emulsifiers. Studies have found that dietary emulsifiers may disrupt the intestinal microbiota to cause inflammation and impair the gut barrier function. Food emulsifiers have names like soy lecithin, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carboxymethyl cellulose, and carrageenan. They are usually found in processed foods like ice cream, deli meats, and whipped toppings.
Number 4. Alcohol.
Overindulging in alcohol is never a good idea. Researchers reported that alcohol consumption induces malfunction of the intestinal walls and increased permeability. People who drink heavily may develop problems with bacterial toxins moving out of the colon and into the body causing an inflammatory immune response.
Number 3. Dairy.
People who are sensitive to dairy cannot digest the proteins found in milk (lactose intolerance). Continued consumption causes intestinal distress and inflammation and can damage the gut lining over time.
Number 2. Microbial transglutaminase.
Microbial transglutaminase, often referred to as “meat glue”, is found in a variety of processed foods and isn’t required by law to be labeled. Imitation crab, chicken nuggets, processed meats and anything with TG or TGP enzyme contain this additive. Transglutaminase has been found to weaken the gut barrier.
Number 1. Nightshades.
For some people, nightshades can cause digestive issues, and even aches and pains, because of the high amounts of lectins. However, high-heat methods of cooking like boiling and stewing, and soaking in water for several hours, can inactivate most lectins. Popular nightshades are potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and chili peppers.
Bonus. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Popping painkillers or NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen has been found to increase intestinal permeability in the human body within 24 hours of ingestion.
Next, what steps can be taken to heal a leaky gut? There are only two steps:
Step 1. Avoid the things that trigger a leaky gut.
Cut out the inflammatory foods. See Top 13 foods that cause inflammation. Avoid use of antibiotics and NSAIDs.
Manage your stress. Increased cortisol (stress hormone) makes gut junctions larger.
Avoid gut-harming toxins in your air, food, water, personal care and cleaning products, and EMF radiation.
Step 2. Add the things that restore a healthy gut lining.
Manage stress and get enough exercise to help promote healthy gut function.
Eat anti-inflammatory whole foods. Fast for 10 to 16 hours each day to give your gut a break.
Eat anti-bacterial foods like garlic and ginger to help kill harmful bacteria.
To repair the intestinal lining, consume collagen-building foods like bone broth and vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits and dark leafy greens.
To maintain healthy gut microbiota, consume probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, yoghurt, and kefir.
Eat pre-biotics (foods with soluble fiber) like asparagus, chicory root, bananas, apples, artichokes, onions, leek and garlic to provide food for probiotic bacteria.
Get enough quality sleep so your body can heal, detox and support healthy gut bacteria.
Consider herbs and supplements that help soothe the digestive tract and rebuild the gut lining. L-Glutamine, Zinc Carnosine, Aloe Vera, Slippery Elm, Turmeric and Magnesium.
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And now over to you! Do you experience symptoms of leaky gut? What are you doing to repair it?
Leave your comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
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