Most of our digestive disorders are a result of what some nutritionists have termed “leaky gut syndrome” ……
Of course I have to refer back to my “Eat 2 Heal Program” on the Menu Bar. This is the basic lifestyle that will help heal your body while we are learning which other nutrients will benefit and excelerate our healing.
Dr. Josh Axe lists 9 signs that we may have leaky gut:
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Gas or bloating
- IBS – Colitis – Crohn’s Disease
- Auto-immune disease(s)
- Thyroid Adrenal Issues
- Joint Pain – Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Mal-absorption issues – (of supplements like zinc or magnesium
- Skin issues – psoriasis
- Mood issues – brain health
Steps to Healing Leaky Gut
- Remove triggers (sensitivities or toxins)
- Replace with healing foods (bone broth)
- Enzymes supplements
Here are the 7 food additives that trigger damage in the tight junctions of the gut, according to the study:
1. “Meat Glue”
Otherwise known as microbial transglutaminase, this special enzyme serves to hold proteins together. (Hence the name meat glue.) It’s often used in imitation crab meat (it could be landing in your beloved California sushi rolls!), fish balls and to improve the texture in meats like ham and surimi.
If you eat meat, I always suggests finding a local organic, pasture-raised operation to support.
Americans increased use of sugars results in higher levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Once formed, AGEs increase inflammation, which can further exacerbate leaky gut. We now know the sugar industry scandal that involved tricking people into thinking sugar was healthier than fat. This demonized natural, healthy fats and increased sugar in processed foods. As always, use my tricks to kick sugar addiction and drastically cut back on sugar and you’ll be much healthier in the end.
A high-salt diet does more than affect your heart. Interestingly, a high-salt diet could be behind a spike in autoimmune diseases. Excess salt can actually impact your innate immune system, causing macrophage dysfunction. We need some salt to live, but in general, Americans are getting way too much.
You may have heard that a common food additive is tied to colon cancer. They’ve also been linked to metabolic dysfunction, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.
Emulsifiers are added to most processed foods to improve food texture and extend shelf life. But it also throws off healthy levels of intestinal bacteria, triggering chronic, low-level inflammation that promotes colorectal cancer and leaky gut. It seems emulsifiers act like detergents to disrupt the mucous layer that lines the gut.
5. Organic Acids
Researchers investigated the potential risks of using these solvents in food and beverages. Specifically, alcohol and its metabolites impair the junction barriers need to prevent leaky gut.
Acetaldehyde is also found in fermented foods, but in my opinion, I’ve seen great gut improvements when patients work fermented foods into the diet. (Of course, you can experiment to see how your body feels with or without fermented foods.)
When I work with patients, I tell that it’s imperative that they remove gluten and grains from the diet. (Once your gut is healthy, you can add back in grains that have been fermented and sprouted to eat occasionally.)
Researchers of the food additives that trigger leaky gut study also say gluten is a no-no. They noticed increased gut permeability when immune cells are exposed to gliadin. Gluten often hides out in unexpected places, including sauces and gravies, where wheat flour is used as a thickening agent. And please note that even organic wheat contains gluten.
7. Nanometric particles
Nanotechnology is a booming business in the food world. A more than $7 billion business, to be exact. And estimates suggests 40 percent of food industries are using it.
So why are we using them in food? Nanomaterials improve the taste, color, look, uniformity and texture of foods. Nanomaterials are also used in food packaging to help bottled beverages prevent CO2 loss. Silver nanoparticles are also embedded in plastic to kill bacteria.
But these nanoparticles are also linked to DNA and cell damage. Titanium dioxide is the most common nanoparticle in food. Manufacturers use it most often to make things like powdered donuts and salad dressings bright white. It also makes gummy bears opaque and enhances colors. We don’t really know what the long-term impacts of eating nanoparticles are, so I avoid them at all costs.
Foods & Supplements that Counteract Intestinal Permeability
Luckily, there are food ingredients and supplements that can help soothe and heal a gut that’s fallen victim to intestinal permeability, AKA leaky gut. Here are a few:
- Glutamine — This is a natural leaky gut inhibitor. Science shows us it improves gastrointestinal health because it serves as a vital nutrient for the intestines to rebuild and repair. In essence, it helps heal leaky gut by acting as a Band-Aid for protection from further damage and improves IBS and diarrhea by balancing mucus production, which results in healthy bowel movements. The dietary sources include protein-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs, vegetables like beans, beets, cabbage, spinach, carrots, parsley, vegetable juices and also in wheat, papaya, brussel sprouts, celery, kale and fermented foods like miso.
- Curcumin — A potent anti-inflammatory agent found in turmeric (it’s one of the many documented turmeric benefits), curcumin features a mechanistic potential to inhibit the inflammation and oxidative stress leaky gut. (Just don’t use at too high doses or it could actually enhance oxidated stress.)
- Prebiotics and Probiotics — While the benefits of probiotics are well-noted, prebiotics, non-digestible fiber compounds, are still largely underappreciated and underconsumed in America. Studies show they help promote a healthy gut and actually help heal leaky gut in those suffering from atopic dermatitis. Sauerkraut, raw dandelion greens, garlic, onions and leeks are great prebiotic sources.
- Bone Broth — I have found that bone broth is the No. 1 thing to consume to combat leaky gut syndrome, overcome food intolerances and allergies and improve joint health. Consuming homemade bone broth or a high-quality bone broth supplement provides a dose of healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine. Nutrition researchers Sally Fallon and Kaayla Daniel of the Weston A. Price Foundation explain that bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and others. They contain chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.
Final Thoughts on Food Additives that Trigger Leaky Gut
- This study serves as another reminder that we can greatly improve our health if we focus on cooking from scratch more and relying less on processed foods.
- Many food additives have never been tested for long-term impact on human health. Who wants to be part of that experiment? Not me. And I hope not you, either.
- While we can all read labels and avoid these food additives that trigger leaky gut, it’s very clear we need stronger leadership in Congress and in federal agencies who will actually mandate food safety laws that actually protect Americans.
- Part of a healing leaky gut program must include a plan to avoid processed foods and food additives that trigger leaky gut.
About 10-15% of Americans are diagnosed with IBS though the majority don’t seek help for it. They just learn to live with it.
The great news is that there’s a lot you can do to help relieve the symptoms of IBS naturally with food.
In a normal functioning gut, about 80-85% of gut bacteria are beneficial and about 15-20% are pathogenic. Under normal conditions, the good guys keep the bad guys in check and even harness them for beneficial purposes. However, in many ways you could say our modern diet and lifestyle is an assault on our gut bacteria which switches up the proportion in favor of the pathogenic bacteria. Factors that can damage our gut bacteria include:
- Birth control, steroids
- Chronic stress
- Environmental toxins
- Poor diet
And when those gut bacteria get out of balance, many digestive problems can manifest, including IBS.
How does the bacteria that reside in our gut affect our health? Here are just a few of the roles they play in keeping us healthy:
- Manufacture B vitamins and vitamin K
- Keeps bowel wall healthy
- Prevents infection
- Breaks down toxins
- Promotes endocrine and immune health
- Regulates bowel movements
We are only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding exactly what these trillions of little buggers do for our health. But what we do know is that there are ten times more of them that live in our gut than there are cells in our body!
Many people are amazed at the benefits they experience when they start to cut down on their grain consumption.
I’ve never seen anyone who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis who wasn’t eating a very high grain diet.
Start with a 30-day grain-free trial.
Of course, there can be other foods that are aggravating your gut besides grains. Modern dairy and modern soy are two more of the more common digestive-disrupting foods.
Tip #3: Eat more traditional fats
Coconut Oil – Real butter (Kerrygold is a great brand) – Lard/Tallow – Raw Milk – Avocados – Eggs – Nuts – Bacon – Beef/Chicken (pasture-fed if possible)
Tip #4: Eat more fermented foods
Fermented foods are ALIVE, teeming with the very beneficial bacteria that can help to restore good gut flora and proper digestive functioning. These beneficial bacteria go by another name you’re probably familiar with: probiotics. Fermented foods are Nature’s true probiotics and should be a part of any digestive-healing protocol.
You can find good quality fermented foods in most health food stores. Look for products that have only salt in the ingredients. A salty brine is all that’s needed for proper fermentation. Many poor quality fermented foods are pasteurized and have added sugar, vinegar, colorings and preservatives which compromise the very aliveness of fermented foods.
But you can also learn to make fermented foods at home! This is very simple and there are tons of great online resources that can help you get started.
Good sources of probiotics: sauerkraut – plain yogurt – kefir –
Tip #5: Consume homemade bone stocks
Unfortunately, like so many traditional foods, bone stocks have mostly disappeared from our diets in favor of bouillon cubes, canned soups and stocks. These quasi-stocks mimic the flavor of real stocks via things like MSG, artificial flavorings (often called “natural flavorings” on food labels) and other chemicals and preservatives.
If you want evidence of just how much we’ve moved away from real soups and stocks, check out the soup aisle at any conventional supermarket. I once counted over 90 varieties of Campell’s and over 70 varieties of Progresso! These are NOT traditionally prepared soups and stocks. Just take a look at the ingredient label. It’s scary.