The 2 Surprising Causes of Leaky Gut
Leaky gut syndrome affects millions of people around the world, and many don’t even know they have it. That’s because the causes of leaky gut syndrome are in places you might not expect, such as foods you believe to be healthy.
The good news is, by making simple changes to your diet and using my No. 1 tool to maintain a healthy gut lining, you can prevent and reverse leaky gut syndrome and lower your risk for developing an autoimmune disease and other issues.
I am about to tell you what steps to take to heal your gut and reveal two foods you may not think can cause leaky gut!
What is Leaky Gut?
Your gut is an incredible part of your body. It’s where 80% of your immune system is located. Your gut also provides a pathway for nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream and turn into energy. To allow these nutrients into your bloodstream, your gut cell walls have tiny openings that allow these teeny tiny particles to pass through.
However, certain elements such as some foods and toxins can cause your drawbridge to go up, allowing much bigger boats that aren’t meant to get through to get into your bloodstream. This is known as a leaky gut.
Once these foreign invaders pass through, it triggers your immune system to view them as pathogens and attacks them.
The problem is that these invaders can resemble your own cells and your immune system gets confused and attacks the healthy tissues in your body, causing inflammation and putting you at risk to develop an autoimmune disease.
Once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your leaky gut untreated can cause your condition to progress and move you further along the autoimmune spectrum.
As I pointed out, your gut can become leaky due to a number of factors, however, two of the biggest culprits are found right on your plate. Let’s discuss these surprising causes of leaky gut.
Two Causes of Leaky Gut
The high prevalence of leaky gut is a direct result of our modern lifestyles. While chronic stress, environmental toxins, and gut infections such as Candida overgrowth and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can damage your gut cell walls, the primary cause of leaky gut is what we eat, particularly inflammatory and toxic foods. Let’s take a closer look at these two surprising causes of leaky gut.
Green beans. Chickpeas. Eggplant. Tomatoes. Those all sound healthy, right? There are plenty of foods that you might consider healthy, yet eating these foods might directly be causing your inflammation and even your leaky gut. I will discuss how you can discover what foods are causing your symptoms later.
So what am I talking about when I say “inflammatory foods?” Inflammatory foods are those that cause inflammation and leaky gut and lead to autoimmune disease. These foods include refined sugars, grains, legumes (beans), nightshades, and more.
If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune or thyroid disease, or believe you have a leaky gut, you should avoid these inflammatory foods:
• Grains and pseudograins such as wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, buckwheat, chia seeds, and more.
• Legumes such as lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, soybeans.
• Nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes.
The two inflammatory foods absolutely everyone should avoid completely are gluten and dairy. When you eat gluten, it travels to your small intestine, where it triggers the release of zonulin, a chemical that signals the tight junctions of your intestinal walls to open up. When that happens, you have a leaky gut. Thanks to the groundbreaking research of Dr. Alessio Frasano, we know that Zonulin signals the tight junctions of your intestinal wall to open up. When that happens, you have a leaky gut.
Dairy also causes inflammation in a large percent of the population resulting in digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, as well as other symptoms including acne, and a stronger presentation of autistic behaviors. I believe dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten.
What is it about dairy that causes inflammation and leaky gut? There are two components of dairy that tend to cause inflammation: the sugar (lactose) and the proteins casein and whey. Casein is a protein with a very similar molecular structure to gluten and 50% of people who are gluten intolerant are casein intolerant as well.
Now, let’s look at toxic foods.
Toxic foods are unhealthy for all bodies and should permanently be removed from your diet, or at the very least be consumed as little as possible. Toxic foods are a primary culprit of leaky gut syndrome. Toxic foods include:
• Artificial sweeteners
• Additives, preservatives, and dyes
• High fructose corn syrup
• Trans or hydrogenated fats
• All processed food, junk food, and fast foods
• Packaged gluten-free or dairy-free foods that may have added sugars
Steps to Heal Your Leaky Gut
As I discussed earlier, if you leave your leaky gut untreated it leads to autoimmunity, or puts you further along the autoimmune spectrum. As a functional medicine physician, I recommend taking the 4R approach to heal your gut. I successfully used this approach with thousands of patients in my many years of practice.
Remove all inflammatory foods that can contribute to leaky gut such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs. You’ll also need to ditch toxic foods including sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Finally, eliminate any gut infections you have, whether caused by Candida overgrowth, SIBO, or parasites.
Replace the bad with the good. Adding leaky gut supplements such as digestive enzymes to your regimen will help support optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as assist your body’s intestinal repair and inflammation responses.
Restore the beneficial bacteria in your gut with high-quality, high-potency probiotics to re-establish a healthy microbiome. I recommend 100 billion CFUs (colony forming units) while dealing with a leaky gut. Transition to 30 billion CFUs as a maintenance dose.
Provide your gut with the essential nutrients it needs to repair itself. My most comprehensive weapon against leaky gut is MegaMucosa®, which contains powerful gut-repairing ingredients such as l-glutamine, aloe, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, arabinogalactan, slippery elm, and marshmallow root.
How MegaMucosa® Helps
MegaMucosa® has always been my go-to tool for gut health. It is packed with a high concentration of gut-repairing ingredients that nourish and soothe your gut cells. It also comes in a delicious strawberry lemonade flavor. I look forward to drinking a glass of it every morning, and my daughter, Elle, loves it! It’s so refreshing. Let’s look at the ingredients of MegaMucosa® and their benefits:
L-Glutamine is one of the most important nutrients to restore gut health because of the way it supports cell regeneration. This amino acid helps to mend the broken junctions in your intestinal wall so they can function normally. L-Glutamine can also be used as a preventative nutrient, minimizing the damage caused by the food, toxins, infections, and stress that can lead to leaky gut in the first place.
Larch Arabinogalactan is a fiber that is found in many plants, mostly commonly in the wood from the larch tree. It is a complex carbohydrate that supports healthy immune system function and a free radical fighter. It also promotes healthy gut microflora and promotes gut mending fatty acid production, which is essential in repairing your leaky gut.
Marshmallow root has a high mucilage content, which covers your digestive tract with a protective lining. It can support your gut’s reaction to inflammation, which in turn can impact ulcers, diarrhea, and constipation. Furthermore, marshmallow root can help restore the integrity of the tight junctions found in your gut wall.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) helps your body repair your gut lining and repair your gut by replenishing the mucus that creates a healthy intestinal barrier. DGL is made by removing glycyrrhizin — which can raise blood pressure — from whole licorice while retaining its nutritional benefits. Since the glycyrrhizin has been removed from the licorice, MegaMucosa® will not raise your blood pressure.
Slippery Elm Bark
Slippery elm is another effective herb for gut repair that has been used for centuries in the United States. It works to your advantage in three ways. It increases the mucilage content in your digestive tract and stimulates nerve endings to boost mucus secretion, which neutralizes excessive acidity in the gut.
Aloe vera is soothing and protects your body. It helps your body replace the lost mucus associated with gut damage and leaky gut. Aloe vera supports your immune system, improves water balance within your intestines, and aids in controlling Candida overgrowth.
MegaMucosa® is a great starting point for anyone who believes they have leaky gut syndrome or autoimmune disease. With 3000 mg of L-glutamine, 2000 mg of arabinogalactan, marshmallow root, licorice root, slippery elm, and aloe vera, MegaMucosa® is the absolute best supplement for anyone concerned about their gut health.
Providing your body with the nutrients it needs to heal your gut is essential on your path towards optimal health. If you want a delicious way to start your mornings, MegaMucosa® is a must-have! Simply add a scoop to 8 ounces of water, stir, and enjoy!
FAQs About Leaky Gut
What are the main causes of leaky gut?
The high prevalence of leaky gut is a direct result of our modern lifestyle. The toxic and inflammatory foods we eat, medications, infections, chemicals, and chronic stress are all causes of leaky gut.
Which foods are causes of leaky gut?
Inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy are considered one of the leading causes of leaky gut. Toxic foods including sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods can also cause leaky gut.
What is the best way to heal a leaky gut?
If you’re wondering how to heal leaky gut and prevent leaky gut symptoms, I suggest everyone begin by following the 4R approach: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair.
Dr. Grace - Founder of The Gut Institute