Cleanse your colon; heal your leaky gut

 All disease begins in the gut.” ‒Hippocrates

As true today as when it was first said 2,000 years ago, but we’re only now coming to understand how connected our gut health is to practically every health situation from autism spectrum disorder, to chronic fatigue syndrome, to eczema, to obesity, and of course indigestion and yeast infections.
While recent research is beginning to verify how critical gut health is to overall health, few traditional doctors have yet caught on. Many researchers and holistic health doctors (including myself) believe that supporting intestinal health and restoring the integrity of the gut lining will be one of the most important strategies for 21st century medicine.

Cleanse your colon; heal your leaky gut

But truthfully, it is unlikely a profit driven pharmaceutical approach will ever embrace this. It is simply not possible to take a pill and solve this problem.

When the intestinal lining begins to break down (aka “leaky gut”) it:

  1. plays host to unwanted bacteria, yeast, and parasites;
  2. becomes chafed, leaky and ulcerated;
  3. no longer absorbs from your food the nutrients you need; and
  4. sends signals throughout your body to let you know about this internal inflammation and infection problem.

At first these signals are quite subtle, maybe a little headache or more gas than usual—and some weight gain (especially around the middle). You may or may not notice any symptoms.

Ignore those subtle inflamed, leaky gut symptoms?

Look at it this way: when you ignore someone’s communication that person does more to get your attention, right? If you’ve been expecting a polite memo from your intestine saying “Hey, umm, if you aren’t too busy could I have a minute of your time; I’ve something to show you?” forget about it.

Think very small child who has been off pouting in the corner and now means business: let the wailing begin…

Want a more manageable intestinal tract? Knowledge is Power.

First of all, the two key functions of a healthy intestine:

  1. absorb nutrients from the food you eat; and
  2. form a barrier to prevent unwanted things from entering your body.

The body as a garden; a holistic view of intestinal health

Your intestines as “gatekeeper”

A healthy gut is somewhat a specialized an extension of your skin barrier. It’s a big tube running inside your body that keeps unwanted things on the outside. From pathogens to toxins to toxic chemicals to indigested food, the lining of your gut shuts the door on entry—or should.

The cycle from healthy garden to toxic wasteland

  1. We shift the organisms living in us from friendly helpers to unwanted, me-first, polluters.
  2. The gut lining begins to become irritated, inflamed, and even ulcerated; it becomes leaky.
  3. Particles now leak through and around your intestinal barrier, setting off inflammation and pain in other areas of your body.

Meet your intestinal gardeners; the microscopic workers who make nutritional meals

Our gut is home to approximately100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) microorganisms. How big is this number?

  • One trillion dollar bills laid end-to-end would stretch from the earth to the sun and back—we are talking 100 trips to the sun—and back!!
  • The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body, with over 400 known diverse bacterial species.

If you have the right ones living there; these are your friends: they actually extract the nutrients from your food and give them to you in exchange for a dark, warm, moist intestinal home. But other things also like dark, warm and moist and will happily begin to create their version of an intestinal slum if you let them. Candida, parasites, certain gram negative bacteria

Note (semi-technical digression): not all yeast or gram-negative bacteria are human pathogens. But many CAN become pathogenic if the opportunity to do so arrives. It is common to find these living in your intestines—outside. If they breach the skin or mucous membranes (e.g. intestines), colonize where they should not be, they can become pathogens, cause disease and death. Gram negative bacteria constitute the largest group of human pathogens. In part, this is because the thick gram negative cell walls make them more resistant to antibiotics, help them evade the immune system, and contain “Lipid A”, which triggers blood clotting in the blood vessels; a condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).

Having the correct gut flora provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 75% of our immune system. Improper gut flora is linked to diseases ranging from autism and depression to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.

Unfortunately, more than one feature of our modern lifestyle contributes directly to unhealthy gut flora:

  • Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs
  • Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils
  • Toxic chemicals that the liver transforms and eliminates in bile via the intestine
  • Diets low in fermentable fibers—the old, incorrect nomenclature was soluble vs. insoluble. Wasn’t quite right, it needs to be “eaten” by the microbes you want
  • Ceasarian sections and not breastfeeding infants
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic infections (although I argue that this is a result, not a cause)

Antibiotic use especially causes a profound shift in the composition of the gut flora; one that cannot be restored without taking key restorative steps.

Shifting from foods based on fresh vegetables and healthy fats from protein sources to high starch/carbohydate/grain diets creates an unhealthy gut flora shift in just 24 hours.

That’s right! Just one day can start change: several studies show that microbiome composition can change within 24 hours of initiating a high-carb diet. And in about 10 days, you have a majority of unwanted microbes. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that making proper dietary changes can produce immediate shifts back to healthful. The bad news is that most people have not made these shifts, have bad information, or both—and for a very long time.

Now infested, your poor, inflamed gut becomes leaky

When the intestinal barrier becomes permeable (i.e. “leaky gut syndrome) that means it is no longer acting as a barrier. Partially undigested food, as well as the bacteria, yeast, and parasites now move into the lymph and bloodstream. Since none of these belong outside of the gut, the body mounts an immune response and attacks them. You feel the fatigue and discomforts of this immune response; this may be your first “memo” that all is not well.

Unfortunately, this means you are now sensitive to the very foods you have been eating regularly—whether healthy or not—because these are the particles that have leaked through your gut barrier and signaled to your body that there is a foreign invader.

Studies show the immune response to food plays a key role in developing autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and others. In fact, experts in believe that leaky gut is a precondition to autoimmunity.

Notice please the diversity of symptoms and health problems that result from a leaky gut: Food toxins like gluten and gliaden, chemicals like arsenic and other metals, plastics and more cause an immune response that affects not just the gut itself, but also other organs and tissues as seemingly unrelated as the brain, skeletal system, thyroid, pancreas, liver and more.

There is growing evidence that increased intestinal permeability plays a pathogenic role in various autoimmune diseases including [celiac disease] and [type 1 diabetes]. Therefore, we hypothesize that besides genetic and environmental factors, loss of intestinal barrier function is necessary to develop autoimmunity.” –Jeroen Visser University of Groningen, the Netherlands

Importantly, and this may be why mainstream medicine is slow to accept the importance of gut health to overall health, is that you don’t have to have gut symptoms to have a leaky gut. Leaky gut can manifest as skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, heart failure, autoimmune conditions affecting the thyroid (Hashimoto’s) or joints (rheumatoid arthritis), mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, and even depression.

Although conventional researchers and doctors originally scoffed at the idea that a leaky gut contributes to autoimmune problems, it is now very clear that the integrity of the intestinal barrier is a major factor in autoimmune disease. The intestinal barrier in large part determines whether we tolerate or react to the substances we ingest from the environment.

Ten days to a healthy gut

Shifting from high starch/carbohydate/grain diets to foods based on fresh vegetables plus healthy fats from protein sources can get you back on the garden path to healthy gut flora in just 24 hours.

That’s right! Just one day can start change. It takes longer to create a majority of desirable organisms—minimally 10 days. And remember, it switches back to unhealthy fast—so this is a lifestyle, not a magic pill.

If you have or suspect you have this problem, immediately take steps to reduce inflammation and heal your intestinal lining:

  1. Remove toxic foods from your diet: this includes ALL commercially produced-in-high-volume items. You MUST carefully control all your ingredients. This also includes grains, grain-fed meats, sugar, corn, soy, and in most cases dairy. In ALL cases, dairy products must be raw or skip them.
  2. Remove other toxics from your life: perfumes, chemicals, cleaning products are a good place to start.
  3. Improve your diet: remove sugars and starchy carbohydrates (all, not just gluten-containing). Remove fruit. Add in green leafy vegetables and healthy fats.
  4. Eat plenty of fermentable fibers: (green leafy vegetables, cucmber… after a while add in starches like sweet potato, yam—go slowly
  5. Eat fermented foods: like coconut milk  kefir, yogurt, home-made probiotic sauerkraut or salsa, etc. Check out other recipes and tips at www.OurNutritionKitchen.com
  6. Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that we find until they are completely gone. Nutrition Response Testing can determine how to proceed.