After months of struggling with a painful face rash and years of various gut and skin issues, I decided I’ve ignored my health long enough. It’s time to dig deep. I came across the concept of ‘leaky gut’ and how it increases inflammation in my body and causes all sorts of allergies.
I might be wrong but I had a feeling the vast majority of my problems came from my chronically ill-treated gut. So I started looking into how to heal my leaky gut.
The basic concept to healing anything is simple: Reduce further insults and help the organ to heal itself. In this situation, reduce gut inflammation by not eating or doing anything that further worsens leaky gut. And at the same time, improving your overall digestive health.
Let’s take a deep dive:
Reduce gut inflammation
Stop eating these foods:
- Processed foods – basically anything that is unidentifiable as a natural food
- High-sugar foods – usually processed foods, pastries and yummy treats like cookies
- High-allergy foods – gluten and dairy are the biggest culprits
This is a no-no:
Check out some easy and healthy gluten-free snack ideas.
Junk food addict? Read how you can stop eating junk food.
Improve your gut health
While our body does a great job at healing itself, once you have a chronically leaky gut, your bowels are essentially in a semi-comatose state in ICU. It will not be able to heal itself without some help. Here’s what you can eat to give your gut the tools it needs to recover:
Foods high in probiotics
Probiotics are good bacteria. They live in the gut and affect our lives in ways we never thought possible.
Foods high in probiotic include:
- yogurt with live cultures
- kefir (fermented probiotic milk drink)
- unpasteurized sauerkraut
- tempeh (fermented soybean)
- sour dough bread
Or take a probiotic supplement:
Foods high in prebiotics
Prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that feed the good bacteria in your gut.
Foods high in prebiotics include:
- chicory root
- dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichoke
- wheat bran
Becareful if you think you could be gluten sensitive. Some foods with prebiotics also contain gluten.
If you don’t think you can eat enough prebiotic foods, a prebiotic powder might help:
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water but adds physical bulk to your stool and helps speed up its movement in your gut.
Foods high in insoluble fiber include:
- wheat bran
- rice bran
- vegetable skins
- green peas
- cooked prunes
- dark leafy greens
Soluble fiber are prebiotics. They are fermented by the good gut bacteria into short chain fatty acids that improve our gut health.
Have kids who hate vegetables? Check out how I got my kids to eat veges.
Foods high in soluble fiber include:
- black beans
- brussels sprouts
- sweet potato
- blue berries
- green beans
- chick peas
It looks like all fruits and vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Read about my carrot experiment where I try to eat carrot every day for a week.
Collagen can be found in almost every tissue in the body. The evidence in humans is scant but one study showed collagen peptides can prevent breakdown of the intestinal lining.
Collagen from foods is more bioavailable than supplementing:
- Bone broth
- Fish with skin on
- Egg whites contain proline – necessary for collagen production
This braised pork knuckle dish is a yummy way to get collagen:
If you are vegan, the next best thing is eating fruits and veges high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed to make pro-collagen, the precursor to collagen.
The jury is out about collagen supplements and whether our bodies can actually use it. But there’s no harm in taking one:
Fermented foods provide more diversity of good bacteria in the gut. These foods are listed above as foods that are high in probiotics.
Other things you can do
Our body is so complex even the smartest researchers don’t understand much of it. But one thing everyone knows, it’s all connected. Having the perfect diet isn’t going to be enough if you also smoke like a chimney.
These are other things you can do to help your gut zen out and heal:
I reckon stress is the number one killer. Whoever said hard work never killed anyone was stupid. I’m not advocating laziness. I’m just saying too many of us work too hard at our careers, families, social life and even our health sometimes, putting ourselves through way too much unnecessary stress that takes its toll on our bodies.
Further reading: How to treat your depression naturally?
I learnt this first hand after the birth of my second child. Between my 2 year old and my infant, we woke up at least 5 to 6 times a night and hardly had more than 2 hours in one go. I caught every cold around. I looked like death and struggled with depression. It really sucked.
Good sleep is the pillar of good health. Get this right and it will be a lot easier to get all the other ducks in a row.
Fasting will also give your gut a rest, allowing it to focus on healing. Our body works on a Circadian clock. Restricting our food intake to time windows when our digestion is at its peak performance and letting it rest when its tired helps both your body and your gut.
Read my article on how beginners can start time restricted eating.
If you need me to tell you about the negatives of smoking and why you need to stop, you’ve been living under a rock for the last 50 years.
How long does it take to heal a leaky gut?
The timeline to healing a leaky gut varies by person. However, with the right TLC, a leaky gut can improve in as early as a few weeks.
That’s great news isn’t it. There is nothing worse than not knowing if what you’re doing is having any good effect. Anyone can work on something for a few weeks to see if it helps. And if it does, that gives us the motivation to continue slogging.
To wrap up
Eating right for leaky gut is most simply about including healthy, whole foods that are right for you, and avoiding processed foods.
Just because a food is listed as ‘healthy’ or ‘recommended’ doesn’t mean its right for you. If you feel bad after eating something healthy, it probably isn’t good for you. The only way is through trial and error.
Check out what you need to avoid that causes a leaky gut.
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