What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
In a leaky gut syndrome, holes or cracks appear on your intestinal walls, leading to the flow of toxins in your bloodstream. This results in a hike in inflammation, and your whole body suffers because of it. It is also known as and contributes to intestinal permeability.
When an individual has a leaky gut syndrome, they suffer from digestive symptoms such as cramps, stomach fullness, bloating, constipation, gas, pains, decreased immunity, and sensitivity to certain or most foods. Sometimes, the symptoms become worse, and conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease come to the surface.
How does it affect the body?
A leaky gut has drastic effects on a person’s body. Knowingly or unknowingly, you can find that your body organs are suffering due to intestinal permeability. You could notice that your intestinal lining is eroding, and as a result, you suffer from several symptoms such as pain and cramps, food sensitivity, gas and bloating, and stomach issues. However, these symptoms are not sufficient to identify a leaky gut. Stomach cramps could be because of another underlying issue which is certainly not a leaky gut.
When you have a leaky gut, your digestion process suffers, and the issues become chronic and frequent. For instance, when you have a leaky gut, you might suffer from chronic constipation, leading to headaches and uneasiness. You cannot take proper decisions or focus on any aspect as your digestion is not clear, and your bowel movements are dysfunctional. This leads to a gradual cognitive decline of your brain functioning. Hence, it becomes essential to overcome leaky gut syndrome as it can affect your body in several ways without any warning.
Does food actually influence gut health?
Of course, food, along with exercise and proper supplementation, influences gut health. The good gut bacteria in our gastrointestinal system play a pivotal role in maintaining the overall body functions. When you consume food, certain foods cannot be digested. These foods are taken care of by good gut bacteria to release vital nutrients in the bloodstream, improve immunity, and safeguard the body against toxins.
It is certainly not completely possible to maintain beneficial gut bacteria as we might have a busy schedule. But we indeed can control and regulate the food and beverage we consume and feed our gut system. We can pay attention to the foods we eat in order to obtain a healthy gut.
Hence, certain foods such as alcohol and dairy products can harm your good bacteria in the gut by manipulating and decreasing them in number. Also, you might suffer from food sensitivities if you have a leaky gut. In such cases, you should not add certain foods that are irritant, to your diet as it will hamper your digestive system as well. Food sensitivity is a signal to your body that you cannot digest a particular food and should avoid it completely. Some even suffer from irritable bowel syndrome due to these conditions. It implies that your gut is rejecting the particular food.
How does food influence gut health?
In a 2019 study published on the NCBI website, one can find that diet has a significant and favorable impact on gut microbiota. Diet is a vital factor influencing the composition of the gut microbiota, as relevant therapies and regimes can be suggested based on that. It also influences the diversity and stability of your gut microbiome. In another published study in 2017, the diet composition has a favorable impact on the gut microbiota and contributes largely to gut health.
To wrap it up, food has a favorable impact on gut health, and one can make significant changes to one’s diet to protect and improve the number of good bacteria in the gut.
Similarly, quitting specific foods can avoid tampering with the healthy bacteria in the system and lead to plenty of benefits. Certain foods irritate the healthy bacteria, make them worse, or directly affect your digestive tract largely. Hence, it is advisable to quit certain foods out of your diet schedule and replace them with healthy ones that suit your digestive health and nourish the good bacteria.
What sort of foods would aggravate leaky gut syndrome?
Certain foods can intensify gut health issues. In a specific study, some foods have been observed to cause inflammation effects on the body, leading to the growth of bad gut bacteria and contributing to chronic ailments. Hence, if you have a leaky gut syndrome, you need to cut back on the following foods or minimize their consumption to the least in order to improve gut health and fix the ongoing issue of a leaky gut.
#1. Dairy products
Well, dairy has a bad rep these days, but all dairy is not bad. These days, we find dairy products infused with chemicals and hormonal injections. Moreover, dairy contains casein, which is challenging to digest for a person with gut issues and intolerant to lactose. When you consume dairy every day in the form of milk and other products, your gastrointestinal health suffers a setback. Your immune system is stressed out, your gut microbiome composition is affected adversely, and all these situations lead to intestinal permeability.
Hence, it is better to keep dairy products at bay when you are associated with gut risks or leaky gut syndrome. Worried about calcium requirements? Don’t worry; you can find plenty of gut-friendly calcium foods available. Also, you can take a calcium supplement with your doctor’s permission.
#2. High gluten foods
You might be relishing pasta and whole-wheat bread sandwiches right now, but you need to be mindful of your gluten consumption. You can find warnings related to gluten intake these days on the internet, and everyone is becoming either gluten-intolerant or gluten-conscious. But what is gluten? Have you ever attempted to understand it in detail?
Well, gluten is a significant part of the grains, a protein specifically that is in sticky form. It is found in several products such as bread, cereals, pasta, and baked foods. You must have noticed that when you eat a lot of sandwiches in one day, you feel bloated, and things just don’t get out of the system the next morning. It is all because of gluten, as it makes the substances sticky inside your stomach and does not let them flow out of your body. Since gluten is hard to digest, the undigested food particles also remain in your system.
Gluten also contains a substance, zonulin, which widens the walls in your gut lining, leading to increased intestinal permeability. Hence, instead of taking laxatives to clear out your bowels, you better quit gluten.
Fortunately, you can find several gluten-free options in the market these days that can make your meal habits healthier and better.
#3. Wheat-based foods
Observe your bowel movements. Do you feel that something sticky inside your stomach is blocking the way and not making the path clearer? It is all because of the gluten in wheat-based products. People quit pasta and refined flour and quite often replace them with wheat-based food products. But they tend to forget that wheat also contains gluten, which is not favorable for your gut health. Moreover, if you use pseudo-grains (the grains processed on the same machines where wheat and other products are manufactured), you are exposing your gut to gluten and nothing else.
Hence, read the labels carefully when you buy a certain food product, as you should not be blindly and unknowingly consuming gluten and related substances.
Not all oils are unfavorable for your health. You need to understand that when we mean oils, we refer to the extremely refined ones and the fried and oily and spicy foods. Yes, if you have the habit of munching on a portion of French fries or potato wedges and chips every day as snack foods, it is certainly not good for your gut health. Oily foods tend to clog your arteries, and also affect your gut, and can lead to problems such as acidity and gas. Hence, it is better if you limit the consumption of oily foods and keep them to a minimum. Eating fries once a month is okay, but do not make it your staple food.
Similarly, you need to skip the refined oils, incorporate cold-pressed versions in your routine and try out healthy oils such as sesame and olive oil.
#5. Artificial sweeteners
These are other kinds of foods that are not favorable for your gut and overall health. Artificial sweetening agents contain substances such as sucralose and aspartame, which are not good for gut and brain health. When you consume artificial sweeteners in excess, your body undergoes neurodegenerative issues. And your gut also suffers a lot.
Even if research has shown that moderate alcohol intake can contribute to better health. Yeah, long term, but remember the word ‘moderation.’ Red wine has always received a good rep as the polyphenols in it help in the decline of intestinal permeability. In a nutshell, alcohol is damn a component of a leaky gut. Many studies have demonstrated that excessive intake of alcohol can lead to drastic and unwanted changes in the intestinal microbiota. Also, there is an instant hike in the bad and unhealthy bacteria, which influences the gut flora balance. So, consume alcohol moderately, but if you can’t keep your hands off another glass of alcohol, we suggest quitting it altogether. Just don’t go for a drink, or it might lead to excess consumption.
#7. Processed foods
Here comes the last on the list but comprise 80 percent of the supermarket shelves. We find processed foods everywhere, and some even brag that they are healthy, free of Trans fat, and contain essential nutrients. But do they really contain healthy and valuable ingredients? Well, become a label-reader for that. If you ask any healthcare expert for better gut health tips, they will suggest you keep processed foods away from your shopping cart while you are at the supermarket.
Choose natural, organic foods instead. You can make a ton of healthy, gluten-free snacks at home. Browse the internet for such recipes. Processed foods contain high quantities of refined flour (of course, gluten too), sodium, and sugar. They cover a range of yummy foods such as chips, snacks, cakes and chocolates, candies, ready-to-eat, and ready-to-cook items, and lots more. Even some peanut butter and jams contain a ton of preservatives and artificial sweeteners that damage your gut and still claim to be healthy. So, make an effort to read the labels while shopping for such foods, and here is a list of some digestive superfoods that you can add to your basket, while you are grocery shopping.
Can the above foods be used in moderation?
Responding to this question is dicey. It doesn’t mean you need to skip all these foods for eternity. You can cut back on them, but if they are severe on your gut, you are supposed to quit them completely. For instance, if milk makes you wary in the morning or at night, or immediately after drinking it, you should not add milk to your routine. Replace your calcium requirements with other fortified foods such as soy and eggs, but keep milk off the chart.
However, cooking without sufficient oil is a challenge, and everyone needs the lubrication that oil offers. In these cases, you need to skip oily and fried foods and use oil minimally. In this way, you can consume oil in requisite proportions and not feed your gut with unnecessary fried foods and damage it.
Drinking a limited quantity of alcohol once in a while is okay, but if you treat yourself with drinks at every social function and on weekends and more, you are causing havoc to your gut health. In short, you need to know where to stop when you consume the above foods. And if you have major allergies and food sensitivities, then quit them completely and safeguard and improve your gastrointestinal health for your own good.
What can help minimize the damage of the above foods?
As we suggested in the above point, self-control is the key. You cannot quit dairy entirely, but if you minimize its consumption and notice your patterns, you can bring a change in your leaky gut symptoms. Following are a few tips:
- Recognize when you feel uneasy. If drinking milk in the morning is the first thing you do that makes your stomach upset; you need to try it at night.
- Identify your food sensitivities. Take tests or observe your body patterns and get rid of the foods that you are sensitive toward. It might happen that when you quit these foods, your gut health will receive a boost.
- Minimize its consumption. Drinking two glasses of milk and consuming yogurt and other dairy foods can certainly trigger your digestive system because you are doing it in excess. Instead, reduce the consumption pattern and go for a limited pattern, and your gut will bless you for that.
- Adopt a leaky gut diet plan and make it your routine. Eat fermented foods and other foods such as bone broth that heal leaky gut and increase the beneficial bacteria in your body. To know the power of bone broth on leaky gut, read more.
In short, when you plan your next week’s diet or prepare a meticulous meal plan for the month, ensure that you do not shop for these foods. It is inevitable to use certain foods such as milk and oil, so you can use them in moderation. The key is to plan for its consumption and avoid certain foods that trigger your immune system and gut health. Replace them with healthy alternatives that suit your health requirements well. And at the same time, you can use prebiotic and probiotic supplements as well to improve gut health, find out the Top 10 Best Leaky Gut Supplements that are currently trending in the market for their wide variety of beneficial live bacterial strains and prebiotic fibers.