Digestive health is a top priority when it comes to wellness. We cannot thrive in any way, shape, or form without first tending to and nurturing our gut. Restorative sleep, clear skin, cognitive health, immunity, hormone health, and so much more hinge on how well our gut is functioning. However, being that we are constantly consuming input, and considering the disrupted food system that exists in the modern world, optimal gut health takes a lot more vigilance. So much can go wrong.
We hear about leaky gut syndrome all the time these days. It’s not necessarily new, but the understanding of it is relatively modern. And for many of us, the definition of it is nebulous. While it’s not necessarily as clear-cut as our gut literally leaking into the rest of our body, it is dangerous, can become chronic, and can lead to more serious diseases. We chatted with Dr. Taz Bhatia for a clearer understanding.
So just what is it exactly? “Imagine a long tube stretching the length from your mouth all the way down to your navel. The tube is long and winding, and through it, your food passes. As food passes through the tube, it is digested and absorbed, keeping your body sourced with all nutritional needs,” Dr. Taz begins.
“On a good day, all goes well in the tube, with the work of digestion humming along like a finely tuned machine. But it’s not always that easy to keep the lining of that tube intact. Chronic stress, medications, poor food choices or quality, alcohol, cigarettes, and even hormone changes all can disrupt that lining, ruining the connection that the cells along the intestinal lining have.”
If gut issues are something you suffer from, take comfort in the fact that so much of it is out of our immediate control! These factors hang in a delicate balance. When this balance is off, Dr. Taz explains, “This literally can cause your nutrients and other predigested substances to ‘leak’ or pass through, which, in turn, triggers an inflammatory response in the body.
“In fact, most research today shows that the majority of inflammation begins in the gut or due to a ‘misfiring’ in the digestive system, altering the microbiome, aka the delicate balance of bacteria in the belly. Most doctors today prefer the term malabsorption or increased intestinal permeability. Call it whatever you prefer, but it’s real, and I’ve treated thousands of patients who have suffered from it.”
OK, so it can be serious, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s treatable, requires awareness and proactivity, and, most likely, the guidance of a professional. Here’s Dr. Taz’s protocol.
“Some of my favorite recommendations for healing leaky gut begin with food,” she tells us. “If you are unable to do testing for leaky gut, consider pulling gluten and dairy out of your diet as starting steps. These proteins can be more difficult to break down and can worsen an already leaky gut.
“Watch your intake of sugar and alcohol, as these can increase the yeast load in your gut too. I usually recommend limiting alcohol to no more than four drinks per week, and refined sugar needs to stay under 40 grams per day—less if you want to aggressively see results.” It’s safe to say that we at Poosh aggressively love results.
“My favorite supplements for leaky gut include:
1. Glutamine—an amino acid that rebuilds your gut lining.
2. Slippery elm—an herb that coats the intestinal lining, promoting healing.
3. Aloe vera—which is so powerful and also helps to rebuild the gut lining.
4. Digestive enzymes—especially ones that include amylase and lipase because these help to digest the food we eat.
5. Probiotics—a high-quality probiotic can help balance the microbiome and improve digestion and absorption. Look for a high colony count (i.e., above 20 billion cfu) and a varied number of strains!
Finally, don’t forget that leaky gut is often the root of many inflammatory diseases for children and adults, including ADHD, allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disease like lupus, colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis—and research is pointing toward cancer, too. Fix your gut and see your overall health improve; that stubborn weight will come off, energy will increase, and your hormones will balance out!”