The mainstream is always 10-20 years behind the cutting edge. Researchers are gleaning facts today that sadly won’t trickle down to doctors, clinical practice, and patients for years to come.
Just because something isn’t mainstream, however, doesn’t mean that evidence is lacking and that treatment options are not available. Consider how long it took conventional medical doctors to “accept” that vitamin D deficiency has major health implications and screen for it. Throughout history, the conventional mainstream has denied the existence of bacteria, sperm, Celiac disease and a variety of other objects, syndromes, and disease states.
During the trickle-down process, as the research nudges its way into day-to-day clinical practice, new or different ideas are met with a variety of reactions. Common reactions include, but are not limited to: denial, dismissal, indifference, ridicule, and the suggestion that perhaps you are stupid or need an antidepressant for thinking such a thing or questioning convention.
These gimmicks are old hat, and I am seeing them more and more in the discussion around leaky gut…or, in medi-speak: intestinal hyperpermeability. The same ol’ arguments that have been used before:
Argument: “There’s no research into it.”
Fact: Typing “intestinal hyperpermeability” into PubMed, a clearinghouse for medical literature, will yield over 150 research articles.
Arugument: “There’s no test for it.”
Fact: There are several. The most famous is the lactulose-mannitol test, but Cyrex Labs also offers a variety of testing options.
Arugument: “There’s no magic bullet to cure it.”
Fact: There is no magic bullet to cure arguably anything. Even our most successful drugs won’t work on a certain slice of the population. And lack of a magic bullet cure does not preclude the existence of a condition. We are still working on every SINGLE chronic condition out there, and we still haven’t tagged bacteria and viruses yet. (Indeed, they are doing a good job of tagging us.)
These arguments and insults are repetitive hooks and gimmicks used by deniers or whoever to keep the focus off of the facts and gleaning information that can be used to help people. This is called “jumping the shark” (i.e. using ridiculous tricks over and over to in an attempt to keep interest piqued).
And I’ll be honest — it can wear on the nerves. Can you tell?
In a nutshell, leaky gut/intestinal permeability is a loss of integrity at the cellular level of the lining of the small intestine. The cells there are supposed to stand next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, to form a tight barrier. When that barrier is compromised, from improper nutrition to alcohol/substance abuse, to certain medications, chronic stress, lack of sleep, lack of digestive fire, immune dysfunction, particular disease states (like inflammatory bowel disease) or other factors, an immune response is stimulated which can culminate in accumulating food sensitivities, digestive trouble, brain fog, and other complaints.
In my experience while working with thousands of people with a variety of digestive and non-digestive issues, in order to restore gut function and optimize health, the integrity of the lining of the gut has to be ensured. Most particularly in those with digestive or autoimmune trouble, I find that it is the most overlooked step in the path to getting people better.
Without healing up the lining of the digestive tract, it is difficult to have top-notch digestive function, and thus achieve a state of next-level health and vibrancy.
While working with clients, my approach is this:
1. Find and eliminate food sensitivities.
2. Clean up the environment if necessary.
3. Create a happy microbiome.
4. Ensure good digestive fire.
5. Heal the lining of the digestive tract.
This last step is the crown jewel of the whole process because without it, the subsequent steps just aren’t as effective.
Luckily, these other steps also help heal the digestive lining.
In addition, I also like to take the extra steps that are easily incorporated into the diet and lifestyle that can also support healing of leaky gut.
On the food front, there are several stand-outs that should be used several times weekly to help soothe and repair your small intestine. They are as follows:
1. Bone broth – contains vitamins, minerals and collagen building compounds to support healing. You can use the broth as a base for soup, to braise veggies or meats, or just drink it straight up.
2. Plain gelatin – you can add 1-2 tsp to water, smoothies or stews, or make gelatin bars using tea, fruit, and natural sugar substitutes like stevia.
3. Blueberries – contain proline and Vitamin C, compounds necessary for building soft tissues.
4. Okra – (in all it’s slippery goodness) can help quell small intestine inflammation.
In terms of herbs and supplements, there are multiple options that help support good integrity of the small intestine and can be used to repair leaky gut. Likewise, there are multiple leaky gut formulations out there on the market. Look for something that contains the following: l-glutamine, NAG (n-acetyl glucosamine), zinc-carnosine, MSM, marshmallow, aloe, licorice, chamomile, cat’s claw and quercetin.
In terms of your overall lifestyle, getting enough sleep, not drinking tons of booze or taking pharmaceutical drugs injudiciously, doing restorative exercises like leisure walking and meditation all serve to ensure good integrity of the digestive lining.
So are these a magic bullet (ahem!)?
I can’t say that, of course, but I can say that by utilizing this approach, countless people have been able to create a happier gut for themselves.
“First they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they attack you; and then you win.” -Gandhi
I would humbly add to this brilliant quote – “Then the tides change, then all benefit.”
Dr. Jillian Teta is a medically trained naturopathic doctor and the author of, “Natural Solutions for Digestive Health”, which is being releasedin 2014 by Sterling Publishing.
She practices at the Naturopathic Health Clinic of North Carolina where she focuses on digestive health. Through working with thousands of clients, she has created the Fix Your Digestion Gut Restoration Program, an online educational and practical program that guides you step-by-step on how to heal your digestive tract. She blogs at www.fixyourdigestion.com. You can also keep up with Jillian on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (JillianTeta), and YouTube.