Why You Might Have A Leaky Gut + How To Fix It

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Wondering if leaky gut might be contributing to your health issues?

First, let's review what makes a gut "leaky." The gut is a long tube, running from your mouth to your anus. The gut includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The term "leaky gut," however, is referring to a specific part of the gut: our intestines.

The cells that line the intestines are bound together and keep the bacteria and undigested food from entering the bloodstream. There are gates between the cells that can be opened and allow fluid from the bloodstream to come pouring into the intestines, leading to diarrhea. When people are infected with the cholera bacteria, a toxin is released that makes these gates open very widely, and profound watery diarrhea ensues.

The scientist Allessio Fasano discovered these gates open and close in response to the cholera toxins. In addition, these gates will also partially open in response to gluten in someone who is genetically susceptible. When the gates are partially opened, bacterial fragments and incompletely digested food particles get into the bloodstream. This can cause a marked increase in inflammation and worsening of symptoms.

If you have the genes that put you at a higher risk for developing an abnormal immune response to food—that is, a food sensitivity reaction—having a leaky gut makes you more likely to develop gluten sensitivity. And if the leaky gut continues for years, you are more likely to develop an abnormal immune response to other foods such as dairy protein, eggs, shellfish, legumes, other grains, and other types of foods.

If you have a chronic health challenge, you likely have a leaky gut. Many medications can also contribute to the development of a leaky gut. So for example, if you're taking acid-lowering medication, antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or prednisone, you likely have a leaky gut.

In my therapeutic lifestyle clinic, I see people with many chronic medical problems. I presume that everyone who comes to us likely has a leaky gut, at least to some degree, contributing to their health issues.

Healing a leaky gut is a key step in restoring health. Here are the five most useful steps I recommend:

1. Eliminate gluten from your diet.

If you're genetically susceptible, gluten can lead to a leaky gut. Eliminate it 100 percent for 100 days. Consuming an occasional cheat meal with gluten prevents the leaky gut from healing.

2. Eliminate casein.

This is the protein in dairy. Again, eliminate it 100 percent for 100 days. If you're having an abnormal immune response to gluten, there is a high probability you'll also have an abnormal response to casein.

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3. Consume bone broth.

The glutamine in bone broth is fuel for the cells in the colon.

4. Take cod liver oil.

It's full of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A—essential nutrients for your colon and immune cells.

5. Consume liver or shellfish for zinc.

Zinc is another key nutrient for both immune cells and colon cells that is present in an easily absorbable form in liver and shellfish.

To learn more about restoring gut health, check out my new class.

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

Terry Wahls, M.D.

Professor Of Medicine & Best-Selling Author
Dr. Terry Wahls is a professor of medicine at the University of Iowa where she conducts clinical research on the use of diet and lifestyle to treat brain-related problems. She has also worked at the VA for many years in the traumatic brain injury clinic and was the director of the therapeutic lifestyle clinic. In both clinics, she focused on using diet and lifestyle to treat traumatic brain injury and neurological and neurodegenerative disorders. Time and time again she saw people experience marked reduction in pain, improved mood, and better thinking. She also saw that in her own life. She has progressive MS and for seven years, she declined steadily, and though she took the newest drugs, including very potent biologic drugs, she ended up in a tilt-recline wheelchair for four years. When she started studying the latest brain science and designed a diet and lifestyle program specifically to support my brain cells, her decline slowed, then stopped, then she recovered. She now bike five miles to work. She uses these principles to help others with a wide variety of brain-related symptoms end their decline and suffering and restore their lives. If you want to learn more about the protocols she used in her recovery, clinics, and research, visit her site. Pick up her book, The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles, and the companion cookbook, The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life. If you want to dive even more deeply into what she does to help people reverse their decline and get their lives back, come to the Wahls Protocol® Seminar that I conduct each August.
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Terry Wahls, M.D.

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