While attending my last doctor’s appointment, I received the results of my IgG, which showed that I had sensitivities to over 70 different food items. After mourning the fact that I wouldn’t be able to eat some of my favorite foods such as avocado and almonds for several months, I moaned at the idea of telling my loved ones that I probably could not share in the meals that they prepare for a while. After years of shunning meals that were made with gluten or dairy, I knew adding MORE items to my list of, I can’t eat that, would be a arduous task. Many of the repeated questions I received from family and friends were, “you can’t eat (insert food)?!?! What’s wrong with it? Should I be avoiding this particular food as well?” My answer was a no, as I tried to explain that many of my food sensitivities are to foods that are considered healthy and give the body many needed vitamins and minerals. People with a healthy gut can tolerate these foods with no problem. I acquired sensitivities to these foods because of something called leaky gut.
Leaky gut is something that occurs in when the villi in your intestines become irritated or inflamed. Healthy villi in your gut allow for your body to absorbed nutrients from food that you consume. However, when these brush like boarders are broken down from stress, illness, antibiotics or processed food, it allows tiny food particles to get into your blood stream. These foreign objects cause your body to set off an immune response in order to deal with them. In Mark Sisson’s book, The Primal Blueprint, he further explains what happens in this process by stating,
“Unfortunately, these undigested protein molecules can resemble molecules that reside on the outside of healthy cells, leaving your immune system confused as to who the real enemy is. An autoimmune response ensues, something experts believe is the root cause of many common diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other conditions.”(Sisson, 168)
In my own body, it caused my immune system to start attacking my gut, which left me with inflammatory bowel disease. I believe the breakdown of my villi happened in college as I was exposed to stress from school, multiple rounds of antibiotics, alcohol and tons of processed diet food. After college I began to start to cut out certain foods and made a switch to a whole food diet. This seemed to improve my symptoms, but I didn’t consider myself 100% healed as I still had reoccurring bouts of symptoms when I found myself coming down with a cold or stressed. It wasn’t until recently as I started on a combination of gut healing techniques, increased my consumption of protein and amino acids and avoided potential food sensitivities that my chronic symptoms are disappearing and the overall health of my gut is starting to return to a balanced state.
What are the symptoms of leaky gut?
In my own experience, leaky gut presented itself with a host of symptoms including: food intolerances, inflammatory bowel, anxiety, fatigue and depression. These symptoms appeared soon after taking multiple rounds of antibiotics. On Chris Kresser’s blog he includes an article titled, 9 Steps to Perfect Health-#5 Heal your gut, he mentions that ,
“Leaky gut can manifest as skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, heart failure, autoimmune conditions affecting the thyroid (hashimoto’s) or joints (rheumatoid arthritis), mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, depression and more. “ (source)
The good news is that if you believe you are suffering from leaky gut, you can do things to heal your gut and get rid of your food sensitivities.
Steps to heal your gut
- Test for parasites in your gut- It turned out that I had yeast present in my body which contributed to my leaky gut. Once I killed off the yeast, I was able to rebalance my gut flora.
- Get a good quality probiotic- Make sure you are getting a probiotic from a reliable source that is quality tested. I ended up getting a high dose mult -strain probiotic from my functional medicine doctor.
- Remove processed food from your diet- If you don’t want to get tested for food sensitivities, I recommend doing program such as GAPS, or SCD diet. This will allow your gut to heal before you slowly add in foods to test if you can tolerate them.
- Drink Bone Broth- Bone broth contained many healing vitamins and minerals and contains gelatin that will help sooth the digestive track.
1. “9 Steps to Perfect Health – #5: Heal Your Gut.” Chris Kresser. N.p., 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 31 Dec. 2014. <http://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-5-heal-your-gut>.
2. Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint: Reprogramme Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health and Boundless Energy. London: Vermilion, 2012. Print.