Leaky Gut 101

Leaky Gut, What Is It and Why Should You Care?

What is leaky gut and what causes it? Does it mean you are sick? Why do you need to pay attention to it?

With the rise of gluten-free products, probiotics, and other “digestive” products, leaky gut is a topic of much discussion online and on social media.

I am a big believer that before you do something for your health, or purchase any product, you should at least understand some of the rationale behind it. You don’t need to know every detail, just enough to ask smart questions (especially when famous people use jargon to sell you stuff).

And that’s part of the problem.

Leaky gut sounds like something you should be speaking to your mechanic about, not your doctor. In fact, if you mention leaky guy to your doctor, you will undoubtedly be met with skepticism and a weird look on his/her face.

So that’s what this gut health article series will be about – the basics of leaky gut: What is? What causes it? Why should you care about it?

Barriers, Good for Your Gut and Your Life   

Leaky gut is a condition caused by tears in your gut lining.

Think of it this way.

Imagine you have a neighbor that has trouble with “boundaries’. She loves her hideous shrub that is planted a little too close to your yard. So close, in fact, that all of its trimmings and debris blow into your yard, ruining your pristine landscaping.

Now picture this.

You get fed up one day, run to Home Depot, and build a wooden fence in between your two yards. The stakes of the fence are brand new, they are in the ground solidly, and none are missing. Now, when your neighbor trims her shrub, none of her cuttings can blow into your yard and mess up your pristine flowers, because the fence is a solid barrier.

One day there is a powerful storm, the fence gets damaged, and some of the stakes get bent.

The fence is still there, but now there are “leaks”.

Maybe one or 2 stakes are missing. The fence is still there, but now random bits of hedge debris from her yard are going to fly into yours.

One Culprit, Many Symptoms

Leaky gut is kind of like a leaky fence. When there are tears in your intestinal lining, “outside” debris is able to enter your bloodstream, causing issues that you may not even notice.

You don’t have to feel sick or have poor digestion to have leaky gut.

It does not just affect your digestive system, it affects your whole body. Leaky gut causes you to feel sluggish and tired, have trouble losing weight, not be of optimal mood, and have difficulty sleeping (and that’s just to name a few of the symptoms!)

There are lots of things are caused by leaky gut, but one central culprit unifies all of these symptoms – chronic inflammation.

In the next article, I’ll explain what causes chronic inflammation is, why it is such an issue and why you need to address it ASAP

leaky gut

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Gut Health. Yes, It’s Important

Unless you have been living under a rock these days, you have probably been hearing nonstop about gut health, leaky gut, probiotics, prebiotics, etc. Not just how important it is for your health, but how it can affect your mood, sleep, and even skin.

Why is gut health suddenly such a hot topic?

Well, a lot of people want to sell you a lot of stuff, and gut health is trendy. But more importantly, it’s only been recently that the scientific community has really started focusing on this importance of gut health.

It is a widely accepted fact that there is a gut-brain axis, which is how your brain and gut are connected. Think of it as a 2-way communication pathway.

Since these two pathways are directly connected, it would make sense that they highly affect one other, right?

Bacteria in the gut activates your central nervous system – which helps to control your brain. As a result, issues such as anxiety, minor depression, and lack of motivation are all affected by your gut

Welcome to Your Smarter Brain

Taking a step back, your gut-brain is not the connection mentioned above. It’s a smaller, smarter, and more vital brain inside your gut.

This brain is just like your regular brain – it contains chemicals your brain uses for signaling (known as neurotransmitters) that are very important to our mood, motivation, sleep, sex drive, hormones, and energy.

It’s “smarter” because it produces more neurotransmitters than our head brain. Chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, the stuff that makes us motivated and happy, are produced in greater quantities in our gut brain.

Feed Your Gut Brain

Does it sometimes feel like your gut is speaking to you?

Well, it turns out you are probably right. The bacteria in your gut will affect how effectively these systems are working, and will directly affect your mood, mental health, and the messages being sent to you.

Ancient cultures have always made gut health and digestion a priority. It’s a big reason why fermented foods are present in most cultures, no matter the region of the world. They long understood that when foods are fermented, “good” bacteria is present, and that’s good for your body and mind.

In modern life, consuming large batches of kimchi and sauerkraut may not be practical. There are other ways to balance your gut health. Taking a pill is not always the most balanced option, but it is the most convenient.

Adding a probiotic that is more effective than hype is the simplest way. It won’t undo eating foods that are causing your gut problem (anymore than exercise will undo a bad diet), but it is an easy way to make gut health a priority.

Do you feel the difference in your mood when you eat certain foods? Comment below and share your thoughts.

gut brain

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NSAIDS, leaky gut, and inflammation cures

So I had foot surgery a few months ago.I can finally move about but I still have stiffness and pain at times. So naturally, I am interested in inflammation cures.

My doctor recommended that I take several ibuprofen a day for this. No. And here is why. NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are horrible to take long term.

Some people know this. You may know this. But a lot of people don’t, or they don’t know why. There are many reasons – including the load on your liver – but today I want to talk about something else.

Women take NSAIDs in droves every month during their cycles – and there are far better ways inflammation cures and ways to reduce cramps or pain. It’s nuts. NSAIDs treat the symptoms but not the root cause. NSAIDs are products such as Motrin, Aleve, aspirin, Advil, etc.

I am not anti-drug or painkiller, but I know that NSAIDs do a number of your gut lining. Soon that pain in your neck is a pain in the butt!

Many of you may of heard of leaky gut.

Essentially it boils down to inflammation and tears in your intestinal lining. Food particles and other bacteria leak into your blood stream, causing a slew of issues including chronic inflammation as well as GI problems such as diarrhea, bloating, and pain.

The irony is that leaky gut can cause or exacerbate chronic body inflammation, autoimmune issues, depression, and anxiety.

Things that people with arthritis, PCOS, and PMS already have. Once you have leaky gut, you actually have to work to heal it.

Here are 5 natural anti-inflammatories (and the brands I recommend) that you should know about.

Yes – these are affiliate links. But as a nutritionist I would never link to any products I don’t personally use or recommend. One of the things that frustrates me are people who won’t invest in good quality supplements, but then don’t get the results they want. It’s like they are taking action, but it’s “half assed” action. With supplements and herbs, the brand really does matter if you want results.

And if you still feel the need to use NSAIDs short term due to an injury, combining them with one of the natural inflammation cures below can help you to reduce the NSAID dosage you take, and reduce the toxic load on your body.

1) Fish Oil

In fact Omega 3 Fatty acids can be used in many ways to help with inflammation and hormonal imbalance.

2) Arnica

3) Turmeric

In fact Turmeric is one of many Ayruvedic herbs I recommend for dealing with all kinds of issues, including PCOS and sugar cravings. Here are some others

4) Borage Oil

5) L-Glutamine

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3 herbs for natural pcos treatment

I manage my pcos naturally, and help many clients do the the same. here are 3 must have indian ayruvedic herbs to add to any natural pcos treatment plan

The basis for PCOS (at a very simplified level) is that there is too much insulin in the body, and this causes excess testosterone levels in the ovaries. Causing all the issues that ensue.

Doctors may argue that not all PCOS patients are insulin resistant, or that there are multiple causes, but I have found that for 90% of people – even those who are thin – this is the main issue.

​Sometimes insulin resistance is caused by excess weight, sometimes it is caused by genetic factors, but the bottom line is that managing blood sugar is a key part of any natural PCOS treatment plan. 

Here are 3 herbs that I use as part of my natural PCOS treatment plan to help me manage my blood sugar naturally. Of course these are used in conjunction with a low carb lifestyle. I like using herbs and spices in cooking because they are beneficial to the body, and make you feel nourished in way that non-home cooked food just can’t.

These are safe and natural, and can be used by anyone – even if you are just trying to reduce belly fat. You don’t have to have PCOS to benefit from these herbs. 

1) Cinnamon: 

Cinnamon is an amazing aromatic spice that has been used for centuries in India to treat muscle spasms, digestive issues, and diabetes. Not only does it add amazing flavor and aroma to all foods but is also has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar in insulin resistant individuals and Type II diabetics, as well as improve the ability of the body to absorb glucose in insulin resistant individuals.  You want to make sure you are using Ceylon cinnamon. Why? This is true cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is the most common form. But Cinnamon Verum (true or ceylon cinnamon) is the sweeter, and more beneficial of the 2 forms. It is also better for your liver over time.  Finding a good, organic (very important when it comes to herbs) is not that easy. I find that buying my herbs online in bulk saves me time and money.

Here is my favorite source.    naturalpcostreatmentcinnamon

2) Fenugreek: 

This is a spice you likely are not as familiar with. Fenugreek is commonly used in South Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East. It contains a hormone like compound known as diosgenin. Due to its hormonal properties, it’s often used to regulate menstrual cycles and increase libido. It helps increase breast milk and reduce inflammation. It’s an adaptogen – meaning it helps to balance the body and mind during “off times”. It’s been used for centuries to control blood sugar. Its has been shown to lower daily blood sugar levels, as well as A1C (the measure of sugar in blood over time). Fenugreek works by stimulating the insulin signaling pathway. In this way it helps to move glucose out of the blood and into cells – where it can be used. With herbals – if you are going to use the for medicine – getting a good potent source is essential. It has take me some trial and error to find the brands that work best.

here is the one I recommend most

Brands from the drug store, or even the India grocery store, are just not as pure or potent in my experience. 

3) Bay Leaf: 

Bay leaf is another Indian spice that is used for its aroma and flavor in cooking. But did you know that Basil is also great for reducing blood sugar? Individuals that took Bay Leaf supplements had bigger  drops in blood sugar levels over those who only took a placebo.

   bayleafnaturalpcostreatment

In addition to the many antioxidants in bay leaf, it contains bioactive compounds that improve insulin sensitivity (ability of the hormone insulin to move glucose out of the blood stream and into cells). You can find good quality organic bay leaves at Whole Foods or any quality grocery store for pretty cheap. 

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fix craving for sweets in a natural way

Craving for sweets is a natural thing. We need glucose (blood sugar) to fuel our brain and muscles quickly.

Unfortunately it’s so hard to stick to a low glycemic and PCOS friendly eating plan we when are craving sugar.  Thankfully – there are an increasing number of healthy and “natural” alternative sweeteners that are popping up on the market. The post is about one is particular.

So what is this sweetener I love so much?

It’s Yakon syrup. It is relatively new to the “alternative sweetener” scene but it’s one you are going to want to add to your pantry for it’s ability to reduce cravings for sweets.
Formatted Version
Formatted Version

Here are a few reasons why I am loving this stuff:

  • It acts as a pre-biotic (helps to promote healthy gut bacteria and aids in digestion)
  • It works well in cold drinks, hot drinks, and in baking
  • Extremely low glycemic (means it doesn’t raise your blood sugar), spike your insulin level, or cause afternoon energy crashes
  • The flavor is a cross between brown sugar and molasses
  • It reduces craving for sweets naturally

There is a lot of hype going around that Yakon syrup increases your metabolic rate and suppresses appetite.

The reality is that any soluble fiber will make you feel fuller longer – so you are less likely to snack…

craving for sweets

Yakon is tuber grown near the Andes. It’s not the prettiest looking thing – but it contains a natural sugar called a fructooligosaccharide (say that 10x fast!).

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are indigestible to humans.

That means they have no caloric value and pass straight through the digestive tract. In this way, Yakon acts similar to many sugar alcohols. And for this reason – you are going to want to try a small amount to see how it suits you. Some people just don’t do well with FOS. 

Want to know how to actually use this stuff?

Here is my recipe for Yakon tea biscuits, which reduce craving for sweets (gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free) and also my favorite source of Yakon Syrup.

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