How To Deal With A Leaky Gut

From Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS

At this point, you’ve likely heard all about the gastrointestinal condition known as “leaky gut.” There are a few reasons why this has become such a buzz word, including the growing amount of research that has linked leaky gut to all kinds of common health concerns and diseases. Add in the poor diet choices and chronic stress of the typical American and top it off with a heavy dose of toxic overload, and you have a perfect recipe for leaky gut in epidemic proportions.

Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal hyper-permeability, is essentially a condition that happens when the tight junctions of the intestinal tract are broken down. When they function properly, these tight junctions keep things like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles from entering the bloodstream. But when an imbalance of gut bacteria (caused by diet, stress, environmental toxins, etc.) cause those junctions to loosen, those “gates” swing open and allow foreign invaders to travel throughout the body, causing inflammation and leading to a number of different health conditions and diseases.

Typical signs of leaky gut include food sensitivities, thyroid problems, mood issues (like depression), inflammatory skin conditions (like acne and psoriasis) and even autoimmune diseases. Other, more gut-related, symptoms can include bloating, gas, cramps, aches and pains. Unfortunately, tummy troubles, mood swings, acne and other leaky gut symptoms are so common that they often get ignored—despite the fact that, the longer you ignore a leaky gut and don’t take action, the worse the condition and symptoms become.

And the other major problem in addressing leaky gut? It’s the tsunami of information from experts who all offer their own suggestions for healing—myself included. It’s can be hard to sort through it all, and when you’re standing in front of rows and rows of pills and powders at your local health food store, knowing exactly what will bring healing and relief is even more difficult.

The Magic of Bone Broth

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all of the nutrition advice and available supplements for leaky gut, I want to tell you the ONE THING that can create change fast: bone broth.

All bone broths — beef, chicken, fish, lamb and other — are nutrient-dense, easy to digest, rich in flavor and extremely healing to a leaky gut. Bone broth contains gelatin, which is rich in the amino acids proline and glycine, all of which help to heal the damaged cell walls of the intestinal lining. Research has shown that gelatin is: beneficial for restoring strength of the gut and fighting food sensitivities; helping with the growth of good bacteria in the gut; and supporting healthy inflammation levels in the digestive tract. Science supports these truths, as a report published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that gelatin effectively supports intestinal health and integrity while reducing inflammation. And we also know that bone broth contains vital minerals like potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium.

In the best of circumstances, you’d make your own homemade bone broth, which could then be consumed alone (I love to drink it straight from a mug) or used in other dishes. But most people don’t have time to stand over a pot of broth for 24 hours. In that case, there are a couple of other options.

Store-bought stocks or broths are popular, but if you’re considering purchasing them, be sure that you’re choosing the real deal. Some companies often use lab-produced meat flavors rather than simmering the actual bones for hours. Many manufacturers also include monosodium glutamate (MSG)—which is recognized as a meat flavor but, in reality, is a dangerous neurotoxin. You can also purchase bone broth protein powder, which leaves you with no excuses not to get your daily dose of gut-healing bone broth. This powder can be added to hot water to make a broth for soups and stews or it can be tossed into smoothies and shakes.

Bonus Healing Tips

Just adding bone broth to your diet on a regular basis will make a significant difference in your gut health, but if you want to take your healing to the next level, you may also want to try adding probiotics and coconut products to your daily routine. Taking a probiotic supplement helps to replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. And coconut products, like coconut oil, can destroy bad bacteria while also being easier to digest than other fats.

In terms of foods to avoid, steering clear of genetically-modified foods, added sugars, un-sprouted grains, and gluten can really help healing, too.

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All content on The New Potato (even when supplied by a medical professional) is intended for educational and conversational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any new diet, exercise regime, or wellness routine.