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Real Talk: Digestive Distress + Leaky Gut

All health begins in the gut.

what is leaky gut

Leaky gut is the common name for a digestive tract condition where the integrity of the lining/wall has been compromised or damaged causing decreased barrier functioning.

The lining of the intestinal tract has interlocking cells called tight junctions. Zonulin is a protein that regulates the tight junctions. Research has shown that higher levels of this protein may loosen tight junctions and increase intestinal permeability. If these cells loosen, they may potentially allow harmful substances such as bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles into the bloodstream. This causes inflammation and stimulates an immune reaction. This cascade is known as leaky gut syndrome and causes ALL KINDS of symptoms.

issues caused or impacted by leaky gut

Leaky gut has been linked to a myriad of digestive issues including food sensitivity, migraines, joint pain, asthma, skin conditions, brain fog, focus and learning issues, fatigue, mental health challenges and more. This is a perfect example of how all health begins in the gut!

possible causes of leaky gut

Leaky gut traces back to a poor diet, overuse of antibiotics, an imbalance in gut bacteria, environmental pollution, stress, eating gluten (what makes bread puffy), inflammation, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen), birth control pills, genetics and more.

what we can do about it

  • Chewing your food well will break food down into nutrients, which is important here. Consider taking a digestive enzyme to help.
  • Eating in a relaxed environment will also help. The body digests better when it is relaxed. Avoid eating when you are rushed or anxious.
  • Remove YOUR food sensitivities. We can help figure this out via a partial or full elimination diet OR food sensitivity testing.
  • Avoid high-inflammatory foods including sugar, gluten, dairy, corn and soy. Add anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger and fish.
  • Incorporate fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, coconut yogurt and kefir.
  • Add bone broth, collagen or gelatin (all provides L-glutamine which the intestinal lining loves!)
  • Take a targeted probiotic.
  • Work to identify and replace micronutrient deficiencies. We can help with that too via micronutrient testing (what you’re eating AND what you’re absorbing).

how healing works: former client journeys

Meet Julie
Problem: acne

Julie is a high school student. She had the typical high school student’s diet and stress level. She woke up too early, went to bed too late. Went out for lunch friends most weekdays and did not pay much attention to what she was eating/ordering. Her diet was sugar rich and nutrient poor and it was causing big acne breakouts–mostly on her cheeks and forehead.

Healthy Nest’s suggestions:

  1. Swap breakfast cereal for egg + veggie breakfast burritos
  2. Swap Starbucks Frappuccino’s for the Starbucks protein box or Chipotle salads or bowls
  3. Swap afterschool potato chips for carrots + hummus or a protein shake
  4. Swap pasta dinners for chicken + veggies
  5. Add a probiotic, fish oil and a gut restore vitamin
  6. Food sensitivity testing (issues were too much sugar leading to a microbiome overgrowth)–consequently dropped her sugar intake, including sweet and savory sugar
  7. Gut restore/rebalance takes time

Julie’s face cleared over time and eventually she was able to loosen her food restrictions and re-introduce her “no” foods. Her acne was related to her gut functioning and her diet choices. When we changed her diet and restored her gut functioning, her symptoms cleared.

Meet Melissa
Problem: digestive distress (urgent diarrhea) after meals

Melissa is 25 years old. She has a history of digestive issues, including diarrhea and constipation for about 15 years, but it has been progressively worse lately and she decided to figure it out once and for all. By the time Melissa contacted Healthy Nest Nutrition, there were very few foods that she felt she could eat without having symptoms. So she was eating plain chicken and fish, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli and rice. Melissa came to us after visiting her primary doc and, having done an endoscopy and colonoscopy with a GI specialist, she was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Healthy Nest’s suggestions:

We suggested that Melissa try a low Fodmap diet–OUR low Fodmap diet, which is a combination of several respected sources. We’ve had really good outcomes. BUT, it’s a tricky diet protocol, so we held Melissa’s hand and helped her acclimate to the diet via menus, recipes, tips and tricks and a useful app. We also suggested some targeted supplementation for her to rebalance a suspected and confirmed small intestine bacteria overgrowth. It took about 6 months, but Melissa progressively felt better.

we’re here to help

Please feel free to reach out. We speak with all prospective clients to make sure we feel we can help you before we have our first session.

In many cases, we’ll use our Digestive Repair Program to figure out YOUR issues, eliminate the irritants, repair and restore your body functioning, and rebalance you so you feel back to yourself. It takes time but is SO worth it.