In a world full of fad diets and eating trends, it’s hard to tell what we should be putting on your plates anymore! Everyone’s becoming their own doctor and creating their own version for what “healthy” means.
Unfortunately, most are missing two very important ingredients in their recipe for success – gut health and food allergies.
Gut doesn’t refer to a post-Super Bowl beer belly. The gut refers to the digestive system including all its working parts and functions.
In addition to your digestion, your gut plays a vital role in your hormonal balance, mental health, immune system, and so much more. Unfortunately, the importance of your gut remains far too underrated.
Your gut has huge responsibilities, therefore if things start to go wrong elsewhere in the body, isn’t it obvious where to look first? Why are we ignoring our body’s powerhouse!?
All that changes now. Here’s how to heal your gut and reclaim your health by doing so.
What is Gut Health and Why is it Important?
The gut is a complex web of microbiomes and houses 70 percent of your immune system. That’s right–70! That means the health of your gut dictates almost all of your entire body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders.
Most of these microbiomes fit snug into the pocket of the small intestine.
Your gut works to:
- Digest fiber
- Produce short-chain-fatty acids
- Prevent weight-gain, diabetes, & heart disease
- Communicate with immune cells and their functions
- Helps body respond to infection
- May also affect the central nervous system & brain function
The microbiome that operates the primary function of the gut is made of trillions of bacteria, 1,000’s of species, and each with its own function. It’s no wonder why keeping this system healthy is crucial to overall well-being.
These bacteria have evolved as the human body has, all of its genetic mastery has kept us alive ever since. The bacteria have changed as its stressor became more complex.
Through lifestyle, pollutants, and the way the modern man eats- we’ve really given the gut a run for its money.
Gut Health and Food Allergies
Like the body it calls home, bacteria eat to live. So naturally, the health of your gut will be dependent on the health of its bacteria which relies mostly on what you feed it. I’m not talking about junk food or processed food–that’s another blog for another day.
The more sinister intruders to your gut are food allergies.
Unidentified and untreated food allergies and food sensitivities will create and exacerbate a wide range of autoimmune conditions. The first thing a food allergy does is cause the gut flora to send mixed signals to the immune system.
Additionally, the inflammatory reaction of the smaller intestine is caused by food allergies. Thus, the inflammation causes the “warrior” bacteria to attack everything but the allergen.
Unfortunatly, this is the very nature of an autoimmune disease along with:
- Increased Allergies
- Perpetuated food intolerances
- Chronic inflammation
- Chronic infections
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Genetic predisposition
- Elevated cortisol
- Weight gain and retention
- Nutrient deficiency
The Gut Houses the Immune System
Common autoimmune conditions exacerbated by an unhealthy gut include:
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and colitis. wheat, dairy, salicylates, lectins, and amines contribute to the inflammation of the intestine lining from which these diseases stem.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland which is responsible for many things especially hormone production. Inflammatory foods like wheat and gluten are associated with this condition.
Coeliac disease is an inflammatory reaction caused by gluten and gluten-containing products. The coeliac disease damages the lining of the small intestine, preventing proper absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition where skin cells keep building on top of each other creating dry, flaky, itchy patches. This condition has been linked with the consumption of inflammatory foods like dairy, wheat, and sugar.
Rheumatoid Arthritis may occur if your food sensitivities include salicylates and amines. Foods high in salicylates and amines include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and capsicum. If undetected and untreated, these food sensitivities will cause the immune system to attack the fluid in joints which would cause deterioration and pain.
The Source of Inflammation
Autoimmune conditions are caused and worsened by food allergies. There’s no way to address the healing process of any of these symptoms unless you find out what your food allergies are!
However, one of the most severe outcomes of an unhealthy gut being impacted by food allergies isn’t even tied to the immune system, but rather the primary function of the gut flora. Leaky gut syndrome is when the intestines become permeable.
Intestinal permeability causes undigested food, waste particles, and toxins to “leak” through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. But what’s damaging the lining of the intestine resulting in its permeability?
So, among other things, it’s food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities.
Lacking the enzymes to break down a certain food, food group, or ingredient will cause the undigested food to corrode the lining of the intestine–leaky gut.
EverlyWell and Habit provide unique opportunities to test your food sensitivities and address the source of your symptoms
Symptoms of a Leaky Gut
One of the greatest things about your gut is that it will talk to you. Most importantly, it will show you what it likes and what it doesn’t. You just have to be able to understand your guts language!
However, this is different from other allergen conditions. Leaky gut does not happen quietly, here are the most common symptoms of a leaky gut:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Poor immune system
- Brain fog
- Nutritional deficiency
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Excessive fatigue
- Skin rash, acne, eczema
- Arthritis/Joint pain
- Autoimmune disease
How to Heal Your Gut
The key to healing your gut lies in changing your diet and eliminating foods that your body is perceiving as toxic. Fortunately, testing for food allergies doesn’t require expensive lab fees or scheduling an appointment at your doctor’s office.
Luckily, Everlywell makes it easy, convenient, and affordable to do your food allergy testing right at home.
Healing a leaky gut will mean improved mood, sleep, better digestion, enhanced cognitive function, energy (without copious amounts of coffee!), and overall health and a better quality of life.
Furthermore, once you’ve identified what you shouldn’t be eating including foods creating an inflammatory response, here are a few items to add to your diet that are potent in antioxidants and can heal leaky gut:
- Bone Broth
- Coconut oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Grass-fed Ghee
- Beef gelatin/ Collagen peptides
- Fermented vegetables
- Pumpkin seeds
Common Food Allergens the Cause Leaky Gut
Additionally, include these foods once you’ve clarified whether they are sensitivities or not. First, here are foods to consider removing from your diet that is known to be highly inflammatory include:
- Processed or “fast” foods
- Wheat-based products: Bread, pasta, cereals, wheat flour, couscous, etc.
- Gluten-containing grains: Barley, rye, bulgur, seitan, triticale, and oats.
- Processed meats: Cold cuts, deli meats, bacon, hot dogs, etc.
- Baked goods
- Snack foods
- Junk food
- Dairy products: Milk, cheeses, yogurt and ice cream.
- Refined oils: Canola, sunflower, soybean and safflower oils.
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin.
- Sauces: Salad dressings, as well as soy, teriyaki and hoisin sauce.
- Beverages: Alcohol, carbonated beverages, and other sugary drinks
Alas, it’s important to recognize and act upon the fact that your diet can be the crux or the catalyst the entirety of your health. So when it comes to eating what’s best for your body, trust your gut!