Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying, “Disease begins in the gut.” I like to say instead, “Thriving vitality begins in the gut.” The truth is, both are accurate and reflect time-honored principles held by traditional medical systems that view digestive health as the key to overall wellness and longevity.
Today, published data continues to substantiate these critical connections, highlighting the close relationships between your digestion and nearly every other area of health.
This also means that when you experience chronic digestive symptoms, it’s critical you take action. Unlike occasional indigestion, chronic digestive troubles can set you up for long-term immune imbalances, degenerative inflammatory conditions, and more—partly because of a condition increasingly known as “leaky gut” syndrome.
Once considered controversial by mainstream medicine, more and more evidence points to “leaky gut” as a driving factor in chronic digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome—as well as inflammatory conditions outside the digestive tract, like joint pain, allergies, overactive or suppressed immunity, and more.
Emerging data continues to demonstrate how an unhealthy, inflammatory GI environment can weaken the gut wall, forming holes in the lining of the intestines leading to increased intestinal permeability. This lets toxins, undigested food particles, and dangerous microbes that normally stay contained in the digestive tract, to enter the bloodstream. The result is an inflammatory immune response that never turns off—and without intervention, the problem usually gets worse.
In today’s toxic world, there are a number of common gut disruptors that can put you at risk for leaky gut syndrome, and the long list of inflammatory and immune conditions that follow. These toxic gut disruptors trigger imbalances in your microbiome, leading to gut dysbiosis, where unhealthy microbes in your gut outnumber the healthy ones.
Dysbiosis damages your digestive system in several ways. An overabundance of harmful bacteria in the gut produce toxins, including lipopolysaccharides (LPS). These bad bacteria, along with LPS and other toxins attack the lining of your gut wall, leading to inflammation that weakens the tissue and causes perforations. From there, bacteria and toxins can enter your bloodstream, wreak havoc throughout your body, and fuel chronic inflammatory immune responses.
Gut dysbiosis is thought to be a leading cause of leaky gut, because of the inflammatory damage caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Here are some of the most common offenders contributing to gut dysbiosis:
Common Causes of Leaky Gut
Antibiotics and other medications and leaky gut
Antibiotic drugs are well-known to wipe out bacterial populations in the GI tract, including good bacteria. Many different prescription drugs, such as beta-blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and antidepressants, can also cause dysbiosis.
Pesticides and toxins and Leaky Gut
Glyphosate (Roundup), the most common agricultural chemical in the US today, can kill beneficial gut bacteria, allowing bad bacteria to dominate the microbiome. Other pesticides and environmental toxins are also known to harm healthy gut bacteria.
Stress and Leaky Gut
Chronic stress negatively impacts your microbiome via the cross-talk between your gut and brain, known as the gut-brain axis. High levels of stress can cause dysbiosis. On the other hand, dysbiosis can increase feelings of anxiety and depression, leaving you stuck in a negative feedback loop that can wreak havoc on your overall well being.
Standard American Diet and Leaky Gut
Processed foods and refined sugar encourage the overgrowth of unhealthy gut microbes.
Lack of exercise and Leaky Gut
A sedentary lifestyle allows pathogenic gut bacteria to reproduce, and reduces the diversity in your microbiome.
Disrupted sleep and Leaky Gut
Poor sleep quality can lead to gut dysbiosis.
Even just one of these factors can be enough to trigger imbalances in your microbiome that can lead to gut dysbiosis, subsequent leaky gut, and related symptoms. More than likely, you’re dealing with several or more of these all-too-common common gut disruptors.
The good news is, when you rebalance your gut microbiome with targeted strategies, you can not only resolve long-standing digestive issues, but you can also repair gut wall integrity, restore healthy immune function, and help resolve chronic inflammation throughout your body.
4 Key Strategies to Rebalance Gut Health
These simple changes to your core routine are some of the most effective ways to support optimal microbiome balance and overall GI health, including gut wall integrity.
- Detox: In order for probiotic bacteria to survive, you need to remove the toxins that threaten them. Using gentle, natural detoxifying formulas can safely bind and remove pesticides and toxins from your GI tract, as well as other organs and tissues.
- Pre + Probiotics: In my practice, I’ve found that a powerful fermented probiotic formula with prebiotic nutrients and organic digestive herbs, works quickly to restore microbiome balance while promoting an optimal GI environment for healthy digestion and gut wall integrity.
- Diet: As much as possible, avoid sugary, over-processed foods that can harm your gut microbiome. Unprocessed, organic (if possible), whole foods provide the nutrients and fiber your gut needs to maintain a healthy balance. In addition, it can be helpful to identify food sensitivities and allergies that may trigger additional inflammation. Even foods considered “healthy” can cause reactions in people who are sensitive to them. Undiagnosed food sensitivities and allergies can be a driving factor in intestinal inflammation. An elimination diet can be helpful to identify possible trigger foods, as well as testing with a qualified allergy specialist.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity is shown to support healthy bacterial populations in the gut. Moderate exercise, without overdoing it and causing inflammatory stress on your body, can improve your microbiome health while giving a substantial boost to overall vitality.
When combined together into your daily routine, these essential strategies can support optimal digestive wellness and GI tract integrity which, in turn, will go a long way toward optimizing your immune system and overall vitality.