Understanding Gut Health

Understanding Gut Health

This is a story of my journey to understanding gut health, and some suggestions that may be helpful for curing leaky gut syndrome. | slimsanity.com

I used to be a skeptic.

There was no way that leaky gut syndrome affected so many people. Like, what the heck is leaky gut anyway? There was absolutely no way that I was one of the affected people. I eat so healthy! And I have never had serious or life-threatening reactions to certain foods, like people with Celiac disease or food allergies.

My definition of gut health was all wrong. I don’t think I even really had a definition for it, or even really thought about it at all. Understanding gut health has been gaining traction in the health and wellness industry for years, but it was never a priority for me. It wasn’t until it started showing up in my personal life, and seeing the impact of healing the gut among family and friends, that I understood what leaky gut syndrome actually is and that it may be affecting me.

Seeing is believing, right?

Leaky Gut Syndrome

In short, leaky gut syndrome is exactly as it sounds. There is a high permeability (bigger ‘gaps’ versus smaller ‘gaps’) allowing bacteria and toxins to pass through your intestinal track into your bloodstream. In a healthy gut, only water and nutrients should be allowed to pass through. An unhealthy gut environment can prevent the nutritious parts of your food from being absorbed properly. This means even if you eat healthy, you might not actually be giving your body all the nutrition you’re taking in. Leaky gut syndrome has been known to cause a slew of symptoms such as skin problems, bloating, food sensitivities and digestive issues. [1]

While functional or integrative medical doctors are becoming more mainstream, most traditional doctors do not diagnose or treat leaky gut syndrome. This is really where my skepticism came from—because, wouldn’t you want to trust what the doctors all say? It wasn’t until I did some research of my own (including listening to tons and tons of podcasts from Chalene Johnson, where she interviewed many credible sources, including doctors), that I got more facts around leaky gut.

And I realized that if leaky gut actually does affect 80% of the US population, I am most likely in that category. Especially considering that I have experienced symptoms…hellooooo bloating, like, every day of my life. And rosacea flare-ups, or constant inflammation, for the last decade.

Understanding My Gut Health

Here is an appropriate place to give you a disclaimer that I have not talked to a medical professional about any of this.

Why? They are not typically covered under insurance. I tried to find one in the area, and like any doctor, it can be expensive without the help of insurance. I don’t think that my symptoms are serious enough to warrant medical treatment. IF THEY WERE you bet I’d be paying whatever I had to pay.

That said, I am a trained research scientist with a PhD in chemistry, so I felt comfortable doing some testing and research of my own to see if certain foods are causing these potential leaky gut symptoms. That way, I can avoid eating them in the future and hopefully kick this rosacea and bloating to the curb.

To understand my own gut health, I did the following things:

  • Researched leaky gut through reputable sources, which included:
  • Conducted my own elimination diet
  • Focused on foods and supplements to repair a leaky gut

Elimination Diet Results

On an elimination diet, you eliminate a lot of foods that are common allergens or intolerances. The foods I eliminated were eggs, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, beef, pork, processed meats, sugar and peanuts. I eliminated them for three weeks before gradually adding them back into my regular diet. By adding one food back in at a time, I was able to test which foods caused certain symptoms.

I got some kind of reaction out of the following foods:

  • Dairy—I found out that me and dairy do not go well together. Dairy causes a lot of gas and bloating. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I am typically a big fan of dairy products! I had been eating less and less over the years, but cheese is one I had never quite been able to kick to the curb. Surprisingly now that I know it can cause some adverse symptoms, it has been easier to avoid. Ice cream though? WHOMP. So sad about that. Ice cream is actually the worst of all of them for me!
  • Eggs—I had no bloating with eggs. But after eating them for 1-2 weeks again, my rosacea was flaring up. I’m eliminating them again for a while to see if it clears up as well as before. I am really pretty ticked about it, to be honest. But, I am thinking I’ll be able to get away with eating eggs once a week or something, since I don’t have an immediate effect with them.
  • Gluten—This seemed to be okay in small amounts. I had a hamburger with a bun and was just fine. But I tried a cheese-less pizza with regular crust, and that didn’t go as well. But I also ate a lot of it! As a result, I am generally avoiding gluten unless I’m really craving a sandwich or something like that. Ya know, sometimes a girl just needs a grilled cheese. Errrr PB&J since, ya know, cheese is dairy. Haha!

If you do an elimination diet with a medical professional, you will very likely have differences from what I eliminated, based on their professional opinion of what may be causing your symptoms. They may also have you do something completely different!

Ways to Heal a Leaky Gut

A simple four-step plan from Dr. Axe on healing leaky gut is as follows [2]:

  1. Remove foods damaging your gut
  2. Replace those foods with healing foods
  3. Repair with supplements
  4. Rebalance your gut microbiome with probiotics

Obviously it takes some work and isn’t quite that simple, but I am working on all of these as time goes.

My biggest step this month is starting a digestive supplement with probiotic support, and I gotta say…I’m excited to see what kind of difference it might make!

Uncovering Gut Health | slimsanity.com

While I have been able to identity and remove foods that can cause leaky gut, and am working to eat more healing foods, I want to take a step further with giving my body the extra support it needs to properly digest foods and start repairing my gut.

At the same time I started to look into digestive supplements and probiotics, I was contacted by a rep for LifeSeasons to take a look at some of their supplements and see if any made sense for me to try. And, sure enough! They had a supplement called Digestivi-T. There are so many supplements on the market right now. I know that not all of them are legitimate, and there are certain things to consider when choosing one. While the best way to choose one is to get one recommended by your doctor, I again did some of my own research.

One of the supplements suggested by Dr. Axe for healing leaky gut is digestive enzymes, and I was able to find that in the Digestivi-T probiotic. While Digestivi-T is meant to aid with digestion and not be a probiotic supplement on its own (a good probiotic should have a CFU count of at least 40 billion), it does contain 10 billion CFUs of clinically-proven probiotic strains, like Lactobacillus [3].

 

In my research of the LifeSeasons brand, I was actually able to speak directly with their CMO and an RN they have on staff who works very closely with patients and supports their clinical trial efforts at the company. Their care about people, and even my needs specifically, emanated from our conversation. I felt very comfortable with the company, knowing the care they take to choose clinically-tested ingredients for their supplements.

While I am working this supplement in my diet, I am also still scouting out a probiotic to take along with it. I’m hopeful I’ll be seeing some changes in the next few months, even though I know finding out what works the best for your body can be a tricky process.

Disclaimer: I partnered with LifeSeasons to promote their supplements in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. While this is a sponsored post, all thoughts, opinions and demonstrated results from using these products are completely my own.

 

Have you explored your own gut health? What steps have you made to improve gut health?

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