Digestive Health Series Part #1: Leaky Gut Syndrome

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AnneLabelleBanner_2The digestive system is the foundation of human health. It doesn’t matter if you eat right, train hard, supplement and get enough Zzz’s at night – it simply won’t be enough to achieve optimal health if your gut isn’t in check.

One of the most common digestive disorders I’ve seen as a practitioner is leaky gut syndrome. It affects millions of people worldwide and can be a huge sabotaging factor in achieving ideal health. Problem is, a lot of people don’t even know they have it… So when working with clients, this is one of the first things I look for – because as long as it’s an underlying issue, the healing we need just won’t occur.

So, could this be what’s holding YOU back from optimal health? Let’s find out!

What is it and why is it a problem?

Prepare some yummy stir-fry’s with fresh veggies. Image of model Kanya, Photographer Bryan York for PhotoAbility.net

Prepare some yummy stir-fry’s with fresh veggies. Image of model Kanya, Photographer Bryan York for PhotoAbility.net

Leaky gut is a digestive dysfunction affecting the lining of the intestines. When a person has leaky gut, it means that their intestinal lining is damaged and unfiltered nutrients and other materials, such as undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins, are leaking through the lining of the gut into the blood stream and lymphatic system. As a result, the immune system goes into attack-mode to try to kill-off these perceived intruders, causing inflammation of the intestine.

When leaky gut goes unnoticed, it can lead to chronic inflammation of the intestinal wall. Since the gut never has time to heal in this case, it can lead to obesity (+ difficulty losing weight) and other health issues such as depression, cardiovascular disease, and more.

What are symptoms of leaky gut?

Common symptoms of leaky gut include:

  • food allergies and food intolerances
  • skin issues (acne, eczema, and rosacea)
  • hormonal imbalances, especially in women (PMS, PCOS)
  • autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and celiac disease)
  • chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD
  • seasonal allergies
  • asthma
  • headache, migraines
  • digestive issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea and IBS)
  • and candida (yeast) overgrowth

What causes leaky gut?

Choose Fresh Fruit over processed foods.  Photo: Maude Rouilard for PhotoAbility.net

Choose Fresh Fruit over processed foods. Photo: Maude Rouilard for PhotoAbility.net

The main culprits for leaky gut include poor diet, food allergies and food intolerances, and overuse of medications (NSAIDs & prescription). Other possible causes include intestinal parasites, dysbiosis (an imbalance of the bad and good bacteria in the gut), and candida.

What YOU can do about it…

If you think you might have a leaky gut, it’s time for some digestive healing! To do this, I suggest that you:

  • Complete an IgG food intolerance/allergy test
    • Although this type of test can be slightly pricey (roughly $350-$500), I highly recommend it! An IgG test screens your blood against hundreds of common foods and will give you a full list of reactive foods to eliminate from your diet. Chances are you’ll be surprised at your results because the foods you love (regardless of how healthy they are) will often show up as severe or mild intolerances. Avoid these foods for at least 4-6 months to reverse any intolerance.
  • Complete a food elimination diet
    • If an IgG test is not an option for you financially, then consider doing an elimination diet. It’s a simple way to determine which foods you may have an intolerance to and it’s free. For an elimination diet, go back to a basic caveman regime for 2-4 weeks and slowly start to reintroduce the foods you’ve eliminated. If something you eat doesn’t sit right, you’ll know it’s a food you should avoid in your diet for at least 4-6 months.
  • Eliminate dairy for good!
    • Now, I know this is a tough one for a lot of people since they can’t imagine themselves not eating cheese or having milk in their coffee. Trust me, I get it. But here’s the thing… after the age of 2 years old – our bodies no longer produce the necessary enzyme to breakdown dairy protein. As a result, the majority of us develop an intolerance to dairy which can lead to a lot of health issues, including leaky gut. (To all the cheese lovers, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news!)
  • Banish processed foods from your diet
    • I know you’ve heard this time and time again, but if you want to heal your gut – this one is a must! Any food with a TV commercial or that comes pre-packaged is usually a no-go. So ditch the processed stuff and focus on consuming a variety of fresh produce and organic meats on a daily basis. To keep it interesting, make some fresh smoothies/juices and some yummy stir-fry’s! You’ll LOVE it and so will your gut.
  • Add supplements to support digestive healing.
    • Last but not least, be sure to give your body the support it needs to heal your digestive tract. Add in a quality multivitamin and probiotic formula to your daily regimen. Some of my favorites include the USANA Essentials (Mega Antioxidants + Chelated Minerals) and the USANA Probiotic – which I take on a daily basis and absolutely LOVE!

So, could this be what’s been holding you back from optimal health all this time? If you think so, I’d love to hear about it! Find me on Instagram and Facebook @ A Healthy Pursuit.

Stay tuned for more digestive health topics coming up in the next few weeks!

Live Healthy. Live Happy. Live Free. – Ariane

Ariane Labelle

Corporate escapee turned wellpreneur, Ariane is a certified holistic nutritionist and accountability coach from Toronto, Ontario. She founded her own wellness practice shortly after graduating from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition (IHN). Her online platform, A Healthy Pursuit, is dedicated to helping women worldwide realize their full potential in all aspects of life – starting with their health. Having married her passion for holistic health and love of travel, Ariane caters to clients world-wide as a professional digital nomad. She delivers transformational nutrition and lifestyle coaching to online clients and hosts various wellness retreats in beautiful sunny destinations around the globe.

Ariane is the author behind ‘Healthy Happy Hormones’, a thorough guide devoted to empowering women to optimize their reproductive health and is the official nutrition professional for PCOSWorldwide.com.

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