It’s hard to believe, but a few years ago, very few people were familiar with the term “leaky gut.”
Now, everyone’s talking about it, and I even wrote a whole book on the subject. One of the main reasons that people are talking about it so much is that leaky gut has affected (or will affect) the vast majority of the population—thanks to many modern conveniences that we enjoy daily.
We oversanitize. We use antibacterial cleaners to wash away harmful bacteria that could make us sick, but they also wipe away beneficial bacteria that could boost our immune systems. We rely on pre-packaged, highly processed foods, which are full of genetically modified foods, chemicals, and other toxins. They feed bad bacteria and kill off the good bacteria, which naturally occurs in our guts. We pump our bodies full of antibiotics and other drugs at the first sign of a stuffy nose. Meanwhile, our go-go-go society has us checking email 24/7, bouncing from one meeting to the next, and feeling more stressed than ever. And all of these factors contribute to the development of leaky gut.
While the root causes of leaky gut are basically the same in everyone, the results can vary considerably, including psoriasis and irritable bowel syndrome. The good news is that you can start healing your gut, no matter what your symptoms are. In addition to a clean, healing diet, supplements are a great place to start. Here are the five best supplements for healing leaky gut:
Probiotics are absolutely essential when it comes to healing leaky gut. They can help restore the balance of bacteria in the gut by replenishing the good guys and crowding out the bad ones. (Experts estimate that a healthy ratio is 85% good/neutral bacteria to 15% bad bacteria.) But not all probiotics are created equal.
Our ancestors didn’t have to take probiotic supplements because they spent the majority of their lives outdoors, and they planted and harvested their own foods. So they regularly came in contact with all the beneficial bacteria that occurs naturally in the soil.
Today, we have soil-based probiotics (SBOs) that are designed to mimic these bacteria. Because SBOs are formulated to mimic bacteria that thrive in harsh, natural, outdoor environments, they can also withstand the harsh conditions of the human digestive tract. In other words, they’ll actually arrive at their intended destination—where they can start taking root and flourishing. That can’t be said about many commercial probiotics, which are actually destroyed in the body before they ever reach the gut.
Food is the very thing that’s supposed to give you energy and strength, but when you suffer from leaky gut, food can become your worst enemy. In many cases, the digestive system has been compromised, so most foods are not properly broken down. The increased permeability of the gut then allows these undigested food particles to leak through the gut and into the bloodstream—where they wreak all kinds of havoc and cause allergies, skin rashes, and other issues.
One way to combat leaky gut is through the use of digestive enzymes. There are many full-spectrum enzymes on the market, which work to break down proteins, starches, fats, and dairy. They ensure that there will be fewer food toxins passing through the gut and causing further damage.
L-glutamine is an amino acid supplement that is critical for healing leaky gut. By definition, a leaky gut is damaged. It has increased permeability (i.e., tiny holes) that allow toxins, undigested food proteins, and others foreign particles to pass into the bloodstream. L-glutamine coats the intestinal lining and starts repairing that damage. It also helps thicken cell walls and prevents future infections.
DGL Licorice Root
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is an adaptogenic herb that’s one of my favorite supplements for correcting leaky gut. It helps maintain the mucosal lining of the stomach, while also improving acid function (a key way to properly break down food).
Licorice is also beneficial in the treatment of adrenal fatigue, which can be a side effect of stress-related leaky gut. In addition to taxing the adrenal glands, cortisol (the hormone that’s elevated when we feel stressed out) inhibits the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while also allowing the bad bugs to proliferate. Licorice can help keep cortisol levels under control, which will put a stop to the domino effects that trigger leaky gut.
There are multiple formulations of licorice root on the market, but generally speaking, the the removal of glycyrrhizin makes it safer for a large portion of the population. When taken in excess, glycyrrhizin can cause certain side effects, including increased blood pressure, reduced potassium levels, and edemas. This overdose can be particularly problematic for pregnant women, as well as those with blood pressure and liver and kidney issues.
Bone broth has been the health food du jour of late, and for good reason. Among other health benefits, it contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which are instrumental in repairing a damaged intestinal lining. It can also help boost gastric juices (and again, restoring healthy digestion is key)—as well as a healthy mucosal lining.
But for those short on time, you don’t have to constantly simmer gallons of bone broth to get those benefits. The key component of bone broth that is behind those miraculous benefits is actually the collagen, which is readily available in powder form. (If you’re looking for a beef-free alternative, I recently launched my line of bone broth protein, which is derived entirely from chicken.)
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