Many of today’s maladies like asthma, allergies, eczema, autism, thyroid problems, and autoimmune disease are caused by leaky gut. Yet most medical doctors are baffled by it.
“From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”
“Leaky gut syndrome” isn’t a diagnosis taught in medical school. Instead, “leaky gut really means you’ve got a diagnosis that still needs to be made,” Kirby says. “You hope that your doctor is a good-enough Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it is very hard to make a diagnosis.”
This is why many people have learned they have to be their own Sherlock Holmes and take responsibility for their own health. Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about how what we eat affects our health. Today, we’re going to talk about 6 things you can eat to restore your gut health.
What is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut happens when tight junctions in the gut, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don’t work properly, letting substances leak into the bloodstream. The wall of the intestine is considered semipermeable. This means the pores only allow certain things to enter the bloodstream and block other things from entering the bloodstream. For instance, specific molecules and nutrients are allowed to pass through but toxins and large undigested food particles are blocked. (1)
As I mentioned last week, Leaky Gut can be caused by:
- What you eat
- Processed food
- Cow’s dairy
- Unsprouted grains
- GMO foods
- Not enough probiotics and fiber
- Hydrogenated oils
- Prescription drugs, especially OTC pain relievers, birth control pills, antibiotics, and steroids (these cause bacterial imbalance by killing the natural good bacteria in your gut)
- Chronic stress
- Yeast (or candida)
- Lack of zinc
The number one way to restore your gut is to change what you eat. You must allow your digestive system to rest. Food doesn’t restore health to the body, the body does that itself, which is how God designed it. Give your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself. Eat foods that are easy to digest.
Food #1: Bone Broth
Bone broth has enjoyed a surge in popularity in the United States recently, but it’s nothing new. Many cultures have used all parts of an animal as food for millennia. Stocks and broths are the foundations of many types of cooking.
The terms broth, bone broth, and stock are used interchangeably by many(2). They have the same ingredients: water, meat or bones (or both), vegetables, and seasonings. Bone broth is made with bones, but may contain a small amount of meat adhering to the bones. Bone broth is rich in protein, minerals, collagen, and vitamins.
I recommend consuming one cup of bone broth daily. My recipe is here.
Food #2: Probiotics
Eat 1 cup of cultured dairy products per day, like goat’s milk or coconut milk kefir, amasai (from A2 cows (3)), and sheep-milk yogurt that are rich in probiotics. Here is my recipe for Coconut Milk Kefir. It’s very easy to make. I add it to my Super Restoring Smoothie.
If you are lactose intolerant, you may be able to consume kefir, amasi, or a very strong yogurt because probiotics actually help break down lactose within the body and can also help people overcome gluten intolerance and Celiac disease.
Take 50-100 billion units daily of a probiotic supplement. Probiotics can help re-colonize the gut with healthy bacteria. Long term, this is the most important supplement anyone can take. If you’re eating a large amount of probiotic rich foods every day (like sauerkraut, kavas, and coconut kefir), then you don’t need to, but most people do.
Food #3: Fermented Vegetables
Cultured or fermented foods have a very long history in virtually all native diets, and have always been highly prized for their health benefits. If you can’t handle fermented milk products (above), try these fermented vegetables. Fermenting foods helps balance the good bacteria that live in your gut against the disease-causing bacteria. Even if you eat fermented milk products, eating fermented veggies will help balance your intestinal flora, thereby boosting overall immunity. Learn how to ferment here.
- Pickled cucumbers
- Pickled garlic
- Pickled beets
- Pickled radish
- Pickled corn relish
- Korean kimchi
Food #4: Steamed Vegetables
All the food we eat to help restore the gut to health should be easy to digest. “Some produce is most nutritious uncooked while other kinds need heat to bring out the best in them,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a registered dietitian with a practice in Chicago.
The reason that raw vegetables can be hard on the intestines is their fiber content. Steaming vegetables helps break down the fibers, which makes them easier on the digestive system because they’re already partly broken down.
Food #5: Healthy Fats
- Contain More Potassium Than Bananas
- Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
- Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
- Coconut Oil
- The saturated fat in coconut oil is not harmful, but rather contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are a quick source of energy
- Helps burn fat
- Can kill harmful microorganisms
- Reduces hunger
- Can improve blood cholesterol levels
- Ghee (clarified butter)
Food #6: Fruits
Consuming 1-2 servings of fruit daily is good on a leaky gut diet. You can steam apples and pears to make homemade applesauce or fruit sauce. Fruits, especially berries, are a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, most people will need to exercise some portion control with fruits due to the high sugar content.
Learn more in my new book, Be in Health: Bible-Based Health Restoration: Living in Harmony with God’s Ways Regarding Health. Available now.