Many common health complaints today can be directly attributed to two digestive disorders known as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Leaky Gut.
Even though the medical world often treats these conditions as separate disorders, they are actually very linked to each other as a result of diet and lifestyle factors.
Furthermore, it's important to remember the wise words of the revered ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, who claimed that, “All disease begins in the gut.”
Sadly, the link between the symptoms of IBS and Leaky Gut and "gut health" is largely overlooked by the medical community in favour of synthetic drugs and surgeries for treatment.
However, as you’ll see, paying attention to your gut health is fundamental - not just for avoiding Leaky Gut and IBS - but in terms of your ongoing overall health, wellness and longevity.
First, let's take a closer look at each of these increasingly common health complaints.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine causing symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, gas and diarrhoea.
It is typically an indication of inflammation in the gut, usually caused by:
- Excess refined sugar and grain products in the diet
- Over consumption of processed dairy products
- Fried and Fatty Foods (prepared from hydrogenated oils/trans fats)
- Eating too many processed meats
- Not enough whole plant fibres included in the diet.
IBS is a digestive condition that manifests the above mentioned symptoms, usually affecting the person for an extended period of time e.g. 3 months or more.
Although there is no specific clinical test to ‘confirm’ that someone actually suffers from IBS, many people who persistently experience one or more of the symptoms described, are often diagnosed with it.
As the name suggests, several forms of irritation, as well as inflammation, constitute many of the effects people normally experience with IBS.
What is Leaky Gut?
Leaky Gut refers to an intestinal permeability problem, whereby undigested food particles, bacteria and toxins are able to 'leak' through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.
Your intestines include a special layer of cells that are joined together by certain proteins called ‘tight junction’ or TJ proteins.
Leaky Gut Syndrome symptoms begin to appear as a result of these proteins malfunctioning because they serve as the gateway between your intestines and bloodstream.
This has serious implications for your health, because the vast majority of your immune system functions are located in your digestive system.
The TJ proteins are responsible for allowing nutrients to pass from your intestines into your blood and then through the rest of your body while preventing other harmful substances from entering.
However, when they are not working as they should, they can also let through other tiny unwanted particles called 'xenobiotics' into your bloodstream and the rest of your body, which can lead to a variety of health complaints, digestive disorders and dis-ease.
Common Signs & Symptoms of IBS & Leaky Gut
The most commonly symptoms of IBS and Leaky Gut are generally these:
- Abdominal pain
- Acid Reflux
- Feeling constantly full
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches & pains
- Sleep irregularities
- Thyroid problems
Those who suffer from Leaky Gut may also experience:
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Poor immunity
- Excessive fatigue
- Brain fog and memory loss
- Acne & skin problems (including eczema)
- Arthritis & joint pain
Causes of IBS & Leaky Gut
More often than not, the most common factors contributing to the symptoms of IBS and Leaky Gut are related to the following factors:
A diet that is laden with processed food products is one of the main contributors to gut and health issues.
Some of the worst offenders include:
- Supermarket processed wheat & grains
- Refined White Sugar and products made from refined sugar
- Heavily Refined Oils (Hydrogenated Oils)
- Commercial Dairy Products (Homogenised and Pasteurised)
- Processed Meats such as Salami, Bacon, Sausages, Corned Beef and Ham.
2. Toxic Overwhelm
Every day, living in the modern world we come in contact with literally thousands of environmental toxins from:
- Air pollution
- Municipal water supplies
- Chemicals in supermarket foods
- Non-organic produce
- Synthetic skin care & beauty products
Over time and distance, exposure to toxins in these items can eventually end up in the blood stream, wreaking havoc on the gut and the entire immune system.
3. Too Much 'Bad' Bacteria
Your gut is made up of the “microbiome”, an environment consisting of colonies of good and bad bacteria that drive your health, immunity and digestive function.
A consistently poor diet, combined with exposure to a variety of toxic chemicals, will eventually starve the 'good' bacteria of nutrients and cause the ‘bad’ bacteria to proliferate. This is phenomenon in the gut is known as, dysbiosis, which leads to imbalances and eventual chaos in the gut.
You probably noticed that when you’re stressed and anxious you feel it in your stomach.
There is a very real link between the gut and brain, known as the gut-brain axis.
This means, ongoing mental or emotional trauma will commonly have a direct impact on gut barrier permeability. And as already mentioned, this is what causes Leaky Gut, because the harmful bacteria seep then find their way into the blood stream producing the inflammatory response.
Tips and Natural Solutions For IBS and Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut and IBS can be improved and healed in a natural way without using pharmaceuticals, which will generally only mask the symptoms temporarily instead of getting to the root cause of the problem.
Additionally, the side-effects of prolonged synthetic medication can cause even more health problems down the road.
1. Cut Out Inflammatory Foods
Many of the signs and symptoms of both disorders are related to chronic inflammation in your gut and body.
The first and most important step is to address the foods you eat. You'll want to start by eliminating all refined and processed foods, typical of what you find in supermarkets and 'fast food'.
The main culprits include:
- White flour and white bread
- White pasta and white rice
- Cakes, cookies and biscuits
- Breakfast cereals and muesli bars
- Fried fatty foods
- Refined sugar, candy, soda and sports drinks
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed meats
- Canned foods, sauces and condiments made with chemical additives and preservatives.
It's also a good idea to remove all glutenous grains, even unrefined organic varieties, from your diet at least until any symptoms of Leaky Gut or IBS subside.
Grains which contain gluten that are known to exacerbate Leaky Gut and IBS, are primarily wheat, barley and rye - and products made from those grains.
Alternatively, you can replace them with a variety of gluten-free alternatives, such as buckwheat, quinoa, millet and organic wild rice.
Once you no longer have symptoms of Leaky Gut and your gut microbiome has been restored, you can gradually introduce whole organic varieties of glutenous grains back into your diet responsibly.
2. Detox & Cleanse Your Digestive System
A detox cleanse will help eliminate stored metabolic waste that in your digestive tract, that could be contributing to gut imbalances and the symptoms of Leaky Gut and IBS.
"Cleanse" options include:
- A raw juice cleanse (a variety of fresh fruit, vegetable and green cold-pressed juices)
- A raw food cleanse (a variety of raw fresh fruits, vegetables, smoothies, soups and salads)
- A pulse cleanse (featuring a natural bentonite clay colon cleanse, followed by a number of days on Pulse and a variety of raw fruits and vegetables)
3. Eat More Fresh Local, Fruits & Vegetables
A variety of whole fresh fruit and vegetables, sourced locally and in season, should be included in the diet to help relieve symptoms of IBS and Leaky Gut.
Focus your attention on these foods:
- Kiwi Fruit
- Citrus Fruits - Oranges, Mandarins, lemons, limes & Grapefruit
- Brussel Sprouts
- Silver Beet
- Sweet Potatoes
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Salads and Smoothies)
- Raw Coconut Oil (Smoothies, Raw Deserts, Baking and Frying)
- Grass-Fed Butter
4. Eat More Fermented Foods
To restore the proper balance of good bacteria in your gut, you'll also need to eat more Fermented Foods.
Fermented foods contain "Probiotics", which cultivate healthy bacteria in the gut that perform vital functions, which include keeping the bad bacteria in check.
This is key because these beneficial bacteria constitute an important part of the intestinal barrier. Include a variety of these foods:
- Raw, Organic Dairy Products e.g. Yogurt, Kefir and Cheese (Choose coconut or vegan alternatives if you're against animal products)
- Kimchi and Sauerkraut
- Organic Soy Products e.g. Tempeh and Miso
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Learn more in Probiotics: Health Benefits & 7 Powerful Food Sources
5. Reduce Stress
Finally, in order to allow your body to more effectively rest, heal, repair and reset itself you'll also want to undertake some activities and light exercises that will help to decrease any stress and anxiety you may feel.
Activities like these have a powerful impact on your internal organs the health of your entire digestive system:
- Yoga, Tai Chi & Qi Gong
- Earthing (walking barefooted on the sand or grass).
Learn more in 7 Ways To Deal With Anxiety & Find Inner Peace
The Main Takeaway
Symptoms of Leaky Gut and IBS are vey common and can be avoided, and even healed, by cleaning up your diet and making some minor lifestyle changes.
In cases where symptoms are already advanced, it is advisable to make significant and immediate changes the foods you eat, and to consider doing some type of detox protocol to give your digestive system the chance to cleanse and reset.
Once the offence has been cleared from the digestive tract, the secret is to rebuild a healthy gut microbiome, by ensuring that you eat a variety of whole foods that are sourced as locally as possible, and that you're including a number of fermented foods in your diet regularly to ensure you're supporting a healthy gut.
With a more conscious approach to your daily food and lifestyle habits, you can go a long way to making Leaky Gut and IBS symptoms a thing of the past and in avoiding these discomforts altogether.Tolman Self Care.