Thank you to Dr. Westin Childs for the wonderful article.
By now there's no doubt you've at least heard of leaky gut.
But what is leaky gut and why does it matter to your health?
In simple terms leaky gut is defined as damage that occurs to your intestinal lining which allows bad things to enter into your blood stream and prevents good things from being absorbed.
This is obviously an oversimplification, but it gives you an idea of why leaky gut is so important.
Damage to the intestinal lining results in the absorption of pro-inflammatory cytokines which can interact with your brain and skin causing all sorts of problems for your immune system and thyroid function.
If you suspect or know you have thyroid problems there is a HUGE probability that you also have some degree of intestinal damage.
You can identify the presence of leaky gut using the symptom list below:
Symptoms of leaky gut include:
Because thyroid function alters intestinal function and vice versa.
The relationship between your thyroid and your gut is similar to the adrenal/thyroid connection we discussed previously.
And just like that connection, fixing this problem requires treatments for each individual system.
But before we talk about treatment let's talk about WHY it's so important to fix your gut.
What leaky gut does to your thyroid:
Step #1. Add/Remove foods from your diet.
The first step you want to take is to change or alter your diet. Certain foods can be very damaging to your intestinal tract just like some foods can be very nourishing.
The goal here is that you want to REMOVE the bad foods and ADD in the good foods.
One final thought:
You don't necessarily need to consume the good foods forever, once you heal your intestinal lining you should be able to reduce the frequency of these foods (because some are not necessarily easy to consume/make).
REMOVE the following foods:
ADD the following foods:
Step #2. Take probiotics and prebiotics.
Next on the list is the addition of both probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics can help rapidly heal the intestinal lining and reverse the symptoms of leaky gut.
Probiotics help by increasing the growth of healthy and beneficial bacteria while limiting the growth of negative bacteria.
Probiotics also bind to toxins and cytokines that cause autoimmune disease, depression and changes to your appetite.
One of the best things about using probiotics for leaky gut is that they work fairly rapidly (most people notice a difference within 1 week).
The trick here is getting the best and most high quality probiotics. What this means for you is the following:
- Probiotics that are multi strain and multi species.
- High dose probiotics (greater than 100 billion CFU per serving).
- Climate/temperature controlled probiotics.
- Probiotics that contain both bifidobacteria and lactobacilli species.
You will want to use probiotics frequently (daily to every other day) for at least 2-3 months. Once you achieve intestinal repair you can reduce your dose down to a maintenance dose of 1-2x per week.
For leaky gut I recommend using bifidobacteria + lactobacilli species with at least 100 billion CFU/serving.
Step #3. Use supplements to nourish and repair your intestinal lining.
In addition to using probiotics there are also several other supplements that can be used to increase healing and reduce the symptoms of leaky gut.
Other supplements that can help heal leaky gut include:
- L-glutamine --> Directly helps heal the intestinal lining and nourishes the GI tract.
- Digestive enzymes --> Helps increase nutrient absorption and reduces the burden of the pancreas on breaking down foods (makes digestion easier for your body).
- DGL --> Helps sooth intestinal lining and improves stomach acid and reduces intestinal symptoms.
- Quercetin --> Very powerful anti-inflammatory agent that also helps boost immune function (helpful for people with autoimmune diseases).
You don't necessarily need to use all of these supplements but I do recommend that at the minimum you combine both probiotics WITH L-glutamine.
Other supplements can be added as necessary.
Step #4. Test and treat other intestinal issues if present.
Lastly, you will need to be assessed (and treated) for conditions that tend to accompany leaky gut.
These conditions CAUSE leaky gut, but are not treated by the standard treatment recommendations above.
They are mentioned here because they are commonly missed by providers and patients and may be the cause of longstanding or treatment resistant leaky gut in many patients.
The following conditions can potentiate and make leaky gut difficult to treat:
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Small intestinal fungal overgrowth (yeast overgrowth)
- Intestinal dysbiosis