9 Steps to Perfect Health – #5: Heal Your Gut

healthygut

 

All disease begins in the gut.

- Hippocrates

Hippocrates said this more than 2,000 years ago, but we’re only now coming to understand just how right he was. Research over the past two decades has revealed that gut health is critical to overall health, and that an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

In fact, many researchers (including myself) believe that supporting intestinal health and restoring the integrity of the gut barrier will be one of the most important goals of medicine in the 21st century.

There are two closely related variables that determine our gut health: the intestinal microbiota, or “gut flora”, and the gut barrier. Let’s discuss each of them in turn.

The gut flora: a healthy garden needs healthy soil

Our gut is home to approximately 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) microorganisms. That’s such a big number our human brains can’t really comprehend it. One trillion dollar bills laid end-to-end would stretch from the earth to the sun – and back – with a lot of miles to spare. Do that 100 times and you start to get at least a vague idea of how much 100 trillion is.

The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body, with over 400 known diverse bacterial species. In fact, you could say that we’re more bacterial than we are human. Think about that one for a minute.

We’ve only recently begun to understand the extent of the gut flora’s role in human health and disease. Among other things, the gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 75% of our immune system. Dysregulated gut flora has been linked to diseases ranging from autism and depression to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.

Unfortunately, several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:

  • Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs
  • Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • Diets low in fermentable fibers
  • Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic infections

Antibiotics are particularly harmful to the gut flora. Recent studies have shown that antibiotic use causes a profound and rapid loss of diversity and a shift in the composition of the gut flora. This diversity is not recovered after antibiotic use without intervention.

We also know that infants that aren’t breast-fed and are born to mothers with bad gut flora are more likely to develop unhealthy gut bacteria, and that these early differences in gut flora may predict overweight, diabetes, eczema/psoriasis, depression and other health problems in the future.

The gut barrier: the gatekeeper that decide what gets in and what stays out

Have you ever considered the fact that the contents of the gut are technically outside the body? The gut is a hollow tube that passes from the mouth to the anus. Anything that goes in the mouth and isn’t digested will pass right out the other end. This is, in fact, one of the most important functions of the gut: to prevent foreign substances from entering the body.

When the intestinal barrier becomes permeable (i.e. “leaky gut syndrome”), large protein molecules escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong outside of the gut, the body mounts an immune response and attacks them. Studies show that these attacks play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and type 1 diabetes, among others.

In fact, experts in mucosal biology like Alessio Fasano now believe leaky gut is a precondition to developing autoimmunity:

There is growing evidence that increased intestinal permeability plays a pathogenic role in various autoimmune diseases including [celiac disease] and [type 1 diabetes]. Therefore, we hypothesize that besides genetic and environmental factors, loss of intestinal barrier function is necessary to develop autoimmunity.

The phrase “leaky gut” used to be confined to the outer fringes of medicine, employed by alternative practitioners with letters like D.C., L.Ac and N.D. after their names. Conventional researchers and doctors originally scoffed at the idea that a leaky gut contributes to autoimmune problems, but now they’re eating their words. It has been repeatedly shown in several well-designed studies that the integrity of the intestinal barrier is a major factor in autoimmune disease.

This new theory holds that the intestinal barrier in large part determines whether we tolerate or react to toxic substances we ingest from the environment. The breach of the intestinal barrier (which is only possible with a “leaky gut”) by food toxins like gluten and chemicals like arsenic or BPA causes an immune response which affects not only the gut itself, but also other organs and tissues. These include the skeletal system, the pancreas, the kidney, the liver and the brain.

This is a crucial point to understand: you don’t have to have gut symptoms to have a leaky gut. Leaky gut can manifest as skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, heart failure, autoimmune conditions affecting the thyroid (Hashimoto’s) or joints (rheumatoid arthritis), mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, depression and more.

Researchers have identified a protein called zonulin that increases intestinal permeability in humans and other animals. This led to a search of the medical literature for illnesses characterized by increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Imagine their surprise when the researchers found that many, if not most, autoimmune diseases – including celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease – are characterized by abnormally high levels of zonulin and a leaky gut. In fact, researchers have found that they can induce type 1 diabetes almost immediately in animals by exposing them to zonulin. They develop a leaky gut, and begin producing antibodies to islet cells – which are responsible for making insulin.

In Step #1: Don’t Eat Toxins, I explained that one of the main reasons we don’t want to eat wheat and other gluten-containing grains is that they contain a protein called gliadin, which has been shown to increase zonulin production and thus directly contribute to leaky gut.

But what else can cause leaky gut? In short, the same things I listed above that destroy our gut flora: poor diet, medications (antibiotics, NSAIDs, steroids, antacids, etc.), infections, stress, hormone imbalances, and neurological conditions (brain trauma, stroke and neurodegeneration).

Leaky gut = fatigued, inflamed and depressed

Here’s the takeaway. Leaky gut and bad gut flora are common because of the modern lifestyle. If you have a leaky gut, you probably have bad gut flora, and vice versa. And when your gut flora and gut barrier are impaired, you will be inflamed. Period.

This systemic inflammatory response then leads to the development of autoimmunity. And while leaky gut and bad gut flora may manifest as digestive trouble, in many people it does not. Instead it shows up as problems as diverse as heart failure, depression, brain fog, eczema/psoriasis and other skin conditions, metabolic problems like obesity and diabetes and allergies, asthma and other autoimmune diseases.

To adequately address these conditions, you must rebuild healthy gut flora and restore the integrity of your intestinal barrier. This is especially true if you have any kind of autoimmune disease, whether you experience digestive issues or not.

How to maintain and restore a healthy gut

The most obvious first step in maintaining a healthy gut is to avoid all of the things I listed above that destroy gut flora and damage the intestinal barrier. But of course that’s not always possible, especially in the case of chronic stress and infections. Nor did we have any control over whether we were breast-fed or whether our mothers had healthy guts when they gave birth to us.

If you’ve been exposed to some of these factors, there are still steps you can take to restore your gut flora:

  • Remove all food toxins from your diet
  • Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
  • Eat fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc., and/or take a high-quality, multi-species probiotic
  • Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present
  • Take steps to manage your stress

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  1. Clarissa says

    Hello Chris,

    I have been following your series with great interest. I have followed a strict paleo diet excepting the inclusion of a small amount of high fat pastured dairy products for about 5 months. I have struggled with chronic facial hives and rash for several years and, if anything, these have gotten worse on the paleo diet. I started a dairy-free challenge a few days ago, and if I don’t see an improvement within the next couple of weeks, will try an egg-free challenge. Because of the dairy-free challenge I am reluctant to add kefir or yogurt to my diet. Any recommendations on specific brands of probiotics? There is a bewildering assortment out there.

    • Seroflorus says

      You may have luck with using a milk kefir scoby (“grains”) to make your own coconut milk kefir. I currently have rash from dairy but can use this very well. If you decide to try it, get the grains (not starter) and put them in a little more milk for one day, then rinse them and put the grains in coconut milk (I recommend the canned kind with just coconut milk and guar gum). Let it sit until you just see some clearish liquid on the bottom (this is ‘whey’). Pour through a strainer and put the grains back in their glass jar. add some fresh coconut milk, leave it for another day. Drink the semi-liquid that got through the strainer. Also, we use Ultimate Flora and have worked up to 50billion dosage.

      • says

        I am not sure if you will get this as it has been awhile since you posted but check into the histamine intolerance. Some foods have alot of histamine in them and cause symptoms. Fermented foods are one of them along with proteins such as meat..especially leftovers! A google search will bring you lots of info on this. Good luck!

    • Lynae Eakett Greene says

      Hi,
      I strongly recommend checking out the book “The Plan” by Lyn-Genet Recitas. It is a specific and speedy elimination diet, which allows you to discover which foods cause an inflammatory reaction with your body chemistry. I am currently un-employed, so I haven’t been able to afford to complete the 20 day process. But the 6 days I was on it were amazing. I have Hashimoto’s and Fibromyalgia and IBS, the symptoms from all three were gone or greatly improved. I discovered one of the foods that gives me immediate trouble, corn. Hope this helps. You can get the book on amazon for around $20. And if you google Lyn-Genet Recitas she has a website that offers consultations, and you can email them for advice on getting started.

    • says

      I’d say you can make almond, soy, sunflower, cashew basically and nut milk from the fresh raw seeds. You won’t be having any issues with hives on your face or mucus for that matter.

    • Casey says

      Would fermented goods work? From my understanding so far though, they use sugar or milk in the cultures-both theoretically problematic. So, I don’t understand how it converts to beneficial for our sensitive system. I’ve been struggling with how to keep natural cultures in my diet while eliminating my problematic foods. Milk, corn, glutenous-grains, soy, and certain fruits. D’Adamo’s blood-type diet chart’s have really helped me understand why my body does good/bad with different foods. I’m currently on my journey to figuring out if I can heal my leaky gut and get back to digesting my nutrients better. I was hoping to find a guide that thoroughly describes the process of healing the gut barrier, and regenerating villi and micro-villi. Onward with my search.

      • Casey says

        Oh, also, I had read somewhere that whole foods tend to contain beneficial bacteria in their natural state (vs. being fermented). So, for now, I’m banking on that and just doing my research on the rest of the healing process.

      • Tess says

        Casey, if you’re sensitive to milk, try fermented vegetables like sauerkraut instead. Heck, try fermented vegetables even if you’re not sensitive to milk. They have a lot of beneficial bacteria, and it’s a different selection of bacteria than you get in the fermented milk products.

        However, you should understand that just because a ferment calls for sugar, that doesn’t mean you’ll be eating a bunch of sugar. The sugar is for the bacteria. They eat it and then it’s mostly gone.

        In addition, fermenting hard-to-digest foods like milk or soy gives bacteria a chance to break down the problematic substances (like lactose), making the resulting product much easier to digest. Extensive fermentation can even substantially break down gluten.

      • Peche says

        The GAPS book might be helpful to you. Goes into great detail about how the GAPS diet heals your digestive system.

    • rylee says

      Make homemade bone broth at home with the bone marrows exposed.

      Live off the broth and your gut will heal and seal!!! You are inflamed because of all of the things you are eating.

      See more information at

      http://www.gapsdiet.com

      • Swarner says

        Hi…I was told broth is VERY high in Glutamate, so avoid it. At this point, I basically can’t eat anything! I’ve attempted to avoid certain foods but if it’s not the food I’m reacting to it’s the environment. Nothing seems to work or change my skin from getting hives or being inflamed …no dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, grains, sugar, histamines, salicylate…you name it; I’ve eliminated it & no improvement. I take probiotics, digestive enzymes & colostrum for my gut…nothing :(

    • Angie says

      Hi there –
      I have often heard it said by nutritionists that sauerkraut is THE BEST probiotic, especially if you make it yourself. It’s super easy to make – just get a head of organic cabbage, chop it up, punch it in a bowl, sprinkle salt on it, let it sit for half an hour, then put it in jars with a bit of salt water and let it sit on your counter for a week. If you’re looking for a drinkable probiotic, you can make water kefir with just organic sugar and water. The grains are easy to deal with and you can buy them at culturesforhealth.com. I have made both of these and they are incredibly easy.

    • says

      hives sounds to me like some sort of reaction to a food your body does not like…can be anything. Bio-individuality! I would do coconut kefir and coconut kefir water. Also an elimination diet to find out what is causing the hives….or an IgG test.

  2. Angela says

    Hi Chris
    I’m on a low carb/GAPS diet to deal with chronic yeast overgrowth and h.plyroi overgrowth and I can’t have sweet veggies or starches like yams, sweet potato, etc. Are there other sources of fermentable fiber? Also, I have not come across this term before, can you describe what you mean by it?

    Thanks for another great blog post!

    • Michell says

      Try water kefir, try brands such as Kevita found in natural food stores. I am DF and rely on this. I now make it myself, google it and learn more. It’s good stuff! In addition to this add raw sauerkraut to your salads or meals along with digestive enzymes. This regime has helped me tremendously.

    • says

      Hi, Angela, Sorry that you are experiencing high yeast growth. I too had yeast. I overcame my yeast problem by taking two Probio5s in the morning and two at bed time on an empty stomach. I also cleanse daily. I became an ambassador for Plexus Slim just because of my results from our amazing products. Please take time to go to my website at http://www.plexusslim.com/cheryl56 to read further about our products. They are all natural. If you want to discuss our products further, please call me at 985-320-2132 or email me at cheryl.rhmf@charter.net. I would love to have you have the same experience as I have.

  3. Dana says

    If you read the attachment parenting/pro-breastfeeding literature you will find discussions of the development of the infant gut. Apparently, babies come with leaky guts–the cells of the mucosa have spaces in between them, naturally. Those gaps close at about six months of age. Breastmilk coats the mucosa and plugs up the gaps, as it were, without causing harm. It is believed this also helps train the infant’s immune system.

    Now think about all the parents out there giving solids to their babies at four months of age. What’s the most commonly introduced first food?

    Not that formula before six months of age is a tremendous idea either. It typically contains corn syrup solids and vegetable oils.

  4. Chris Kresser says

    Angela: fermentable fiber = soluble fiber. They are long-chain glucose polymers (polysaccharides) so they’re not allowed on the GAPS diet. By definition, anything with a prebiotic quality is not allowed on GAPS because they’re all polysaccharides.

  5. says

    Great post, and great blog Chris! Thanks a lot for a ton of useful information! I love this series especially. I have a question – is the idea behind taking fermentable fibers to promote the growth of good bacteria?

  6. Adam says

    Great article Chris. Sums up my experience with autoimmune issues. Once I started avoiding toxins (specifically gluten) and taking a quality pro-biotic, my psoriasis and eczema went away for the most part (occasional flare-ups when I stray from diet). Both also improved my hypothyroid symptoms to the point I experience less brain fog and can go through most days from 5:30am to 10pm without a nap.

    I added high quality colostrum from grass-fed cows about two months ago, and it’s really helped too. Not sure what your thoughts are regarding that supplement, but I recommend it.

  7. Harald says

    Hi Chris.
    Thank you for your article, which points the way to improve one’s habits. -
    I have an issue with the numbers; in North America, of course, it is customery to call a number with 6 zeros a million, with nine zeros a billion and with 12 zeros a trillion and so forth. This is incorrect, strictly speaking. When a million acquires another set of six zeros it would become a billion i.e. twice the group of zeros. A trillion would have 3 sets of 6 zeros. This is the custom in Europe including Britain. Enough said about this. -
    Diabetes type 1 is often caused by the ACT of vaccinating, or any other violent act by a ‘grown-up(?)’ upon a small and helpless child. The child suffers a DHS, a biological conflict forming a Hamerscher Herd (HH) and effecting the Langerhans cells of the pancreas. It LOOKS like an autoimmune response, but it actually is a part of a SPECIAL Biological program of Nature we are all born with. The reasoning is, that there is not enough insulin production to have an effective defense response, therefore more of these cells need to be made. This would take place upon resolution of the conflict and this part of the pancreas would have more cells to enable the body to mount a more effective defense of itself. -
    Generally speaking, while a lot of research is being done, the initial perspective is more often than not, backward. The responses of the biological body, are being looked at as the causes and a hypothesis is made to explain something, which for all intents and purposes, has been mis-identified.
    Germanic New Medicine has been propagated using only 5 Biological Laws of Nature, whereas the conventional ‘wisdom’ works with over 5000 (and counting) hypotheses. Learn more about this here:
    http://learninggnm.com .

  8. Angela says

    HI Chris
    Thanks for your response about fermentable fibers. What would you recommend in lieu of fermentable fibers since they are not allowed on a low carb/GAPs diet?

    Angela

    • Julia says

      Yes I am also on the GAPS diet and wonder about the same issue. Are there probiotics or an alternative you suggest? Or do you include some fermentable fibres in your version of GAPS for your clients?

  9. Harald says

    Sauerkraut would be a very good food, if ‘they’ did not insist on pasteurization. The salt in making it becomes part of one’s intake requirements and basically, if one ingests too much salt, the body responds by making one thirsty in order to bring the salt content of the intercellular space back to the .09 percent level.

    • Maria Bjornsdotter says

      Nope, there is plenty of non-pasteurized brands of sauerkraut to buy out there. Wholefoods sell several and they also carry non-pasteurized Kim Chi. But it’s expensive. Of course Chris is talking about non-pasteurized sauerkraut though. And it’s super easy to make. You really do not need that much CELTIC SEA SALT (which by the way does not make you thirsty if too much is ingested, unlike refined supermarket crappy salt) in a batch to make a good sauerkraut.

  10. says

    Hi Chris,

    Great article! I’ve been following a custom version of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet where I eat about 3,000 calories a day of 60% fats, 30% proteins, and 10% carbs consisting of fats, meat, veggies, and very small portions of raw fruit (like 10 raspberries). I’ve been following this very strict regimen for almost 2 years now.

    Before the diet I was a mess from Celiac Disease with severe leaky gut and bacterial overgrowth. Going gluten free didn’t work at all. But now that I’ve been on my version of the SCD Diet I feel incredible with more energy, mental clarity, and better health that I’ve ever had in my life. Perfect poops everyday.

    My friend and I even wrote a book about how we tweaked the SCD Diet to heal our guts and have helped many people with Celiac, Crohn’s, UC, and IBS do the same. This stuff works for so many people with autoimmune and digestive diseases… especially if you avoid dairy and egg.

    I also wanted to add that I made huge strides with digestion once I started taking Vitamin D3, digestive enzymes, Betaine HCL, and 200 CFU’s/day of an 11 strain probiotic. And you’ve written some great content about that in the past.

    So thanks for doing what you do! I always look forward to your knowledge.

    Jordan Reasoner

    • Lisa Gordon says

      Hi Richard, just came across email on Chris’s site where you stated that you had just got off the drug”cyclosporine. I was curious if you had a big glare-up after going off the drug and how the gluten free diet is going. I know it’s been a couple of years but I just came across it now. Thanks, lisa

    • Julia says

      Jordan, what is the name of your book? Do you have a website? I am interested in how you tweaked the SCD? It is so nut based?

    • Leanne says

      Hi Jordan,
      I just read the chapter of your program. I am confused about why you say your program is good for people who avoid dairy and eggs…” This stuff works for so many people with autoimmune and digestive diseases… especially if you avoid dairy and egg.”
      In the Intro Diet, eggs seem to be one of the main food items. I cannot eat eggs. What would you suggest?
      Thanks

      • Tina says

        Jordan and Steve’s website is scdlifestyle.com

        It was what helped me get started on my own journey of taking charge of my health and navigating my personal issues.

        They explain in their book, emails, videos and website the background of how the SCD diet works and who it can help and why. It also tells you how to tailor the diet and lifestyle to your own needs (including the many who have sensitivities to foods such as eggs, dairy, nuts, etc.). So, although the intro diet says to go ahead and have your eggs for breakfast, it may not be the best idea for everyone (including me). My husband can eat eggs every day. If I have one bite I get flu-like symptoms that last an hour or more. However, my husband is sensitive to dairy, and I can tolerate butter and heavy cream.

  11. says

    Hello everyone. I have had psoriasis for the past 22 years.

    I have just come off a drug called cyclosporine which gave me around 90% clearance, however I didn’t get on with the side effects.

    On Saturday I am starting a gluten free diet to see if that will help. I am writing about my successes/failures with this approach at http://www.healthyhappieryou.co.uk/2011/02/can-a-gluten-free-diet-clear-my-psoriasis-part-1

    I would be interested in getting any tips or advice from any of you that have tried this approach before Smiley

    Warmly,

    Richard

  12. says

    Hi,
    You said that birth control can contribute to unhealthy gut flora. I have been trying to look up exactly how that happens, but I haven’t found an answer. So how does taking the pill harm your gut? I have long questioned whether or not birth control is really a good idea, so I would really like to understand this aspect as well.

    • catherine says

      Oral contraceptives contain oestrogen which makes Candida grow. That’s a simple answer; it’s probably much more complicated than that.

  13. Susan says

    I think you mean yuca (YOU-kah) rather than yucca (YUCK-ah). It’s almost impossible to eat a yucca root…very fibrous and not really edible. Yuca, on the other hand, is delicious.

  14. Matt says

    Excellent post Chris,

    Can you hazard a guess why sauerkraut might be problematic for some? I seemingly get instant brain fog, stimulation, salivating and oddly cravings. The best I can come up with is a possible histamine, suplhur reaction.

    Due to also avoiding dairy, are there any other whole food probiotics you would recommened?

    Thanks,

  15. says

    I was on antibiotics for a good number of years so I can definitely attest to the ‘powers’ these drugs have on me — a weak digestive system, loose stools and lots of gas. Unfortunately, I only knew about the link much later. The doctors that put me on this path were most probably as clueless as me about the consequences and the alternative safer treatments available (there are as I found out years later). So if you’re on long-term antibiotics, you should really question why and find out other less destructive alternatives. If you look hard enough, there usually are. Don’t rely 100% on your doctor; do research on your own. Thankfully, the damages I’ve sustained were not so severe to the extent that they were completely irreversible. Now I regularly take probiotic foods like tempeh, kimchi and natto to restore my gut flora and avoid foods that give me bloating and gas (like beans). Thanks for writing about this topic, Chris. More people should be aware of the consequences of taking antibiotics for prolonged period of time.

  16. Mary Branscombe says

    Interesting to see more detail on this. In the 90s I had severe IBS symptoms, from stress and eating chicken-mushroom-mayonaise sandwiches for lunch for nearly a year (well, almost ;-) In desperation I ended up doing strict Hays diet food combining and avoiding dairy, yeast, alcohol (and as a consequence very little wheat) and after a few months I was able to get back to eating just about anything; I’ve often wondered what the mechanism was for defusing the food senstivities and ‘leakiness’ could fit.

    Any thoughts on whether this issue would have an impact on asthma, especially adult onset? my husband has coughing (rather than wheezing) asthma irritated by nasal drip (no more adenoids), and while the leukinase-inhibitor immunosupressants are a huge help it would be interesting to see if diet can help reduce the minor attacks he still has…

  17. E says

    I second Felicia’s comment on the negative aspects of birth control. I am currently on the pill and curious of any negative factors.

  18. Goni says

    Hi nice post

    I’m from Portugal and I would like to tell that there is a blog written in spanish called “Nutrición Primitiva y Salud Integral”, http://nutriprimal.blogspot.com/ ,
    in which the author is just translating this series of articles, namely 9 steps to perfect health, to spanish without telling the readers that they are yours.
    Very strange, maybe you want to do something about it.
    Best wishes I amire your work

  19. says

    I take a organic probiotic that has worked better than anything else. Its helped my gut issues, my child’s issues and my mothers IBS. Its available worldwide but is bought from here http://www.organic4u.com.au Its called inliven. It has the foods in it that processes the probiotics better, and being certified organic, its very pure. I just add it to juice or a smoothie.

  20. says

    i am beyond convinced the gut is the path to health for everybody. if one can figure out whats wrong with their digestion, they will have health. seems once obesity or thyriod problems etc all of it set in, the problem is long established already with an unhealthy gut

  21. says

    Hi Chris – Great article yet again. You don’t seem to touch too much upon colonic treatments or colon cleansing to help get rid of the “toxins” that are essentially stuck inside our digestive system. Is it worth taking a further look into this kind of treatment to help cleanse the gut? Do you have first hand experience?

  22. Chris Kresser says

    I’m not a fan of colon cleansing. There’s no evidence of “toxins” stuck in our digestive system, nor that colonics help remove them. Colonics do, however, remove a lot of healthy gut flora, and they can be quite harsh. People have different opinions on this subject. This is mine.

  23. says

    Hey Chris – Love your work please keep it up!

    Could you clarify your response to colon cleansing above, does that include the many different “therapeutic” enemas talked about around the web? For example coffee enemas for liver detox? Thanks!

  24. Mindy says

    Do you know much about the effects of metformin on gut health? I know it gets in the way of absorbing vit B12 and makes my lactose intolerance even worse. I used to be on it to treat PCOS, but went off while breastfeeding. Now that my son is weaned, I’m trying to re-educate myself on the benefits/risks. There have been a number of studies showing improvement even for non-obese, but I just wonder if it will wreck my gut.

  25. sean says

    Chris, i love your blog, this is all fantastic and really thorough.
    I wanted to ask, how does one treat internal pathogens like those you mentioned without knowing about them? what is required in order to find out?

  26. Chris Kresser says

    Sean: a stool test is usually a good start. Must be a reputable lab, preferably one that uses DNA/PCR technology. A lot of false negatives with the typical labs.

  27. Noreen Murphy says

    Chris, is there a soy-free, lactose-free formula for babies, one that doesn’t contain fructose syrup. My grandson is 4 months old. He’s currently on lactose-free formula (since he was six weeks old for suspected lactose intolerance or sensitivity) which is soya based. All lactose-free formulae here in Ireland appear to be soya based. He now seems to be reacting to the formula. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

  28. Diane says

    What do think about taking food grade diatomaceous earth for it’s health benefits? Is there a risk of getting cancer when taken long term?

  29. says

    Dear Chris,

    If you suspect you have leaky gut and want to heal it will raw milk kefir help or hinder? I am trying to sure my osteoarthritis.

    Many thanks!

  30. Jessica says

    Hi Chris,

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on using Siberian Ginseng to help with adrenal fatigue and leaky gut. I’ve been very lethargic on-and-off for quite some time. Signs point to adrenal fatigue and I’ve taken a number of steps over the past couple of years to combat this as well as heal my gut (including no grains, dairy, legumes; eating smaller, more frequent meals during the day; cutting way back on the number of high intensity workouts each week; managing stress, etc.). I started to feel much better after adding a B-complex supplement to my breakfast. I’ve also looked into Siberian Ginseng and have read that it contains long-chain sugars called glycosides…will these long-chain sugars help in gut healing?

    Thanks for your time and knowledge,
    Jessica

  31. Sunnysidemom says

    I’m curious what your thoughts are on soaked grains? Also, is it necessary to purchase expensive probiotics to heal the gut flora, or can one acheive this by drinking water kiefer and eating fermented veggies? Thank you much for your time!

  32. Anonymous says

    If you have leaky gut or other gut symptoms you may have Celiac Disese, this can be treated by going totally 100% Gluten Free. There is a simple blood test that you should demand your doctor order if you have symptoms, as it could save your life.

  33. Terry says

    Recent research also shows a connection between GMO’s and leaky gut, as the pesticides engineered in corn and soy fed to animals and humans literally eats holes in our stomach and intestines. Autism is now also being linked to leaky gut, as people with autism commonly have gut inflammation and illness.

  34. Suzanne says

    Hi Chis,
    Thanks for all the good info. Been fighting depression and food allergies for years and am finally on the right track thanks to generous information people like you are publishing.
    Classical medicine is still in the stone age.
    Keep up the great work!

  35. says

    If a person is FODMAP sensitive, what does one do with the advice “Eat fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc…” Would it be better to start with just a probiotic? Are fermented FODMAP foods less of a problem?

    Any attempt to reintroduce a FODMAP food as part of an elimination/challenge test has resulted in runaway gas, pain, and other symptoms that last for a couple of weeks after removal and now I am reluctant to even experiment with anything from this class of foods.

    Thank you!

  36. Seeking says

    Chris,

    You stated: “Research over the past two decades has revealed that…an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

    I’d like to see some studies which explain how an unhealthy gut contributes directly to autism and diabetes. Often times people like to say, “Those with autism tend to also have Celiac disease,” but that doesn’t say anything about how a leaky gut could be the cause of their autism; in fact, it could be either way; it could be that autism causes leaky gut.

    And a leaky gut could just be one of many, many factors that leads to autism. But you seem to think there is a more direct causative effect going on. You almost seem to say that leaky gut causes autism.

    I’d like some more solid proof and you seem to have it.

    • Michael says

      See here: http://www.microbialinfluence.com

      There is research showing a link between lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of gram negative bacteria in the gut and autism. Role of leaky gut, mercury, and relation to LPS toxicity is explained too.

      I’ve had generalized anxiety disorder and ASD social inwardness my entire life, to the point of having huge difficulty holding conversations and maintaining eye contact. Also, huge food sensitivities to gluten and dairy. Mother worked in a dental office handling mercury for amalgams before I was born. Paleo with grass fed raw meat (no it never makes me sick) has massively helped. In fact, I got my first girlfriend at 24 years of age after three years on raw paleo diet. :)

      There is definitely a link between the gut and autism spectrum.

  37. Charly says

    Hello Chris, I’m 51, m, and have suffered from stomach issues for most of my adult life due to a poor diet and stress, now the pain in my stomach (lower left side) is unbearable, years ago I had various procedures by a G I Doctor from barium enamas to colon endoscopy very invasive to say the least, he snipped a sample to perform a biopsy and after all was said and done, he came back with IBS…I’ve visited natural paths that tell me I’m healthy despite being over weight (75 lbs), I gave up on the medical community and the health and wellness groups as well, my family all claimed it was psychosomatic…these last few weeks have been so painful and bloating and bloody stools + fatigue are killing me …I’m afraid it’s U.C. or C.D. or worse…I want to be healthy for my young daughter…could I still reverse this and live a normal life??

  38. Tricia says

    I believe anti biotics that I took back in Sept destroyed all of my good bacteria in my stomach becasue I have been suffering from chronic hard passing stools since. The urge to go is slighty there but the stool is hard and will not come out. How can I restore the becateria in my stomach? Doctors just keep telling me I am constipated and to take miralax every single day. I know the anti biotics messed something up and I want to fix it. I do not want to be on miralax everyday for the rest of my life.

    Any help would be great!

  39. Denise says

    Do you have any advice on how to gain weight with a leaky gut?
    I have zinc/copper imbalance, some heavy metals, adrenal exhaustion, and react to pretty much every food. I’ve lost 35lbs from trying to eliminate the offending foods and trying to eat paleo, and can’t seem to gain it back. I’ve been trying a lot of ghee/chicken broth and recently grass fed butter and red meat, and taking enzymes (Plant based), probiotic supplements and making my own sauerkraut, but progress is slow and I’m trying to avoid ending up in hospital on a nose feed because my BMI is dangerously low. I have type 5 stool, I think from too much fibre – winter squash, carrots etc, or maybe im just intolerant to them. I’ve been craving protein which i’ve bumped up, but I know that won’t help me gain and I’m worried about my body being too acidic. I can’t seem to find a good fat/protein/carb ratio that balances my stool/blood sugar/puts weight on. I’ve been considering millet (if I sprout it) to help me gain, as the nose feed would be full of E numbers/soy leicthin/maltodextrin/etc so I figure grains and omega 6′s from the dark chicken meat I’ve been eating for zinc are the lesser of the two evils. But I need to put on some lbs ASAP. any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

  40. Jocelyne says

    I have been suffering from asthma for approx. 30 years and my condition has been worsening in the last 3 to 4 years because of frequent bronchitis. I was always short of breath, coughing really bad, going up a flight of stairs would make me cough for an hour etc…. As time went on, I could see myself having to quit my job and be on oxygen in a near future. In April 2012, my doctor advised to take kefir to boost my immune system. I started that same day. I didn’t see any improvement in the beginning but after 5 weeks, I came home from work one night with a very high fever that lasted approx. 24 hours. After that, I started to see an improvement every day. Within approx. 2 months, I was like a new person. No more coughing, no shortness of breath, I was able to decrease my medication by 50% ! We’re already in January and I didn’t have any bronchitis yet this winter. Last summer I was able to bike, play golf etc. I take approx. 3 tablespoons of kefir every day. To this day, I still have a hard time believing that your lungs can improve so much with something that helps your digestive system.

  41. PJB says

    I wholeheartedly agree that maintaining a healthy gut is integral to being a healthy person. I am, however, confused as far as the autoimmune diseases relate to this. I have been diagnosed with RA. It tests in the blood. If an unhealthy gut caused me to have RA, would it not go away when I correct the problem? Would that then reflect in a blood test? Would I then no longer be considered to have RA?

  42. says

    for anybody with leaky gut and candida the body ecology is the way! and the book teaches you how to starve the yeast and rebuild your inner terrain! I had that battle after i was given antibiotics. Doctors are not educated on the importance of gut health. like chris said we are more bacteria than humman.
    you can’t rebalance your gut unless you remove heavy metals first specially mercury!! candida loves mercury.once you bring the metals down your body starts to heal.

  43. Heather says

    I am learning so much in recent years…. my sons 3 yrs and 7 months have leaky gut/food alergies/intolerances. I think itlinks to my poor gut/immune health because before getting pregnant with th 3 yr old I had full blown pneumonia and took antibiotics for 6 weeks. At the time I knew nothing of natural health/probiotics, etc. My first son (born before my pneumonia) is 6 and has no issues at all. I have never had the same digestion or immune system since… I am taking a lot of steps to try heal my sons and myself and have been learning so much. Thank you for these “9″ steps articles, I appreciate how well they explain rather than just dolling out advice. I am curious, though, as to why there’s no mention of taking enzymes? I know we don’t get all that we need from our diet and have been looking into them but the variety and research is overwhelming. My 3 yr old is off dairy/egg and I am nusing my 7 mon old so I have been off dairy /egg/wheat/gluten for the last 6 months. His tummy is so senditve there’s a whole list of other foods I avoid (bananas, lettuce, cabbage, apple/orange juice, to name a few…) because he gets severe gas pain and diarrhea/constipation if I eat them. The only baby foods he tolerates are sweet potatoes and pears. (Carrots gave him diarrhea, peas constipation…) I really want to heal his gut so any advice is helpful! Thanks again!

  44. Ana says

    Hi Chris,
    I’m not one that takes antibiotics or medicine unless I feel really sick. I was recently prescribed CIPRO for a UTI and I really feel like it destroyed my stomach. I’m constantly nauseous, cramps, mucus in my stool and urine. At this point I’m really upset because I asked the doctor if it’s safe while breastfeeding and he said YES. I came home and for some reason I decided to take her off breast milk while on CIPRO and my 4 month old’s doctor said that CIPRO is one of the antibiotics that they ask moms to stop breastfeeding with. If I knew all the side affects of it I wouldn’t have taken it. I took it for 7 days…one every 12 hrs and I feel like it took away some symptoms but made others worse. Can you please help me out…what SPECIFIC probiotics can I take. I started drinking alot of Kefir…which kind of Kefir do you recommend? I’m a stay at home mom and I need to be able to function while taking care of baby…CIPRO has turned me inside out :( Please help! So sad that there are so few doctors out there that you can trust!!!

  45. Lisa says

    So, I’m late to the dance but new to Kefir making. I’ve been kefir-ing coconut milk because of my dear thyroid (meaning no dairy) but have to refresh the grains with milk periodically anyway. Here’s the conundrum….dairy is said to be an unhealthful food because it contains enzyme inhibitors that increase gut permeability but kefir has probiotics that improve gut health (which I’d like). So…if someone (like me) is trying to heal a leaky gut, can that one use kefir cow milk, kefir goat milk or just stay on kefir coconut milk?…I’ve tasted a tiny bit of the kefir cow milk that came from the grain refreshing and it was MUCH better than the coconut milk version. thanks.

  46. Alberto says

    hi, my digestive system is worthless, i need help ive been to the doctor and they just took an x-ray of my stomach and told me i was full of shit and gave me a laxative, worthless doctors!!!!!, so i need to take this matter into my own hands before i die, i never heard of anyone getting an intestine transplants, so im really on my own if you can save my life, man i would do anything, im having alot of symptoms like, headaches, sharp pinpoint pain in the stomach and lower back, and i have super loss of appetite like i be hungry as F*CK and put a plate of food in front of me and my appetite is gone! my body doesnt tell me when i have to go and have a bowel movement i have to just sit there and wait, im serious dude i need help cuz the doctors are worthless, they didnt even tell me what to do or what to eat, he just gave me laxatives :/ i need a digestive system genie to help me restore my bowel movements, im getting super skinny plz help

    • Khadija says

      Give vegetable juicing a try. It’s amazing how it fixes the digestive system and the body. Throw in any vegetables like kale, beets, chard, carrots, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, peppers etc..even parley and cilantro. Keep vegetables unpeeled, just washed. Also make sure they are organic. Black seed oil or just black seed also heels the body too. Hope this helps. Get well! :)

  47. need help... ugh says

    I have question regarding the fermented foods that help the good gut flora/bacteria. Wouldn’t these also make the bad gut bacteria grow? Please advise….

  48. Laura says

    Hi Chris! Amazing website! I want to know if intolerance to FODMAPS can be overcome? I have been on a Paleo diet for 6 months, have cleared an H. Pylori infection and am doing a strict GAPS protocol, and trying to eliminate all FODMAPS. It feels like there’s not much left to eat since I’m also allergic to nuts, citrus and nightshades….I had a stool test, showing e.coli overgrowth in abundance, which I’m working on with Lauricidin, Para Biotic Plus, Interfase plus, prescript assist probiotics, Custom Probiotics D-lactate free version, S. Boullardii by Klaire labs, Thorne D3…I don’t know what else to do, but being allergic to so much stinks. When I eat something that breaks down to fructose, I can’t take a deep breath. Please let me know if this can be overcome. I’m fine with staying paleo, but not fine with the lack of vegetables and fruit. I eat nearly no fruit, which makes for a bland, blah diet. Thanks so much for your help!

    • jc says

      Hi Laura-did you clear h pylori naturally or you used antibiotics? thank you in advance for getting back with me!

  49. Lynn says

    Hello Chris,
    I’m currently on a juice fast of 6 months with added bone broth as I feel. The reason for the fast was because of chronic mega illness from two tick bites ( same time). It’s been 3 years sense I was bit and I’ve been working hard to get a handle on this. I stared the fast because it was the only thing I have not tried. Before the fast I was having pain everywhere, muscles, joints, bones, chilling headaches, and unrelenting spiking fevers. 3 weeks into the fast the fevers slowed down and stopped. Now after 6 months, I have thoughts of stopping this fast, however when I’ve made attempts to introduce a whole food ( blended, watered down). veggies or fruit that I currently juice already, I would with in 2 or 3 hours start to have returning, spiking fevers, marked joint pain and some headaches as well. This has been repeated 5 or six times now. I can juice and I’m fine, zero fevers, less pain. I’m suspecting there is something wrong with my intestines or lining. I’m juicing organic veggies, sweet potatoes, yams and some fruits. I make the bone broth all organic as well. I’m at the end of my knowledge here and looking for some insight. Thank you for any ideas you may have for me.

  50. Mel Jolet says

    I was recently prescribed Macribid for a UTI which did nothing for infection so was then put on CIPRO for 7 days. About a week after completing CIPRO i began having lower right abdominal pain with lower back pain. Thought it might be a kidney infection from the persistent UTI, but U/A and blood work showed no infection. It’s been over 2 weeks and though the pain/discomfort has decreased, it is still there. A friend suggested it was the CIPRO that has caused this. I am now also having discomfort in across my stomach about an inch over belly button. Do you have any suggestions for me? Anything would be greatly appreciated.

    • Harald says

      Mel.
      UTIs are a program of nature and are created by the body to be able to ‘mark your territory’.
      If you have issues involving your territory, taking a cue from Nature (wolves), one needs to assert oneself to retain it. In Nature, and we are part of it, that means marking it in the fashion of dogs. That is why it effects the urinary tract. We are, however, also civilized human beings and we resolve these issues somewhat differently. But biologically speaking, we DO have to resolve this biological conflict and do whatever it takes to resolve this conflict, if possible, permanently.
      Don’t use chemicals to resolve a biological conflict.-
      http://learninggnm.com .

  51. Tania says

    Hi Chris
    I know this is an old post but I am desperate to find out how to treat parasites (as you mentioned to do so). I have tested positive to blastocystis hominis and giardia. I can’t find anyone who knows anything about how to treat this effectively. Is antibiotics the only option?
    Regards
    Tania

    • LV says

      Hi Tania,

      I was 7 months pregnant when I had giardia (from contaminated drinking water). I was scared to take the usual antiobiotics, because I didn’t want it affecting the baby. I started researching some alternatives, and found one that truly worked: raw garlic. I was very skeptical at first, but I read studies that found garlic to have anti-fungal properties and is even lethal against parasites and amoebas. Sorry I don’t have the links but you can google it to find the scientific journals online.

      So I tried it – it is not the best tasting remedy, and you’ll probably smell like garlic for a few days. But it is nothing compared to the benefits of keeping your good gut flora intact, and not having the problems that many talk about on this forum from awful antiobiotic side effects.

      The recommended I took 3-4 large cloves of garlic, 3 times daily, for 5 days. Yes 5 days is a long time to eat garlic but you need a constant stream of the substance in order to kill off all the parasites/amoebas. You can mince it and mix it with honey so it tastes better, or just chop it up smaller and swallow them whole like pills. IT WORKED. I can remember feeling better after the second day, so I foolishly decided to stop taking garlic (i hated the way it tasted) but of course the symptoms came back because I needed to treat it longer. As soon as I ate raw garlic, within 5 minutes the cramping and gas pains stopped. So I just sucked it up, and finished the last 3 days, and was GIARDIA FREE. it was awesome and my baby didn’t have to be affected by it. I hope this helps.

      • Tania says

        Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.
        Unfortunately I have an allergy to garlic so this would not be an option for me.
        But, yes, I have heard that garlic is quiet powerful. Not sure what to do. My husband and 3 children have also tested positive for blastocystis.

    • Terri says

      I will be glad to tell you how to cure parasites. The best book to pick up on the subject is by Hulda Clark and it’s called The cure for all Cancer. She will tell you that Cancer is caused by having parasites and she has one of the best parasite cleanses for people and for pets, since a lot of people get parasites from their pets. The book is pretty old so you would probably have to order it.

      Also the quickest way is to just pick up a cleanse by Brenda Watson in the health food store. I think it is called Paragone.

      Hope this helps,
      Terri

  52. Mike says

    I was told to take antibiotics for a bite, I wasn’t told it would kill all my natural bacteria as well, now I have extreme pain due to improper function of the digestive system, and now I read this article ” Antibiotics are particularly harmful to the gut flora. Recent studies have shown that antibiotic use causes a profound and rapid loss of diversity and a shift in the composition of the gut flora. This diversity is not recovered after antibiotic use without intervention. ” so basically I am doomed, nice to know. I might as well eat a bullet now and save myself this suffering.

  53. Denis says

    I heard about leakygut recently and thought it is a new type of sickness. After that I searched the net and found this video ( http://t.co/gLqFqWDBw2 ) which describes most of the symptoms I have. One of the mmost frstrating problem for me is the sound my belly makes when I refuse to pass wind. It is almost unbearable especiallyin class. But does this all natural approach work? Thx.

    • says

      I don’t have any experience with her program but I did watch the video. My thought is that you could probably find a very similar gut restoration program in a book at the library. Off my head, here are two: Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger and Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride. I’ve read both. My library always has quite a waiting list (popular subject) for them but they are worth it. Each of these folks have a website with alot of help…for free. I’d suggest saving the $40 for now and checking out the Clean Gut site as it has a free pdf that states his recommendations for supplements (here’s where your $40 could go!) and another with recipes. Also, Clean Gut can be purchased in audio format from Audible.

  54. Kevin says

    Hi tania. Ive read oregano oil for blasto can help 6/8 weeks. Look it up on internet . Best of luck , im in same situation

    • LV says

      Hi Kevin,
      I just posted a reply to Tania’s giardia problem. I had the same problem when I was pregnant and couldn’t take antibiotics. I researched and found that raw garlic is the best natural treament for giardia and it works. 3-4 large cloves of garlic, 3 times a day, for 5 days. It is much faster than 6-8 week treatment you mentioned. Just read what I wrote to her above. I hope you are feeling better.

  55. Thomas says

    Hi Chris,
    I’m in the UK – a very small little island within the UK to be exact. My access to cutting edge, or even accurate medical assessments is limited to say the least.
    I’ve started following a LCHF type diet, with some paleo and bulletproof type principals (including the coffee each morning)
    I have been eating a lot of eggs and I think I may have developed at the very least a sensitivity to them.
    There is a local Chinese medicine practice that say they can measure my sensitivity / allergy to food. They take hair samples and send them to lab. Is this a viable and accurate measure, or simply a waste of money?
    How do you suggest I get my allergy/sensitivity and gut health tested reliably?
    Kindest regards
    Thomas

  56. Rebecca says

    Hi Chris,
    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s 11 years ago but i’ve been lucky enough that my illness is pretty mild. A recent colonoscopy showed that I have a small area of inflammation which is bleeding a little and my doctor wants to put me on medication. I have followed the SCD diet on and off since being diagnosed but I have been on it strictly for 3 months now. Do you have any advise on how I might be able to deal with this issue in a natural way? I have no other symptoms at the moment and I would rather not take medication if avoidable. Any advise would be really appreciated.
    Kind Regards
    Rebecca.

  57. Claire says

    Hi! I’ve just had to give my daughter, 2 1/2 yrs antibiotics for the first time as she has a chest infection. As I have my own issues with leaky gut, this is a concern to me. What can I do for her, being so young, to help restore gut flora? TIA

  58. hoa says

    My 7 yr old daughter has been having stomach pains for 2 months now and we have no answers. Have tried prevacid and levsin with no success. She is now on Klaire labs probiotic (ther biotic complete, 25+ CFU) once daily. She has a dairy and nut allergy. The assistant from Klaire labs told me that the probiotic should be ok for her even if she has a dairy allergy bc it does not contain milk/casein. She hasn’t gotten better and has missed 25+ days of school. We’ve also started her on a Chinese herbal tea to aid digestion. We are trialing her on a specific carb diet excluding grains from her diet. Today we will be seeing a dietician who will go over blood lab results. She has had blood work done testing for h-pylori (?), pancreatitis, and other inflammatory conditions. She was originally taken to the ER where they did an x-ray and diagnosed her with constipation. That has since cleared up but she is still having abdominal pains, complains of weakness, and sometimes that her head hurts which she states is “nausea”. She is on a calcium/magnesium/Vit D3 supplement bc of her dairy allergy. Is there anymore I can do for her?

  59. Lucinda says

    Love your blog Chris.

    Please i’d like to know what someone suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa can do to control or manage it. I’ve been suffering from HS for 8 years now and it keeps getting serious. All the doctors do is give me antibiotics which i’ve stopped taking when i found out about the side effects. I’m suspecting that probably it’s caused by this gut issue. I don’t know what to do because it’s affecting me pretty badly.

    • Barbara says

      The Hidden Plague – by Tara Grant is specifically about healing HS, and contains a ton of information about dealing with the misery of the condition, the general lack of information in the medical community about how to treat it effectively.
      Tara has HS and has managed to put into remission.

      A very tough health problem to deal with. Best of luck to you.

  60. says

    A good vegan diet with high percentage of raw vegetables can heal numerous problems and studies show you can become the healthiest in the population. By good I mean diversity and low / no sugar / wheat and processed foods. You have to be aware of the probable need for Vitamin B12 supplements due to sterility in the western food production system which prevents the vitamin produced by micro-organisms being transported to humans – however, this may be consumed with Algae, Sauerkraut, Miso-soup). Do the research (e.g. China Study), find out about the ignorance and myths still around (e.g. protein, calcium, iron – which are actually all available in sufficient quantities in the vegan diet) and I recommend it for the sake of your health, animal compassion and a sustainable future on Earth. It’s all connected, folks!

    • Maria says

      I feel so much better after going Paleo and making sure to have adequate amounts of fish/seafood, poultry and red meat in my diet. I wish I had done this years ago. A cascade of health problems have cleared up since I started, including a normalized digestive tract.

  61. Rose says

    Can we really get our good condition back from leaky gut? cause I’ve been using supplement (contain l-glutamine), probiotics, and now I consume a spoon of VCO/virgin coconut oil (even i’m not sure bout this one, cause no one told me this could work to leaky gut but at some point i believe it could be, so i give it a shot and it has been 2 days since i consume it like 3 times a day as it recommended.)
    but all of them haven’t show a change in my body. so here i am, questioning whether i can be able to get rid of leaky gut or not?

  62. Gary says

    I have what has been diagnosed as chronic rhinitis and get a sinus infection almost every 60 days. My Dr. has been prescribing an antibiotic called Levofloxacin to treat my condition. It takes about two weeks of this anti-biotic to make the sinus infection to go away and then within 60 days it is back again. How can I break this cycle. I have cut out glutin, eat lots of fresh fruit with a concentration of bananas, apples and oranges and eat very little red meat. Any suggestions?

    • Tina says

      Hi Gary,

      Your situation is very close to my heart as my step-son has suffered from “nasomotor rhinitis” since he was a toddler. On his mother’s side, she chooses the western medicine approach which advocates for treating symptoms with sprays, pills and when the sinus infections come, and boy do they come, he is bombarded with antibiotics, killing off all of his good army of bacteria and leaving him more and more vulnerable with each and every (stronger) dose.
      My husband and I follow what his naturopathic doctor prescribed when his mother took him to her out of, I think, a moment of desperation (for her), nothing else was working. She had his food sensitivities tested with a blood draw, along with his immune system. He came back showing no allergies and a SEVERELY compromised immune system. The doc said that it was because his immune system was fighting so hard that it was too busy to recognize what he was sensitive to, and if we calmed down his immune system by modifying his diet, allergies / sensitivities would start coming up. Well, guess what? The next test after a couple of months of a clean diet he showed lots of sensitivities.
      Which led us to the next step. The sensitivities were potentially caused by a leaky gut and there was some kind of an infection that his body was fighting somewhere because the immune system still showed compromised. Unfortunately before we could get him well his mother switched back to a western doctor that gave him more sprays, pills, etc. If you put a picture of him side by side from the summer of 2011 (11 years old) when he was on a clean diet and thin, happy and active, to today (13) eating whatever he wants, he looks like a different person. In my mind he is the equivalent of a 60 year old man. He goes through at least a roll of toilet paper to blow his nose with every day, is borderline obese and on crutches because there is something wrong with his growth plate (gee, I wonder why??). The Naturopath warned that his body was so busy fighting off these perceived “invaders” (food sensitivities) that he had little left to do the growing that he was supposed to do.
      Sorry to go on so long, but the long and the short of it is that the best thing you can do for yourself is to follow a diet that Chris Kresser, Amy Myers, MD, Robb Wolf, Jordan & Steve (from SCD Lifestyle) or so many others that advocate a paleo-like, clean diet that is personalized to you, to get you free from reactions. Get serious about it. See a functional medicine doctor (www.functionalmedicine.org). Take the time, spend your money, don’t think twice. Listene to podcasts like crazy!! You think it’s bad now, but you may just may be at the beginning of the rat hole nightmare. Look down the hole, but turn around and run! You don’t want to do down there… diabetes, autoimmune disorders, migraines, the list just doesn’t stop.
      As a side note, I had my allergies tested when he did his second test just so he wouldn’t feel alone. Guess what? Tons of allergies – I had a leaky gut! Now after changing my diet and treating the fungal infection in my gut (thank you Peruvian jungle) I feel better than I EVER KNEW I could feel. You just don’t know bad until good comes along sometimes.

      All the best health to you…

      P.S. Oranges cause mucus, you might see what happens when you cut them out. And then read Chris’ book and I am SO interested to see how you feel after 30 days of a clean diet. I swear you will eventually not need antibiotics anymore. And that will be just the beginning…

  63. Irene says

    I notice lots of comments here,the only thing I did not notice is the mention of coffee enema.I was told by my homeopathic all those supplements or healthy foods would not help much if your liver or colon is congested and clog.It’s like applying supplements and foods on taferlone coating frying pan, it just slide off,and not able to be circulate to the systems to do it jobs.He said that we must do 4 steps in order to get better.First take out the trash ,second replenish,third able to digest foods,and fourth heal.Coffee enema remove trash,probiotic,fermented foods good bacteria,replenish and good enzymes to digest foods,fourth used high quality colostrum to heal leaky gut.

  64. says

    Chris – How damaging to the gut is alcohol like wine or distilled spirits? I totally see how beer and sugared drinks are evil due to the grains, gluten and sugar. But does alcohol itself cause/exacerbate leaky gut?

  65. Heidi says

    Hi Chris,

    I am a type 1 diabetic and am working to heal my gut. To keep my blood sugars at the proper level, I eat close to a ketogenic diet (egg and dairy-free). You mentioned eating fermentable fibers. The ones listed spike my blook sugar too quickly to keep it below 120. Is there a good low carb source of fermentable fiber other than the ones you listed?

    • gerry says

      Try unmodified potato starch. Start slowly and build up to 3/4 tablespoons a day. You can add it to yoghurt, juices, etc. There’s lots of info on it out there. Think Chris has written about it before. Search under resistant starch. Best of luck!

  66. Wendy Wayt says

    Hi, Chris,

    Microwave popcorn is my comfort food on bad days. Work is very stressful. The popcorn is organic and they use palm oil. I smother it in Kerrygold and sometimes grate Romano or Parmesan on it.

    How bad is it?

    Thanks,

    Wendy

    • Deb says

      Corn cooked in any method is usually not good for us. I would think twice about that snack. Read anything that Chris or Rob Wolf or Mark Sisson or any of the other leaders in clean eating have said about corn.

  67. Peter says

    Hi Chris,

    Is there a way to heal a leaky gut when you suffer from histamine intolerance? I have been trying to heal my gut for a while now but recently found out that the foods I was using were actually making me worse. These foods (e.g. bone broth, fermented foods etc.) are the ones that are highly recommended by yourself and other experts on healing a leaky gut.

    Thanks

  68. elvira says

    Hi Chris

    When you have high traces of metals such as mercury, barium, aluminium and copper. And a unbalanced gut flora, which do you tackle first?

    • Mercman says

      I’d also love to hear your thoughts on gut flora/permeability with respect to mercury. From what I’ve understood the mercury is taken up far more with a leaky gut, starting a cycle of mercury worsening the gut flora (& permeability?) – further increasing the mercury uptake..

      I was recently blood tested to > 60 ng / mL mercury.

  69. Angela says

    Hi there, I am from New Zealand, I recently had gastric sleeve surgery (bariatric surgery) I am very confused as to which probiotics/digestive enzymes to take, there are soooo many on the market and I really need and want top quality, could anyone give me any suggestions? I am able to get products from the states via Iherb. I will also be incorporating Coconut Kefir into my daily routine to help with gut etc, thanks :)

    • says

      I too take coconut. I have been taking Probio5 daily. It has truly helped me. I am now an ambassador for Plexusslim because of the quality of our products. You can go to my website: http://www.plexusslim.com/cheryl56 to learn more about our Probio5 and other all natural products that are amazing. If you would like to contact me, please email me at cheryl.rhmf@charter.net. I would love to help you find a great Probiotic. Probio5 is of high quality. Hope you can try it and hope you begin to feel better.

  70. Mary Ogg says

    Leaky gut syndrome, carpel tunnel, soft bone density, weight loss, adrenal gland fatigue, constipation, hasimoto’s. low somach acid, sadness, lack of sleep, work place stress, pneumonia, that pretty much sums up my last year.
    I encourage you to never give up, keep looking and you will find the right answers that fit you or your loved one you are caring for.
    In the beginning I could only tolerate 10 foods: chicken and broth with garlic and onions, parsley sea salt, green beans, pears, pecans and quinoa. I missed 3 months of work. I was sensitive to salicylates ( natural inflammation foods there is a long list), night shades (tomatoes, potatoes, all peppers, eggplant) , proteins (brown rice, peas, dairy, eggs, red meat.)
    A natural path doctor encouraged me to go on an elimination diet.
    I eliminated corn, soy, wheat dairy, eggs, sugars/sweeteners, alcohol,
    Always wrote a food diary, compared it to symptoms, and how I felt. Adjusted my diet accordantly. When I started blended smoothies I had to cook any vegetable and greens. And rotated greens every 3 days or so. I can only tolerate swiss chard and all leafy greens, but spinach and kale will start getting brain fog, fatigue lack of sleep, all over again.
    She gave me probiotics, vitamin D3, Calcium/magnesium, multi vitamin and drink lots of water (non-chlorinated)
    In the last year I’ve had days with no symptoms. I look back at my diary to see what I did or did not do.
    Researching on the internet I learned I had to tailor the information for me. It;s been a trial and error process to understand the ever changing me.
    Acupuncture has helped. Heal your Body by Louise L Hay
    was another fascinating way of healing. It’s a mental approach to thinking about getting well.
    Keep researching, learn what foods do for you.

  71. Kim says

    My mom is in her 50s and was recently diagnosed with what her doctor is calling an extremely rare form of hypothyroidism. It’s NOT Hashimoto’s – he told her that the form she has afflicts 1% of those with hypothyroidism, and possibly fewer than that. Sounds like it’s genetic. She takes a little pill to help with her symptoms (mainly extreme exhaustion) but I refuse to believe that she can’t be helped by diet, especially recommendations mentioned in this post. She already kicked her diabetes to the curb by cutting out most gluten. Can you offer any insight? I’d love to help her, and also stave off any possibility of me inheriting this in the future. Thank you.

  72. SWarner says

    I read allot about eating fermented foods to heal leaky gut…what’s an alternative if you can’t eat fermented food?

  73. beaker says

    I’ve seen some research that shows wheat bran is a good source of food for bifidus strains of bacteria, boosting bifidus quite a lot. I seem to have much better stool quality since going on 1/2 cup of wheat bran daily (type4, good color and moisture content), before going on the bran I was stuck with slow transit and type one. I tried a number of alternatives such as Psyllium, ground flax, chia or hemp seed and more. Nothing seemed to help until I gave bran a try and I was back to my old regular self within 3 days.

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