What I learned about Leaky Gut

Last week I watched a webinar about leaky gut with Dr. Josh Axe. It was super interesting (nutrition nerd alert), & I made sure to take notes in order to simplify this very interesting topic for you that I know everyone else is so curious about! 😉

First of all, what is leaky gut? Leaky gut is referred to as intestinal permeability. Okay, now I know what you’re thinking…

What the heck does intestinal permeability mean? Our gut is meant to be semipermeable, meaning the lining of our intestines allow certain substances to pass through, and not others. Permeable on the other hand, is letting all substances to essentially pass through the gut and into the rest of the body AKA the bloodstream. Leaky gut = intestinal permeability = letting all substances pass through.

The next question is…. is this a problem? Well, what if the gut leaks EVERYTHING into the rest of the body or bloodstream? The membrane of our gut usually prevents toxins, bacteria, yeast, and other large molecules of food (such as undigested food like proteins, including wheat, which is a protein) from passing through the barrier. But when these things are able to pass through the gut, they have consistently shown to  trigger autoimmune reactions and cause mild to severe health problems. Some believe that EVERY health problem begins in the gut and whether the gut is functioning properly or not. This includes whether the semipermeable membrane is doing its proper job. After all, 80% of your immune system is located in your gut.

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

According to Dr. Axe’s webinar, a leaky gut affects the whole body, everything from the skin, thyroid, colon, adrenals, joints, sinuses, mouth, brain, etc. It is the root cause of food intolerance, immune system complications, inflammation, and autoimmunity.


Photo // Dr. Axe

Dr. Axe also claims that the leaky gut triggers include:

  • GMO foods, which might potentially kill the good bacteria in the gut
  • Antibiotics, which he refers to as “ABombs”
  • Gluten, for those with gluten sensitivity, which is not broken down properly and may cause inflammation
  • Processed sugar, which feeds yeast in the body, causes candida yeast overgrowth
  • Conventional dairy. dairy (and meat) these days frequently contain antibiotics, hormones, and other harmful substances due to the common farming agricultural practices.
  • Food sensitivities or allergies (leaky gut can essentially cause food sensitivities or allergies, but if you genuinely have a food sensitivity or allergy and continue to eat the food, it will cause leaky gut. For example if you have Celiac and continue to eat wheat, it may cause leaky gut, but leaky gut does NOT cause celiac)

*Not apart of this webinar, but according to Michael Gregor, M.D., (see video here): animal fat causes the gut lining to become leaky and contributes to the breakdown of intestinal barrier. Studies showed that the bloodstream became abundant in edotoxins (bacterial toxin) following a high animal fat meal (I think the meal was McDonadls sausage and egg McMuffins), which causes inflammation and the immune system going abrupt. These endotoxins come from the gut!

Dr. Axe’s 5 steps to heal leaky gut:

  1. Know your gut type (he did not go into detail about gut types)
  2. Remove inflammatory food triggers, which is different for everyone
  3. Nourish your gut lining with key nutrients
  4. Treat specific organs with supplements
  5. Rebalance microbes and probiotics

Not but not least, his top healing foods include:

  • Bone broth. Contains proline, glycine, and L-glutamine. These amino acids are abundant in bone broth, but they are also found is many foods, including a plant-based foods. They are also not essential amino acids, which means they can be produced by the body. Just a little side note: When we get sick, chicken noodle soup is the go-to, right? But back in the day chicken noodle soup was very different than chicken noodle soup today. Today, chicken noodle soup has processed chicken, or chicken that was pumped with antibiotics or growth hormones and are fed a grain diet. What the chicken eats and the antibiotics/hormones they receive are most definitely translated to the food product you are eating. Not to mention the noodles in chicken noodle soup, which is processed grain, ultimately devoid of any nutrients the grain originally had. Can you tell I am totally against the “chicken noodle soup cure”? Chicken noodle soup today does not equal chicken noodle soup hundreds of years ago, which was essentially “bone broth.” The point is, while proline, glycine, and l-gutamine are important amino acids (as are ALL amino acids), they can be obtained from a varied diet based on healthy, whole foods. You don’t need to go out and make some bone broth in order to get them, although there are some people who might benefit from a bone broth concoction depending on their health condition and needs.
  • Coconut oil. According to Dr. Axe, coconut oil kills of yeast, especially for those with “candida gut.” I need to do more information seeking on this.
  • Sauerkraut & fermented veggies. These are very good prebiotics (food for probiotics that live in the gut).
  • Goats milk, kefir. These are probiotics. *To understand the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, check out my previous article on the topic.
  • Blueberries. Which contain resveratrol, flavanoids, and other antioxidants, and lower in sugar compared to other fruits. (Okay, in my opinion, blueberries are definitely great for you but as are ALL fruits. Don’t just eat blueberries and think you’re doing yourself a favor. A diet including all fruit, which contains many different antioxidants and phytochemicals is ALWAYS the best idea.).
  • Orange/yellow foods. Especially squash family.

+ Supplements. Varies greatly per person, but Dr. Axe recommends:

  • Probiotics. 50 billion IU/daily. (Need to say SBO – soil based organisms & food based strains)
  • Digestive enzymes. These help break down food and gives the gut a rest, especially when consumed with meat or starch products.
  • Adaptogenic herbs. He mentions Ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Licorice root.
  • L-Glutamine. He claims this amino acid supplements is a “band-aid” for the gut lining and helps repair the small intestine.

Supplements should only be taken after you have seen a health professional!

To wrap up, I just want to clarify that this article is based off of the webinar from Dr. Josh Axe. These are not necessarily my opinions, although I did include my opinion where I felt it was needed. I just wanted to share my notes with you. I do think leaky gut is very real and such a major contributor to disease and health complications. This is why I consistently recommend a diet based on whole foods, because a diet based on whole foods will contain all the essential nutrients for a proper functioning gut!

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