Chronic Illness & Digestion Problems
You might be familiar with this story. Some days, maybe more than you can admit to yourself, you just don’t feel well. You eat your normal diet but your stomach hurts, you feel bloated, and you might have to rush to the bathroom any minute. Everything you eat seems to disagree with you. Some days you have pain in your belly and bloating, some days you have diarrhea, some days you feel constipated. Some days you can’t get enough food, some days you feel like nothing tastes good. You’re only 35 years old and your joints hurt all the time for no reason.
Symptoms of Digestive Problems
All these and more symptoms are hallmarks of leaky gut syndrome. Most people I see haven’t heard of leaky gut, its not a condition people talk about very much. It’s also difficult to diagnose. One estimate is that up to 60% of the population has some form of leaky gut.
Let me take a moment to explain what Leaky Gut is:
Imagine that your intestines are like a colander that has different shaped small holes. Each hole is designed to absorb a different nutrient. Some are for amino acids, some for sugar molecules, some for fat. Certain traumas damage the holes and cause them to be bigger than normal. Imagine a broken colander, when you pour your noodles into it, they just fall into the sink, because the holes were too big.
When this happens in your blood stream, instead of a piece of chicken being broken down into the amino acids and fat molecules that should go through the holes, the whole piece of chicken gets absorbed. Your blood stream is on other side, with white blood cells like soldiers looking for “foreign invaders.” That piece of chicken is a foreign invader for your immune system, so it goes to war. Suddenly your whole body is reacting to that chicken. This is when you get inflammation.
The symptoms of leaky gut include digestive disturbances such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, fatigue, foggy head, headaches, gas and bloating, food sensitivities, allergy symptoms, congestion, and joint aches.
I have a special connection with this problem because I’ve had digestive issues since I was a teen. Sometimes I would get so bloated and painful that I would be doubled over. At the time I was taken to the doctor who told my mom that I had “irritable bowel syndrome.” He prescribed valium to help with the symptoms. Valium is an addictive sedative! Even then, knowing nothing about medicine I realized that wouldn’t solve my problem. It took me years to learn that I was sensitive to certain foods including dairy and gluten.
4 Steps to Healing Chronic Illness
Leaky gut can be caused by medications, food allergies, and chronic infection. One very common cause is anti-inflammatories such as Advil, or Naprosyn – they literally burn holes in your intestines. Other medications include birth control pills, steroids, antibiotics, and antacids. Eating too much processed food can cause imbalances in the natural bacteria we have in our intestines, which will lead to leaky gut too. When you have leaky gut for some time, you are more prone to auto-immune diseases and chronic illness besides just generally feeling awful.
There is a four-step process in healing leaky gut.
First remove foods that are causing problems. This includes gluten, and gluten free foods, sugar, dairy, eggs. It also means removing offending causes such as infections that are contributing to the issue, and medications that may be making it worse.
Second –repair with specific supplements – this includes L-Glutamine, organic colostrum, vitamin D, and digestive enzymes. This is the place where we heal the intestinal lining by giving specific nutrients for healing.
Third – restore with healing foods which include – bone broth, coconut, cultured foods – such as raw yogurt, or kimchee, and high quality omega 3 foods. It is also for restoring the original intestinal flora by nourishing it properly.
The fourth step is replacing the missing digestive components – such as bile salts, or digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid with high quality herbs and supplements. This is a good time for acupuncture as well, because it can help balance the energy flow and help your digestion to function better.
Through taking these four steps you can heal your intestines. Since Leaky gut causes so many health symptoms, once you heal it, you may find yourself feeling better in all ways.