Do YOU Have Leaky Gut? Chances Are High That You Do!
Written by: Greg Ashby
Do you have a problem with concentration, extreme fatigue, irritable moods, chronic pain and foggy thinking as if you have a leaky brain that is ready to shut down?
You are not alone!
There are millions of people suffering with the above symptoms.
Your gut (digestive system) plays a major role in every system in your body – from maintaining proper digestion, protecting you from fungi, viruses, bacteria, to communicating through the gut-brain axis that sends physical signals about hunger.
This axis also sends emotional signals when we are feeling symptoms of anxiety, stress and even love. This complex system affecting our health physically and psychologically is referred to by many professionals as our “second brain.”
The Second Brain
This “second brain” – (gut, digestive tract, GI) – also has its own reflexes and senses to help with absorbing nutrients and removing waste. Because of this complicated system of nerves and chemicals, sometimes our gut sends or receives the wrong information.
There is a connection that exists between our brain and our gut.
When was the last time you talked about having a “gut feeling?” Or been told to “trust your gut instinct” when making or facing a difficult decision?
Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons – a super highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide us feedback about how hungry we are, how we experience stress, even how we fight disease.
This super highway of information is called the brain-gut axis. It provides constant updates on the state of affairs throughout your body. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach after looking at a forgotten credit card bill is a wonderful example of the brain-gut connection at work. When you’re stressed, your gut knows it.
“The enteric nervous system is often referred to as our body’s second brain. There are hundreds of million of neurons connecting the brain to the enteric nervous system, the part of the nervous system that is tasked with controlling the gastrointestinal system. This vast web of connections monitors the entire digestive tract from the esophagus to the anus. The enteric nervous system is so extensive that it can operate as an independent entity without input from our central nervous system, although they are in regular communication. While our ‘second’ brain cannot compose a symphony or paint a masterpiece the way the brain in our skull can, it does perform an important role in managing the workings of our inner tube. The network of neurons in the gut is as plentiful and complex as the network of neurons in our spinal cord, which may seem overly complex just to keep track of digestion. Why is our gut the only organ in our body that needs its own ‘brain?’ Is it just to manage the process of digestion? Or could it be that one job of our second brain is to listen in on the trillions of microbes residing in the gut?” – Scientific American, Your Second Brain
Your central nervous system is in contact with the gut via the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate, breathing and digestion. It is also the job of this nervous system to regulate the speed at which food transits through the gut, the secretion of acid in your stomach and the production of mucus on the intestinal lining.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is another super highway in which the brain can communicate with the gut to help control digestion through the action of hormones. You should pay close attention in an effort to notice when your gastrointestinal tract is off, because these changes can impact your daily life in many ways. Whether it’s gas and bloating, cramps and diarrhea, fatigue, or even joint pain or skin rashes – your gut is constantly sending signals, it’s a matter of listening and honoring these as they come up. And while these symptoms can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, more importantly, they can be really dangerous.
“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates
Your gut contains 10 times more bacteria than human cells. In a sense, we are a big bag of water, minerals and bacteria. So it makes sense that maintaining a good balance of these elements is essential to our health.
Unfortunately, because of our modern lifestyle, the list below has a negative effect on our health gut flora:
- Antibiotics, birth control and NSAIDS
- Diets high in refined carbs, sugar and processed foods
- Diets low in fibers
- Dietary toxins such as wheat (industrial seed oils cause leaky gut)
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
The above can cause our intestinal linings to become leaky, hence the name “leaky gut”. A very important point for you to know is whether or not you have symptoms triggering the manifestation of a leaky gut.
So, what is leaky gut anyway?
It begins in your small intestine. The reason the small intestine is so important is because most of the vitamins and minerals in the foods you eat are absorbed there. Because of micro pores, the nutrients can be transferred into the bloodstream, then from there the nutrients are deposited all around the body by the blood. These pores can start letting the wrong things through. For a complete leaky gut protocol, go here.
Do you have unexplained brain fog, concentration problems, memory lapses, or chronic anxiety? You could have a leaky brain. This excess intestinal permeability can also happen to the blood-brain barrier. The likelihood of having a leaky brain when you have leaky gut is high, if not a 100% chance.
You can also have a leaky brain, leaky skin, leaky esophagus and a leaky heart.
If you have skin problems that you want to heal, heal your gut first.
A vascular malformation in the gastrointestinal tract is an uncommon – but not rare – cause of bleeding and iron deficiency anemia, especially in an aging population.
AVM’s in the brain are very rare. This is where a blood vessel in the brain is malformed unusually since birth and leaks on the structures of the brain, mimicking the symptoms and signs of a stroke. 15 years ago, I went through this event, but now I’m better than I was after years of healing my all-around “leaky health”.
Physical stress such as poor diet, processed and boxed foods, long-term antibiotic use, as well as too much sugar, damages the gut and weakens your immune system. Not getting enough sleep is a physical stress. Emotional stress can include your job, money, primary relationships and more. Identifying what causes you stress starts you on the road to health and wellness.
Most importantly is the removal of pro-inflammatory foods. Are the name implies, these cause inflammation and can also be the source of allergens or intolerances, even toxicity.
Any food that comes in a box or can is processed. Processed foods are lower in nutrition than fresh, wholesome foods and are often filled with GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives etc.
Consider eliminating packaged frozen meals, packaged cookies, granola bars, frozen pizzas, french fries, hot dogs, deli meats, potato chips, candy bars, soda, salad dressings, ice cream, instant noodles and kraft dinners. Whole foods are fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds we see in their natural forms. Substituting whole foods for processed foods will make a big difference in your health.
Foods to eliminate include:
- ALL sugars and sweeteners, even honey or agave.
- High-glycemic fruits: watermelon, mango, pineapple, raisins, grapes, canned fruits, dried fruits, etc.
- Tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms.
- Grains: wheat, oats, rice, barley, buckwheat, corn, quinoa (technically a seed, but we’ll keep in this category to make it easy), etc.
- Dairy: milk, cream, cheese, butter, whey, etc.
- Eggs or foods that contain eggs (such as mayonnaise).
- Soy: soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, soy protein, etc.
- Lectins – a major promoter of leaky gut – found in nuts, beans, soy, potatoes, tomato, eggplant, peppers, peanut oil, peanut butter and soy oil, among others.
- Instant coffee: many brands of instant coffee appear to be contaminated with gluten. It’s important to eliminate it to be sure it’s not an immune trigger.
- Processed foods.
- Canned foods.
- Commercial meats.
If you want to know more about how I healed my leaky health, contact me through my website.
Integrative Health Coach and Functional Nutrition Consultant
at Ask Dr. Garland
Greg Ashby, CHHC, AADP lives in Ogden, Utah and is an Integrative Health Coach and Functional Nutrition Consultant. Greg has been in the Health and Wellness industry for over 20 years.
Because of his personal experience with Adrenal and Thyroid disorders, as well as Cancer, he’s committed to the areas of Autoimmunity and Cancer prevention and management when it comes to research and his work. He enjoys studying the Psychology of Eating and Behavioral Disorders.
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