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The Most Common Leaky Gut Symptoms and How to Heal Leaky Gut In 3 Steps
Leaky gut is one of the MOST common health issues out there right now. You can’t go on any health site without seeing information on leaky gut at this point. After nearly 7 years of helping others heal their guts, I get a bit frustrated when I see others over-complicate things.
Healing the gut is the first obstacle we have to go through in order to heal any chronic illness, and it is one of the biggest parts of our foundational care programs. There is a direct connection between our gut and brain- our gut flora influences brain chemistry.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
You might be wondering why leaky gut is so common and how people end up with gut dysfunction. There are many reasons why leaky gut is so common these days. The most common causes of leaky gut include:
- Standard American Diet (a diet filled with process food, fake foods, artificial ingredients, excess hormones and antibiotics, sugar, GMOs)
- Nutritional deficiencies because of poor diet
- Overuse of antibiotics (disrupts the gut microbiome)
- Chronic stress
- Certain medications can lead to nutritional imbalances that can increase gut issues
- Overexposure to toxins like heavy metals, parasites, fluoride, and chlorine
What exactly is “Leaky Gut’?
Leaky gut is when the walls of the intestine become inflamed and porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, toxins, and other antigens into the bloodstream.
This creates inflammation (in the body and brain), food intolerances, and depression, as well as bloating, gas, IBS, constipation, or any digestive complaint. Some people don’t even have gut complaints when they have leaky gut. Their symptoms could just include eczema or psoriasis, maybe joint pain or headaches. The most common leaky gut symptoms do tend to be more gut specific, but some never even have gut related symptoms.
The gut influences the rest of our body which is why it is so crucial to focus on gut healing for better health. Gut issues can lead to some serious illnesses if not healed in time such as autoimmune disease, IBS/IBD, cancer, SIBO, obesity, cognitive issues, and so much more.
The 5 Most Common Leaky Gut Symptoms
Symptom #1: Your Appetite is Wonky
I’ve seen both extremes of appetite issues with those that have gut problems. Some people are constantly hungry because their bodies are desperate for food. Since they are having issues breaking food down, their bodies just keep asking for more so they can attempt to get the nutrients needed. BUT some are on the other end of the spectrum and have very poor appetites. Since the body can’t digest food efficiently, it’s NOT asking for a lot of food. Either way, high or low appetite is a symptom of needing gut support.
Symptom #2: Your Hair Keeps Falling Out
We need stomach acid to digest and utilize our protein, and we need protein for creating healthy hair. If you are dealing with hair loss or even thinning hair, it is a huge sign that your digestive fire is low. It’s not a commonly known correlation, but when I see my clients heal their guts then their hair starts growing back! Beauty starts from the inside out.
Symptom #3: You’re Constipated
When we’re lacking digestive fire, it is very hard to break down and utilize our food correctly. This can lead to a sluggish GI tract which leads to chronic constipation.
Symptom #4: You have food intolerances
If you are constantly needing to cut foods out of your diet just to feel better, this is a HUGE sign that your gut needs to heal. Cutting the foods out only stops the symptoms- it doesn’t actually let your gut heal.
Sign #5: You have nutrient deficiencies
We need stomach acid to properly utilize our nutrients. If you are finding that you’re deficient in several vitamins and minerals, supplementing with them isn’t going to solve the true underlying issue- low stomach acid! When you heal your gut, you can increase the absorption of ALL nutrients at once. Much more effective than supplementing 10+ isolated nutrients.
How to Test For Leaky Gut
There are 2 easy ways to test yourself to determine if you have leaky gut and digestion issues. Hair Mineral Analysis is the best place to start. A properly read hair analysis can give insight on how your well your digestive system is working. The biggest sign that we have gut issues is when many of our minerals are very low. Hair analysis can show you exactly what nutrients you need and what you need support with most when it comes to gut healing. The other amazing test is GI Map which tests for bacterial, parasitic, and viral pathogens. This GI test gives us a lot of insight on good bacteria might be low and what bad bacteria might be elevated. It can also show issues like parasites, H. pylori, immune issues, and so much more. This test is the gold standard in GI testing right now since it tests for the DNA of these pathogens.
How to Heal Leaky Gut In 3 Steps
For me, gut healing encompasses three big sections: increasing nutrient absorption, healing and sealing the gut lining, and re-balancing your microbiome. These are the most important aspects to work on if you want to improve your gut function. Also, these are the 3 biggest steps we focus on in our HTMA programs and we see the best improvements when our clients commit to working on this.
Improving nutrient assimilation is absolutely 1000% essential if you are working on gut healing. We need stomach acid to utilize all of our nutrients correctly. We need bile to utilize fat soluble nutrients, protein, and fats. Years of poor eating, stress, and depletion of important minerals leads to a decrease in overall digestive fire! You can take all of the supplements and eat all of the food in the world but if you are not assimilating it properly it’s not going to help much. You are what you absorb, not just what you eat.
Symptoms of Poor Digestive Fire
- Bloating, belching, and flatulence immediately after meals
- Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation
- Undigested food in stools
- Hair loss
- Food allergies
- Iron deficiency
- Weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails
- Adrenal fatigue
- Dry skin
- All autoimmune diseases
Natural Ways to Increase Nutrient Assimilation
- Apple cider vinegar is one of the easiest and most popular ways to help increase stomach acid and utilize your nutrients better. Most people dilute 1-2 Tablespoons of ACV in 4-8 ounces of water about 15 minutes before meals. This helps prep your stomach for incoming food, and it will help with digesting your food better immediately. If you can’t stand ACV on its own, try making switchel!
- Bitter Herbs stimulate the production of stomach acid, digestive enzymes, AND bile flow! We have bitter taste buds on our tongues for a reason- we are meant to use bitter foods to aid our digestive processes. Current diets tend to lack that bitter taste. We love Herb Pharm Better Bitters sprays. Super easy to use- just spray your tongue 4 times before each meal. Earthley also offers an amazing bitter tincture as well.
- Replenishing sodium levels is crucial. Sodium plays a big role in stomach acid production and it also helps keep our metabolic rate more balanced (when we’re sluggish). You want REAL unrefined sea salt though- not table salt! Pink Himalayan, Redmond’s Real Salt, and Celtic Grey are all great ones to go for. Use HTMA to determine your personal mineral imbalances as well so you know how much sodium you might need to heal. Salting your food to taste is helpful, as well as salt water sole and using mineral foot baths.
How to Heal the Gut Lining Naturally
Healing the gut lining is the actual “leaky gut” healing side of things. Leaky gut is when the walls of the intestine become inflamed and porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, toxins, and other antigens into the bloodstream. This creates inflammation (body and brain), food intolerances, and depression, as well as bloating, gas, IBS, constipation, or any digestive complaint. Some people don’t even have gut complaints when they have leaky gut. Their symptoms could just include eczema or psoriasis, maybe joint pain or headaches.
Signs of gut lining inflammation:
- Pain from acidic foods (tomato sauce, citrus fruits, vinegar)
- Hiatal Hernia
- Unexplained gut pain
Natural Remedies to Heal your Gut Lining:
- Collagen or Bone Broth are both popular options for gut healing. They are both amazing, so it really just depends on what is easiest for you. Collagen can be added easily to drinks, soups, or other foods as its tasteless. Bone broth can be time consuming, but it’s an easy way to make a base for soups.
- Aloe Vera is one of my FAVORITES for overall gut healing. It helps with soothing gut inflammation, healing the gut lining, and it can help with histamine/mast cell issues. I love George’s brand Aloe– dosing depends on age, but most adults can use 2 ounces twice a day for the best benefit.
- Marshmallow root powder is usually ideal for healing and sealing the gut lining and reducing inflammation in the gut. Powder is best over capsules for this purpose as well, and this brand is great.
How to Rebalance your Microbiome
Gut bacteria is crucial for many reasons: creating certain vitamins, keeping harmful pathogens under control, and plays a role in keeping many illnesses at bay, especially colon cancer. There are MANY symptoms associated with an imbalance in the microbiome though: constipation, bloating, food intolerance, brain fog, thyroid issues, and so much more.
One dose of antibiotics can alter your gut flora forever, and many of us have been put on antibiotics nearly every year of our childhood. For most people, probiotic supplements are the easier option but fermented foods offer a lot more effectiveness and they are MUCH cheaper. Also, just adding in the strains from probiotic supplements isn’t going to actually help your gut to repopulate itself overtime.
How to Heal your Microbiome
- Belly Mend is my TOP choice for those needing microbiome support. It helps with all aspects of gut healing: increases nutrient assimilation, heals and seals the gut lining, and helps the good bacteria stick better where it belongs. I have seen countless clients and followers have significant changes in their gut function after just one month of Belly Mend.
- ION for Gut Health is another popular overall gut healer. It can also help with healing the microbiome, healing and sealing the gut lining, and can also help undo the damage of glyphosate. (used to be known as RESTORE)
- Fermented Foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, or pickles are the best to go for to replenish the most varying strains of gut bacteria. If you have histamine intolerance, then work on everything else mentioned above first! Ferments are easy, cheap, and much more effective than using probiotics. Getting a wide range of good bacteria is the best way to ensure you are feeding your gut well. Rotate through your favorites to get a good variety! I personally love Lifeway Kefir, Lucky Foods Kimchi, and Bubbies pickles.
- Fiber is another crucial part of microbiome support that most people tend to forget about. Be sure to get a good amount of fiber each day. You can go for the typical awesome foods like beans and oats, as well as something like Olipop soda (use the code SASSY15 for 15% off!), XO Chocolate, or psyllium husk.
Ready to learn even more about gut healing?
I have a whole entire course on gut healing now that outlines ALL of my major tips and tricks! You will learn more about increasing digestive fire, how to heal your gut lining effectively, how to fix histamine intolerance, how to heal your liver and colon, and so much more. You can read all about the gut healing course if you click right here.