Gut health is the cornerstone to wellness, it affects everything from mental health and mood to cancer and disease prevention. We all know how uncomfortable and awful it can be to not have out gut health in check – from gastritis, acid reflux, bloating, IBS, GI infections, and general discomfort, nothing is fun about gut issues.
There is one diagnosis that I am seeing more of in my nutrition practice and that is the commonly ill-diagnosed leaky gut…
I’ve had many clients come to me with “leaky gut” yet I know if they had true leaky gut, they would not be functioning enough to come in to my office, they would more likely be in the hospital under supervised care. In the medical community, leaky gut is a critical disease that involves a perforation of the lining of the stomach or intestines and toxins going into the blood stream. True leaky gut is a dire diagnosis and can quickly result in sepsis.
In the alternative and naturopath communities, leaky gut syndrome is very different. It is used to describe any type of overgrowth of bad bacteria or fungus breakdown the walls of the stomach or intestines and leach toxins into the bloodstream resulting in symptoms like digestive discomfort, fatigue, and acid reflux. The same thing stands true for misdiagnosed IBS, Crohn’s, celiac, and gastritis.
One idea is that these issues are actually Ammonia Permeability, not leaky gut.
You chew, saliva is produced and food breakdown begins, you swallow and your food travels to your stomach and the process of digestion continues. If you’re eating protein heavy foods (think animal protein, nuts and seeds) enzymes* and hydrochloric acid (HCL) begin to break the proteins down.
*I am a proponent of digestive enzymes, as we age our enzymes are even further depleted. I suggest taking enzymes before meals to help ease digestion and increase nutrient absorption. I suggest the Enzymedica Digest Gold ATPro product.
Without HCL, your food just sits in the digestive tract, rotting, creating toxic ammonia gas that floats into your blood stream and makes you tired and results in symptoms of chronic illness. Without HCL your body cannot properly absorb minerals (i.e. selenium and zinc), which are crucial for your immune system. This immune system breakdown further results in health issues.
How can we boost Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) and prevent Ammonia Permeability?
The main reasons behind low HCL is adrenaline (stress), prescription drugs, aging, and over consumption of proteins, or high fat/high sugar foods.
The good news is that you don’t need a pill to heal. With diet and lifestyle changes you can begin to increase HCL and some of the easiest ways are to:
- Drink 16 oz. fresh celery juice on an empty stomach (important) as soon as you wake up. Celery contains unique sodium compositions, and these mineral salts are bonded with many bioactive trace minerals and nutrients. Celery juice in the morning will strengthen your digestion of everything you eat and in time, the minerals and mineral salts will help to restore your stomach’s HCL.
- Decrease intake of fats and sugars. While this sounds like a simple enough process, it can be hard to know where to start – that is when a nutritionist can help you identify and remove certain foods from your diet and begin to make changes to prevent HCL depletion.
- Drink fresh cabbage juice. Adding 4 oz. fresh juiced cabbage into your green juice (or drinking on its own) is ideal. Cabbage is a great source of a powerful healing enzyme that can heal ulcers and repair the stomach lining while reducing inflammation in the gut. When your HCL has been low for many years, the lining of your stomach becomes inflamed and even less likely to tolerate acid supplementation. Cabbage juice is both soothing to the stomach and can help reverse low acid levels.
- Eat a serving of fresh papaya. Papaya fruit is a rich source of enzymes that greatly aid in the digestive process, especially when it comes to digesting meats and proteins. Papaya can also reduce gut inflammation and treat symptoms of IBS.
- Reduce stress. High stress levels are directly correlated with low HCL levels. Implementing breath work, daily yoga, meditation, or even a reflexology massage can help to lower stress. It may sound self indulgent, but this is one of the ways we can all help our gut heal!
If you’ve been diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome or have chronic gut health issues, I would be honored to work with you to get you back on “tract”!