By: Emily Oberg
Last summer I briefly posted about healing my “leaky gut” and it seemed that a ton of people were also struggling with the same issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the condition, a leaky gut is exactly what it sounds like. Overtime, the sugary, starchy, processed foods that we’re all guilty of enjoying, start to eat away at the lining of your small intestine making it permeable, causing the toxins, chemicals and bacteria from our food/environment to enter into our bloodstream. This often leads to an onslaught of health issues from acne to rosacea, eczema, constipation, bloating, IBS, migraines, intense sugar cravings, chronic fatigue, food sensitivities, a weakened immune system, autoimmune disorders, the list goes on.
Two summers ago when I moved to LA, I started having symptoms like acne, rashes and severe stomach problems and couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t doing anything different, I was eating how I normally eat, exercising regularly, if anything my lifestyle was even healthier than it had been in the past now that I was living in the Disneyworld of health & wellness. I’ve always eaten relatively healthy, but still enjoyed things like pasta, dairy and sugar a few times a week, but they never had any effect on me so I figured my body was able to process them. But when my symptoms started to worsen, I knew something was wrong and I was determined to figure out what it was. No doctors could tell me anything, after all, the symptoms I was experiencing were so common that they were considered “normal” and they told me sometimes these things just “happen” to us. I wasn’t going to accept this answer, so I started to do some research of my own and discovered leaky gut syndrome. I guess the years of binging on sour gummy worms and pomodoro pasta, bread with butter and ice cream sundaes finally caught up to me and now I was paying the painful price of enjoying life’s simplest pleasures, how tragic.
Not feeling your absolute best sucks, and no matter how much I loved artificially-flavored candy and a nice croque monsieur, I needed to feel better ASAP. Hippocrates said all disease begins in the gut, and I knew that if I continued on this path, I would have more serious health problems in the future and that’s not something I wanted to deal with. So, I began to heal my sad, leaky gut and even though for the first two weeks it was dreadful, it became easier and more manageable overtime and feeling good outweighed the pleasure I got from eating pasta and bread.
Here’s exactly what I did to heal my gut. First, I started an elimination diet. This meant cutting out all processed and refined foods and sugars. No bread, no pasta, no candy, no dessert, basically nothing that tastes good. Just kidding, but not really. I cut out dairy, all oils with the exception of olive and avocado oil and lectins like wheat, brown rice, soy and other unsprouted grains. I went a step further and also eliminated nightshade vegetables which include tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, eggplant and any red spice. Although these foods aren’t bad for you, they do contain something called Alkaloids which occur naturally in these plants to repel insects from eating them and when we eat them, they could potentially increase inflammation and permeability within our gut. So for a period of two months, I ate a lot of fish, cooked vegetables, simple salads, low-glycemic fruit, sustainably-raised and hormone free meat and smoothies made with coconut milk. I’ll upload a leaky gut approved food list in a future post.
I also drank a TON of bone broth. First thing in the morning I’d do bone broth with some lemon, salt and pepper and I’d do the same before bed. At least 2 cups per day. Bone broth is an insanely beneficial superfood and contains collagen which is essential in healing a damaged gut. It’s also amazing for your skin, hair, nails and in my opinion it tastes great is super filling. You can make your own but for the sake of convenience and ease, I buy mine at Erewhon in the juice section, you can also buy it frozen at most grocery stores.
Next, I took a dumb amount of supplements. Glutamine is probably the number 1 thing I’d recommend taking, followed by a good probiotic- I take the Megasporebiotic from Microbiome Labs. I like to get as much collagen as I can so I use collagen protein powder by Dr. Axe as well as Collagen Peptides and mix them into my smoothies. I also took Colostrum, Zinc, Curcumin (I like MetaCurcumin by RevGenetics,) and digestive enzymes with every meal. Another thing I liked was something called Leaky Gut Defense by Pure Therapro Rx, it’s a powder you mix with water and has ingredients like licorice root, aloe leaf, and more Glutamine— things that have all been proven to support healthy digestion. I also took apple cider vinegar capsules with every meal, and gave myself a coffee enema once a week. I'll dedicate a post to this later on because there’s a LOT to talk about. For now I’ll just say, don’t knock it till you try it.
After only 3 weeks, I noticed my symptoms started to go away. After a month and a half, they were completely gone and I realized that the way I was used to normally feeling wasn’t “normal” at all. I can’t say that I continued on with my leaky gut protocol but I definitely changed the way I ate going forward and I don’t eat sugar and refined wheat half as much as I used to. At the end of the day, you have to live your life and it’s hard to be happy when you’re restricting yourself too much. But, I’m much more in tune with my body now and if any of these symptoms ever start to come back, I know that something is off and this time, I know exactly what to do about it.