Here are some tips that we recommend for patients going on the leaky gut protocol. Leaky gut occurs when you have increased mucosal permeability or inflammation in lining of the small intestine. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to leaky gut, including foods (especially gluten, genetically modified, and inflammatory foods), pathogenic microorganisms in the intestinal tract (bacteria, yeast, parasites), and certain medications (NSAIDS being at the top of the list). Increased mucosal permeability can lead to a wide range of inflammatory/autoimmune disorders and digestive symptoms. It is important to realize that you may have a leaky gut without having any significant digestive complaints.
The Leaky Gut Protocol
The protocol is ingested as a shake with three items, which provides nutrients to help decrease intestinal inflammation, support detoxification, heal the intestinal lining and reestablish a healthy gut flora. The shake contains a protein blend cleanse for detoxification, a probiotic, and an immunoglobulin complex . These immunoglobulins or antibodies help to support immune function in the gut, as well as seal up the tight gap junctions in the intestinal lining. Although the immunoglobulin complex is derived from bovine, it does not contain the proteins found in dairy that cause an immune reaction with a dairy intolerance. Check with your provider if you are concerned about a possible reaction. The protocol is most effective when used in combination with an elimination diet.
Symptoms and Conditions Associated with Leaky Gut:
If you suffer from digestive symptoms, brain fog, headaches, depression, joint aches, skin conditions or fatigue, it may be worthwhile trying a modified elimination diet in conjunction with the leaky gut protocol. Consider trying this diet even if you don’t go on the entire leaky gut protocol. As a minimum take a good probiotic supplement at the start.
You may feel deprived having to give up some of these foods, but the question you need to ask yourself is-Would I rather be deprived of some of these foods or deprived of my health?
The purpose of an elimination diet is to help you identify often subtle and gradual reactions to commonly reactive foods such as: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, peanuts, sugar and food additives (e.g. MSG, aspartame, artificial flavorings, colors, etc.). You might also consider eliminating anything that you eat daily, crave or “love”. These are often foods that one might react to. Focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t eat and this will seem much easier.
Gluten and Leaky Gut
As a minimum, you should go off all gluten. Gluten contributes to leaky gut in just about everyone. Let me begin by defining gluten and explaining why gluten sensitivity is on the rise. Gluten is the protein found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. You may have heard of celiac disease which is a severe form of gluten sensitivity that is now found to affect one in 100 individuals. That is a rate that is increased from 1 in 3000 thirty years ago.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
More recently there has been a new group defined as “non-celiac gluten sensitive”(NCGS) individuals who experience a reaction to gluten and unlike celiac patients they do not have antibodies against various intestinal proteins which defines celiac disease. By some estimates this group may represent up to 30% of the population, but I believe the incidence is actually higher. In my experience, nearly 100% of patients who go off gluten on a trial basis end up feeling better and really notice adverse symptoms if they reintroduce gluten into the diet later on. Unfortunately, the only way to know for certain if you are a NCGS individual is to try going gluten-free and see how you feel.
Try going on an elimination diet or as a minimum try going “gluten free” and you will likely feel better within 7 days. We recommend staying on the diet for at least 3-4 weeks as it will take about that long to “heal the gut.” Some patients may take up to 3 months to reestablish a normal functioning intestinal mucosa. In my experience, everyone who goes through this process feels better in the end. This is a “whole food” diet, which focuses on fresh vegetables, fruit, good fats, and quality protein sources.
Best Paleo Diet Book
I recommend the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, to help you get started. The “Paleo Diet” which many of you have already heard about, suggests eliminating all grains, not just those containing gluten. The premise is we should eat only those foods our ancient, “hunter gatherer” ancestors ate, before we became an agricultural society some 10,000 years ago. A “Guide to Healing a Leaky Gut” is included. This book contains many of the principles outlined below and many delicious, healthy recipes.
1. Have the leaky gut shake for breakfast. Feel free to eat something later on the allowed list if you are still hungry.
2. Drink plenty of water, preferably filtered. Consider adding some fresh squeezed lemon juice. Drink green tea.
3. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit-preferably organic.
4. Enjoy moderate amounts of high quality protein such as wild fish, chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb. Select from organic, free range, grass fed products whenever possible. Do not grill, fry, or cook at a very high temperature. Avoid processed or cured meats.
5. Try to eat three meals a day with healthy snacks between meals.
6. To maintain a healthy and stable blood sugar level, eat a combination of protein/carbohydrate/fat at each meal or snack.
7. Have nuts and seeds (with the exception of peanuts which are actually a legume)
8. Healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
9. For milk, alternatives, use unsweetened, coconut milk, or unsweetened almond milk.
10. Eat a wide variety of foods
11. Incorporate fermented foods which are naturally rich in probiotics (e.g. sauerkraut, kombucha tea etc.)
12. Allow time for exercise, stress reduction, and adequate sleep.
13. Try this program with a friend or your significant other.
14. Get organized and plan ahead by shopping for and preparing foods that you CAN eat.
15. Buy the highest quality ingredients that your budget will allow.
Foods to Eliminate:
1. Any food that you’re allergic to
2. Gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley) and any prepared foods containing gluten.
3. Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream).
4. Soy or any products made from soy, such as soy milk or tofu.
5. Corn and corn products -the vast majority of corn and corn products come from genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) which can contribute to leaky gut.
6. Peanuts and peanut butter.
8. Eggs (Note that quality eggs are actually healthy for you, however, they are on the list of foods that people frequently react to). 9. Any processed or highly refined foods.
10. MSG and aspartame
The goal of the elimination diet is to reconnect with how food makes you feel. There is no typical or normal response as each person may differ in terms of how they feel. The key is that you learn to reestablish your connection with food and begin to understand how food may affect you.
After 3-4 weeks you might try reintroducing some of the foods that you have eliminated. Begin reintroducing foods one at a time, allowing 3 days between each reintroduction. Some of the foods on the list that I would suggest avoiding forever if you can would include: gluten, soy, any genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), MSG and aspartame. If symptoms persist, further food allergy testing may be warranted.
Some patients find having the leaky gut protocol 2 or 3 times a week is a good maintenance plan. As a minimum, you should take a good probiotic supplement 2-3 times a week or ingest fermented foods like sauerkraut or kombucha tea.
We also suggest working with a nutritionist, who can help guide you. For more information about implementing the leaky gut protocol, an elimination diet or other nutritional changes, call the office (303-343-3121) or contact a nutritionist for more information