For many of us, this time of year can herald an increase in less-than-ideal food and a few more than usual, sneaky alcoholic beverages creeping into our daily diets.
While these things may be fine in small quantities, they still have a negative impact on our gut health. Unfortunately, our gut doesn’t get the memo that it’s the silly season!
There are also a few foods and drinks that have a greater potential to increase your chances of “leaky gut” – or more accurately, intestinal permeability – but there are also several foods and strategies that you can implement to assist in counteracting this damage.
What is “leaky gut”?
This term just means that the barrier that keeps your digestive system separate to your bloodstream (as it should be) starts to loosen its gates. When this happens, toxins, bacteria, and large food particles can start to make their way through to where they shouldn’t be. This is bad news as your body registers these as threats to your system and mounts an immune response, often bringing about inflammation, an increase in food intolerances and susceptibility to several other conditions along with it.
So how do we help mitigate this process?
Limit or avoid (as much as possible) the foods that are more likely to cause this response. Namely gluten (in most individuals), foods you are individually intolerant to, large amounts of sugar, alcohol and highly processed foods containing industrial seed oils.
Include gut healing foods to strengthen that gut barrier lining. These would include bone broth, gelatin or collagen powder, and L-glutamine powder (on an empty stomach).
Include anti-inflammatory foods. These include healthy fats, sustainably sourced animal protein including fatty fish, plenty of veggies, small amounts of whole fruit, as well as a highly bioavailable curcumin supplement.
Keep on top of your stress and sleep. High levels of stress and a lack of sleep (which is a stressor in itself) can contribute to leaky gut and inflammation.
Feed your good gut bugs and make sure you’ve got enough of them! This means including fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and full-fat yoghurt on a regular basis. As well as making sure they are well fed with prebiotics such as vegetables, fruit and properly prepared grains or legumes.