Dr. Doni explains why it can be so hard to get treatment for leaky gut and outlines her 5-step plan for healing it.
Part 3 of Dr. Doni’s Series on Leaky Gut
So far in this blog series, we’ve covered a few important questions: Is leaky gut real? And, What is leaky gut? We also discussed how you would know you have leaky gut, what causes it, and how to test for it. Click the link above to see all the articles in the series. Today we are going to cover how to heal leaky gut.
Can Leaky Gut Be Healed?
I asked this question every day, either by people who are considering whether it is worth the investment to have me review their case or patients who are so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired that they have lost every bit of hope that they will ever feel better.
I’m also asked why it isn’t addressed by most doctors. Here’s the thing about science and medicine. Even though there are thousands of studies proving that leaky gut exists (the studies call it intestinal permeability or intestinal barrier impairment), it is well established that there is a long delay before research is integrated into medical care and public knowledge.
Add that leaky gut is present at a microscopic level, which cannot be seen with an endoscopy or colonoscopy, and it’s no wonder the gastroenterologist, rheumatologist, endocrinologist, and internist haven’t mentioned it or addressed it. Leaky gut cannot be treated with surgery—nor is there a prescription medication that can cure it. In fact, as I alluded to in the last article, it is more often caused by prescription medications such as ibuprofen and antibiotics.
So the question remains—does it heal, and if so, how?
Yes, it can heal and I’m going to show you how in this article. I developed a five-step plan for healing leaky gut based on how I healed leaky gut in my body and for many others.
My Experiential Evidence with Leaky Gut
I had leaky gut which caused a whole bunch of really unpleasant symptoms that made me feel really unwell for a really long time. These symptoms included:
- canker sores
- stomach discomfort
- recurrent episodes of vomiting
- recurrent sinusitis
I felt so awful and so frustrated that the doctors were unable to help me that I took matters into my own hands and started to do my own research. I suspected the problem was with my digestion, so I searched and researched to try and find out which foods I reacted to and why.
I started to remove certain foods from my diet to see if it had any effect on my symptoms. It was only when I starting avoiding gluten, and all my other food allergens (which was quite an extensive list) and began taking supplements that have been demonstrated to support the healing of leaky gut that it all came together. I truly started feeling better. No more reflux, no more canker sores, no more stomach upsets, headaches, allergies, or sinusitis! The absence of all these horrible symptoms improved the quality of my life immensely.
From my own experience—and extensive experience with patients with similar symptoms, I devised a program to help everyone with leaky gut uncover the causes and find their own route to health.
My Five-Step Program for Healing Leaky Gut
Step 1 – Eliminate the Cause(s)
One of the difficulties with identifying and addressing leaky gut is that one size definitely does not fit all. Leaky gut has a wide range of possible causes and, subsequently, a range of potential severity, and a range of possible treatments. The combination of causes and treatments are unique to every person who has it. This means we need to investigate the causes for each new patient to have the best success with healing.
In the subsequent articles in this blog series, I will go into more detail about each of the causes of leaky gut and how we can treat them because, as we understand and address the causes we’ll be able to create an environment where the body can heal. Eliminating the cause can involve avoiding certain foods in the diet, especially those that cause leaky gut (such as gluten) and optimizing the balance of healthy bacteria in the small and large intestines.
To start, as we saw in the previous article, I recommend a simple IgG and IgA food sensitivity test that will give us a lot of information about the best course of treatment for you including which foods to eliminate from your diet. The most common foods that need to be avoided in order to heal leaky gut are gluten and dairy (whey and casein).
Step 2 – Digest at Your Best
The first role of your digestion, from the moment you even think of taking a bite is to break down your food so your body can access the nutrients. If your body cannot easily digest the food you eat (these things are also determined by genetics and stress exposure), it can become a cause of leaky gut and much discomfort. Plus undigested food can then leak through the intestinal lining and trigger more food sensitivities.
Ensuring you take time to chew your food thoroughly and not eat too much food (especially carbohydrates) at one sitting will give your body a better chance of digesting well. Additionally, we can support each aspect of your digestion using plant-based enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and/or bile support depending on your needs. To be thorough, it is best to meet with a practitioner and complete a specialized stool test in order to find out how well you are digesting proteins, carbohydrates and fats to know what support is needed for your body.
As a first step, I recommend taking plant-based pancreatic enzymes with meals to support the digestion of food. Pancreatic enzymes can help digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates, ensuring that you can absorb the nutrients and avoid immune responses to the foods you eat. An example product that I recommend is called Similase GFCF (click to find it in my online store). Similase is designed to digest all food types and it also contains the specific enzymes to digest gluten and casein (the protein in dairy products) in case you are exposed to them.
Step 3 – Ingest the Solution
First I focus on the amino acid that is such an important fuel to the small intestinal cells, L-glutamine. By taking glutamine (up to about 3000 mg per day) you’ll be feeding the cells that line your intestines and helping them to recover from leaky gut.
Next we add in anti-inflammatory herbs that support a natural healing process such as licorice (DGL), quercetin, aloe, slippery elm, and/or curcumin. We could also add MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), which provides sulfur that helps the tight junctions between the cells to heal and zinc which is essential for healthy new cells in the intestinal lining. By taking these supplements* orally, we can get all of them to the location of leaky gut—the small intestines.1
When Leaky Gut is more severe (and your digestion is more sensitive), it can be necessary to start simple with one ingredient at a time. For others a combination formula can make it possible to take in several supportive herbs and nutrients in one product.
Find some of the specific formulas I recommend here:
- Glutamine alone: L-glutamine powder and capsules
- DGL alone: DGL powder
- Glutamine in combination with aloe and DGL as a powder:
Dr. Doni’s Leaky Gut Support
- Glutamine in combination with several herbs and nutrients in a powder: Optimal GI
- Glutamine in combination with herbs and nutrients as a capsule: GI Repair
Step 4 – Optimize Healthy Bacteria
There are several possible scenarios in which the bacteria (referred to as microbiome, microbiota or probiotics when in a supplement) that should be healthfully living in your large intestines can be thrown off track (known as dysbiosis).
You could have taken a lot of antibiotics that killed the healthy bacteria and allowed yeast (also known as candida) to grow in its place. Or perhaps you’ve overdone the fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt and they’ve become too happy in a place that requires a careful balance of the right bacteria.
Once we know more about any imbalance of bacteria in your gut, we can start to change the environment so the healthiest bacteria are able to flourish and protect your body. Keep in mind, however, that healthy bacteria require a healthy intestinal lining, so treating leaky gut and stabilizing your digestion is an ongoing process alongside maintaining the right balance of gut bacteria.
To get started with a high-quality probiotic, I recommend Klaire Detoxification Support. It contains 2 strains of Lactobacillus and 1 strain of Bifidobacteria that are known to decrease inflammation and improve the balance of bacteria in the intestines.
Keep in mind that if you ever feel worse after taking a probiotic that you should stop taking it and consult with a practitioner who can help you assess the cause and best approach for you.
Step 5 – Assess and Address Your Stress
Studies show that stress of any kind (emotional or physical) increases your likelihood of developing leaky gut so, in addition to eliminating certain foods and taking supplements, healing it has to address the stress factors.2,3 You can assess your stress levels by doing my adrenal stress quiz.
You can also sign up to receive my free Guide to Adrenal Recovery—a 35-page ebook to help you assess and address adrenal stress—along with my Weekly Wellness Wisdom eNewsletter.
And then, of course, there is my Stress Remedy Program—both the 7-day and 21-day options—that help you get on the path to healing leaky gut. They include a pea protein shake, guidebook, dairy-free and gluten-free meal plan, email tips, and the 21-day version includes products I recommend for healing leaky gut, plus over dairy-free and gluten-free 50 recipes. Learn about those programs here.
Get Started with Healing Leaky Gut
To make it easy for you to get started with leaky gut healing products that meet my criteria and that I mentioned above as part of my 5-point protocol to heal leaky gut, I put digestive enzymes and leaky gut healing powder together in a package, and at a discount, for you in my online store. You can find it here.
Upcoming articles in this blog series will go into the details of each of these steps further so that you’ll start to understand how to get on the path of healing leaky gut—find those articles here. Because Leaky Gut can and does heal with the right mix of ingredients and a strong willingness to make changes to your diet.
Research is demonstrating this, such as in one particular study that shows that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome improved as leaky gut resolved.4
Leaky Gut Recovery Process
Many patients ask me how long it takes to heal leaky gut. I tell them it varies, but that I look for steady improvement over 3 to 6 months—which means feeling less awful and more like your old self. At 6 months, we reassess to find out if we can start reintroducing some foods. Then, as your gut heals, fewer foods will trigger an immune response. At that point, we adapt our plan as needed and keep going.
In fact, even after all this time, I continue to support the healing of my leaky gut every day. I recommend that you do the same, because no matter how careful we are to avoid the causes, many daily activities and exposures can add up to a recurrence of leaky gut.
Additionally, and much to your benefit, healing leaky gut (and preventing it from occurring or recurring) can also stop autoimmunity in its tracks, prevent unwanted weight gain, improve your mood, and halt the processes that lead to heart, liver, and kidney failure.5, 6, 7, 8,9
Remember that getting to the bottom of what is causing your leaky gut is imperative so we can treat it effectively. In some cases this is a complex process but one that allows us to tailor treatment specifically to your unique needs. Taking the time to do this properly can rid you of many unpleasant and persistent symptoms thus revolutionizing your health and wellbeing.
Read testimonials from patients who have worked with me to resolve leaky gut here.
Leaky gut can go away, but not if you ignore it. All you have to do is start taking steps to eliminate the causes and introduce support to help your body heal.
Wellness wishes to you!
29th June 2015
*Please keep in mind that any and all supplements—nutrients, herbs, enzymes, or other—should be used with caution. My recommendation is that you seek the care of a naturopathic doctor (with a doctorate degree from a federally-accredited program) and that you have a primary care physician or practitioner whom you can contact to help you with individual dosing and protocols. If you ever experience negative symptoms after taking a product, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor right away.
- Rapin JR, Wiernsperger N. Possible Links between Intestinal Permeablity and Food Processing: A Potential Therapeutic Niche for Glutamine. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010 Jun; 65(6): 635–643. A Mahmood, A J FitzGerald, T Marchbank, E Ntatsaki, D Murray, S Ghosh, and R J Playford. Zinc carnosine, a health food supplement that stabilises small bowel integrity and stimulates gut repair processes. Gut. 2007 Feb; 56(2): 168–175.
- Konturek PC1, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ. Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Dec;62(6):591-9.
- Aucoin M, Lalonde-Parsi MJ, and Cooley K. Mindfulness-Based Therapies in the Treatment of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Meta-Analysis. J Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014 Sep 11. doi: 10.1155/2014/140724. Maes M1, Leunis JC. Normalization of leaky gut in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is accompanied by a clinical improvement: effects of age, duration of illness and the translocation of LPS from gram-negative bacteria. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Dec;29(6):902-10.
- Piya MK1, Harte AL, McTernan PG. Metabolic endotoxaemia: is it more than just a gut feeling? Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013 Feb;24(1):78-85.
- Karakuła-Juchnowicz H, Szachta P, Opolska A, Morylowska-Topolska J, Gałęcka M, Juchnowicz D, Krukow P, Lasik Z. The role of IgG hypersensitivity in the pathogenesis and therapy of depressive disorders. Nutr Neurosci. 2014 Sep 30.
- Rogler G1, Rosano G. The heart and the gut. Eur Heart J. 2014 Feb;35(7):426-30.
- Fukui H1. Gut-liver axis in liver cirrhosis: How to manage leaky gut and endotoxemia. World J Hepatol. 2015 Mar 27;7(3):425-42. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i3.425.
- Lau WL1, Kalantar-Zadeh K, Vaziri ND. The Gut as a Source of Inflammation in Chronic Kidney Disease. Nephron. 2015;130:92-8.