Ever heard of the term “Leaky Gut”? Neither had we. But it has started to get a lot of buzz in the media and online. Leaky Gut refers to the permeability of your intestines. Normally, your stomach and intestines are very restrictive in what they let pass through to get into your bloodstream but in cases of leaky gut this lining becomes more permeable and can allow toxins, and other pro-inflammatory substances to pass into your body. This results in an inflammatory response and when present for long enough, can lead to a chronic inflammatory response. This is why some researchers have hypothesized that this may play a role in other chronic gastrointestinal problems like Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Celiac’s disease. Some have even gone further to relate it to more systemic inflammatory responses such as chronic fatigue syndromes, fibromyalgia, lupus, and more. It is important to note however, that the research for all things Leaky Gut is still in its infancy and far from conclusive.
While some of these claims are yet to be supported, it seems plausible. The average American diet is high in processed carbs and sugars and low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables. It has been established that something needs to change whether it is to address your gut health or just to lead a healthier, longer life. The silver lining to all of this is that some of the proposed treatments to address gut health are the same ones that are advocated for better sport performance, weight loss, quality of life, etc.
Most recommendations seem to advocate for eating healthier in general. Eating more diverse foods that are less processed and subsequently higher in fiber. The USDA recommends that adults get 25-30 grams of dietary fiber a day (on average Americans get 15 grams a day). Additionally, reducing alcohol intake or addressing any medications whose side effects may be contributing to a chronic irritation of your GI tract. Even increasing your exercise frequency can help improve digestion. At the end of the day, gut health seems to be important but no one is quite sure how important at this time.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about how you can make a change or work towards a healthier you, reach out to a registered dietitian who can come up with a plan! Not sure where to start, let us know and we can help connect you with someone!