healing leaky gut? gaps diet the only way?

by (120) Updated August 20, 2013 at 11:36 AM Created August 25, 2012 at 6:22 PM

does anyone have any recommendations for healing leaky gut? i have tested positive for a variety of allergies (dairy, potatoes, beef, gelatin) and after reading the the gaps diet approach, it doesn't look to enticing....i am willing to compromise and have cut out gluten-containing grains...i also have begun to take probiotics and digestive enzymes but have yet to see much improvement....foods seems to just sit in my stomach....im not sure what im doing wrong....a typical breakfast is bacon and eggs in coconut oil, lunch maybe some salami cheese and fruit and dinner chicken and carrots for ex. do i need to incorporate broth? ive been pooping once every three days....thanks

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9 Replies

11648 · August 25, 2012 at 6:39 PM

The following is not a medical advice, but just my experience with these diets, my own IBS, and my research online about all this.

GAPS, SCD and Paleo diets are not that different when it comes to their main principles. No matter which of the three diets you choose to follow to heal your leaky gut, some things need to be followed. For example, you speak of cutting down "gluten-containing grains", in reality you need to cut down all grains completely for this to work. Also, legumes (except green beans), vegetable oils and most sugars (except some fruit and raw honey) need to be avoided.

But with the leaky gut in particular it's not just what you cut down, but what you ADD to the diet. You will have to add bone broth (I have an article about lamb/goat bone broth here since you're allergic to beef: http://eugenia.queru.com/2012/06/13/a-little-secret-about-bone-broths/ ), offal from lamb/goat/birds, very important to eat fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut, kimchi etc), super-important for gut-healing is home-made goat kefir (much more potent than yogurt to heal gut conditions), sea veggies, other kinds of veggies to enrich your diet (e.g. kohlrabi, sorrel, amaranth greens etc), maybe some Greek Mountain Tea (herbal). Also don't forget to eat fish and shellfish if you are not allergic to them. You will definitely need to cook in these diets btw.

And of course, get enough sun. If you don't, supplement with D3. Other things to supplement: Magnesium, K2 Mk4, and fish oil. Use olive oil for salads, coconut oil to cook.

With kefir and fermented foods in particular (and with the rest of this regimen), you should be able to have normal bowels within 30 days. I remember from the SCD book saying that while diarrhea gets better within a few days, with constipation it gets worse before it gets better. So hang on in there.

I read you're intolerant to dairy, but have you tried near-lactose-free goat dairy (e.g. fermented kefir for 24 hours)? If you're intolerant to lactose, the fermentation takes out the problem. And if you're intolerant to the casein, chances are you will be able to eat goat/sheep dairy, because their casein is different than that of cows. Most people who think they're dairy intolerant, can actually eat without problems goat/sheep fermented dairy.

24412 · August 25, 2012 at 7:29 PM

First off, it sounds like you have either low stomach acid, gallbladder (bile) issues, or a magnesium deficiency, if food doesn't feel like it is moving down and your transit time is 3 days. The addition of some green vegetables might not be a bad idea. I've also had little luck with bottles of tablets generically labeled "digestive enzymes", and least the two cheapish brands I tried. What did help immensely was Betaine HCL, Ox Bile extract, fresh pineapple, fresh papaya, salsa, and vinegar.

Time is the greatest healer, if you can figure out what is source of your gut issues, just avoiding those can help immensely. And then once you are healed well, sometimes you have more leeway with what you eat.

Not all probiotics are made equal, so who knows what is going on in that capsule, many are kaput by the time they even reach store shelves. If that is the easiest way for you to get them, check out online reviews to see which ones people have the most success with. Living lacto-fermented foods are the way to go in my book if you need an infusion of probiotics stat, and they also have the nifty side effect of having enzymes that can help you digest your other food.

I have good news for you on the broth front, I love it, but if it doesn't float your boat, the thing you are after is primarily the gelatin (the minerals are good too, but you can take a mineral supplement, eat veggies, and make sure you get enough salt). Gelatin can be purchased by the can, packet, or sheet, and you can either just mix it into something you are drinking or make jello, heck you can even make jello shooters. I noticed a decrease in food sensitivities within a week of doing the broth every day, and by week two I could eat pizza crust without pain, so I pass the hacking torch to you to try gelatin everyday for a few weeks and see if you notice any improvement.

20 · August 25, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Take heart, it can take a while to heal a leaky gut. The paleomom's website has great info for healing the guts. Home-made bone broth is very beneficial. If you can find a way to eat organ meats they are also important in healing. I take aloe Vera juice and vitamin D3 to help. Maybe consider removing all grains to see if there's an improvement. It's not easy!

10 · January 16, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Well, since you have mutiple food allergies and constipation, you probably do have a leaky gut. I've had once for most of my life, but only discovered it a year ago. Along with it I have hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, chronic fatigue, and mono. Eliminating foods that cause the auto-immune reaction that causes a leaky gut is key, and one of the biggest culprits is gluten. But, that is not everything in itself. Giving up all the foods you have a high reaction to is also crucial. Like you, constipation has always been an issue for me. I do strongly reccomend taking high quality supplements like magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc. If you have a leaky gut, you don't absorb everything from your food, so supplementing is important. Zinc especially can really speed healing. I also reccomend taking betaine with pepsin, as this acid helps initiate digestion so you get more from your food. Enzymes also will improve symptoms of bloating. I, personally, have been doing GAPS for three years, but first did the SCD. I would highly recommend GAPS as it eliminates more and gets you healing faster. Raw milk is also something to consider making into kefir. As I have a sting casein allergy, I haven't been able to try it, but hear its wonderful. I also get LDA shots. Low dose allergy shots add t-cells to the body that help to lessen the auto immune reaction, allowing your gut to heal faster. Expensive, but at this point I'm willing to try anything, and they do help ease my symptoms. Basically, the best way to heal is to eat whole, gluten-starch-sugar free foods for a while, while also adding in supplements and broth. Broth is wonderful, seriously. Make your own out of any kind of grass fed or natural bones. Also, eating a 60/40 ot 70/30 balance of vegetables and meat could help your constipation. Just be careful with raw foods as they can sometimes be hard on your intestinal tract. Good luck!

130 · December 07, 2012 at 4:22 PM

I know you mentioned you "have begun" taking probiotics. Just remember probiotics are not a quick fix. It takes a while to replenish the good bacteria and populate them in your gut. I would give probiotics some time, even a few months. I have to take them for quite a bit before I notice any differences, same with going off them. It takes awhile for me to feel worse again. It's a slow progression but they definitely make a difference so don't get discouraged with them and discontinue their use.

45 · August 26, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Stay away from anything you were shown to be allergic to for about 6 months minimum. Take l-glutamine to heal your gut. Take a probiotic - find one that needs refrigeration - they are normally better than the non refrigerated kind. It will take around 2 months before you see a result. If you have any yeast issues stay off all grains and sugars for the duration - it will only delay the progress. You can take caprylic acid to combat yeast. You might want to have a comprehensive stool analysis done - I had IBS for 20 years and it turned out to be some yeast plus only 20% of the necessary priobiotics and I had taken probiotics for years - only the kind that didn't need to be refrigerated. I had to take 10x the amount I had been. It took about 8 weeks and suddenly I felt a ton better. I use magnesium for my constipation(you should poop daily) - 2-400mg mg glycinate at bedtime. Hang in there.

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18 · August 20, 2013 at 11:36 AM

This is by no means a stab at Michael (the OP), but there seems to be a ubiquitous disregard for vegetables in the paleosphere. Unfortunately I think it gives paleo a bad rep too, especially among "healthy eaters" of the past generation (read vegetarians/vegans). But even more unfortunate is that you get people eating 6 lbs. of ground beef a day and almost nothing else and they think they're going paleo, and they are asking why they haven't pooped in two weeks. (I wish I had a link to that thread, I think it may have even been on paleohacks.)

Even among Mark Sisson's community, where he promotes eating a "reckless amount of vegetables," you see peoples diet journals and they often aren't really eating Primal. His food pyramid (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/introducing-the-new-primal-blueprint-food-pyramid/#axzz2cVPXhhcb), which features meat at the bottom and vegetables next, is based on CALORIES not volume.

Anyway, I think it would do us well to be more vocal about the importance of vegetables in a paleo diet.

Michael, I hope your doing better. :)

10 · December 07, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Allergy testing is not really reliable. I have had good succes with ACV for low stomach acid. I also use quality digestive enzymes from Enzymedica.

BlockquoteHowever, with damaged gut wall they are likely to absorb most of their foods partially digested, which may cause an immediate reaction or a delayed reaction (a day, a few days or even a couple of weeks later). As these reactions overlap with each other, you can never be sure what exactly you are reacting to on any given day. Testing for food allergies in notoriously unreliable: if one had enough resources to test twice a day for two weeks, they would find that they are "allergic" to everything they eat. As long as the gut wall is damaged and stays damaged, you can be juggling your diet forever removing different foods and never get anywhere. From my clinical experience it is best to concentrate on healing the gut wall with the Introduction Diet.
Blockquote http://gapsdiet.com/INTRODUCTION_DIET.html Personally I am highly suspicious of the gelatin allergy as an allergy to actual natural gelatin from bone broth although it is possible from some other contaminant in processed gelatin.

353 · September 01, 2012 at 5:02 AM

Renee's comment is a right one, not everything is leaky gut. To add to the other answers: stay away from supplements as they contain large number of filling agents, stabilisers, colorants etc. Supplement by real food only, do not eat anything your grandmother would not recognise. If you do not see change in 3 months reassess your approach. Stay away from alcohol, experiment with fasting.

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