Can Wheat Make You Crazy?

Maybe you’ve heard of the books Wheat Belly or Grain Brain. Maybe you’ve chatted with friends about a NY Times editorial claiming that gluten free is a fad. Maybe you’ve been raised, as I have, in a cultural consciousness that says, yeah food matters, but not that much.

I’d love to tell you a story I read about in the primary published literature that seems to suggest that yes, gluten is an issue. No it’s not a wellness fad. And its elimination may very well be the key to resolving what would otherwise be a chronic and disabling psychiatric condition.

A Case Report

Adult-onset psychosis.

She was 37, studying for her doctoral degree, under some degree of stress related to this, when she began expressing beliefs that people were talking about her. These beliefs progressed to paranoid accusations when she was burglarized a few months later and accused her parents of complicity.

She was hospitalized at a state psychiatric facility and labeled with psychotic disorder, treated with risperidone and sertraline and discharged after one month.

She was ultimately diagnosed with Hashimoto’s as well as Celiac disease which accounted for her multiple nutrient deficiencies, weight loss, and inability to absorb thyroid hormone medication.

Amazingly, the case report goes on to state:

After receiving the diagnosis of celiac disease, the patient thought her practitioners were being deceitful regarding the diagnosis and refused to adhere to a gluten-free diet. Psychotic symptoms and paranoia persisted, and she continued to “find clues” of conspiracy against her. She lost her job, became homeless, and attempted suicide; her family took out a restraining order against her. Eventually, she was rehospitalized at a psychiatric facility, where she was placed on a gluten free diet.

After 3 months on a strict gluten-free diet at an inpatient facility, her delusions resolved completely (associated with remission of Celiac confirmed by negative serologies and biopsy), but she was continued on risperidone for several months. At the time of the case write up, she had relapsed psychiatrically after an inadvertent exposure to gluten.

The Gluten Brain Connection

In this report, Dr. Alessio Fasano cautions not to initiate a gluten free dietary trial before an intestinal biopsy can be obtained (so as to avoid a false negative result). Should this be universal procedure for all those presenting with symptoms of psychiatric and neurologic illness? Or is there a path of less harm in a trial of a strict gluten free diet. Available literature suggests that brain-based manifestations of Celiac disease are possible. A related case report demonstrated on SPECT scanning that frontal lobe damage and associated symptoms of psychosis and diarrhea resolved with a gluten-free dietary intervention.

And what if the biopsy is negative? What about the ever-increasing acknowledgement of non-celiac gluten enteropathy and its very real psychiatric manifestation including depression and psychosis? According to Dr. Hadjivassiliou, “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease” without co-occuring small intestinal pathology or subjective gut complaints. A related paper states:

“Gluten can cause neurological harm through a combination of cross reacting antibodies, immune complex disease and direct toxicity. These nervous system affects include: dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, cerebella ataxia, hypotonia, developmental delay, learning disorders, depression, migraine, and headache. If gluten is the putative harmful agent, then there is no requirement to invoke gut damage and nutritional deficiency to explain the myriad of the symptoms experienced by sufferers of celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. This is called “The Gluten Syndrome”.”

Sayer Ji of Greenmedinfo.com details the history dating back to 1951 of gluten in psychiatric and specifically psychotic illness. More recent data has demonstrated that patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are 2-3 times as likely to have immune reactivity to wheat. This report dovetails with an American Journal of Psychiatry study that correlated high levels of gliadin antibodies in cord blood with the later onset of psychosis in the offspring. Perhaps this immunoinflammatory priming is happening in utero and perpetuated through exposure to wheat products over the lifespan.

Psychiatric Medication: Worse Than Nothing

The time lost to identify the root cause of this 37 year old patient’s illness – which could be characterized as autoimmune alone rather than autoimmune AND psychiatric – resulted in almost a year of exposure to an ineffective antipsychotic medication. No harm in that, right?

Wrong.

In this thorough and thoughtful discussion, investigative journalist Robert Whitaker explores the long-term data including Harrow’s prospective study of 200 subjects over 15 years and Wunderink’s 7 year study of 128 first-psychosis cases, both of which both demonstrated that discontinuation of antipsychotic medication led to better long term outcomes for patients with psychosis. This is not to mention medication-induced brain shrinkage, the risk of severe relapse on drug discontinuation, and tardive psychosis (chronic symptoms on meds induced by compensatory physiology) with drug continuation. And the cavalier and dismissive posture on the part of those at the helm of the ship of psychiatry.

What if a course of “first do no harm” actually looked like any effort to accomplish this very intention. What if there were inpatient facilities where strict unprocessed (which automatically takes out gluten, sugar, and commercial dairy!) anti-inflammatory, organic diets were offered in a low chemical setting with the support of safe practices such as yoga, meditation, and even acupuncture in addition to community support? If there were, I know some corporate entities that might be less than pleased with the outcomes, but this shouldn’t stop us from taking matters into our own hands preventatively. Clean up your mind, clean up your body, and learn about the way processed foods have you dangling from a puppet string.

Over the past 35 years, psychiatry—as an institution—has remade our society. This is the medical specialty that defines what is normal and not normal. This is the medical specialty that tells us when we should take medications that will affect how we respond to the world. And this is the profession that determines whether such medications are good for our children. Given that influence, we as a society naturally have reason to want to know how the leaders in the profession think, and thus how they come to their conclusions about the merits of their drugs.– Robert Whitake

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It’s Just A Joke…No, No It’s Not: A Lesson in Celiac Advocacy

Breathing. The key to life.

Get an email from a client that makes you upset? Don’t respond right away. Breathe.
Someone trolling you online? Don’t engage. Breathe.
Someone makes fun of your autoimmune disease? Don’t fly off the handle (yet). Breathe.

I learned this lesson in the past 30 minutes.

Mrs. Dude just sent me the above picture. It is from a salon right right down the street from the Dude Ranch. She was driving by and was so stunned by the sign that she pulled over and took a picture. I’ve blurred out the salon name (which I’ll explain why below), but you can see the chalkboard out in front. It says “Gluten Free Haircuts”.

Now I’ve had a bad day and am in the middle of a lot of stressful sh*t in my life. So my first reaction was pretty much rage. On a good day, I’ve had it with the jokes. On a bad day, forget about it. I have no patience for this ignorance anymore. But still, there was a part of me that really tried to give the benefit of the doubt to the owner. Maybe she meant that all of her products were gluten-free. Doubtful…but small possibility.

Now comes the decision. Do I go down there in person and potentially lose it, or do I take a few minutes…BREATHE…and give them a call? I chose the latter. Here is how the conversation went.

Salon: Hi…so and so Salon…can I help you?

Me: Hi…is the owner or manager there?

Salon: No she is not. Can I help you?

Me:I just noticed that you have a sign outside that says Gluten-Free Haircuts and I was wondering what that meant.

Salon: Ha, ha, ha…that’s just a joke…ha, ha, ha. (Literally, she was laughing like I just recited an Abbot and Costello routine.)

Me: I have celiac disease and gluten-free is what keeps me alive. I’m a big celiac advocate and it is not a joke to me or the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from celiac disease. Jokes like this make it so much harder for us to be taken seriously. My wife had breast cancer. Would you have a sign that said “Cancer free haircuts” or “chemotherapy free haircuts”?

Salon: [humming and hawing] Ummm…let me call the manager and have her give you a call.

Now I figured I’d maybe get a call the next day, if that, in which case I would have gone down to the salon myself with a wet sponge.

Within two minutes, my phone rang. I won a trip for two to Tahiti!! Just kidding. It was the manager. And she apologized…profusely. And I mean really profusely! Almost to the point where I had to ask her to stop apologizing. And the offending sign had already been taken down. She saw the error of her ways and she responded accordingly.

Look…I cannot wait until the jokes completely stop. Until then, we must keep doing what we do and be the best advocates we can be. Sometimes that may mean getting up in arms. And sometimes not.

So the next time you have a chance to advocate…breathe. You may be surprised at the results.

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Celiac Disease Diet: Foods, Tips & Products to Avoid

Estimates show that rates of celiac disease diagnoses have risen by nearly 400 percent since the 1960s, and many health authorities speculate that there still may be a significant percentage of people living with undiagnosed celiac disease or similar problems.(1) In the U.S. and most other industrialized nations, slightly less than 1 percent of all adults have been diagnosed with celiac disease. (2) For these people, following a celiac disease diet, which mean a strictly gluten-free diet, is considered to be the only definitive way to improve celiac disease symptoms and prevent complications.

The biggest threat associated with untreated celiac disease, or other similar food allergies, is that it can cause long-term health problems, such as malnutrition, developmental delays, lowered immunity, neurological illnesses and psychiatric illnesses. Although some people with celiac disease might show no symptoms at all (at least for a while),  long-term complications are still believed to be a threat whether symptoms are experienced or not.

That’s why it’s so vital to follow the proper celiac disease diet if you have this gluten allergy.


Top Foods for the Celiac Disease Diet

Currently, there is no known cure for celiac disease, which is why it’s considered to be chronic in nature. The best way to manage celiac disease symptoms and prevent future health problems is to follow a strict gluten-free diet, along with improving overall immune function through preventing nutrient deficiencies, reducing stress and getting enough sleep.

The focus of a celiac disease diet should be including more anti-inflammatory, healing diet foods in order to repair the gastrointestinal tract/digestive system and heal any nutrient deficiencies. These include organic animal products, raw dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and probiotic foods.

The Celiac Disease Foundation offers helpful resources regarding how to strictly avoid gluten, including foods to avoid when grocery shopping or eating out at restaurants. (1) Since gluten can be very “sneaky” and hard to detect in numerous packaged foods, it’s recommended that you become very knowledgeable about safe and unsafe food product choices if you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease. To help you feel less unsure of what foods might contain traces of gluten when shopping, you can also use gluten-free technology to quickly find out about various brands.

Some of the Healthiest Gluten-Free Foods Include:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of any healthy diet and are naturally gluten-free. They provide valuable essential nutrients, fiber and antioxidants to raise immune function.
  • Lean proteins: These provide protein, omega-3 fats and minerals that fight malnutrition and inflammation. Sources include cage-free eggs, fish (wild-caught), pasture-raised poultry, grass-fed beef, organ meats, and other protein foods and omega-3 foods.
  • Healthy fats: Sources include ghee or butter, avocado, virgin coconut, grapeseed, virgin olive, flaxseed, avocado, hemp and pumpkin oils.
  • Nuts and seeds: Good sources of healthy fats, fiber, omega-3 fats and minerals, almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp, chia seeds, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower are all good options.
  • Dairy (organic and raw is best): Good source of electrolytes like calcium and potassium, healthy fats and protein, sources include goat milk or yogurt, other fermented yogurts, goat or sheep cheese, and raw milk from A2 cows.
  • Legumes, beans and gluten-free whole grains: These include all beans, wild or brown rice, gluten-free oats, buckwheat, quinoa, teff and amaranth. It’s a good idea to properly prepare beans and grains (especially types that contain gluten) by soaking, sprouting and fermenting them. Sprouting them helps improve nutrient bioavailability, reduces the presence of antinutrients that can cause digestive issues and makes proteins more digestible. (3)
  • Gluten-free flours: These include baking flours such as brown rice flour, potato or corn meal, quinoa flour, almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, tapioca flour/starch, cassava and other gluten-free blends. Always purchase products certified as gluten-free to be safe.
  • Bone broth: Great source of collagen, glucosamine and amino acids that help repair the GI tract.
  • Gluten-free alcohol: Sources include most (but not all) wines or hard liquors.
  • Other gluten-free condiments, spices and herbs: This includes real sea salt, cocoa, apple cider vinegar, fresh herbs and spices (labeled gluten-free), raw honey and organic stevia

 

gluten free food infographic

 

Foods to Avoid on the Celiac Disease Diet Include:

The single most important thing to do on a celiac disease diet is avoid all products containing wheat, barley or rye. Gluten makes up about 80 percent of the protein found in these three grains. Other than avoiding eating these grains in whole-grain or flour forms, you need to be very careful about consuming packaged foods in general and also restaurant-prepared foods, since many have trace amounts of wheat or gluten lurking in them.

Foods that contain gluten to avoid on a celiac disease diet include:

  • All products containing wheat, barley, rye: Read ingredient labels carefully and look for any type of wheat, couscous, spelt, semolina, rye, barley and even oats.
  • Processed carbohydrate foods: These are often made with refined wheat flour, but even those that aren’t predominately wheat-based can have gluten because some gluten-free grains can experience cross-contamination during manufacturing. Examples of processed carbs to avoid include breads, pastas, cookies, cakes, snack bars, cereals, rolls, buns, pie crusts, phyllo dough, baking flours and so on.
  • Most baking flours: Wheat-based baking flours and products include all bran, bromated flour, durum flour, enriched flour, farina, phosphate flour, plain flour, self-rising flour and white flour.
  • Beer and malt alcohol: These are made with barley or wheat.
  • In some cases, even gluten-free grains: Due to cross-contamination during manufacturing, gluten-free grains can sometimes contain small amounts of gluten. Be careful because “wheat-free” does not necessarily mean “gluten-free.” Processed products that are labeled “gluten-free” are also not good choices to rely on often, since they’re very low in available nutrients and usually high in synthetic ingredients to make up for lost flavor and texture.
  • Bottled condiments and sauces: It’s important to read food labels very carefully and avoid products made with additive ingredients that contain even small traces of gluten. Wheat is now chemically made into preservatives, stabilizers and other additives that are used in even liquid products. These include any condiments made with nearly all flour products, soy sauce, salad dressings or marinades, malts, syrups, dextrin and starch.
  • Processed fats: These include hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats and refine vegetable oils that raise inflammation, including corn oil, soybean oil and canola oil.
  • Added sugars: High in calories, they can worsen inflammation and deplete the body of nutrients.

A full list of processed frozen and prepared foods with hidden gluten is lengthy and can include: (4)

  • Artificial coffee creamer
  • Malt (in the form of malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring and malt vinegar, which are indicative of barley)
  • Pasta sauces
  • Soy sauce
  • Bouillion cubes or prepared gravy
  • Frozen french fries
  • Salad dressing
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Seitan and other meat alternatives
  • Frozen veggie burgers
  • Candy
  • Imitation seafood
  • Prepared meats or cold cuts (like hot dogs)
  • Chewing gum
  • Certain ground spices
  • Potato or grain chips
  • Kamut
  • Certain veined cheeses
  • Ketchup and tomato sauces
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • Prepared fish sticks
  • Matzo
  • Flavored instant coffee
  • Prepared rice mixes
  • Flavored teas

Other Celiac Disease Diet Tips

1. Prevent or Correct Nutrient Deficiencies

Many people with celiac disease can benefit from taking supplements in order to correct deficiencies and help rebuild the immune system that’s been compromised by malabsorption. Celiac disease can cause damage within the digestive tract that means nutrients consumed even from a healthy diet are often not fully absorbed. Common deficiencies can include iron, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, B6, B12 and folate. (5)

The following supplements can help speed up the healing process:

  • Gluten-free multivitamin
  • Digestive enzymes — look for one that contains DPP-IV
  • Probiotics — take one containing between 5 billion to 10 billion organisms daily to replenish good bacteria
  • Vitamin D3 — dosages range between 2,000–5,000 IU daily depending on age
  • L-glutamine — taking 500 milligrams daily can improve digestive system and help reverse gut permeability

2. Avoid Other Household or Beauty Products Made with Gluten

Non-food items that can contain gluten and trigger symptoms include: (6)

  • Toothpastes
  • Glue on stamps and envelopes
  • Laundry detergent
  • Lip balms
  • Body lotions and sunscreens
  • Makeup
  • Medications, vitamins or over-the-counter pills
  • Mouthwash
  • Playdough
  • Shampoo and soaps

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a serious food allergy and autoimmune disorder that’s triggered from eating gluten, a type of protein found in numerous foods containing wheat, barley and rye grains. It’s believed that gluten allergies can be tied to dozens, if not hundreds, of different symptoms stemming from indigestion to chronic fatigue, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. (7)

For most people, celiac disease does a lot more than cause bloated stomach, gas and diarrhea — because it’s an autoimmune disorder, similar to Hashimoto’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis, for example, it also takes a toll on the entire immune system and therefore often someone’s overall quality of life.

What are some common signs or symptoms of celieac disease and its underlying causes?

People with celiac disease experience negative reactions to compounds found in gluten, including one called gliadin, that cause an increased release of cytokine chemicals that raise inflammation and autoimmune reactions. Symptoms often include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, joint pain and behavioral issues. When the body’s immune system overreacts to gluten in food, this damages tiny, hair-like projections (villi) that line the small intestine and help with nutrient absorption, so malabsorption is a big concern. (8)

Experts believe that people with celiac disease are usually genetically predisposed to having a gluten allergy, including showing abnormalities in human leukocyte antigens and non-HLA genes. Although having celiac disease in the family alone doesn’t mean someone will necessarily be diagnosed, the odds are much higher.


Celiac Disease Diet vs. Gluten-Free Diet

  • It’s possible to have a gluten intolerance (or gluten sensitivity) without testing positive for celiac disease. A new term has been given to this type of condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), which is usually managed with a gluten-free diet. In people with gluten intolerance or NCGS, test makers for celiac disease (using two types of criteria, histopathology and immunoglobulin E, also called IgE) are negative, but gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms still occur after eating gluten.
  • Celiac disease and gluten-free diets have certain things in common, although someone diagnosed with celiac disease will need to be more careful overall about avoiding even minor amounts of gluten.
  • Both diets can be very beneficial and focus on eating whole, real foods. Considering that USDA data shows that in the U.S. most people are now getting around 70 percent of their total calories every day from grain flours (especially wheat products containing gluten), vegetable oils and added sugar, any diet that cuts down these foods is a step in the right direction. (9)
  • The primary difference between these diets is that even gluten-free products or grains might be a problem for people with celiac disease. Modern food-processing techniques often result in gluten appearing in trace amounts in gluten-free products or typically gluten-free grains, such as corn or oats.
  • Sensitivity to gluten falls along of a spectrum of mild to very serious, so people with either celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to track  symptoms carefully and work with a doctor to know if consuming gluten-free grains or products safely is an option or not.

 

celiac disease diet and supplement infographic

 


Gluten-Free Recipe Ideas

Cooking more at home is the best way to control your exposure to gluten. Keep in mind that when cooking or prepping ingredients, it’s important to avoid cross-contact with foods that have gluten. Contamination can happen through shared utensils or a shared cooking/storage environment, so always be cautious.

Instead of viewing celiac disease as a limiting medical problem that makes eating healthy harder, see it as an opportunity to explore new foods and recipes.


Final Thoughts on the Celiac Disease Diet

  • Celiac disease is a type of serious food allergy and autoimmune condition that’s caused from consuming a type of protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and many processed products.
  • Symptoms of celiac disease are widespread and affect the entire body, including the immune and digestive systems. Because of this, malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies and lowered immune function are common.
  • A celiac disease diet, meaning one that is strictly gluten-free and high in bioavailable nutrients, helps manage symptoms, rebuild the GI tract and lower risk for long-term complications.

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Neurological Symptoms of Celiac Disease

The list of symptoms related to celiac disease covers the entire body. While gastrointestinal symptoms are often at the forefront, the nervous system can also be affected by the disease.

But many patients with neurological symptoms and their doctors don’t make the connection.

“There is a lack of general awareness of the neurological manifestations of celiac disease among patients as well as physicians,” explains Norman Latov, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurology and neuroscience and the director of the Peripheral Neuropathy Clinical and Research Center at Weill Cornell Medical College.

“Adult patients often present with neurologic symptoms in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms, so celiac disease may not come to mind,” according to Latov, who has a clinical and research interest in peripheral neuropathy and has done celiac disease research.

Celiac DiseaseSmall fiber neuropathy is the common symptom involving the nervous system. “It typically presents with numbness, tingling or painful burning, stinging or electric-shock like sensations, usually in the arms or legs, but sometimes [in] the torso or face,” Latov says. Small fiber neuropathy can also cause dizziness or feeling faint when standing up, sexual dysfunction, abnormal sweating, bladder symptoms, hair loss or skin changes.

General lack of familiarity with small fiber neuropathy complicates the picture for patients with undiagnosed celiac disease. Their symptoms are often dismissed or misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, so the association with celiac disease may be missed, according to Latov.

And small fiber neuropathy is only one of the neurological symptoms of celiac disease. “Less-common neurological conditions include cerebellar ataxia with unsteadiness or incoordination, seizures or neuropsychiatric disorders,” he says. Headaches are another potential symptom, but their prevalence adds a layer of complexity when it comes to diagnosis. “Headaches are common in the general population, however, so that it’s difficult to know whether gluten is the cause or only an aggravating factor,” Latov says.

The presence of neurological symptoms raises questions about whether there is a connection between the brain and the gut.

 “As in the gut, the neurological manifestations are also thought to also be due to inflammation,” Latov notes. Currently there are two theories on why neurological symptoms develop. In both, Latov says, “stimulation of the immune system by gluten in the diet would increase the inflammation in both the gut and nervous system.”

The good news is neurologists are beginning to become more aware of this brain-gut connection. “It is improving but very slowly,” Latov says, noting education of both patients and doctors is important. “Perhaps with greater awareness, neurologists will play a larger role in the diagnosis of celiac disease.”

—Susan Cohen

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How to Heal Leaky Gut: 20 Surefire Tips from Gut Health Experts

The ancient Greek physician certainly wasn’t wrong. In fact, more and more studies are finding that gut issues are the root cause of autoimmune and other diseases, the biggest culprit being leaky gut.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, let’s break it down.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is just another way of saying your small intestines are hyperpermeable.

Basically, the tight junctions of your gut (intestinal) lining separate and create “holes” that allow food particles and toxins to pass easily through. Those food particles and toxins then pass into your bloodstream which can wreak total havoc on your body causing food intolerances, sugar cravings, weight gain, diarrhea, constipation, hormonal imbalances and even autoimmune disease.

Yeah, not my kind of party. And, I’m guessing it’s probably not yours either.

The truth is that in our antibiotic-obsessed world, where GMOs and chronic stress run rampant, leaky gut is not an uncommon issue.

It’s more prevalent than ever which is why we asked 20 Gut Health & Wellness Experts for their help on one, simple question:

“What is one of your best tips for healing a leaky gut?”

Without a doubt, this is one of the best resources you’ll find on how to heal a leaky gut. When you see the expert contributors and read their stories, you’ll most certainly understand why.

Now, without further ado, I give you the experts and their thoughts

Dr. Shiroko Sokitch | Delfina | Dr. Lauren Noel | Hannah Crum | Aimee McNew | Holli Thompson | Ann Louise | Dr. Tom O’Bryan | Sally Wisbey | Bina Colman | Helena Davis | Shannon Garrett | Dr. Amy Myers | Beverly Meyer | Amanda Torres | Reed Davis | Ann Melin | Jordan & Steve | Dr. Erin Carter | Aglaée Jacob


Dr. Shiroko Sokitch from Heart to Heart Medical Center

Dr. Shiroko Sokitch

I’ve struggled with leaky gut myself off and on over the years. I’ve tried many different things for both my patients and myself.

A year ago I tested positive for 20 severe food allergies which, is a clue that leaky gut is a problem.

I healed myself to the point where now, I only have 3 food allergies, which are not upsetting my digestion.

The first thing to do is to eliminate the irritants – If there are foods you are reacting to, you have to stop eating them. Usually for 6 weeks to 3 months, sometimes as long as 6 months. One food that I’ve found to be very healing is Bone Broth – it helps make the guts feel soothed like it’s healing your intestinal lining from the inside.

I’ve tried many supplements for healing leaky gut but the single most effective supplement I’ve found is a product called Restore. It is a soil based supplement that helps heal the tight junctions – the space between your cells – and encourages your body to produce its own healthy bacteria. You only have to take one tablespoon a day, and it takes about 2-3 months to work, but it works wonders. One of the reasons that I like it so well is that it doesn’t make things worse before you feel better.


Delfina from Code to Wellness

Delfina

“Leaky gut isn’t real.” Those were the words a Gastroenterologist once said to me as I sat there, in his office, scared and vulnerable as a baby deer from being sick, tired, and desperate for answers. Out of sorts as I may have been, you better believe that was the last time I ever stepped into his office. From there on out, I took my health into my own hands and made the decision to heal my gut issues. And, I did!

I hope this never happens to you, but if it has, you’re very much not alone. In fact, if I could create your Leaky Gut healing plan, that would actually be my very first piece of advice – don’t go at this alone. I don’t care how many credentials you have after your name.  You’re human, and humans need support, community, and connection. Find someone you know, like and trust to help guide you through this process. You will heal exponentially faster. Loneliness creates chronic, internal stress. Support and guidance relieve it.

Which leads to my second point – reduce and relieve chronic stress.  One of the biggest contributors to chronic stress and, in my opinion, the easiest to address is inflammation-causing foods. Eliminating these foods (gluten, corn, soy, commercial dairy, processed foods, refined sugar, refined oils, additives, preservatives, dyes, un-soaked and un-sprouted nuts/seeds/legumes) will take you a really long way in your healing journey. Pairing an elimination diet with ultra gut healing foods and supplements like bone broth and probiotics will you not only heal further, but also faster.

Finally, you need to take a look at the way you’re moving and thinking, which, yet again, contribute to chronic stress. I’m a big fan and teacher of Yoga Tune Up because of its ability to quite literally relieve the pent up issues in your tissues (aka musculoskeletal stress). It’s a necessary tool to add to your Leaky Gut healing plan. Add in some daily outdoor walks, which give you the opportunity to absorb vitamin D straight for the sun, which is also crucial to gut healing and emotional wellness. While you’re at it, take a step back and reflect how life’s working out for you right now. What do you love about your life? What do you hate? Does the hateration outweigh the love? If so, what needs to change in your life to reverse that?

This is where you start. None of these suggestions or questions lead to a quick fix, but if you’re patient with yourself and you trust the process, you will experience true healing.


Dr. Lauren Noel from Shine Natural Medicine

Dr. Lauren Noel

One of the biggest factors for contributing to and preventing the healing of a leaky gut is chronic stress. What’s necessary for healing is good blood flow. That’s why veins heal so quickly and ligaments heal so slowly because of their difference in blood flow. When we are stressed, we get a decrease in blood flow to our gut.  Our blood is the elixir of life, and it contains vital healing factors, oxygen, vitamins, minerals that are necessary for repair.  So therapeutically, to heal a leaky gut, it’s absolutely necessary to reduce stress and optimize our sleep.


Hannah Crum from Kombucha Kamp

Hannah Crumb

We have found one of the easiest foods to add to your diet to help rebuild the gut lining is milk kefir. Similar to yogurt, milk kefir has been fermented for thousands of years and puts the healthy bacteria back into pasteurized milk making it more nutritious and easier for the body to digest. It can be flavored a variety of ways and makes a terrific base for smoothies with other superfoods added. The numerous bacteria, bioavailable nutrients, and healthy acids assist the body in returning to balance. Plus, it’s super easy to make at home.Once the gut has had a chance to heal somewhat, then other ferments such as Kombucha may also be included.


Aimee McNew from AimeeMcnew

Aimee McNew

As someone who did heal leaky gut, I can tell you that at the start, it feels like a long and involved process. It can feel overwhelming. But instead of seeing it as an insurmountable task, take one day, one week at a time. Eat beneficial foods (like bone broth and fermented foods), and avoid triggers (like gluten, dairy, and soy), but also be gentle with yourself.

Take your gut-healing supplements but don’t feel like you can never have a splurge here or there, because if you do, you’ll probably give up on the whole process. Also, while healing leaky gut is definitely nutrient-driven, you need to make lifestyle adjustments, like getting as much sleep as you can, practicing relaxing forms of exercise like yoga, and doing things that you enjoy because mind/body wellness plays a huge role in the healing process.

It is entirely possible to reverse leaky gut and all of the adverse effects, but it does take time. Instead of racing to the finish line, just integrate it into your daily wellness routine. Even after your leaky gut has been restored, you’ll want to keep many of the same lifestyle and nutrition factors to avoid a relapse, but also to invest in the future of your good health.


Holli Thompson from HolliThompson

Holli Thompson

The best answer to this is adding in probiotics; which contain healthy bacteria that will help to replenish and balance your intestinal gut health. Our guts thrive on healthy bacteria, and many things deplete our supply, from antibiotic use to stress, probiotics are something that I recommend to everyone. Many people are beginning to see a significant difference after using probiotics over time, from stronger mental health to an overall healthier constitution. Sources can include foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or any fermented vegetable, Kefir, or organic yogurt. For best results, and ultimate assurance, take a broad spectrum probiotic.


Ann Louise from AnnLouise

Ann Louise

In addition to bone broth on a daily basis, I am a big proponent of healing leaky gut by completely avoiding any irritant to the GI tract which can potentially lead to intestinal permeability. In that regard, avoiding the most common food sensitivities (like gluten, dairy, eggs, and yeast) would be very helpful as well as the elimination of alcohol and caffeine. Interestingly, one of the most underrated causes of leaky gut syndrome is the frequent use of over-the-counter meds that are the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and Advil. Looking for safer natural alternatives to the NSAIDs (think curcumin and boswellia), as well as, taking stock of food allergies is the key to solving gut grief.


Dr. Tom O’Bryan from The Dr.

Dr. Tom O'Bryan

The recognition of Pathogenic Intestinal Permeability (aka ‘The Leaky Gut’), has come from being an abandoned child crying in the wilderness being heard only by ‘Alternative Practitioners’, to the recognized gateway in the development of autoimmune diseases. I wish it were as simplistic as “just take this pill or packet of pills, and you’ll be fine”. Unfortunately, it’s not. There are at least four critical steps in the healing of a leaky gut.

The first step is stop causing the excess permeability. You have to find out what’s the trigger, or triggers. That’s sometimes clear and straightforward, sometimes it’s not. Here are just a few of the triggers:

  • Food sensitivities (yes, gluten causes intestinal permeability in every human) (source)
  • Toxic metals (source)
  • Bacteria in the microbiome (source)
  • Toxic chemicals (source)
  • Parasites (source)
  • Antibiotics (source)
  • Aspirin (source)
  • Carrying extra weight (source)
  • High-fat diets (source)
  • Stress (source)
  • Lectin sensitivity (source)
  • Magnesium deficiency (source)
  • Zinc deficiency (source)
  • Polyethylene glycol (a common food additive) (source)
  • Aluminum (a common carrier in vaccines) (source)
  • Alcohol (source)

The second step is to identify the level of permeability. It’s your starting point. And you don’t ‘feel’ when your gut has pathogenic permeability so you can’t tell. That’s why you need a biomarker. So that after you’ve done all of your work, you can go back and confirm with testing that the damage has been reversed.

The third step is to create an environment in the intestines for the damage to heal. We have to rebuild a healthy microbiome.

The fourth step is to supply healing nutrients. This includes food selections and nutrients.

This is just an attempt to help develop a bigger picture overview of how to identify and arrest this silent mechanism that is the ‘gateway’ in the development of autoimmune disease.


Sally Wisbey from Sally Wisbey Nutrition

Sally Wisby

L-Glutamine is an excellent remedy to help heal a leaky gut. It is an amino acid and is necessary for the growth and repair of the mucosal lining of the gut and helps to maintain its integrity and structure. You can take L-glutamine in powder form and find it in the diet in foods such as cabbage, chicken, eggs, avocado, parsley, beetroot, and green beans.


Bina Colman from Unvegan

Bina Colman

I love bone broth. I only just found out about it three years ago but since then I crave it, especially if it’s been more than a month or two sine I’ve had any. I also love that more and more companies are producing it so those times I want it in a pinch it is readily available. However, making your own batch at home is always nice, and such an easy way to impress your friends, family, and neighbors. What I love most about bone broth is the healing powers it has.

I have never been diagnosed by a doctor with a “weak”, bad or leaky gut, but there is no doubt in my mind that if I went to get it checked that would be my diagnosis. Since my husband is the sole reviewer for Unvegan.com I am usually tempted to eat what he does, and while it is 90% of the time delicious, it can really wreak havoc on my system. When I feel a little worse for the wear in my gut I turn to bone broth to fix me. I try to fast for 24-48 hours while drinking this magical elixir and allow all the healing properties to take place. I know there are other remedies for leaky gut, but I figure, why try others when this one works so well and tastes so good!


Helena Davis from Enhanced Vitality

Helena Davis

Oak Bark tea taken alongside the celloid SCF (silica+calcium fluoride) is amazing for healing a leaky gut. It’s also vital to address your diet by ensuring you are eating low sugar foods. Minimize any foods to which you are intolerant such as wheat or dairy and ensure you are drinking at least 1.5 Liters of water daily to keep your cells nourished and bowels moving daily.


Shannon Garrett from Shannon Garrett Wellness

Shannon Garrett

It takes time to heal intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut syndrome), but with commitment, it can be done. I always encourage that patients begin by using nutrients derived from foods that are known to strengthen damaged cells in the GI tract, as well as, by eliminating certain foods.

A daily cup or two of bone broth does wonders for healing leaky gut.  Bone broth contains collagen, which is the major insoluble protein in connective tissue; and, it also contains two special amino acids: proline which is essential for collagen formation, and glycine which improves digestion.  Glutamine, also found in bone broth has been found to heal inflamed and damaged cells lining the GI tract and is the most important usable food for cells that line the intestines.

It is critical to eliminate inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, wheat, corn, sugar, GMO’s, un-sprouted grains, and any food(s) that cause inflammation in the white blood cells per a food sensitivity test to ultimately heal leaky gut syndrome.


Dr. Amy Myers from Amy Myers MD

Amy Myers

The most important step in healing a leaky gut, and the first step in Functional Medicine’s 4R approach, is to remove the bad. What do I mean by this? I mean eliminate the primary causes of Leaky Gut – toxic and inflammatory foods and gut infections. Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs trigger a rise in inflammation, which damages your gut lining, every time you eat them. Toxic foods such as alcohol, additives, preservatives, dyes, and sweeteners also trigger inflammation and cause leaky gut, and increase your toxic burden. Gut infections caused by yeast, bacteria, or parasites disrupt your gut’s ecosystem, damage your gut lining, and reduce your ability to digest and absorb nutrients.

Amazingly, your gut cells regenerate every 30 days, so by removing these foods and infections for just one month, you can see a huge improvement in leaky gut and the myriad of symptoms it causes.


Beverly Meyer from On Diet and Health

Beverly Meyer

The brain and nervous system play a huge role in gut health. Stress is an underrated factor in how the gut becomes damaged and in why the best diet and supplements sometimes aren’t enough to repair it.

The neurotransmitter GABA is our primary stress management tool. People today are chronically anxious and stressed, life is at such a fast pace, and we secrete inappropriate hormones and gastric juices in response to stress. I’m a big fan of Passion Flower, an herb that directly supports the GABA system. Passion Flower and learning to pace your life more slowly can make all the difference in recovery.


Amanda Torres from  The Curious Coconut

Amanda Torres

My best tip for healing leaky gut syndrome is not to attempt to do it alone. I successfully healed leaky gut syndrome working with a Chinese medicine doctor (acupuncturist) who was also trained in functional medicine principles. Functional medicine has an established protocol to address leaky gut. The protocol involves eliminating specific foods, taking specific supplements, and including plenty of self-care with specific lifestyle adjustments. There are now several respected companies producing high-quality supplements that are needed to address any lingering gut infection and promote closure of the tight junctions. Ideally, find someone in your area who can treat you, but you can also work with someone remotely using Skype.

I also recommend working with an acupuncturist while you are doing the protocol. I think that getting acupuncture twice a week really helped give me an extra leg up to control inflammation, improve digestion, and help my body process the herbs and other supplements I was on.


Reed Davis from Functional Diagnostic Nutrition

Reed Davis

“Leaky Gut” is a term applied when a person suffers from increased or hyperpermeability of the small intestines, wherein larger than normal particles (macromolecules) may infiltrate the mucosal barrier into the hepatic portal system. The portal vein, normally rich in nutrients properly extracted from food, may become overburdened with toxins, antigens, and immune complexes, leading to serious health issues.

While hyperpermeability is generally perceived as a topographical problem, to be patched or healed like any wound, it is actually caused by an immune response to specific antigens, which raises the level of zonulin, a protein that regulates the permeability of tight junctions in the wall of the small intestines. In the walls of healthy intestines, properly functioning tight junctions hold cells together in such a way as to force food particles to “diffuse” through the cells instead of between them.  Up-regulation of zonulin in genetically susceptible individuals has been shown to lead to autoimmune and other diseases. Attempts at repair, restoration or healing of “leaky gut” would be fruitless without reducing the antigenic load at the root of the zonulin response.  Genetic predispositions, food sensitivity and gut pathology testing should loom large in the assessment and treatment of gut hyperpermeability.


Ann Melin from Upward Spiral Nutrition

Ann Melin

My perspective on it is that the question is too simple. Leaky gut never exists in a way that is isolated from the rest of the system. One must consider all aspects of a person’s clinical and functional presentation in order to really assess the best way to work through leaky gut on a case by case basis. For one person, bone broth might be wonderful. For another, it might be provocative. For many, herbs like slippery elm and marshmallow are helpful, but, if the person has SIBO, those herbs can exacerbate the problem. As with everything, I think that we cannot separate the part from the whole. We must look at the person as an entire being if we are to jump in with appropriate interventions. So, I guess that my best tip would involve broadening the scope away from a reductionist focus on one diagnostic condition and looking at the whole person in an integrative way that supports building up overall health.


Jordan & Steve from  SCD Lifestyle

Jordan and Steve

There are three really common leaky gut triggers I’ve seen over the years with people who are still struggling with chronic health problems. No one tip can heal a leaky gut, and all the triggers need to be addressed for real healing to take place.

The first thing is to stop eating foods that trigger a leaky gut like grains, pseudo grains, eggs, nuts and seeds, peppers, and dairy for a while and start eating healing foods like bone broth. If you have leaky gut and you’re still struggling with chronic illness, the 80/20 rule doesn’t fly.

The second trigger is poking holes in your gut with pills. The inconvenient truth is: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) cause your gut to leak. If you take NSAIDS, especially the stronger kind that are used to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, you’ll be putting your gut barrier at risk.

The third trigger we see too often is chronic stress. Stress wrecks your gut and makes it leaky. You WILL NOT heal your gut if it’s experiencing chronic stress. Stress can be emotional, like a crappy job or a bad relationship. It can also be physical stress, like overtraining. Working out too hard can be extremely stressful on your body if you’re struggling with chronic illness.

Many of us are “tough cases” and we need more than just a healthy diet to heal. Complex problems rarely ever have simple answers.


Dr. Erin Carter from Pure and Simple Nourishment

Dr. Erin Carter

Leaky gut is a complex condition that is being linked to more and more health problems. There are many factors that lead to this condition including poor diet, medications, stress, infections, abnormal gut flora, toxins in the environment etc. The first thing I tell all my patients to do when trying to heal their gut is to eliminate grains, sugar, and dairy from their diet. For some people, this will be enough, but others need a more comprehensive dietary strategy and I find that for many people a combined Paleo-Low FODMAP diet works really well. It’s also important to help the gut heal so I emphasize the importance of drinking bone broth made with pasture-raised animal bones, as well as, supplementing with L-glutamine, grassfed gelatin, vitamin D, digestive enzymes, and zinc. Some patients may also need additional supplements to initially help them heal. Everyone is individual. I also get patients to start taking probiotics in the form of Kombucha, fermented foods, and probiotic supplements. I don’t usually start this right away as some people will flare or have a die-off reaction when probiotics are added, so I caution patients to ease into this portion of gut healing.

In addition to diet and supplements, it is also crucial to address the other factors that may be contributing to leaky gut. This includes going over all of their medications and, if safe to do so, stopping the ones that may be contributing. Proper sleep, exercise, and stress reduction techniques are also crucial. Other patients may also need to be tested for conditions that can lead to leaky gut including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, parasites, celiac disease, fructose malabsorption, and others to name a few. It takes a comprehensive approach to heal leaky gut, and it may take a long time to fully heal, but with the proper approach, I have found that most people do get better.


Aglaée Jacob from Radicata Nutrition

Aglaee Jacob

Healing leaky gut starts with removing inflammatory foods that are more likely to damage the gut and make it more permeable (leaky). The most common culprits are gluten, soy, corn, dairy, sugar, refined oils and processed foods. It’s also important to address other lifestyle factors that can contribute to leaky gut, such as stress, lack of sleep and overtraining. Overlooking these important factors is like trying to put a band-aid on a broken bone!

To truly heal leaky gut, it’s often necessary to add ingredients that will help reduce the inflammation and support gut healing. Quality bone broth, traditionally fermented foods and nutrient-dense liver from grass-fed/pastured animals are some of my favorite ways to support gut healing with real food, of which I am a big advocate. Sometimes, extra supplements like L-glutamine, zinc, probiotics, digestive enzymes or even herbal antimicrobials in the case of a severe case of gut dysbiosis (gut flora imbalance), can be really helpful too, but gut healing always starts with real food.


 

Phew [wipes sweat off of forehead)! That was a heck of an epic schooling in all things leaky gut, eh?

I’m guessing you’re feeling one of two ways right now: insanely inspired or absolutely overwhelmed. I get it. When I first started navigating the gut healing waters myself, I actually felt both depending on the time and what I ate.

My advice for both is the same.

Close your eyes. Shut out the noise. And, breathe 5 deep breaths.

Better? Good. Ok, now that you’ve got your head on straight, here’s what I want you to do: take action!

To quote Abu Bakr, “Knowledge without action is useless.”

You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you choose to do nothing with it, then your Leaky Gut situation won’t change.

How to Take Action and Heal Your Leaky Gut

Sometimes the whole idea of taking action is one of those “easier said than done” type of things, particularly when it comes to our health. So, here’s a little guidance to help you get started:

  1. Bookmark this page for future reference (yes, you’ll definitely want to come back to this resource!).
  2. Pick the one brand-new tip that resonated with you the most and implement it today. If you’re not already drinking bone broth, we highly recommend starting with that one ?
  3. Apply that tip to your life for the next 2 weeks.
  4. Come back here, pick another tip, and implement that one into your Leaky Gut healing plan.
  5. Continue cycling through all of these steps and slowly implementing new strategies at a pace that works for you. While you’re at it, be sure to let us know what’s worked. We’d love to know.

source

Imagine the relief!
Tell us, what’s your experience with Leaky Gut? Was bone broth part of your healing process? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

How to Bake with Gluten-Free Flour and Get Fluffy Results

If you’re gluten-free or simply like to experiment with alternatives to white flour, chances are you’ve had a few kitchen catastrophe with gluten-free flour.

What was meant to be a moist cake or a chewy cookie has crumbled, sagged or hardened like a rock. What went wrong?

One of the common mistakes when baking gluten-free is expecting the same results when you swap white flour for the alternative.

Almond meal.

Almond meal is very soft and works best with moist, fragrant recipes. Almond meal can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio with flour, however, don’t expect it to rise like a normal cake!

To help the bake hold its shape, recipe developer Meg Yonson combines it with a firmer flour like buckwheat, quinoa or rice (more on that in a bit). And if you don’t have those on hand, you can still make a melt-in-the-mouth souffle or soft cookie just fine with almond meal and some baking powder.

Buckwheat flour.

Buckwheat flour is dense, nutty and lends itself well to almost anything. It’s our recipe developer’s favorite! It’s also high in nutrients like zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, giving your dessert a little health kick.

Due to its heavy texture, it’s best to combine it with almond meal so you don’t accidentally end up with rock cakes. But other than that, you can pretty much swap it for white flour in any recipe. We do!

Coconut flour.

While coconut flour can be a beast to work with, the results are well worth it when you get it right. Because yum, coconut.

It’s essential to remember to NEVER substitute coconut flour for white flour. It soaks up liquid like a ShamWow. You’ll need to use ¼ cup of coconut flour for 1 cup of regular flour, and maybe add an extra egg or two. And then some more liquid.

We recommend following a recipe from a trusted source before experimenting with this stuff. Our sweet potato brownies, luckily, are foolproof and only use 3 tablespoons of coconut flour. How’s that for budget-friendly?

Bonus round: all of the flours.

Almond, buckwheat and coconut are our favourite gluten-free flours due to their taste, texture and nutritional quality. But there are a few alternatives rising (get it?) up the ranks…

Green banana flour: Made from powdered unripe bananas, this flour gives fluffy results when you use 30 per cent less than white flour in the recipe. The great benefit is that it contains huge amounts of resistant starch, which is great for gut health.

Teff flour: Teff is tiny grain that packs a huge nutritional punch – iron, calcium, B vitamins AND it’s a complete source of protein. Teff flour can be used whole or in part for white flour, yielding dense but delicious results.

Quinoa flour: With the highest protein count of all the grains, quinoa flour is great for healthify-ing a sweet treat. While you can substitute it for white flour 1:1, we recommend combining with almond or coconut as the taste can be quite bitter.

3-Ingredient Gluten-Free Bread That Will Keep You in Fat-Burning Mode ALL Day Long

Makes 1 Loaf

Ingredients:

  1. 6 pastured eggs, separated
  2. 1/2 cup grass-fed Whey Protein
  3. Grass-fed butter (to grease pan)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use middle rack and remove any racks above as bread will expand while baking.

Generously butter a loaf pan/dish with grass-fed butter. (Side note: If possible, use a ceramic pan. The bread will cook evenly without sticking, and a ceramic pan won’t leach chemicals like Teflon cookware will.)

Beat 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form – a hand mixer on high works well. Really beat the whites until the peaks are VERY stiff. If you don’t beat them enough, they’ll collapse when you add the whey and egg yolks, and you’ll end up with a Styrofoam-like concoction. Yuck.

Add ½ cup of Whey Protein and the 6 yolks, blend gently on low just until fully incorporated. The batter will be fluffy.

Pour batter into prepared dish and place in oven.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool completely. The loaf will sink to a normal height.

Once fully cooled, release from dish, slice and serve.

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Reheating recommendation: Heat a skillet to medium-high and add ghee or grass-fed butter, sear bread slices in skillet until lightly toasted on each side, about 30 seconds per side. Do not overheat.

Keep in mind that oxidized cholesterol from the cooked egg yolks and the denatured whey protein can cause a little inflammation, so don’t eat this every day. Stick to every few days, if you can control yourself. ?

This recipe was adapted from “The Ketogenic Cookbook” by Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich.