Whenever I speak to a group, I start with one simple statement:
“Raise your hand if you started eating healthy food because of digestive problems — whether it be diarrhea, constipation, or gas/bloating/cramping.”
Usually 75% of the crowd slowly raises their hand, a little nervous to admit they have stomach problems to a large group of people.
But that’s not the worst part.
Next, I ask them to leave their hands up if they still have digestive problems, despite following that diet.
Usually only a few hands go down… leaving me shocked at how many people are eating healthy, organic, REAL food, and still have chronic gut health issues.
Can you still have digestive issues on a healthy diet?
How can you eat a nutrient-dense, non-toxic, real-food diet like Paleo, SCD, WAPF, or GAPS and still feel bad?
There could be any number of reasons…
But what we’ve found is that most people, despite changing their diet and eating real food, are still struggling with a leaky gut.
And even though they’re eating Paleo, they still suffer from this hidden condition.
Is Your Gut Leaking?
“Leaky Gut” sounds pretty strange, right?
The first time I heard the term back when I was struggling with chronic diarrhea and low energy, I thought it sounded made up. Now, after years of studying leaky gut, I’m finding it’s a root cause of many people’s chronic health issues.
Here is what concerns me most: more and more people are affected by leaky gut… and many of them don’t realize that this sneaky disease is what’s making them suffer.
It has the nickname “The Disease Your Doctor Can’t Diagnose” for a reason…
Leaky gut can masquerade as fatigue, anxiety, depression, digestive symptoms, weight problems, and other serious conditions. It’s been linked to asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel, kidney disease, psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heart failure.
Even with all the latest technology and over ten thousand research papers written about it, this hidden epidemic can be hard to diagnose and treat.
But if you’re reading this and still suffering from any of the following conditions, there’s a high probability leaky gut is still a root cause issue for you.
Some signs of leaky gut could include:
- Autoimmune Disease
- Food intolerances or multiple food sensitivities
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Difficulty gaining or losing weight
- Arthritis, joint pain, muscle pain, or muscle achiness
- Hormone problems
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis
- Gut symptoms, like constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramping, or heartburn and acid reflux
- Skin symptoms, like itchy skin, rashes, eczema, rosacea, acne, hives, or psoriasis
- Brain symptoms, like anxiety, depression, brain fog, chronic headaches, or ADHD
NOTE: If you’re still not sure if it’s a problem for you, take this 3-min leaky gut quiz to find out.
The Elephant in the Room…
I learned this lesson the hard way in my life: sometimes diet isn’t enough.
If you’re like me, you started the Paleo diet because of chronic illness. Celiac disease almost killed me years ago… I was having diarrhea 10-15X a day. I was definitely a “tough case.”
I got better when I changed my diet. The diarrhea finally stopped. But I was still very sick.
Diet was the first step. I would argue it’s the most important step. But a common problem I see is that many people stop at changing their diet and don’t take the next step.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re still having chronic health problems, even after eating a Paleo Diet, you’re not alone. The first place to start is to address your gut health and common mistakes that can keep your gut leaking.
3 Common Leaky Gut Triggers
There are three really common triggers I’ve seen over the years, when people switch to eating real food but still struggle with chronic health problems.
I’m not talking about your average healthy athlete that eats Paleo for better performance.
I’m talking to those “tough cases,” like me, struggling with chronic conditions, like autoimmunity, asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel, kidney disease, psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heart failure…
If that’s you, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with leaky gut and these three mistakes could be making things worse for you.
Trigger 1: You’re Still Eating Food That Makes Your Gut Leaky
If you have leaky gut and you’re still struggling with chronic illness, the 80/20 rule doesn’t fly.
Eat gluten on the weekends? Stop it. Occasional beer with your friends? Stop it.
The research is very clear that gluten contributes to leaky gut and when it comes to dealing with serious health problems, there’s no room for “Cheat Day.”
I get it. I understand it has its place… for healthy people. One day, you too might be able to live a happy healthy life with 80/20 Paleo. But just not today.
If you haven’t yet, the very first step is to switch to the Paleo Autoimmune protocol.
With leaky gut, undigested food particles are sneaking right into your bloodstream, which causes the immune system to attack them as foreign invaders. That starts a cascade of inflammation.
The autoimmune protocol removes many of the most problematic foods for people with leaky gut, things like eggs, tomatoes & eggplants, peppers including bell peppers and hot peppers, spices such as curry, paprika, and chili powder, and nuts and seeds.
For the majority of us, if we just remove certain classes of foods that are harder to digest and follow the autoimmune protocol, can begin to reverse leaky gut and hopefully get some relief in the process.
Trigger 2: You’re Still Taking Drugs That Make Your Gut Leaky
Who hasn’t reached for an Advil or Motrin in times of pain?
I used to get 2-3 headaches a week and carried them around in my wallet. Then there’s all those aches and pains that follow you home from sports and the gym – those mornings when you wake up and your body is locked up and screaming at you.
The inconvenient truth is Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) cause your gut to leak.
The worst part is MANY doctors prescribe these meds and NEVER tell people what it’s doing to their gut.
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. Immediately talk with your primary care doctor to explore other solutions.
Then there’s prescription medications like Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) for acid reflux. Use of PPIs is known to cause leaky gut.
If you’re struggling with acid reflux or other digestive symptoms linked with leaky gut, prescription medications are not the answer. You need to find the root causes of acid reflux – not put a gut-harming PPI band-aid on top.
Trigger 3: Stress is Still Making Your Gut Leaky
If we discovered that sleeping more and reducing our stress would make us live forever, I think we’d all still die.
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing from Robb and everyone else telling you that you need to get 8 hours of sleep and take a breath, so let’s not beat a dead horse. But here’s the problem: not many people ACTUALLY do it. I’ve struggled with it, too, and it’s still a focus of mine.
But when you’re sick, it’s the same as the 80/20 diet rule… there’s no room for stress and sleep deprivation if you want to keep your poop where it belongs.
Studies like this are very clear that stress wrecks your gut and makes it leaky. You will NOT heal your gut if it’s experiencing chronic stress. Think about it like having a broken bone… we put it in a cast for a reason – so it stays protected and can heal.
But here’s the rub: sometimes stress isn’t what you think.
Sure, stress can be emotional, like a crappy job or a bad relationship. But it can also be physical, like overtraining.
Working out too hard can be extremely stressful on your body if you’re struggling with chronic illness.
If you’re still sick and doing something like CrossFit more than 2x a week, stop for a while.
There’s another hidden stressor we’ve seen in about 80% of our consulting clients: gut infections. Those parasite and bacterial infections are a constant stressor on your body, sometimes just as powerful as guzzling gluten-flavored shakes every day.
And that’s what most people AREN’T thinking about when it comes to stress. Plenty has been written about external stressors but internal stressors are just as damaging.
So, if you’re still sick and haven’t had a stool test yet, do it. I know pooping in a plastic tube doesn’t sound like a party, but trust me – it’s way better than letting a nasty infection live on in your body.
Solving Leaky Gut: The Big Picture
Rome wasn’t built in a day… but it didn’t fall in a day either.
Your gut likely took a while to fall apart – and it isn’t going to heal in a day. If you’re already on the autoimmune protocol, avoiding NSAIDs, and reducing your stress… but still suspect you’re suffering from this hidden condition, there’s more work to do.
Like I said, many of us are “tough cases” and we need more than just the Paleo Diet to heal. Complex problems rarely have simple answers.
But we’re all human – we like simple ideas.
When it comes to leaky gut, there are at least 19 common triggers in the research that can be contributing to your problems.
We’re going to be covering these triggers and how to fix leaky gut in a free webinar called, “How to Solve Leaky Gut and Reverse Chronic Disease.”
If you need more help healing your gut, click here to register.
Hope to see you there,
– Jordan Reasoner