10 Mistakes You’re Making When Repairing a Leaky Gut
July 16th, 2018
Have you been working hard to repair your leaky gut, only to have your digestive issues, eczema, brain fog, seasonal allergies, or other symptoms persist? If you’re finding yourself frustrated by persistent symptoms, don’t give up! Repairing a leaky gut can take time depending on how long you’ve been dealing with chronic health issues, and there are many factors that contribute to leaky gut that can complicate matters.
In fact, it’s quite possible that you’re simply overlooking a few key steps in repairing your gut, which could be delaying your progress. Once you’ve made the necessary tweaks to your gut-repairing protocol, it should be smooth sailing from there on out! Here are the most common mistakes I’ve seen in those struggling with leaky gut.
1. Eating too many raw vegetables
Yes, while it’s true that vegetables are good for your gut, too many raw vegetables could be slowing your progress when you’re dealing with a leaky gut. That’s because digesting raw vegetables takes a lot of work, and if you’re short on digestive enzymes (as many people with gut issues are), raw veggies can contribute to bloating, gas, and other GI discomfort. Instead, focus on mostly cooked vegetables while getting your gut back into shape. Over time, you can slowly increase the amount of raw veggies in your diet. Another option is to drink juice or smoothies using an organic greens powder, as the vegetables are already partially broken down, making them more bioavailable and easier for your body to digest and absorb.
2. Not doing an elimination diet
If you’re working to repair your gut, you’ve presumably cut out leaky gut triggering foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, and all packaged, processed, and junk foods. However, if you’re still struggling with leaky gut symptoms such as rosacea, IBS, or chronic fatigue despite all your efforts, you could be dealing with an undiagnosed food sensitivity. It’s crucial for anyone with leaky gut to do an elimination diet to rule out whether a hidden food intolerance might be at the root of your gut issues. See this article for basic instructions on how to conduct an elimination diet, and enroll in my Comprehensive Elimination Diet eCourse for additional resources to guide you through the process such as a symptom tracker, shopping guide, and easy-to-follow meal plans.
3. Cheating on your gut-repairing protocol
Let’s face it—nobody’s perfect! That being said, if you want to get serious about repairing your gut, this is one step you absolutely cannot skip. Each time you figure “a little pizza can’t hurt” or “I’ll just have one glass of wine,” your gut takes a hit, as does all the progress you’ve made.
Another pitfall to watch out for is once you’ve “finished” repairing your leaky gut, it can be tempting to go back to the way you were eating before. However, this is exactly what made your gut leaky in the first place! You don’t want to be trapped in a vicious cycle of breaking down and building back up the integrity of your intestinal wall. The key is to make The Myers Way® a way of life by learning to enjoy the plethora of delicious, nutritious foods you CAN eat rather than focusing on the toxic, inflammatory foods that compromise your gut health and have no place in a healthy lifestyle.
Need some ideas for gut-friendly meals? Check out The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook for over 150 recipes made with real, whole foods that will satisfy every craving and keep you on track towards a life of optimal gut health!
4. Eating when stressed out
We all know stress is bad news for our health and is one of the main causes of leaky gut. That’s why eating while stressed can significantly derail your progress. The reason for this is evolutionary. If you’re running from a predator, you need blood flow concentrated in your limbs for fleeing and your brain for problem solving, not in your gut for digesting your lunch. So when your stress response kicks in, your digestive process slows down to a crawl. Instead of trying to force down your lunch when your stomach is in knots, try going for a walk, meditating, or doing some deep breathing exercises before digging in. Your gut will thank you.
5. Missing one or more of the 4Rs
I know it can be challenging to stick with a gut-repairing protocol when you can’t physically “see” the progress you’ve made and don’t know how long it might take to undo the damage that’s been done to your gut over the years. You might be tempted to cut corners or skip steps in an eagerness to return to “normal” as fast as possible. You figure, “I’ve removed the gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar from my diet, so do I really need all those gut-repairing supplements too? However, it’s called the “4R approach,” not the 3R or 2R approach. Although removing inflammatory foods is an important and necessary step in stopping the damage being done to your gut, repairing the damage that’s already been done may require an extra boost.
That’s why I absolutely love Leaky Gut Revive™ powder, my most comprehensive weapon for overcoming leaky gut! It contains a high concentration of L-glutamine, which is an amino acid that helps seal the tight junctions in your gut, along with aloe vera to replace the lost mucus in your gut, deglycerinated licorice, which soothes the gut lining, and other powerful gut-repairing ingredients. In addition to Leaky Gut Revive™, I also recommend Complete Enzymes to aid in digestion, a high-potency probiotic to restore a healthy balance of good bacteria, and collagen to help repair damaged cells in your gut and build new tissue.
6. Taking medications that damage your gut
Medications are truly the double-edged sword of our modern world. Some are life-saving and non-negotiable. Others you’ll want to seriously weigh the risks and benefits. These are the gut-damaging medications such as antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and NSAIDs that tend to do more harm than good.
- Antibiotics are one of the most over-prescribed medications, with nearly half of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions being unnecessary, according to the CDC.1 They wreak havoc on your natural microbial balance and set you up for gut infections including Candida overgrowth and SIBO, which in turn can contribute to leaky gut.
- Oral contraceptives are also widely overused and often prescribed to women who have issues with acne, mood swings, or other hormonal imbalances, rather than looking to treat the root cause of these symptoms. Excess estrogen in birth control pills doubles your risk of developing Candida overgrowth, and women who are genetically predisposed to chronic GI troubles may be three times more likely to develop Crohn’s Disease after using the pill for at least five years.2 As a safer alternative to birth control pills, I recommend a non-hormonal copper IUD, which is approved for 10 years of use and may be effective for up to 20 years.
- NSAIDs such as Advil and Motrin can cause intestinal bleeding even in very small doses, making them one of the biggest hurdles to recovery for those dealing with leaky gut. Studies have shown that curcumin supplements are a much safer option and are just as effective, if not more so, than NSAIDs at relieving pain caused by inflammation.3
7. Eating “health” foods that really aren’t healthy
We grew up being told that foods such as dairy, grains, and legumes are “health” foods. As it turns out, these foods might be what’s keeping you from successfully repairing your gut. Dairy is one of the two most inflammatory foods (second only to gluten). Seventy percent of the population stop producing the lactase enzyme needed to properly digest dairy after they finish breastfeeding, which is why so many people have a dairy intolerance.4 Plus, dairy products are often full of gut-damaging hormones and antibiotics. Meanwhile, grains and legumes contain chemicals such as lectins and phytates that can aggravate your gut lining and even lead to autoimmune disease.
8. Taking the wrong probiotics
If your leaky gut is due to SIBO and you can’t seem to make it past step three of the 4R approach, your probiotics could be to blame. Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine can be an overgrowth of good bacteria as well as bad, and typically involves lactobacillus or bifidobacterium species. So when you take a lactic acid-based probiotic (which most on the market are) you are actually throwing fuel onto the fire by feeding those “good” bacteria that have grown out of control and mistakenly inhabited your small intestine. Until your gut is repaired, you should use a soil-based probiotic that contains spore-forming bacteria, which are able to bypass your small intestine and colonize your colon and large intestine instead.
9. Eating too many fermented foods
You’ve probably heard from countless sources that fermented foods are a gut’s best friend. The truth is, your gut contains a delicate balance of microflora, and when you introduce fermented foods into your diet, you don’t really know exactly what kind of bacteria or yeast they contain. So as with probiotic supplements, if you have SIBO or Candida overgrowth, you should wait until after you’ve repaired your gut to use fermented foods as they could potentially be feeding your bad bacteria and yeast, thereby worsening the overgrowth and derailing your gut-repairing progress.
10. Not addressing the other three pillars of The Myers Way®
Perhaps you’ve worked your way through the 4Rs and are wondering why you’re still showing signs of leaky gut. Well, repairing your gut is only the first pillar of The Myers Way®, and while I’ve seen thousands of people make huge strides and some even eliminate all of their symptoms through gut health alone, it’s key to address all of the underlying environmental causes of your condition. That means you also have to optimize your diet, tame your toxic burden, heal your infections, and relieve your stress.
Together, these four pillars are the recipe you need to overcome chronic illness, autoimmune flare-ups, and leaky gut symptoms. Once you’ve worked your way through the four pillars, you’ll see your digestive issues disappear, your food sensitivities go away, your skin issues clear up, and your autoimmune labs improve. Most importantly you will feel like yourself again. You’ll regain mental clarity, your energy and vitality will return, your mood will improve, you’ll achieve your ideal weight, and you will be living life as your best self, symptom-free.