What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky gut syndrome is not a diagnosis taught in medical schools or recognized as a disease by the FDA. That said, a leaky gut has become associated with a handful of health concerns, including digestive gas, bloat, fatigue, food sensitivities, aches, brain fog, indigestion, and much more.1
Our intestinal tract lining is critical to our health. I often refer to it like the three little bears: it cannot be too dry (constipated) or too wet (loose stools); it has to be just right! The environment, made from the right combination of whole foods, fiber, bacteria, and nutrients, is a balancing act impossible to maintain with a diet of processed, refined, and concentrated foods; unprecedented lifestyle stress; and a toxic environment. All of these stressors impact our gut first!
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Leaky Gut + Ayurveda’s Ama
In Ayurveda, it is said that 85% of all health concerns come from imbalances in digestion. Maintaining the health and integrity of the digestive tract is a priority. In a leaky gut situation, unwanted toxins pass through the gut wall in greater quantities than the body is designed to allow.
Ayurveda calls this ama: undigested food particles and toxins that pass through the gut wall and accumulate in various tissues. Having some pass through is normal, but in excess, symptoms of leaky gut can ensue.
The intestinal lining, surprisingly, is only one cell layer thick and can easily be broken down and penetrated by toxins, bacteria, and other foreign substances, such as incompletely digested proteins and fats. The gut or intestinal lining is designed to allow nutrients into the blood and lymph, while acting as a detox vehicle as well.
The gut’s permeability makes these two functions possible. The gut lining is not an impenetrable barrier and it was not designed to be an iron wall.2 In fact, how the gut allows good stuff in while keeping most of the bad stuff out (while letting some through into the gut lymphatics) is quite a miracle and not well understood by Western medicine.1
There is 4,000 square feet of intestinal lining, which is quite a lot to keep groomed, healthy, happy, and functional. If we spread out all the villi (fingerlike projections) of the intestinal tract, it would cover all the floors of a luxury home.
LifeSpa’s Leaky Gut Support
Introducing LifeSpa’s Leaky Gut Support! It’s an Ayurvedic formula designed to support a healthy intestinal barrier. While intestinal permeability is natural, many factors overwhelm its capacity. Leaky Gut Support (previously known as Elim II) brings healthy function to the very delicate intestinal skin.
Leaky Gut Support is primarily bael fruit (Aegle marmelos), also called bilva, one of the most revered herbs in Ayurveda. The main Ayurvedic text, Caraka Samhita, calls this fruit a rasayana or anti-aging herb.6 The rest of Leaky Gut Support is triphala, slippery elm, licorice, and a microdose of psyllium.
Bilva (Aegle marmelos) for Leaky Gut Support
In one study, aspirin was used as an intestinal lining irritant, and bilva fruit was administered for fourteen days. Bilva supported a decrease in mucus lining thickening (it builds up as a protective mechanism against irritants). The study concluded that bilva supported the intestinal lining’s natural gastroduodenal protective, antiulcerogenic, and antioxidant properties.3
In another study, acetic acid (the active ingredient in vinegar) was used to irritate the intestinal tract lining. Once again, bilva provided support for the intestinal lining’s antioxidative mechanisms against intestinal irritants. In this study, bilva protected naturally occurring immune system mast cells, which support less reactivity to undigested foods and irritants.4
We RecommendSpring Cleansing for Optimal Health
Support Dry (Hard) or Loose Stools
As a result of a slow breakdown of digestive strength due to chronic stress, processed foods, fat-soluble toxins, and pesticides, harder-to-break-down fats and proteins go undigested into the intestinal tract. Undigested proteins from wheat, grains, nuts, beans, and dairy, along with fat-soluble toxins, can enter the small intestine.
Because they are incompletely broken down, they are too big to enter the bloodstream, and are thus collected into the gut’s lymphatic vessel, aka the garbage can of the gut. Along the way, these undigested proteins and fats can irritate the intestinal lining and cause reactive mucus production that can loosen bowels over time.
In one study, bilva was shown once again to support natural protective mechanisms of the gut against irritants, blocking undesirable bacteria from further adhering and irritating the gut lining. The results suggest bilva fruit may provide natural support for loose stools.5
Intestinal irritants are also able to dry out the intestinal tract and cause firmer or more dry stubborn stool. This drying reaction to an intestinal irritant is more common with vata body types, while excess of mucus (causing looser stool) is more common in primarily pitta types and secondarily kapha body types.
Studies find bilva fruit supports normal bowel function, bringing balance to stool that is either too dry or too loose.5,7
On top of these amazing benefits, bilva is also naturally demulcent (or somewhat slimy) in nature. This property may bolster its ability to protect the intestinal wall, as the gut lining is naturally demulcent. This effect has also been shown to support the stomach lining. Studies find bilva to support the stomach’s ability to protect itself from irritants and provide relief from occasional acidity or heartburn.8
The supported herbs in Leaky Gut Support include triphala (literally translated as three fruits), licorice, slippery elm, and psyllium.
3 Fruits of Triphala
- Amalaki – (Emblica officinalis) – supports intestinal mucus membrane health
- Bibhitaki – (Beleric myrobalan) – helps remove gut mucus
- Haritaki – (Chebulic myrobalan) – tones gut muscles
Leaky Gut Support is finished with licorice and slippery elm to provide more demulcent support for the intestinal lining. Finally, a microdose of psyllium acts as an agent to bring water to the other herbs in the formula in order to activate their gut-supportive demulcent properties for healthy elimination and leaky gut support.
Do you have symptoms of leaky gut? You may want to give our Leaky Gut Support formula a try. Here’s to happy guts!