Dr. Tanda Cook is a naturopathic physician, food expert, published author, international speaker, blogger, as well as a health and lifestyle coach. She is wildly passionate about educating and inspiring people to take steps to add health to their lives. Today she’s sharing her top 8 tips with Trash Panda on how to help heal and prevent leaky gut. For more from Dr. Tanda, check out her website drtandacook.com or Instagram @drtandacook
As you may already know, the gut is the human body’s epicenter for true, vibrant health. When the gut lining becomes damaged by things like gluten, dairy, sugar, processed oil, toxins, and other harmful microbes, it loses its ability to act as a barrier and these unwanted particles find their way into your bloodstream through the intestinal wall. This is what we call “leaky gut”.
Why does this matter?
When unwanted particles show up in the bloodstream after a night of some pizza and wine, it can cause inflammation. If you are normally conscious about eating real, whole foods and taking supplements, this inflammation will only show up as acute (temporary) and your immune system will take care of it with ease and you can go on your merry way the next day.
The alternative is this…
If you are constantly eating and drinking things on a daily basis that cause leaky gut, the inflammation can stick around and turn into chronic (long-term) inflammation, which wreaks havoc on the immune system. How does chronic inflammation show up? Glad you asked.
Chronic inflammation can look like this…
Anxiety and depression
Constipation and bloating
Inflammatory bowel disease
Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and tinea versicolor
Autoimmune diseases of any kind
Headaches and migraines
Muscle and joint pain
And if the gut isn’t healed and the inflammation persists, you can develop several of these conditions or even worse issues like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. But, the GREAT news? Your gut can heal, the inflammation can go down, and you can easily maintain your health by adding some really effective supplements and protocols into your day that I am going to share with you.
Let’s get started…
Probiotics are first on the list. They are the number one supplement for repairing and restoring leaky gut. I believe that every person on the planet should be taking probiotics, or at the very least, doing their best to get them from the food they eat. Probiotics are 100% necessary for gut health and balance.
There are several different strains of probiotics. Some may specifically target leaky gut, while others may enhance neuro-cognitive health, balance hormones, or strengthen the immune system. You can decide what you want to target and pick out a probiotic based on your needs.
When picking out a probiotic, the higher the CFU count the better. Also, make sure the probiotic has several bacterial strains, and do your best to buy from highly rated companies that use premium ingredients. For capsules, take as directed. If the probiotic is in powder form, you can add the serving to protein shakes, smoothies, or ingest it by itself.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Every morning before breakfast, I drink 1-2 tablespoons of organic, raw apple cider vinegar. I prescribe the same thing to each one of my patients. While you may have heard of this as a recent fad, it’s actually a health protocol that has been around for thousands years.
Apple cider vinegar with “the mother” has great healing properties for the gut. It has a tremendous amount of beneficial bacteria and enzymes, fights inflammation, and helps with nutrient absorption by ramping up gastric juices.
If you are working to restore the strength and health of your gut lining, bone broth is super helpful in doing this because of the collagen and gelatin it contains. Bone broth is easy to digest, great for detoxification and elimination, restores the balance of healthy bacteria, and it is anti-inflammatory.
You can make your own broth with roasted bones, vegetables, herbs, and spices, or you can purchase bone broth at a local market or grocery store. If you don’t want to drink it plain, you can add bone broth to soups for more flavor. Farmers markets usually have a stand or two that are selling bone broth. You can also buy bone broth in powder form and add it to protein shakes. I love Dr. Axe’s brand.
Dr. Axe / Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth
Turmeric is an absolute rock star at fighting inflammation and disease. It is known to be one of the most powerful herbs on the planet because of its amazing healing compounds from the active ingredient “curcumin”. That makes this root a wonderful fighter in the game against leaky gut.
You can start by adding 1 teaspoon (or more) of turmeric to protein shakes. You can also make meals like chicken curry or curried chicken salad because yellow curry has turmeric in it. Or you can buy curcumin supplements and take them as directed.
Coconut oil is great for your gut and it is so easy to incorporate it into your daily regimens. It works to drastically improve digestion and the absorption of magnesium, calcium, and omega-3’s. Coconut oil is also known for its ability to correct candida or bacterial imbalance in the gut.
Coconut oil is great to cook with. You can use it to replace any oil or butter used in recipes. It’s great for sauteing vegetables or cooking meats. You can also put it in protein shakes or eat a tablespoon a day by itself. Be sure to buy raw, organic, unrefined coconut oil.
As I mentioned earlier, collagen is one of the major gut healing components of bone broth. Collagen actually converts into gelatin when it is cooked. An example of this transformation is when you simmer bones for a period of time on low heat, the jiggly-jelly-like substance happens when collagen turns into gelatin. Pretty cool, huh? When it comes to increasing gastric juices and healing the gut lining, collagen is a big winner because of the beneficial amino acids it has.
You can get your daily dose of collagen by drinking bone broth made from chicken, beef, or lamb bones. Or you can buy collagen in powder form and add 1-2 scoops to protein shakes, smoothies, soups, or sauces. My favorite collagen brands are Ancient Nutrition and Vital Proteins. Look for brands that include various types of collagen in the ingredients list.
Ancient Nutrition Collagen
Vital Proteins Collagen
In order for the probiotics that you are taking to live and thrive, you have to be getting enough fiber (prebiotics). Without fiber, probiotic supplements aren’t going to be much help in repairing your gut. Pairing fiber-rich foods with probiotics will take your gut health to a whole new level.
I love including chia and flax seeds into my diet because of their high fiber content. Lots of vegetables and fruits like avocados, cruciferous vegetables, beets, turnips, coconuts, and berries are high in fiber. You can also add fiber powder or supplements to your daily routine. Aim to eat 30 or more grams of fiber per day.
It’s super important that proteins, starches, and sugars break down completely once they are ingested. What helps with that? Enzymes. Taking enzymes with your meals can help intestinal inflammation to lessen - I take them with every meal. Look for a good enzyme supplement that includes protease, lactase, amylase, and lipase for optimal support.
Foods full of natural enzymes include pineapple, sprouted seeds, apple cider vinegar, avocado, raw honey, kiwi, mango, papaya, bananas, garlic, nuts, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. So, load up on those babies!