6 Science-Backed Signs Your Leaky Gut is Healing
Are you uncertain if your leaky gut is healing? Are you here because you’ve spent so much time, energy, and possibly money to improve the lives of your gut bacteria? Let’s explore how you can know if you should stay the course or jump ship on your current gut-strengthening game plan!
I’m glad you’re here…
In this article, you will learn the clear signs that indicate that your gut health is improving, according to science.
As a nutritionist and NASM-certified personal trainer, I’ve spent countless hours researching and analyzing studies. I’ve also healed my own leaky gut and counseled countless clients through the process. I’m going to share my experiences so that you can avoid my mistakes! In this article, you’ll learn:
- The clear signs that indicate your gut health’s progress, according to the most recent scientific research
- Diet and lifestyle-related gut data
- Tips to keep your gut in tip-top shape
- And all this valuable data will be sprinkled with my own thoughts, experiences, and hilarious sense of humor!
But first, let’s define leaky gut, shall we?
Leaky Gut: A Quick Rundown
Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability,” is a condition where the lining of your small intestine becomes damaged. The lining of your intestines is ONE cell thick. If you have a leaky gut, these fragile cells are stretched causing actual physical spaces between the cells.
These spaces allow undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria to “leak” through the intestinal wall and enter your bloodstream. This means that instead of being screened and filtered by your cells, these foreign and potentially harmful particles can take a shortcut directly into your blood without being evaluated by your TSA-like cells to determine a valid entry status. Cue the scary music!
This can trigger inflammation and a host of other issues.
It’s important to recognize that leaky gut is not a medical diagnosis, but rather a term used to describe a set of symptoms and potential underlying issues. Based on my experience, if you think you have it, you have it!
While the concept of leaky gut is still debated among some mainstream health professionals, there’s growing evidence supporting its existence and its role in various health problems. Holistic and alternative medical doctors have recognized it for years now. The field of identification and testing is currently exploding.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff.
Signs Your Leaky Gut is Healing
Sign 1: Reduced Digestive Symptoms AKA You’re Farting Less
Yeah, you know that feeling– you’re on a date and you just can’t hold that symphony of farts, so you excuse yourself to the bathroom for the 4th time like a crazy person.
So, how do you know if you’re healing?
You’re doing less of that–so less farting, less bloating, less constipation, less diarrhea.
Trust me, as a nutritionist and personal trainer, I’ve seen this improvement in 100% of my healing clients.
In one study by Plaza-Díaz et al. (2018), the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that focused on the effects of probiotics which have been proven time and time again to improve gut health on gastrointestinal symptoms.
The trials included participants with functional gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional constipation.
By pooling and analyzing the data from these trials, the researchers found that probiotics, specifically Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, always improved various gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
This suggests that improving gut health (through probiotic supplementation) can be determined by the reduction of these annoying, unpleasant, smelly, and sometimes orchestra-like-sounding digestive symptoms.
Sign 2: Improved Energy Levels
The headline here is self-explanatory.
Better gut = more energy.
When your gut begins to heal, you may notice a boost in your energy levels, making you feel more alert and focused throughout the day. Your body spends so much energy digesting that when your digestion is more efficient, you have more energy to run and frolic or in my case, throw the ball to my son 1000 times!
Scientific evidence suggests gut microbiota composition influences energy metabolism through various mechanisms, such as the regulation of energy expenditure, fat storage, and appetite control. Fat storage regulation and appetite control are added bonuses!
By improving gut microbiota composition, it’s possible to enhance overall energy metabolism, which may lead to increased energy levels and better well-being.
Sign 3: Fewer Food Sensitivities
Allergic to everything under the sun? Are you afraid to eat certain things because you might experience a skin reaction, a runny nose, or digestive distress?
I can tell you that when your gut is compromised, it’s more likely to react negatively to certain foods. As your gut heals, you may find that you can tolerate a wider variety of foods without experiencing negative reactions.
A compromised gut barrier can lead to increased exposure to food allergens, resulting in adverse immune reactions. When your gut cell lining is tight, fewer particles get past your bouncer-like cells and make it to the party in your bloodstream.
The gut microbiota also play an important role in maintaining the gut barrier’s integrity and modulating immune responses.
By improving gut health and restoring the gut barrier function, it’s likely that individuals may experience a reduction in food sensitivities and adverse reactions to certain foods.
Yay. Bring on the chocolate, dairy, nut, and wheat-crust pie! I’m kidding… or am I?
Sign 4: Better Immune Function
Since 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, it’s no surprise that healing your gut can lead to improved immune function.
You might experience fewer colds, faster recovery times, and a decrease in allergy symptoms.
To show this, Vighi et al. (2008) conducted a review of the complex relationship between the gut and the immune system. The authors explained that the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is a crucial component of the immune system and is responsible for the majority of immune responses.
They discussed how the gut microbiota plays a critical role in maintaining the balance of the immune system, preventing overactivation and inflammation.
By fostering a healthy gut environment, individuals can support the proper functioning of their immune system, leading to fewer illnesses and improved overall health.
Sign 5: Enhanced Mood and Cognitive Function
The gut-brain axis is a well-established concept in the scientific community. A healthier gut is linked to improved mood, reduced anxiety, and better cognitive function.
Kelly et al. (2016) provided a comprehensive review of the current understanding of the gut-brain axis, showing how gut microbiota can influence mood, anxiety, and cognitive function.
The authors examined a range of studies that investigated the impact of gut bacteria on neurochemistry and brain function.
They found that gut bacteria can produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a crucial role in regulating mood and cognition. Additionally, they discussed the role of gut microbiota in modulating the immune system and inflammation, both of which can impact brain function.
By maintaining a healthy gut, individuals may experience improvements in mood, reduced anxiety, and enhanced cognitive function.
I can personally attest to this. I have noted reduced panic attacks, depression, and even the seemingly benign lack of motivation in so many clients after a gut-healing protocol!
Sign 6: Your Skin Issues & Sensitivities Improve
Leaky gut can manifest as various skin issues like eczema, rosacea, dandruff, rashes, and acne, as they are often a visible symptom of an internal gut problem.
These skin manifestations can be the result of food sensitivities that we previously discussed or it can be due to detoxification through the skin.
The skin is a huge detoxification organ. If the body can’t detoxify enough through the normal pathways that include sweating, urinating, and passing bowel movements, it will excrete debris through the pores.
As you begin to heal your leaky gut, you may notice a significant improvement in your skin health, leading to a reduction in these skin issues.
You’ll notice clearer, smoother, and softer skin. You may even be able to ditch your expensive face and body products.
How to Support Gut Healing
You’re smart and likely already aware of the following, but to ensure that we are 100% on the same page, I want to mention the following gut healing strategies:
Eat a Nutrient-Dense, Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Focus on whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats to help heal your leaky gut. Avoid processed foods and added sugars, which can contribute to inflammation and gut damage.
The alternative medicine field has recognized and identified a strong link between diet and overall health. The most outrageous offenders are processed grains (think white bread), processed meats (think corn-fed, deep-fried chicken), and refined sugars (think soda and candy) as well as conventional dairy (cow’s milk), and refined seed oils (like canola oil) which have been shown to destroy the digestive lining cells.
This is how I build my meals:
- I pick a healthy organic, pasture-raised animal protein (like wild salmon or grass-fed beef).
- I add a healthy whole-food carbohydrate (like sweet potato or rice).
- I flavor it with some fat (like avocado or ghee).
- And last, I add as many vegetables as it takes until I feel full.
Trust me, it is delicious!
I know, it seems overwhelming, but it’s just a matter of changing habits–and I can attest, it’s 1000% worth it.
Certain leaky gut supplements, like probiotics, L-glutamine, and digestive enzymes, can help support gut healing.
Probiotics are living beneficial bacteria. You can take a supplement or eat fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut.
I also recommend prebiotics, which for lack of a better description are food for the probiotics. Prebiotics are most common in high-fiber foods.
They are naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. (In this case, I prefer whole food options over a supplement. )
Think onions, apples, bananas, and oats as those are notably high in prebiotics and will leave your probiotic pals particularly pleased. 🙂
Supplements like L-glutamine, which is an amino acid, has been scientifically proven to nourish and repair the cells of the digestive lining.
And last but not least, digestive enzymes are fantastic. They help break down and absorb food more efficiently. You can spend the money you save on skincare products on these. It is so worth it!
Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your gut health.
Honestly, it can affect all aspects of your health.
Incorporate stress-reducing activities like meditation, yoga, or regular exercise into your routine.
Eating while stressed has been proven to negatively hinder digestion. I always recommend that my clients take a deep breath before eating.
This is also why people have historically prayed and expressed gratitude before eating. It relaxes the body.
Exercise is also super important both as a stress management tool, but also to move food more effectively through the digestive system.
Remember, healing your gut is a process that takes time and dedication. It can take months and years to fully heal, but you should start noticing an improvement within several weeks. By looking out for these signs and taking the necessary steps to support your gut health, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier you.
Lifestyle Changes for Long-term Gut Health
In regard to the strategies I mentioned above, it’s important to focus on long-term lifestyle changes to maintain gut health.
This isn’t overly complicated, but that doesn’t make it easy. That being said, doing these things is necessary for gut health and overall health.
Everything starts with your gut–you are what you eat–so it’s important to take care of the gut for everything else to fall into place.
I guarantee that once you start to implement these changes, you will feel so much better.
After a while, you will realize how much time you wasted feeling unhealthy. Almost all of my clients who implement these changes (particularly the dietary changes) maintain the changes for life for 2 reasons:
- They realize that making “poor” diet choices isn’t worth it because it makes them feel so unwell.
- Their gut bacteria change, and they no longer crave the foods they ate previously.
Stay Hydrated (Water Is Your Friend)
Proper hydration is essential for maintaining a healthy gut environment. Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day to support digestion and overall health.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Be proactive. I also recommend putting electrolytes and salt in your water.
Get Enough Sleep (Yes, Netflix Can Wait)
Quality sleep is crucial for gut health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and establish a consistent sleep schedule. Make sure that it is quality sleep. Sleep in a dark, cool room. While you’re asleep, the magic happens. Cells grow and repair while you’re dreaming.
Engaging in regular exercise can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome and no surprise here also promotes overall health. Find an activity that you enjoy and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Exercise with a friend and hold each other accountable.
Limit Alcohol Consumption (Sorry, Party Animals)
I’m sorry. I hate to do this to you, but excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect gut health. You’re probably already aware that alcohol isn’t your friend. If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation, for gut’s sake! 😉
Consider Prebiotics (Feed Those Good Bacteria)
I mentioned these earlier: incorporate prebiotic-rich foods, like onions, garlic, and bananas, into your diet.
You can also take prebiotic supplements. Prebiotics are typically high-fiber foods that help feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut, promoting a healthy gut environment.
By adopting these lifestyle changes and monitoring the signs mentioned earlier, you’ll be better equipped to heal your leaky gut and prevent it from recurring. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I feel like following my advice will greatly improve your life!
How long does leaky gut take to heal?
Leaky gut can take anywhere from a few months to several years to completely heal. You will notice improvements within several weeks, depending on the severity of the condition and the individual treatment plan.
What are the warning signs of leaky gut?
The five warning signs of leaky gut include:
- Digestive symptoms like gas and bloating
- Food sensitivities
- Skin problems
- And autoimmune conditions.
How do you know if your leaky gut is getting better?
Signs that your leaky gut is getting better include improved digestion, increased energy, fewer food sensitivities, better immune function, enhanced mood, and cognitive function, and better skin.
What are the stages of healing leaky gut?
The stages of healing leaky gut typically involve removing trigger foods and irritants, repairing the gut lining, rebalancing the gut microbiome, and maintaining long-term gut health through diet and lifestyle changes.
Sorry folks, there are no shortcuts!
Wrapping It Up – Getting Your Gut Health Under Control
It’s crucial to remember that healing your gut is a gradual process, and it’s essential to be patient and consistent with your efforts.
By incorporating a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet, managing stress, and adopting other healthy lifestyle changes, you’ll create an environment that supports gut healing and overall health.
Keep an eye out for the signs of improvement mentioned in this article, and know that you’re on the right track toward a healthier, happier you. Happy gut healing!