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Not a Happy Gut

foods that contribute to leaky gut

Diary of An Unhealthy Eater

Table Health Operations Manager, Christine, shares her personal journey toward a happy, healthy gut. Perhaps you can relate?

“I can fix that acne if you want me to,” said my newly appointed chiropractor. 

I was 22 and I was struggling with acne for the first time in my life. You can imagine my disbelief, frustration, and utter annoyance at these pimples gracing my once beautiful youthful skin at such an “old” age. 

“How?!” I practically screamed at him. 

“With some probiotics and liver support!” 

And so my healing journey began. 

As a wiser woman, I can look back at my teenage diet of grape juice, french fries, chocolate chip cookies, and every type of candy imaginable and say with certainty it broke my gut and was the main cause of my acne. I am shocked my skin was as clear as it was for as long as it was. I ate junk, drank junk, and treated my body pretty badly. 

As a modern dancer, in college, I survived on pretzels, diet pills, and the occasional fried chicken sandwich when the budget allowed. My favorite “meal” was a cream-filled donut before going on stage, oy vey I cringe! 

When I moved to California in the summer of my young 20’s to become a massage therapist I learned a thing or two about how the human body works and that in fact diet pills and candy did not help it thrive. I have a very vivid memory of sitting in the California sunshine between classes eating my organic bean burrito with avocado and an apple for dessert. I felt pretty damn proud of myself.  

That bean burrito slowly turned into trading skittles for almonds, cooking from home, and making my own bone broth. I started to shop at the local farmer’s market, began choosing organic over conventional, and read any book I could find on holistic health. I was into this! I was amazed at the human body, at the power of food, herbs, and natural medicine. This was also around the time I met my chiropractor who offered up the first tools to heal my gut. Ah, Divine intervention. The story of my life. 

I broke my gut somewhere along my life’s journey. The jury is still out if I can ever really fix it but what I do have is a greater knowledge of how my gut works, what I can do to support healing it, and how to keep it doing its job day in and day out with tenacity, grace, and ease. Those may seem like strange adjectives to describe my gut but what you may not know and what may be my biggest lesson as both a practitioner and student is that the gut is our most precious and delicate collection of organs in our body

Motility, digestion, absorption, and secretion are the four vital functions of the digestive system. The digestive system breaks down the foods we eat into energy our bodies can use. Seems simple enough. Let me give you a quick biology lesson. 

When food reaches the small intestine it has been broken down into a liquid mixture. It enters the small intestine and here is where a lot of magic happens. The small intestine is lined with these little finger-like projections called villi and on these villi are microvilli. These villi and microvilli help you absorb nutrients into your bloodstream where they can be used and stored. Important work!  But something else they do that is really cool is they keep out bad bacteria or other unhealthy invaders. Healthy villi secrete a type of mucus that has antibacterial properties which repel bacteria from trying to gain access to the bloodstream in the intestines. That’s incredible!! 

healthy villi and microvilli versus unhealthy

A representation of (a) healthy and (b) damaged villi

When you have unhealthy villi or damaged villi they are small, short, missing microvilli and villi, they are no longer lined up really tight together but rather have big holes between them. When this happens you are unable to absorb your nutrients effectively, which means a whole host of issues. This complex process has become known as leaky gut.  Here’s the tricky thing, leaky gut not only affects your gut it affects your brain, skin, sinuses, joints, adrenal, and thyroid glands. If your body can’t absorb nutrients and keep out bad invaders then you as a whole can suffer. 

Things that often cause leaky gut include:

  • Dysbiosis or poor gut bacteria imbalance
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Toxic burden
  • Infection
 

The symptoms of leaky gut are vast, here are a few common signs:

  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • IBS
  • Food intolerances or allergies
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Rosacea
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Autoimmune disease
 

Are you starting to see now why I think this collection of organs is so important? It kinda feels like it holds the key to our health. If our gut is off it affects nearly every other system in our body. So it makes sense to me when we are looking to find health to start with the gut. 

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