Leaky gut is the gateway to auto-immune diseases.
Around mid to late February this year, I started noticing these spiky annoying hairs in the front of my hairline and along my part. I just assumed I’d pulled a hairtye out of my head ripping some hair with it or one of the kids (who sometimes kindly plait my hair) had wrenched it with a brush.
But none of that. I saw my hairdresser on March 4th. She commented that I have all of this new hair growth over my whole head, lots of baby hairs. EVERYWHERE. What! Why?! I asked her for how long did she think they had been growing. Maybe four weeks she thought. So I started to count back…
Four weeks prior, I had attended the second of three intensive learning workshops for my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner training in Wellington. While I was there, learning, soaking, absorbing ALL of the current science/evidence based information, I was given the opportunity to be a class case study. This required all of my current personal information to be reviewed by the class (just as a client of a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner would do) including;
- Food/Mood Journals – my daily diet, hydration, daytime energy and moods, movement, sleep, stools
- Initial Interview – historic and current information including health goals and concerns, medications/supplements if any, exercise, surgeries, toxin exposures, family history etc
- NutriQ Questionnaire – an online symptom based questionnaire that links symptoms with possible reasons for dysfunction and also uses this information to suggest nutritional gaps.
- Functional Evaluation – the clinical technique of testing different areas of the body that relate to certain organs, glands or tissues and whether they have any tenderness associated which establishes if further support is required. This also includes zinc taste test, blood pressure check, allergic tension testing and so on.
- Lingual Neural Testing – using our body’s innate wisdom to identify if particular supplement nutrients are favourable to the body at this time, including foods of if the foods are creating allergic tension.
I jumped at the chance to further figure out the cause of dysfunction within my body. Even though I was eating a pretty perfect diet and had been for some time, I felt like something wasn’t right. I still felt tired, foggy, run down/immune issues, stressed, had skin issues, had irritated eyes, heart palpitations and so on…
So my wonderful classmates, group leaders (previous course graduates), lead instructor and associate instructor started to assess all of my information and began the detective work required to really get through the layers to discover WHY on a perfect diet, I still felt like crap.
The result of the detective work and clinical testing. LEAKY GUT.
Panic. How? Why? But first, what is leaky gut – the short version.
Leaky gut, also know as intestinal hyper-permeability, is when the intestinal wall becomes permeable due to the cells lining the intestine becoming wider. This results in partially digested foods/toxins/microbes leaking directly into the bloodstream. It then causes the immune system to launch an attack on the body as certain foods become allergens, causing inflammation. The follow on from this is;
- chronic inflammation in the form of, arthritis, gout, skin issues, depression, dementia, asthma, rosacea, eczema, PCOS, PMS, crohn’s disease etc
- auto-immune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, diabetes, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, alopecia, vitiligo etc
- seasonal allergies such as hay-fever
- syndromes such as chronic fatigue and fibryomyalgia
Now that the issue had been identified, we needed to figure out WHY it was an issue in the first place so I could then remove the stress burden from my body and support it to heal.
Why do we get leaky gut? There are a number of reasons which could be just one or a combination of as to the cause. These are;
- medications such as anti-inflammatory’s
- lack of sleep
- chronic stress
- a high processed/sugar diet
- gut infections
- coeliac disease
- bowel disease
- food allergies
At this point in I could tick lack of sleep and chronic stress (emotional, environmental). However my symptoms were there long before the last one to two years of my life. So looking further – did I have any undiagnosed food allergies? More questioning came from my peers and instructors as to chronic childhood illnesses, to which my answer was yes, I had chronic ear infections as a 1 year old through to age 6 with grommet treatment and tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy after chronic tonsilitis. There were then major AHA moments in the room….
MILK. MY. WHOLE. LIFE.
MILK has been causing my body to be chronically inflamed as my body identifies milk as an allergen (as it does for many people, who do you know that has chronic ear, nose, throat inflammation??!!) Scientific studies have shown that consuming milk has a significant increase in causing acute otitis media (ear infections). As the immune system is under constant attack of these allergens, inflammation then occurs in the tonsils – part of the immune system’s toolkit to keep us safe and well.
So this is where my leaky gut story began, at age 1. Once my loving mother no longer breastfed me I was given cows milk formula. Then as a toddler I was drinking LOADS of milk which being brought up on a dairy farm made sense. I had eczema and I had chronic ear infections. Three lots of grommet operations to drain my inner ear inflammation between ages 18 months and 6 years. Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy at age 7. I broke my arm at the age of 9 (this is significant as the body is unable to easily absorb vital minerals to support bone health due to leaky gut and inflammation). I had glandular fever at age 15 (my immune system was overloaded). I was often irritable, anemic and very tired (chronic inflammation, inability to absorb vital nutrients). All of these things can be linked to food allergies.
Sadly all of this may have been prevented but as we have been taught by modern medicine and pharmaceutical companies to believe that the answer is to take a pill to suppress the symptoms or remove the inflamed body part – rather than LISTEN TO OUR BODY and then remove the cause of stress to be able to heal the symptoms.
What’s even sadder is I didn’t know any of this in time to help my own daughter. As I sit here and write this, tears roll down my cheeks for all the reasons as a mother I want to do the best by my child. And I let her down. History repeated itself and she had chronic ear infections resulting in several grommet operations up until age 5, with a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy at age 6. Now at age 14 I have removed milk from her diet and whether she acknowledges it or not, I have noticed change in her as she begins to heal and thrive.
Thankfully I discovered this information in time to prevent the same thing from happening to my almost two year old son. Once I finished breastfeeding him at 13 months, he was offered cows milk formula. I noticed his cheeks started to get red and inflamed but put it down to teething. However, with the information I’m learning through the Nutritional Therapy Association I was able to identify the skin irritation as a possible sign of an allergic reaction. As he is gluten free, my first consideration was milk. I removed the milk and within 5 days his cheeks healed.
Now, back to my leaky gut and my new hair growth! For the body to heal and be able to thrive (as leaky gut is reversible, isn’t the human body amazing!), the stressors to the body need to be removed. For me, milk and other foods identified as currently allergic to me by using the Pulse Test method and Lingual Neural Testing needed to be removed from my diet. Sleep quality needed to be improved and stress levels needed to be reduced. Again using Lingual Neural Testing and other information gathered, nutritional gaps were identified for specific nutrients to be taken. A gut healing protocol was introduced by way of soothing, healing, simple, nutritious foods such as chicken bone broths, soups, meats and vegetables.
And already after just a few weeks, I am less tired, the foggy feeling has lifted, my immune issues are improving, my stress and anxiety is fading, my eczema is gone, my skin is improving, I no longer have irritated eyes, heart palpitations are fewer and far between.
AND… I’m growing new hair.
If you think you or someone you love could have leaky gut or possible allergens, please reach out for more information and support. Possible signs and symptoms of a leaky gut and allergic reactions are:
- allergies, including hayfever, red eyes
- brain fog
- chronic headaches
- constipation or diarrhea or both
- difficulty gaining weight
- difficulty losing weight
- fatty liver
- fluid retention
- food intolerance
- increased abdominal fat
- joint pain
- muscle pain
- nutritional deficiencies
- period pain
- poor immunity
- skin rashes
A special thanks to Katy Smith (NTP and NTA associate instructor) for the clinical testing and words of encouragement that followed the result, (also follow her at The Nourished Project)
Click here for further information about the Nutritional Therapy Association.
Click here if you want to change your life and the lives of others – begin training to be an NTP with various workshop locations options available around the world – including Sydney AU in May 2019 and Auckland NZ in September 2019.
Author: Laura Dudley (mother, wife, farmer, infertility truth seeker, future NTP) Follow on facebook