We eat clean, we shop clean, we live clean – but is it possible we’re too clean? Our January Guest Editor, Dr. Josh Axe, gives us good reason to believe yes. His book Eat Dirt explores how modern lifestyle norms might be contributing to common health hurdles, especially when it comes to our micro-biome: From leaky gut to other belly burdens – and the slew of symptoms they create. We’re learning how the germs we kill and the stress we carry might be weighing down our wellness, and how to help our bodies heal…
The hidden epidemic: Many of our most common modern health conditions and diseases are a result of leaky gut syndrome. When the lining of the gut becomes too permeable, foreign particles are allowed to enter the bloodstream, where they then impact different organs and biological systems. The reality is, whether you suffer from adrenal fatigue, psoriasis, an inability to lose weight or joint issues, the condition can likely be traced back to an unhealthy gut environment. And, as a result, healing the condition is as simple as healing the gut.
Dirt is good, oversanitation is bad: In our quest to become more “clean,” we have instituted some common practices that have negatively impacted our gut microbiome and, as a result, our overall health. The use of anti-bacterial soaps and over-scrubbing of produce to remove every single trace of dirt has killed not only the bad bacteria that may enter our bodies, but the good bacteria as well. The problem is, our guts need the proper ratio of good/neutral and bad bacteria to function optimally. When good bacteria are destroyed (through over-sanitation and other processes), the bad bacteria are allowed to proliferate, which leads to the development of a leaky/overly permeable gut and, ultimately, a variety of different health conditions.
Stress impacts the whole body: Whether we realize it or not, our go-go-go society and constant stress load impact our entire body. In fact, it has been estimated that up to 90% of all doctors visits can be traced to stress. Stress has a profound impact on gut health, allowing for the proliferation of yeast and decreasing probiotic diversity. Additionally, stress weakens the immune system, which makes it even harder for the gut — and the body, overall — to heal.
Essential Oils for Healing: Essential oils have been used as healing agents for thousands of years and there are some that are particularly beneficial for healing a leaky gut. Chamomile has a calming effect on the body and is great for digestion, which can help prevent the development of leaky gut. Frankincense can reduce inflammation in the gut, as does ginger, which also aids in digestion. Finally, tea tree oil (melaleuca) has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties and can also stimulate the immune system — up to 80% of which is located in the gut.
My Mom’s Constipation Cure: In the beginning of Eat Dirt, I discuss my mom’s struggle to heal from cancer and how her experiences motivated me to pursue a career in natural medicine. A major part of my mom’s problem was that she suffered from many years of chronic constipation. We began to alleviate the issue with the Budwig Diet, which was developed in the 1950s by the German biochemist Dr. Johanna Budwig. The recipe below (which my mom mixed in her blender each day) was designed to help combat cancer and cellular disease and, in my mom’s case, it also helped her to finally get things moving. The probiotic kefir, prebiotic flax meal and gut-soothing flaxseed oil helped heal her digestion, stimulate detoxification and improve her overall gut health.
5 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut
Eliminate the foods that are damaging the gut. This includes specific foods that trigger allergies or sensitivities, as well as gluten, processed foods, conventional dairy, GMO foods, sugar, hydrogenated oils and other foods that are damaging to most people, whether they realize it or not.
Re-introduce beneficial bacteria to the gut through a high quality soil-based probiotic, as well as regular exposure to naturally occurring bacteria. This can be achieved by walking outside barefoot; eating produce from a local farmer’s market (and rinsing it only — not scrubbing it completely); gardening; and consuming local honey.
Restore the gut by returning to a more traditional way of preparing and eating food. This includes adding in organic produce, fermented vegetables, bone broth and cultured dairy that is full of probiotics, as well as the prebiotics that feed their growth.
Reduce or eliminate mental and emotional stress, which are major causes of leaky gut. This can be accomplished by releasing negative emotions through a variety of relaxing activities, including getting a massage, exercising, reading, going through therapy with a pastor or other trusted advisor and listening to music.
Finally, add in supplements that will restore healthy digestion, reseal the gut and protect it from future damage. These include digestive enzymes, l-glutamine, licorice root, collagen and probiotics.
My Mom’s Constipation Cure
6 oz goat’s milk kefir (raw and organic)
3 Tbsp sprouted flax meal
2 Tbsp flaxseed oil
stevia to taste (optional)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend well.