Picture this: You’re watching the Italian soccer team play (because, well heck, their uniforms are so snug) and they’re lined up for a shootout. If there is even a gap between them, the ball will make its way through and they lose the game, right?
I use this analogy for a leaky gut because a very popular question I receive in practice is:
What’s a leaky gut?
In my analogy, those cute little Italian soccer players are your small intestine – if there’s a gap, then food and toxins will pass through the small intestine travelling freely into your bloodstream.
This is bad news bears and a huge culprit behind hormonal conditions.
In estrogen-related conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, bad PMS and adenomyosis, a leaky gut can disrupt a group of microbes called estrobolome, which would otherwise help to metabolize estrogen. When estrobolome is disrupted, an individual will see a rise in unhealthy estrogen making their symptoms so much worse.
But the area I often focus on is its impact on autoimmunity. It can take a person an average of five years and five doctors to get diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) — despite the fact that some 50 million Americans suffer from one. And if you are not an able-bodied white woman, then it’s even more of a challenge.
Autoimmunity is now one of the most common disease categories, ahead of cancer and heart disease. And while rates of the latter are falling, autoimmune diseases are being diagnosed with such frequency that some medical experts are calling it an epidemic.
When foreign substances are passing through the intestinal wall, the body eventually forms antibodies and can begin to attack the body. In my case, it attacked my thyroid and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune thyroid condition that affects 97% of women who have hypothyroidism.
I actually created an entire thyroid masterclass, so grab your spot here.
What causes a leaky gut?
Let’s start off with my second favourite f-word: FOOD…
Gluten needs to be avoided at all costs. I actually produced a video all about what’s known as molecular mimicry that you can view here (make sure to subscribe while you’re at it and give me a little thumbs-up-a-rooni!).
If you are one of the many women who feel that you only have it ‘once in a while’, remember it takes at least two weeks to fully get out of your system and that isn’t without damaging the permeability of the small intestine.
And no, this isn’t just if you have Celiac disease (also an autoimmune condition) but if you’ve got a gluten-sensitivity as well. Gluten is not only the leading cause of a leaky gut, but it will increase the risk of developing a thyroid condition as well due to its structural similarity to your thyroid tissue.
I am not here to poo-poo Western Medicine because it definitely has its place, but when society is being handed antibiotics and birth control pills like TicTacs, then Houston, we have a problem.
But it doesn’t stop there, NSAIDS like Aspirin, Advil and Aleve can also cause gut permeability. If you’re hooked on pain meds, then truly consider working with a practitioner who can address WHY the pain is there to begin with.
And lastly, if you struggle with heartburn, just know that your antacids not only can lead to a leaky gut, but it’s shutting off all stomach acid which is welcoming a whole host of bacteria and parasites that could predispose you to SIBO and Candida.
Stress & Exercise…or a lack thereof.
How you show up in life means everything to your hormonal health and it should be seen in equal value as the supplements you take and the food you eat. If you’re staying up late, glued to your devices or are completely sedentary, you’re literally adding to your stress load which can lead to a leaky gut. I realize most women I work with stay up late because they feel it’s their only ‘me time’, but it’s only due to their codependent behaviour where they’re sacrificing themselves to enable others. Maybe it’s for some sort of validation, or a way to distract themselves from feeling, but it’s something I see all too often.
The reason why I bring up movement is because getting in regular movement actually can change the integrity of your gut for the better. On the flip side, if you’re over-exercising and feeling the need to take a nap mid-day this can be equally as damaging.
Alright, so what can you do?
Obviously, remove the gluten as per above. From a sleep perspective, I always aim to be off all devices 90-mins prior to bedtime. If I want to be fast asleep by 9:30pm, I’m generally in bed by about 8:45pm so that I have time to read a bit and wind down.
From a supplement perspective, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about MegaMucosa, because frankly, I’m a die-hard fan.
(IMPORTANT TO NOTE: You’ll have to create an account before you can purchase it. If you’re Canadian, also understand that it can take a while to get to you, which is why I always order 2-3 at a time.)
Not only do I put everyone I work with on MegaMucosa, but I also take it myself.
It’s the first complete mucosal support supplement of its kind, formulated to rebuild a healthy mucosal barrier in the intestines which, believe it or not, has 150 times more surface area than the skin! It’s the reason why it’s so dang important to protect – not only to prevent developing an autoimmune condition, but also to love up those hormones!
Our intestinal mucosal layer protects our intestinal lining with a thick, gel-like protein known as mucin2. To increase the synthesis of that protein, the body needs a plentiful supply of butyrate and four amino acids: L-proline, L-serine, L-cysteine, and L-threonine, which is what Megamucosa has.
It also contains a citrus bioflavonoid called MicrobiomeX which is rich in polyphenols that support digestive health and immune function by increasing microbial diversity in the gut and improving gut barrier function. A clinical study using 500mg of citrus fruit extract found a 22% increase in butyrate production and a significant reduction in fecal calprotectin. Both results suggest that citrus polyphenols can reduce inflammation and modulate the microbial composition in the gut.
Lastly, it contains dairy-free immunoglobulins which provide immune protection from toxins in the GI tract. Serum-derived immunoglobulins will enter the digestive tract and begin binding and neutralizing toxins in the gut before leaving the system when you poop! The immunoglobulins help to reduce the toxic load in the gut and allow the intestinal lining and mucosal barrier to repair themselves with the necessary building blocks. These IgG antibodies can reduce the damage of metabolically produced toxins and neutralize toxins produced within the body that would otherwise trigger mucosal inflammation.
So how do you take it?
Take 1 scoop daily with or without food, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. Mix into 16 oz of cold water or liquid of your choice.
And if you’re wondering if this is safe to take while pregnant or while nursing, the good news is, it is!
Here’s how to maximize your efforts
When working with women, I always suggest best when taken together with MegaSporeBiotic and MegaPreBiotic, as part of the Total Gut Restoration system.
How long should you take it?
MegaMucosa is something that can be taken indefinitely at the suggested dose of 1 scoop daily or at a maintenance dose of 1 scoop weekly.
Are there any contraindications?
You should not take this product if you are vegan. Use with caution if you have an allergy to beef, as the immunoglobulins are derived from the serum of cows.