Fixing the Leak: Treating Sensitivities

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Dec 15th, 2011)

People who suffer from any number of health conditions from back aches and migraines to high blood pressure and fibromyalgia often experience an increase in symptoms during this time of year. The lack of sunlight, or the cold, or the stress of the season, or any number of factors are usually blamed but the most common cause of it is actually internal. It is usually due to Inflammation. Why would inflammation be greater during this time than any other? Well, that is a product of the season. Holiday food is the culprit. Almost every food associated with the holidays is full of gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, and other inflammatory foods. If you remember way back to one of the original topics on Leaky Gut, many food allergies or sensitivities are not overt entities and induce widespread inflammation in the body.

We also previously discussed how to eliminate and avoid the triggers in our diets but let’s take some time now to explore how to specifically heal the gut and stop up those holes that are leaking. This will help us through the holidays to limit any increase in symptoms we usually experience.

The most important thing is to have a balanced healthy diet which we explored a little when talking about eliminating inflammation. Think of everything in terms of nutrients rather than food groups. This will encourage our bodies to heal themselves and operate at peak performance. Remember that the intestinal lining is one of the last things to heal so be patient. It is important to keep this diet and not cheat to give our bodies the best chance but this is the holidays and that is very difficult to do when socializing. This makes it even more important to stay balanced at home.

Probiotics have gotten a lot of positive press over the past few years after becoming a fad diet when added to yogurt as “Active Yeast Cultures”. Our large intestines are filled with bacteria. These little guys help to break down our food beyond what we can do ourselves and actually create some nutrients, like Vitamin K, themselves. They also act as a barrier to infections and diseases caused by irritation of the intestinal lining. The same unhealthy diet that leads to leaky gut is also not enough to maintain a healthy population of good bacteria and so usually where leaky gut exists so does a paucity of good bacteria. Probiotics are a supplement which deliver the good bacteria to our intestines so that their protective presence is maintained.

During the holiday season it is practically impossible to avoid the common dietary triggers and allergens at parties and dinners. Even the alternatives hosts provide are usually soy based. This is where a little willpower comes into play. Pick and choose what to eat to limit those common allergens in your diet. When we are trying to rest and recuperate, peace and quiet is the best thing. Our intestinal lining feels the same way so by eliminating, or limiting as best we can, we are providing it with just that.

Many out there are probably thinking, “But if I can’t use dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, or corn how can I make food for my guests? This is going to destroy my holiday planning.” Next week we’re going to talk about easy methods of substituting ingredients in baking and cooking.

Thanks for reading,
Dr. Ben

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