Leaky Gut

My Journey in healing leaky gut

Before I begin, let me make it clear that I’m not any kind of certified expert in healing leaky gut. (Although at this point I feel like I am) This is my personal journey and insights on what I’ve learned along the way. I feel like I’ve been divinely guided and I can honestly say I’m grateful for the experience to learn first hand so that I can help others. 

I’m creating this page to document my frustrating journey with healing leaky gut in hopes that I can make it less frustrating for others. The frustration comes from a lot of opinions and not enough science. There is a lot of information about how to heal using bone broth and many different variations of an elimination diet. I’ve been eating a whole-food, plant-based (vegan) diet since 1991 and there has to be some good solid scientific studies supporting the claims before I would consider using bone broth.

Doctor Michael Greger from Nutritionfacts.org reports that there is nothing published in the scientific literature supporting the use of bone broth for leaky gut. I looked on PubMed and there are a few studies about bone broth, including this one, that debunks the collagen theory and nothing about healing leaky gut. Dr. Greger addresses high lead concentrations in bone broth here. And here is an interview with Dr. Pam Popper and special guest Dr. Janice Stanger talking about “Why Bone Broth Can’t Possibly Help You.”   Dr. Pam addresses bone broth again here.  She starts talking about bone broth at 5:45 

Dr. Tom O’Bryan gives the best explanation of what leaky gut is in this video interview with Clint Paddison of the Paddison Prgram for reversing rheumatoid arthritis.  The underlying issue with rheumatoid arthritis is leaky gut so I have learned a lot from his YouTube video interviews of patients who have reversed their RA. In fact, this has been the best support for me.

So what does a person do when they test positive for leaky gut and follow a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet (or omnivorous diet for that matter)? The more pressing questions was how in the world did I get this when I work so hard to eat the best that I can. I did a lot of praying and searching doctor google.

My first clue that I might have leaky gut was from this interview on the Lillian McDermott radio show. Dr. Fred Pescatore was her guest on this show that I just happened to stumble upon. (I don’t believe in coincidences) He talks about allergies and how leaky gut is the cause of them. He lists all the other symptoms of leaky gut, one of which was food sensitivities and headaches. You know  when you hear something and you just know without a doubt that it’s right? That was my light bulb moment! I had been suffering with regular head aches for 20 years! (And I often had them growing up.) And it’s only the last 8 years that I’ve related them to food sensitivities and began eliminating obvious offenders such as soy (especially Braggs Liquid Aminos) and nutritional yeast.  Within a week I once again stumbled upon an interview on the Lillian McDermott radio show with Dr. Richard Horowitz and he talked about leaky gut. I don’t need to be hit over the head with a sledge hammer to get my attention! I knew without a doubt that this is what I had! I didn’t even need to be tested.

But I did get tested just so I had the physical proof. I sent away for a test kit from Walk in Labs.com that was recommended by a naturopath friend and Dr. Michael Klaper.  Within a couple of weeks I got the results and it was positive.  But the way that it read, it seemed to indicate that it wasn’t that bad. I figured this would be a piece of cake and since I was so healthy, I would heal quickly.  WRONG! Get that out of your head right now! This takes time, sacrifice, commitment, and a whole lot of patience!

Another thing I needed to get out of my head was that the green smoothies and big leafy green salads that I had been eating daily for over 20 years are no longer good for me. They were actually some of the foods that were causing my head aches. That is because when you have leaky gut, it’s the foods that you eat on a regular basis that your body creates allergies to. (The video above with Dr. Tom O’Bryan explains this perfectly.)  For me this included beans, nuts, seeds, wheat, oats, fruits and raw salads. So what is left? Sweet Potatoes, rice, and most cooked vegetables…..welcome the “elimination diet.” These are foods that don’t cause an inflammatory response in most people.

There are probably a hundred versions of an elimination diet on line but here are a couple of resources that I found trustworthy and valuable. Dr. John McDougall 2002 Newsletter and another great article is from Plant-Based Health Australia.  I mentioned the Paddison Program above and he has a re-introduction food chart that could be helpful for some, however, because everyone is so different, you have to play around with it a bit and see what works best for you. The food list for the first 2 – 12 days he calls the base-line foods but I was able to add millet, brown rice, broccoli, cauliflower and many fruits (even raw). I’ve had to stay on my “baseline diet” for 11 months now and it’s been cooked except for the tree/vine-ripened summer fruits that I found tolerable last summer thank goodness! I find it interesting how the raw foodies tell us that cooked food kills and I’ve been thriving on it for almost 11 months at this writing. (Although I’ve lost about 13 pounds and didn’t need to. I’m a bit too thin but feel great and the last thing I’m worried about is how I look right now.)

There are a few supplements that are recommended to help heal leaky gut.  Dr. Michael Klaper (and many others) in his YouTube video recommens    L-glutamine, which I took for about 8 months, and Quercetin which I took for 10 months but did not continue because I learned you can get it in foods such as green apples, grapes, red onion and buckwheat, which I prefer. An algae -derived omega 3 fatty acids/DHA/EPA is recommended and also digestive enzymes.  I’ve done the fatty acids on and off. I have a a hard time taking supplements and can only do so many.  Clint Paddison of the Paddison Program does not recommend the DHS/EPA, and neither would Pam Popper, MD.  I have not taken digestive enzymes at all since I’ve never had any bloating, gas, indigestion or any other obvious digestive issues.

One supplement that I’ve taken consistently since 2nd month of my journey is Restore.  I’m not one to fall for multi-level gimmicks or other miracle supplements but this stuff felt good to me. (It’s not multi-level.)  Zach Bush, MD (triple board certified) is all over YouTube talking about his research and his experience helping people and when I stumbled upon him, I felt very strongly that this was something I needed to take.

After 10 months on Restore, and not sure if it was really doing anything and wondering if I should continue, I heard Zach say in an interview that it typically takes 2 weeks for every year of ill health to see results.  Since I figure I’ve been dealing with head aches for about 20 years, that calculates perfectly with what he was saying. When I now get a head ache from slipping or trying a new food, they only last about a day (they consistently lasted 3 days)  and are not so severe. Although I haven’t tested the severe allergens yet like soy, nuts or nutritional yeast.

About 7 months into my journey, a friend e-mailed me a link to a video by Barbara O’Neil, titled Caring for The Gut.  She has been a wonderful resource for all kinds of health topics from gut health to herbal salves! She recommends Slipper Elm herb to heal the gut. I had seen slipper elm recommended several times earlier but didn’t take it into consideration. I started immediately and feel like it has really helped.

My favorite way, and the cheapest way to take this is to buy powdered slipper elm in bulk, measure 1 teaspoon into a glass, add 1/4 – 12 cup water and stir vigorously with a fork. Drink quickly because it gets disgustingly gelatinous. I take it 3 times a day before meals. It’s totally safe and another dose before bed can be beneficial if you have severe gastrointestinal distress.

There are a few foods that are specifically recommended for the gut. Dr. Tom O’Bryan recommends cooked apples. He says the pectin in the skin is made more bio available when cooked and is really good to heal the gut. I chopped up 2 – 3 apples to measure 4 cups. Place this in a sauce pan with just a bit (maybe 1/4 cup) water. Bring to boil, lower heat and cook 5 – 10 minutes until the peelings are shiny. Add 1 tsp cinnamon.  Dr. O’Bryan suggests a small handful of raisins but I have to be careful with too much sugar so I did not add raisins. I also added 1/4 tsp cardamom and 1/4 tsp ginger. All those spices are anti-inflammatory. Eat a couple tablespoons a few times a day.

Buckwheat and oats (fermented oats in particular) are particularly good for feeding your gut bacteria. I’m not able to eat oats yet but I’ve learned to enjoy buckwheat. By itself, it’s down right weird! I feel like I’m chewing air.  But if it’s mixed with quinoa, millet or rice, it’s quite nice. I’ve also mixed it with the cooked apple adding about 1/2 tsp honey. To cook buckwheat, boil 1 cup water then add buckwheat, lower heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. I cook all my grains separately then mix them when desired.

Update April 14, 2020

May 1 will be my 2 year mark and since my last writing, the only thing I’ve added to my diet is oats and raw lettuce greens from my garden.  I’ve gotten pretty discouraged along the way because it’s taking so long for my body to tolerate anything but the baseline foods but I have also learned during this time that healing the gut takes a very long time! And that can mean years!  A couple of months ago I had a phone consultation with Clint Paddison of the Paddison Program and he told me he just recently received an e-mail from a man who has been following his program for 4 years and is finally off his pain medication. Plus, I heard interviews with some of his clients who are having lengthy recoveries and that gave me hope. He encouraged me to be more aggressive with trying new foods but that is so hard when I feel so good and have no head aches on the base-line diet and quite frankly, since adding oats, I’m very satisfied with my boring diet.

The oats have been such a welcome addition and with them, I’ve been able to gain a few pounds and maintain that weight. But that has only happened because I have two breakfasts. About 7:30 or 8 am I have a pound of sweet potatoes seasoned like I do in this video, then at about 10 am I have Apple Oats. I demonstrate a similar recipe in this video.  I have lunch about 1 pm, which consists of chopped lettuce from my garden mixed with a millet and quinoa combination and steamed brussle sprouts or cabbage. The lettuce is such a wonderful addition since eating completely cooked, except for some fruit, for almost 2 years!  I stopped using buckwheat for now because Clint suggested it might be the cause of my low-grade inflammation I have periodically. I used to cook that with the millet and quinoa. For dinner I’m still having steamed vegetables (I switch between green vegetables like kale, collards, broccoli, spinach and beat greens or chard) and rice. I often add a cauliflower cream as demonstrated is this video

The next thing I’m soon going to try is lentils. Last week Chef AJ interviewed Dr. Will Bulsiewicz and he mentioned, in talking about people with food sensitivities, that lentils are so easy to digest and he recommended people who have a hard time with beans to introduce those first. Wish me luck!


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