In the age of convenience the old traditional healing recipes have been lost.

In days gone by people wisely consumed all parts of the animal, including the skin, cartilage, tendons, and other gelatinous cuts of meat. This provided all the amino acids and nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy gut and immune system.

Preservation methods used for millennia have also been lost and with it the beneficial probiotics from fermented foods.

There are two important factors for good gut health:

  1. Healthy gut bateria or microbiome
  2. Healthy gut lining

At any given moment, you have somewhere between 10 trillion and 100 trillion microorganisms inhabiting your gut - that’s more microbes in your bowels than there are cells in your body.

What’s becoming more and more clear is that the microbes in the gut are crucial for the brain and mental health.

The gut is no longer seen as an entity with the sole purpose of digestion. It’s now being considered as a key player in regulating inflammation and immunity.

A healthy gut should contain a proportion of approximately 85% "good" or "friendly" bacteria to 15% "bad" bacteria.

A shift away from this healthy balance is called dysbiosis, and dysbiosis may contribute to disease. As such, the microbiome has become the focus of much research attention as a new way of understanding autoimmune, gastrointestinal, and even brain disorders.

The gut is your second brain

Our gut microbiota play a vital role in our physical and psychological health via its own neural network: the enteric nervous system (ENS), a complex system of about 100 million nerves found in the lining of the gut.

The ENS is sometimes called the “second brain,” and it actually arises from the same tissues as our central nervous system (CNS) during fetal development. Therefore, it has many structural and chemical parallels to the brain.

Hormones, neurotransmitters, and electrical impulses communicate back and forth between both “brains” through a pathway of nerves. These pathways include and involve endocrine, immune, and neural pathways.

At this point in time, even though research is ongoing, it is clear that the brain and gut are so intimately connected that it sometimes seems like one system, not two.

Leaky gut and the connection to autoimmune disease

Leaky gut is almost always associated with autoimmune disease. In fact, reversing symptoms of autoimmune disease depends on healing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Any other treatment is just symptom suppression.

Inflammation is a key trigger for leaky gut

Inflammation has been found to be associated with just about every health condition.

Inflammation in the gut causes the spaces between the cells of the gut wall to become larger than usual. Then undigested food molecules and other “bad stuff” like yeast, toxins, and all other forms of waste, are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Your immune system will try and remove the foreign particles from your the body. More often than not, the body cannot remove all of them and the majority of these foreign bodies are absorbed into tissues throughout the body… causing them to inflame.

This process can lead to your body to fight itself. The immune system becomes hyperstimulated and over-reactive. Human tissues have proteins & antigens very similar to those on foods, bacteria, parasites, candida or fungi. Antibodies are created against these similar foreign bodies which then get into various tissues and trigger an inflammatory reaction in that tissue. This is called molecular mimicry.

Autoantibodies are thus created and inflammation becomes chronic. If this inflammation occurs in a joint, autoimmune arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis) develops. If it occurs in the brain, myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) may be the result.

If the antibodies end up attacking the lining of the gut itself, the result may be colitis or Crohn’s disease.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

The cause of Leaky Gut is widely debated in the medical community. However, there is some level of consensus that the following are the basic contributors:
  • Diet: Consuming high amounts of refined sugars, processed foods, alcohol preservatives, refined flours, and flavourings introduces massive amounts of chemicals into the body that is seen as toxic. If your body has a hard time keeping up the toxins start to build up and cause inflammation.

  • Chronic Stress: Chronic stress almost always results in a suppressed immune system. A weakened immune system cannot handle doing it’s normal job and gets overrun with pathogens very quickly. This increases overall gut inflammation leading to increased permeability of the intestinal lining.

  • Inflammation: Any type of inflammation in the gut can lead to leaky gut. This can be brought on by low stomach acid (which passes undigested food into the small intestine irritating everything it passes by), yeast overgrowth (Candida), bacteria overgrowth, infection, parasites and excessive environmental toxins, pesticides on our food.

  • Medications: Any medication prescriptions or even over-the-counter pain relievers with Aspirin or Acetaminophen irritate the intestinal lining and decrease the mucosal levels (a membrane produces mucus on the intestinal lining as a natural protective measure). This can start or help to continue the inflammation cycle (more bacteria, yeast, and digestion issues) and promotes an increase in permeability.

  • Yeast: Yeast is found in normal gut flora but as soon as it begins to get out of hand it mutates into a multi-celled fungus (usually Candida) that grows tentacles to grab onto the intestinal lining and stay put, consequently making its own holes in the lining.

  • Lectins: Lectins are found primarily in legumes and induce mast cells to produce histamine. They also bind to the intestinal mucosa, making it more porous and leaky. (Soaking grains and beans before cooking will release minerals and make them more digestible.)

  • Lack of Zinc: Zinc is a critical piece of maintaining a strong intestinal lining. A deficiency of the vitamin can lead to the mucosal lining losing strength and becoming more permeable. There are studies that show that supplementing with Zinc when it is deficient can dramatically improve intestinal lining integrity.

Below are some nourishing foods and gut healing recipes to provide the gut with some of the nutrients we've lost in our modern era.

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3266166/