5 Ways Paleo Heals a Leaky Gut

Paleo is simply eating in accordance with our genetics, nourishing the body in the way nature intended. A diet based on traditional, hunter-gatherer foods maximizes health, healing and well-being…and benefits all aspects of the body, not just digestion!

Eating within a Paleo template alleviates and remedies chronic aches and pain, weight-gain, poor energy levels, fluid retention, hormonal imbalance and other conditions aggravated by chronic inflammation, while simultaneously supporting heart health, bone & joint integrity, stable moods, immune function, sound sleep, mental clarity and much more.

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Holey Sh*t:  Holes in the Gut Lining Are No Joke

Leaky Gut Syndrome (also known as intestinal permeability) is a major contributor to ill health and chronic conditions. Leaky gut occurs when the digestive tract develops gaps between intestinal cells. Once holes are present, this normally selective membrane can no longer filter or regulate which particles are absorbed. Foreign particles can freely enter the blood stream and cause inflammation and damage anywhere in the human body. Additionally, these intruders force the immune system into overdrive…draining energy, depleting nutrient resources and creating unintended health consequences.

Even Hippocrates said it:  “All disease begins in the gut.”

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5 Ways Paleo Helps...

The following are five specific ways the Paleo Diet supports the intestinal lining. Further information is thoroughly detailed in The Paleovation Workbook (specific section locations are noted in parentheses; supplemental topic info is accessible here).

1.     Avoids Anti-Nutrients in Grains/Legumes (Prep Sections D & E, Day 8)  

Many foods contain an assortment of harmful anti-nutrients known as phytates, lectins and saponins. Some anti-nutrients interfere with digestion, while others injure the intestinal lining. Lectins are pieces of proteins that do not break down during human digestion – and sometimes, as in the case of gluten, lectins are sticky and adhere to the intestinal walls. When the immune system attempts to eradicate these particles, it inadvertently damages the surrounding gut tissue, compromising integrity of the intestinal lining. Eliminating grains & legumes (especially wheat, corn, soybeans and peanuts) removes the primary sources of lectins, interrupts the continual assault of a western diet and allows a chance to repair a damaged gut lining.  

2.      Emphasizes Gut-Healing Fats (Days 1 - 3) and Proteins (Days 6 & 23)  

Certain natural fats soothe the gut lining, reduce inflammation and feed the colon cells. These fats are abundant in traditional foods – saturated fats from naturally-raised animals (like grass-fed fatty cuts of meat like ribeye, lard and pasture-raised bacon or egg yolks); small fatty fish such as sardines or herring; and fats with distinct structures including coconut oil (or MCT oil) and grass-fed butter. Collagen, gelatin, glycine and proline proteins all have gut-soothing properties. These proteins are naturally found in conjunction with fat-soluble vitamins, also beneficial for gut integrity. Find these proteins in bone marrow, organ meats, skin and tendons – a simple source is the Paleo Diet staple:  Bone Broth (detailed in Cooking Assignment #1, Prep Section F). 

3.       Avoids Inflammatory Industrial Oils (Days 3 & 4)  

Modern convenience foods primarily contain high omega-6 oils including canola, soybean, corn, vegetable, etc. These industrially-processed seed oils are very volatile and will be oxidized by air, light or heat (even in the clear bottles under grocery store lighting at room temperature!). Oxidation is the process of becoming rancid. When the body ingests rancid fats, it has no choice but to use them as it would a more stable fat…which means it must incorporate them into cell membranes. These fats interfere with the body’s ability to build a competent gut lining. Avoiding damaged fats involves conscious effort, so knowledge of where they lurk is crucial to limiting exposure.

4.       Explores Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Supplements (Days 1 - 3, 6, 15 & 23)  

Certain nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties including omega-3 fats EPA & DHA, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, bone broth, gelatin/collagen, soluble fiber, short-chain fatty acids (such as grass-fed butter), medium-chain fatty acids (including coconut oil) and nutrient-dense organ meats. All these foods are ancestral staples. In fact, many traditional cultures prized these nutrient-dense foods for their healing abilities. The Paleo Diet makes a point to vary protein sources, encourage nose-to-tail eating, incorporate a wide range of vegetables and colorful foods, and embrace the wisdom of traditional cultures. Eating these foods accelerates the healing process of the leaky gut…and for those with food aversions, select nutritional supplements can fill in the gaps: Nutritional Supplement Recommendations.  

5.       Uses Vegetables as Primary Source of Carbohydrates (Prep Section D, Day 2)

The westernized diet is chock full of starchy and sugary carbohydrates, often from sources that do not supply any quality nutrients (like flour, rice, sweets). Eating these carbohydrates spikes blood sugar levels, creating a constant cycle of insulin rushes followed by blood sugar crashes and subsequent cravings. This extremely inflammatory sugar cycle explains why so many individuals often snack between meals, further taxing the digestive system. Replacing poor carb sources with vegetable carbohydrates halts the insulin surges and simultaneously supplies vitamins and minerals necessary to support bodily functions such as gut membrane repair. Additionally, veggie fiber slows the rate at which glucose enters the blood. This corrects the craving cycle and gives the body a break from constant food intake, lending internal resources toward repair versus more digestion.

6.       BONUS FACT:  Feeds the Good Gut Bacteria (Days 15 & 23)

Gut health is highly influenced by the quality of the flora present. A typical modern diet, with an overload of glucose, overwhelmingly feeds the pathogenic bacteria. However an ancestral diet cultivates beneficial gut flora with sources of fiber, prebiotics, resistant starch and short-chain fatty acids. Traditional fermented foods such as kraut, water kefir or kvass (and even fermented dairy, a non-Paleo source) introduce valuable probiotics into the digestive tract to support the proper balance of gut flora. The Paleo Diet encourages individuals to incorporate a wide range of foods designed to keep the gut flora balance tipped in a positive direction.

 

There Is No Catch! Simply Eating Paleo Naturally Induces Proper Body Function.

 

An elimination period of 2-3 weeks often reveals dramatic health benefits including improved energy levels, more comfortable digestion, clearer skin, less sensitivity to allergens and less inflammation throughout the whole body (with noticeable improvements in range of motion and achy muscles/joints).

The best news is health benefits emerge solely from conscientious food choice:  just eliminate inflammatory foods and emphasize restorative, traditional foods. There are no expensive powders, specially-formulated products or endless exercise routines necessary.

 

The body already has the innate ability to heal – Paleo creates the ideal set of circumstances to foster and sustain this natural healing.

 

How Do I Start?

Individuals new to Paleo often appreciate assistance identifying typical inflammatory foods, sifting through abundant Paleo resources, finding easy-to-understand information and staying prepared. This is the basis of The Paleovation Workbook:  It’s like having a trusted mentor supporting the reader each day.

The Paleovation Workbook details the Why's and How's for healthy, long-term diet change

This workbook is arranged in easy-to-read, daily sections designed to keep the reader informed and organized. Each day reinforces the commitment to dietary change by explaining specifically why these diet changes improve health as well as how to implement them, loaded with ideas for snacks, recipes, socializing, practical planning assistance.

Substantial information is compiled in an easy-to-read “bottom-line” format with charts, checklists, templates and practice exercises. Additionally, to build a balanced approach to lifestyle modification, information includes other pillars of health such as stress management, sleep tips, sensible exercise and more:

Informative Topics:     

  • Destructive nature of sugar and starch

  • Fat facts – the good, bad and ugly

  • Problems with modern foods

  • Chronic inflammation and its complications

  • Cholesterol and heart disease

  • Autoimmune support

  • Gut health and probiotics

  • Detrimental effects of stress

  • Smart nutritional supplementation

How-To Topics:

  • Stock a Paleo kitchen

  • Generate meal ideas and recipe resources

  • Manage food cravings

  • Enhance fat-burning metabolism

  • Substitute non-Paleo foods

  • Devise strategies for social situations

  • Promote deep sleep

  • Break through a weight loss plateau

  • Solidify long-term dietary success

 

The advantage of this workbook is it teaches the reader what to do AND how to do it, ultimately increasing odds of lasting success.

 

Develop a Personalized Dietary Template

Elimination diets are commonly used to test for food allergies or sensitivities. The method is simple, just avoid specific irritating foods for a set period of time, then carefully reinstate them to observe personal tolerance levels. Participants learn to connect the dots between their trigger foods and symptoms of inflammation within their bodies.

The Paleovation Workbook walks the reader through a 4-week elimination diet and reintroduction period. The beauty is that there are no cookie-cutter results – each person reveals a customized list of well-tolerated foods. In the long run, this knowledge is used to formulate a personalized, flexible approach to dietary success.

 

The Paleovation Workbook provides the framework to stay informed, motivated and accountable during the short-term Paleo transition as well as long-term, healthy diet management.

 

Cheers to your renewed health and vitality!

The Paleovation Team