Genetics is usually the first to be blamed for our food intolerance, sensitivities, and disorders. While they are said to play a role in the digestive functions of individuals, there are many lifestyle triggers responsible for the onset of digestive issues. Stress and diet, food intolerance and excessive alcohol consumption, in particular, are key factors. Well, guess what! We just happen to be rolling into the greatest host of these lifestyle triggers: the holiday season!
Leaky gut syndrome, the process of bacterial antigens and unwanted proteins permeating the intestinal wall and leaking into the bloodstream, is a condition that has raised concern over recent years, and with good reason. Western lifestyle is thought to be a major contributor to leaky guts across America. While this victimizes our culture, it also illustrates that it can be fixed or avoided altogether. How? Through a thoughtful diet and healthy behaviors. Unfortunately, both of these often go MIA during the holidays as we indulge in less-than-healthy, rich foods and drinks while functioning on minimal sleep and maximum stress.
For those who may already be susceptible to a leaky gut, the gluttony of holiday festivities can heighten the symptoms that range from digestive issues like constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and nutritional deficiencies, to physical issues such as chronic fatigue, joint pain, and arthritis. But possibly the most shocking discovery is the effect leaky gut can have on the brain and neurological function, affecting one’s mood and causing brain fog, anxiety or depression. While the holidays are supposed to be a time for celebration, family togetherness, and rejoicing, it is sadly also a time that brings about stress and feelings of loneliness and depression for many—that can then be magnified for an individual experiencing the effects of a leaky gut.
It is therefore imperative that those who present symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome be cautious with their culinary indulgences and be mindful of their behavioral patterns during this busy, festive season. It may come as no surprise that sugar, alcohol, grains, and dairy are among the top foods to avoid. Just what you wanted to hear before diving into pumpkin pie and spiked eggnog, right? I am just the messenger, and there is more. You also need to minimize stress and overexertion and get plenty of sleep. This might seem impossible as you start to dust off your holiday décor, plan and attend parties and shop for gifts. But, look at it this way, you are of little good to your family and friends if you are sluggish, not feeling well and down in spirit.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent leaky gut or help to repair the damage associated with leaky gut. Failure to avoid inflammatory foods or foods that you may be intolerant to could lead to inflammation, autoimmune reactivity and ultimately, the onset of autoimmune disease. Leaky gut can also have negative implications on your overall health due to an increase of inflammation from the toxic antigens that would otherwise not be leaking into your system.
If you have digestive issues or any of the symptoms described, you should consider testing to help determine if the foods you are eating may be impacting your gut permeability. Cyrex Laboratories, a clinical laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity, offers the only enhanced intestinal permeability test on the market, the Array 2 – Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen™. This screening tests the permeability of large molecules in the small intestine and helps identify the route of intestinal damage as a result of immune reactivity from environmental or dietary triggers.
It is always recommended to seek the advice of your primary care physician. And, understanding the route of damage can help direct your healthcare professional to the trigger causing your symptoms. ‘Tis the season to be holly, jolly—and healthy. You really cannot get the holly and jolly without the healthy so take care of yourself this holiday season!
Opinion by Dr. Chad Larson
(Edited by Cherese Jackson)
Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories (www.joincyrex.com). Dr. Larson holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease.
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Top Image Courtesy of Dr. Chad Larson – Used With Permission
Featured Image Courtesy of Bart’s Flickr Page – Creative Common License