Could ‘Leaky Gut’ Be the Cause of Your Food Allergies?

Woman's hands on her stomach.
Eating fiber and antioxidant-rich foods like broccoli can play a role in maintaining a healthy gut function. (Image: Alicia_Harper via Pixabay)

Your intestines are designed to be impermeable (or resistant) to large protein molecules that your body may mistake as “invaders,” leading it to launch an “attack” by producing antibodies, which in turn leads to allergic reactions. The modern diet — especially wheat products — lifestyle, and medications often compromise the permeability and strength of our digestive tract, creating what is known as the “leaky gut” syndrome. When the gut becomes permeable to larger protein molecules, they can get into our bloodstream and trigger an immune response, resulting in symptoms of food allergies.

Here are some strategies to help protect and heal the digestive tract.

Maintain healthy gut flora to stop leaky gut

  • Increase intake of probiotics, eat foods such as yogurt, kefir, natto, kimchi, and raw sauerkraut
  • Eat fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
  • Avoid antibiotics (or get professional advice on what to take during your course to reduce negative effects), birth control pills, and NSAIDs (over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs)
Maintain healthy gut flora by increasing foods with probiotics to stop leaky gut — yogurt is one of them.
Maintain healthy gut flora by increasing foods with probiotics to stop leaky gut — yogurt is one of them. (Image: Julian Hochgesang via Unsplash)

Reduce inflammation

  • Use herbs such as slippery elm and marshmallow root, which help coat and heal the intestinal lining and reduce inflammation
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids (supplement at therapeutic dosage), coldwater fish, walnuts, and flaxseed to help support the immune system and reduce inflammation (EPA in particular helps reduce inflammation)

Reduce irritants

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates, including refined sugar — which irritates the intestinal lining
  • Avoid alcohol — which is an irritant
  • Avoid caffeine — which irritates the gut and dehydrates the body
Man meditating on a big body of water with beautiful mountains.
Positive lifestyle changes like meditation can help protect and heal the digestive tract. (Image: via Simon Migaj via Unsplash)

Positive lifestyle changes

  • Reduce stress (try a meditation like this one, which is not only free, but really works)
  • Practice mindful eating
  • Chew well

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it should give you hope that there is more that can be done naturally to relieve your digestive problems.

In all cases, your symptoms should be assessed individually by a health professional to rule out other possible causes. Remember too that it takes time for these things to develop, and likewise, it takes time for recovery. The old saying that “prevention is always better than the cure” still rings true.

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  • Sheridan Genrich

    I’m Sheridan, a clinical nutritionist, naturopath and iridologist based in Brisbane. My client base stretches Australia-wide and throughout the USA. I thrive on helping individuals and families find the missing pieces to enhance their mind and body, based on genetics, lifestyle and real food practices.