Sunday, 2 February 2014

Diet changes alone won't heal leaky gut

Two years ago, we put my middle daughter on a gluten free, casein free, soy free diet and within a week she was better.  No more chronic headaches.  No more complaining of tummy aches.  No more bedwetting.  No more scary night terrors.  And her picky eating was so much better.  Clearly food was a problem for her.  And I thought I had fixed it.  I gave digestive enzymes for about 6 months into her new diet.  But she was so much better I dropped the digestive enzymes but continued with this diet.

Fast forward two years.  Now she is in second grade and is a funny, smart, active sensitive kid.  However, this past Fall, she started complaining of daily headaches.  The kind of headaches that took her to the school nurse daily.  The kind of headaches that made her sensitive to light and she didn't want to eat.  And at the same exact time, she started wetting the bed again.  She had not done this in two years with the exception of the time that she accidentally ingested gluten. 

After two weeks of this, I made an appointment with the eye doctor.  When there are chronic headaches in a child – the first thing I think about is vision problems.  The eye doctor said she has 20/20 vision but her eyes “relaxed” when he gave her a weak prescription for up-close reading, so we ordered her some reading glasses.  While we waited on the glasses, I took her to the chiropractor.  He adjusted her and her headaches went away only to return two days later.

In my heart, I knew there was more to it-- especially because she was wetting the bed again.  So, I made an appointment with our integrative allergist and ENT who can do IgE (true food allergy) and IgG (food sensitivity) testing.  While waiting for the allergist appointment, the glasses came in.  Unfortunately, there was no change in her headaches when wearing her glasses.  There’s $200 down the drain.

With my girl still suffering, we finally got in to see the doctor.  He ran a food IgE panel and an IgG food sensitivity panel.  He also ran an environmental IgE blood test.  The IgE food allergy testing came back clean but she came back with loads of IgE environmental allergies (which we already knew about). 

The IgG food sensitivity testing came back next.  I expected it to be better than two years ago but it was not.  Now she is reacting to the foods in her new diet.  This can only mean one thing.  Her leaky gut is not healed.  Changing her diet alone was not enough. 

Back to the drawing board I went.  Looking for the perfect combination of supplements to heal her leaky gut and make those terrible headaches go away, I settled on L-Glutamine twice per day to seal her GI tract, IgG 2000DF to provide aggressive immune support and very strong probiotics (stronger than her daily probiotics) to repopulate the gut with good flora.

And amazingly, within two days of the new supplement protocol the headaches went away.  And so did the bed-wetting.  She was back to her normal self -- able to play soccer again and no longer at the nurse’s office daily.  I kept her on this regime for a month. That is the amount of time it takes to heal the average leaky gut.  However, if it is severe, it could take longer. 

Leaky gut has many symptoms and they can vary from person to person.  It may present as gas or bloating.  It may present as reactions to foods including rashes, headaches or just plain not feeling right after eating.  And food sensitivities are a delayed response.  The can occur up to 72 hours after ingesting the food.  Leaky gut has also been shown to cause depression because it allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream.  Another thing to consider is that leaky gut is caused BY inflammation and it causes inflammation in the body – which can lead to autoimmune diseases or disorders.

L-Glutamine works very fast to heal the gut lining.  See study here.  However, following a gluten free, dairy free, soy free and low sugar diet is your first line of defense against leaky gut.  Once you have your diet in place, you can use many things to heal the GI tract.  Homemade bone broth works well because of the gelatin.  Deglycyrrhizinated licorice helps to repair the intestinal lining.  Aloe leaf extract and slippery elm bark can both reduce inflammation and sooth the GI lining.  So, there a host of options to help seal the GI tract and reduce inflammation.

Thanks for reading about our journey.  I am forever learning how to keep my kiddos healthy! 

Here's my girl, now EIGHT years old....happy again!

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