More doctors are recognizing leaky gut as a medical condition. While there aren’t any definitive cures for this digestive issue, dietary changes may help. Many of the foods on the ketogenic diet have beneficial properties that can ease symptoms of several gut problems.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Also known as intestinal permeability, this disease’s name speaks for itself. In basic terms, when a person eats food, it eventually travels through the intestines. Nutrients from the food permeate (or leak through) the intestinal walls, supplying nourishment to the rest of the body. When someone has a leaky gut, other substances make their way through the walls of the intestines. This includes things like toxins, microbes, and undigested food.
When these byproducts make their way through small spaces between the intestine’s cells, they enter the bloodstream. These intercellular spaces are supposed to be minuscule, but some people have wide gaps between cells. This could be due to Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, or irritable bowel syndrome, among other potential issues. When the immune system finds these foreign substances in the bloodstream, it sends out signals for the body to fight back. In fact, scientists are exploring the link between leaky gut and autoimmune diseases.¹
Research suggests that certain foods can cause leaky gut or make it worse. For example, gluten upsets the zonulin protein that is responsible for intercellular communication.² Doctors recommend that patients with leaky gut steer clear of gluten-containing foods such as bread and pasta. Genetically modified corn could be another culprit. This crop is often covered in insecticides that kill bugs by attacking their gut. Some studies suggest that this corn could have a similar effect on humans.
Not surprisingly, sugar can exacerbate the effects of leaky gut. Besides leading to obesity and high blood pressure, sugar also invites harmful bacteria to stay in the digestive system. The keto diet replaces sugary foods with healthy fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Keto and Gut Health
Many keto-approved foods are on the safe list for people experiencing leaky gut syndrome. This includes darky, leafy greens and healthy fats. Animal protein could be another option for those on an anti-leaky gut diet. Grass-fed meat contains more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats than conventional beef, pork, or chicken.
Bone broth is currently having a moment as a superfood, but for a good reason. It repairs the digestive tract’s lining and provides nutrients to the small intestine. Collagen has similar effects, and both bone broth and collagen are keto-friendly. Eggs contain large amounts of collagen that strengthen connective tissue in the body. Furthermore, a 2014 study showed keto’s positive effects on cell damage. For those with digestive issues or leaky gut, the ketogenic diet may be the answer they’ve been looking for.
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