Healthy Gut Diet and Lifestyle including the effect of foods, stress and other habits

Stewed Pears Recipe for Gut Health

Stewed pears are good for the gut, and our immune system

Improve your Digestion through the Digestive Dominoes Principles

Improve your digestion without changing your diet

4-7-8 Breathing to Activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System

Stress hormones, which we all run on all day, cause your breath to become more rapid and shallow (chest breathing).

Abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful way to decrease stress by activating relaxation centres in the brain.

Our digestive system can only be activated healthfully in a relaxation state, so switching from stress activation to relaxation activation is critical to allow digestion to occur.

  1. Gently exhale the air in your lungs through your mouth, then inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4.
  1. As you breathe in, concentrate on your breath and draw it in towards your belly button. You should be able to see your abdomen push our slightly.
  1. Hold the breath for at least the count of 4, but not more than 7
  1. Slowly exhale through your mouth while counting to 8. Gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely release the remaining air in the lungs.
  1. Repeat until you feel deeply relaxed for a total of 5 cycles. You may be able to do only 1 or 2 cycles at first.

When you are beginning to use this technique, find a comfortable place to sit or lie, and place 1 hand on your abdomen, near your navel, and the other on your chest. This allows you to gauge where your breath is going. Once you are comfortable with your ability to breathe abdominally, it is not necessary to use your hands, and this technique may be used where and when ever you feel you need it, eg, on the tube or at your desk.

Aim to take 10 breaths first thing in the morning before you get out of bed and 10 at night when you get into bed before you go to sleep. Take 5 of these breaths when you sit down to eat.

Tips to help you sleep well

We can’t emphasize it enough. Sleep is crucial for you health! To perform optimally, you need to focus on sleep as the number 1 priority for the day.

A fantastic night’s sleep is restorative for the mind, body and soul. But to sleep well, you need to consider what you are doing during the day, and in particular in the hours before you go to bed.

Sleep hygiene allows your system to wind down as nature intended, preparing you for sleep. In a natural environment, Melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’ is released as the sun sets and it gets dark, make us feel sleepy and able to fall asleep. Blue light, from screens for example, fools our bodies into thinking it’s still day time and reducing the amount of melatonin that is release.

Melatonin is also a powerful anti-oxidant and so it has been suggested that it may reduce the odds of contracting COVID-19, in a similar manner to Vitamin C.

For my full guide on how to support your immune system as protection from COVID-19, you may want to read my article on the topic.

The release of melatonin is blocked by blue light, from screens for example. Our bodies are ‘fooled’ into thinking it is still day time. Therefore, avoiding blue light as well as stimulation before bed is key.

My tips for improving sleep are:

#1 Avoid screen time before bed

This is critical to make sure that melatonin is released as nature intended. Avoid computers, phones or TV for at least 1 hour before bed. At the time of writing, many of us are facing increased stress due to the COVID-19 situation, and you may need to start this winding down up to 3 hours before bed!

If you end up using your phone / computer in the evening, use an app such as f.lux to reduce the amount of blue light from the screen.

Do something that doesn’t involves screens in this time before bed. Have a bath, make something, read a book, meditate, draw, write in your journal, whatever works for you..

#2 Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Wearing blue light blocking glasses before bed also helps your body’s circadian rhythm. You can also replace the light bulbs in your house with ones which don’t emit blue light, but have a warm red glow instead.

#3 Cool and darken your bedroom

Around 60-67 Fahrenheit or 15.5 – 19.5 Celsius is perfect.

You can use blackout shades/blinds on the windows or a sleep mask if necessary. This includes blocking all blue light including the lights from alarm clocks.

#4 Exercise, Meditation and Body Scans

If you wake in the night, try not to use a device – you can try a body scan instead:

This collection of free resources from Headspace also include meditation, sleep and movement exercises.

Getting a good sleep doesn’t just involve the hour before sleep but what you do during the day matters too. Michael Krugan in his book ‘The Insomnia Solution’ provides a number of exercises (mini-moves) which you can do during the day and at night that calm your nervous system to help you with sleep when you get to be

#5 Get some sun in the morning

Get outside, and get some sun or natural light, early in the morning to reset your circadian rhythm. The light that we exposed to during the day can affect how we sleep at night!

#6 Work on other health issues

If you have any sources of increased inflammation within the body, such as gut issues, these may be disturbing your sleep.

#7 Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey

This suggestion was has been popularised by Tim Ferris.

Try this before bed:

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (unfiltered is best e.g. Bragg’s), 1 tablespoon of raw honey stirred into 1 cup of hot water.

It’s key to use raw honey – it will help to maintain your blood sugar throughout the night and has been considered a sleep remedy for thousands of years. The apple cider vinegar provides key amino acids.

Maintaining blood sugar is important as if it drops too low, your body releases cortisol. Although cortisol is considered a stress hormone, it’s also causes the release of glucose stored in the liver into the blood to maintain that blood sugar balance. This can cause you to wake in the middle of the night as cortisol rises at an increased rate. Balancing blood sugar, prevents this.

You can also try almond butter on celery sticks, and optionaly 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil, before you go to bed. See what works for you!

#8 Intend to Sleep

When you go to bed, go with the intention to go to sleep.

Don’t use your bedroom for anything apart from sleep, sexual activity and mindfulness. Don’t watch TV, have conversations, worry or eat in bed!

If you wake up during the night, for longer than feels like more than 10 minutes, try getting up and leaving the bedroom. Do something really boring, like reading the dictionary! Avoid bright lights, TV, stimulating music during this time.

Grass-Fed Beef in Australia

If you Google “grass-fed beef”, you will find a bunch of essentially scare articles from the U.S. from wellness and paleo sites. So if you are eating red meat, what are the differences between grass-fed beef and organic beef and how does this apply to Australia, and where is the best place to buy it?

What is Grass-Fed Beef?

Grass-fed cattle must never have been fed grains their whole life. This has a variety of benefits on the nutrient profile of the meat they produce…

In a review of the research from the U.S., grass-fed beef has been found to contain 300 percent more Omega 3s than factory-farmed beef and contains less Omega-6s. Omega-3s and Omega-6s are two essential fatty acids in human nutrition. A healthy diet should consist of roughly 1:1 ratio of the two fatty acids, as we did in Paleolithic times, but the standard Western diet includes up to 30 times as many omega-6s than omega-3s. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, good for the gut, and are linked to heart, joint, and brain health.

However, remember to put that amount of Omega-3s in perspective… Grass-fed beef contains around 90 milligrams (0.09 grams) of Omega-3s per 100 grams, whereas salmon contains approximately 1.6-2.7g per 100g.

Grass-fed beef also contains less fat in total, may contain less cholesterol-raising fats, and more antioxidants. grass-fed meat also contains more essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin E, vitamin B12, and carotenoids. However, we need to remember the studies that show this are from the U.S. where the system of raising cattle is different.

Beef in Australia
Australian beef is highly regarded throughout the world, with high standards for the health and welfare of the cattle. In Australia, cattle spend around 85-90% of their time in pastures. No cattle in Australia spend their whole time in feedlots.

Cattle in Australia are also fed mainly on wheat, barley, and sorghum rather than corn (which can be GMO). Non-grass fed beef is therefore likely to be of a higher standard and have a better nutrient profile than beef from the U.S.

Grass-Fed Beef in Australia
In Australia, cattle can be certified grass-fed (never eaten grains), by the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS). If you want to be sure of grass-fed beef, that has never been fed grains, this is one to look out for.

PCAS certification also allows cattle to be certified as growth hormone and antibiotic-free.

Coles, somewhat controversially, introduced their own standard with their grass-fed range called Graze. They say their standard is based on PCAS and contains all the same requirements e.g. regarding not being fed grains, access to pasture, feed-lotting, traceability, and dietary supplementation.

Like PCAS, their beef can also be certified antibiotic and hormone-free, but it is not guaranteed. Their standards are upheld through the use of independent auditors.

Cleaver’s also produce a range which is organic and grass-fed and certified by their own Cleaver’s Certified Organic Grass Fed Assurance (CCOGA) scheme. It’s available in both Coles and Woolworths. Their standard also enforces grass-fed feeding and finishing but unlike Graze, all their meat is organic, growth hormone and antibiotic-free.

Woolworths stock grass-fed beef in their Grasslands range. This beef is accredited by Teys (Australia’s second-largest beef producer) to their own standard.

This standard is potentially less reliable than the PCAS and Coles grass-fed standards in that it requires only an initial self-assessment, and then twice yearly random samples of producers. Under the PCAS scheme, producers are required to undergo an initial on-farm audit and then yearly self-funded audits.

Like the other standards, Woolworth’s standard also dictates cattle must never have been fed grain. Unlike Coles’s Graze range, the cattle must always be antibiotic and growth hormone-free.

Aldi grass-fed beef may not be truly grass-fed at all and maybe supplemented with grain if pastures are poor. As reported in the media, this makes it essentially the same as standard beef in Australia, despite the premium price. 

Organic Beef
Organic beef is the best choice when it comes to ethical standards and supplementation. Certified organic meat is free from growth hormones and antibiotics, synthetic pesticides and herbicides and is free-range. Organic beef doesn’t use antibiotics to promote livestock growth.

However, unless organic beef is certified as grass-fed, it may not provide the same nutritional benefits.

In Australia, anyone can claim their meat is organic, so look out for the certified organic logos, such as the Australian Certified Organic logo.

What about the environment?
Reports of the green-house gas production of livestock fail to differentiate the impact of grass-fed animals. A study by the National Trust in the UK found that grass-fed beef production actually reduced greenhouse gas emissions when the locking up of carbon by grassland pasture was considered. Of course, this is specific to the UK, rather Australia, and we need more Australian research in this area.

If your budget allows, organic beef that is grass-fed may be the best choice… But if you’re on more of a budget, then buying organic beef over grass-fed may not be a priority, but buying grass-fed may have some nutritional and environmental benefits. We are lucky that all beef in Australia is high quality and mostly grass-fed.

The supermarkets’ standards for grass-fed beef are similar, although they aren’t all antibiotic and growth hormone-free as standard (check the label!). Although the PCAS standard is more reliable, it probably doesn’t matter which of the supermarkets you buy your grass-fed beef from (apart from Aldi, where it’s not guaranteed to have not been fed grains). Just lookout for the best looking meat and deals!

Buying meat from a local butcher or market is also always a good option as you can ask about the conditions the cattle were raised in..

Eight little known super foods to heal your gut

When you think of gut health, and supporting the trillions of bacteria that live down there, you may immediately think of fibre, probiotics, and fermented foods. And yes, these are some of the best ways to support our gut bacteria.

But if you are suffering from bloating, gut discomfort, diarrhea, constipation or other gut symptoms, you will also want to address the fire in your gut, that is inflammation. These super foods can help:

Cruciferous vegetables: Such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, watercress, bok choy, broccoli, kale, turnip, radishes, brussels sprouts, and similar green leafy vegetables. The polyphenols in these vegetables act as messages to your body that can move the needle away from inflammation and disease and toward health and vitality. But remember, these may not be a good idea if you have reactions to high FODMAP foods.

Curcumin (Turmeric): Curcumin is the supplement extracted from the spice Tumeric. Curcumin is a powerful compound that scavenges free radicals and prevents damage to the intestinal tract. Add turmeric to meat marinades, homemade stews, sauces and even your coffee and smoothies for added free radical protection. Try this yummy turmeric latte.

Carotenoids: from carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, mangos, spinach, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers and oranges

Stewed Apples: Stewed apples make the immune system in our gut smarter. Find out more here

Oily Fish: Such as salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies or from walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds provide the anti-inflammatory omega-3s which reduce gut inflammation.

Dark coloured vegetables and fruits: such as cherries, berries, red pepper, beetroot, red onions, red cabbage contain a higher concentration of polyphenols

Ginger: Ginger eases as gastrointestinal upset, stimulating saliva and bile production. It reduces intestinal inflammation and nausea. It is also a powerful anti-microbial which may benefit you if you have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in your gut

Garlic: When garlic is crushed it releases allicin, the phytonutrient thought to be responsible for garlic’s anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Cooking stops the enzyme forming though, so if you crush your garlic and immediately throw it in a hot pan, you’ll receive little allicin. Instead, leave the chopped garlic for 10 minutes before cooking to allow the allicin to form, and then you should still receive the benefits.

Remember though, to fix a gut discomfort such as IBS, you will benefit from finding the root causes of your problems and also follow a plan to heal your gut.

How to use the Low FODMAP diet to heal your gut

The Low FODMAP diet is now commonly recommended to ease a range of digestive symptoms associated with small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It works by removing foods that commonly cause digestive discomfort from the diet, allowing the gut to heal. Foods are then re-introduced systematically so that trigger foods can be identified. It may be used as part of a gut healing protocol.

FODMAP is an acronym for:

  • Fermentable
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • Polyols

Eek! So what is that in plain English? These are types of sugar that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine and are fermented by bacteria to produce gas. They can cause IBS type symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea in some people.

Can a low FODMAP diet help you?

Recent research found up to 86 percent of people with IBS saw improvements in their symptoms while on a low FODMAP diet. It has also been found to decrease inflammation, as measured by histamine in the gut, which may reduce neurological symptoms such as brain fog which may be associated with IBS.

A Low FODMAP diet can help you to isolate the types of foods that are causing your symptoms. Once your GP has examined you for other conditions, such as coeliac disease, this diet can help you get back to basics – I commonly recommend this diet as a first step when working with gut issues. It has not only been shown to help many people with IBS, but may also be helpful for other gut conditions such as coeliac disease, Crohn’s and Colitis. It is recommended that you consult with a health care consultant, dietician or Nutritional Therapist, such as myself, before embarking on a low-FODMAP diet.

FODMAPs can feed bacteria in the small intestine, which should only contain a small number of bacteria compared to the colon. This can lead to Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Whereas in someone with a healthy gut, these sugars will pass through the small intestine until they get to the colon where they will act as a food source for beneficial bacteria that live there.

What is the low FODMAP diet?

The low-FODMAP diet helps you identify the foods that are causing your symptoms – this varies from person to person. You start by removing foods that are high in FODMAPs for 2-4 weeks or until symptoms ease.

There are many foods that are restricted but you have to remember why you are doing this – The long-term benefits far outweigh the difficulty of eliminating these foods for this period. Remember, everyone reacts to these foods differently so the Low-FODMAP diet allows you to find out which foods are problematic for you.

As a qualified Nutritional Therapist, I can guide you through this process, help you with tasty and tolerable alternatives to high FODMAP foods, and guide you through the re-introduction phase and help you to identify other causes of your gut issues

The main sources of FODMPs include (there are other high FODMAP foods not on this list):

Oligosaccharides: Wheat products, vegetables such as onions and garlic, all beans and pulses including chickpeas, lentils and soybean, and inulins added to foods such as certain yoghurts, protein bars, and milks.

Disaccharides: The main one is Lactose and many people are Lactose intolerant. Lactose is not the same as dairy: Cream, hard cheeses and butter contain a limited amount of lactose. Most people with malabsorption can handle 4g of Lactose before they encounter issues, and so a thin spread of butter or a dash of milk may be OK, but a Latte may not.

Monosaccharides: These are simple sugars with excess fructose being the main one. Examples of foods containing an excess of fructose include fruit juices, apples, cherries, watermelon, peaches, plums, nectarines, mango

Polyols: Mushrooms, fruits such as apricots, chewing gum, and added sugar alcohols 

How does the low-FODMAP diet work?

Phase 1 – FODMAP Restriction

Phase 1 is a strict restriction of all high FODMAP foods for two to four weeks, or until symptoms settle. The low-FODMAP diet originated out of research by Monash University and they have developed an app which can be used to know the FODMAP content of various foods. It has proven invaluable to many people.

Keeping track of how particular foods affect you is also recommended. That way, you can more clearly see patterns between what you eat and how you feel.

Phase 2 – FODMAP Reintroduction

During this phase, you methodically re-introduce foods that were restricted in Phase 1. Foods are re-introduced one-by-one and in a specific order. The idea is that at the end of this process you will have a better understanding of which foods trigger your symptoms, and you can continue to eat the ones, you do not react to. This process will take several weeks or months, and I suggest you work through this process with a Nutritionist, such as myself, or a dietitian.

Is this the perfect diet?

The Low-FODMAP diet can be a life saver for many people and can transform some people’s quality of life and well being within days…

But like anything, there is a downside. When you do a restrictive diet like this, you run the risk of cutting out many nutrient-rich foods and good sources of fibre –  fibre is fuel for the beneficial bacteria in our colon, and is an important part of a healthy diet.

For this reason, and contrary to the belief of many people, eliminating all high FODMAP foods is not a healthful solution. Identifying the particular FODMAPs that trigger your symptoms allows you to include as many healthy high FODMAP foods in your diet as possible. 

What next?

You can, of course, do the low-FODMAP diet and re-introduction on your own, but many people prefer to work with a Nutritionist such as myself to help them identify what they can eat (that’s tasty too!), what they are reacting to, and to guide them through the re-introduction phase. We even have a coaching app for your phone so that I can support you through this process.  

Also, as the diet doesn’t necessarily help you find the root cause of your IBS, a practitioner can help you with testing for a bacterial or fungal overgrowth that may be causing your issues and work with you on other causes of your health issues.

If you’d like to talk me to about the low-FODMAP diet, or your options for working with IBS or other health conditions, please contact me with any questions or give me a call.

Mindful Eating

Many of us eat for comfort when we are stressed or tired, and can lose track of how physical hunger and fullness feels. We are simply not aware of when our body is telling us to start eating and when we should stop. This is not surprising as we are constantly surrounded by easily available food, at the gas station, from vending machines, or from fast food drive-throughs.

How and when we eat is as important as what we eat.

We no longer ask ourselves ‘am I hungry?’ or ‘am I full? Instead, we reach for easily available food whenever we have the urge. So firstly, we must recognise, when we are physically hungry, not just when we have the urge to eat.

We can relearn to listen to our bodies and their natural cues. I say ‘relearn’ as we are born with an awareness of these cues. You can’t force a baby or toddler to eat when they are not hungry. To break the habit of eating mindlessly, we need to pay attention whenever we have the urge to eat.

We can use the Hunger Scale to measure our true hunger and judge when it is time to eat. For most people, a good time to eat is when they are at 3 or below, and a good time to stop is when they reach a 6.

The scale can be used to see when we eat when we are not hungry. It’s important that we try not to judge ourselves. Eating is an emotional as well as a physcial thing. Instead, we can reflect and ask ourselves ‘why did I eat that whole bar of chocolate when I wasn’t hungry?’. It may be because I feel I’m stressed after a hard day at work. We can then reflect on what we can do instead of eating at that time…

Mindful Eating Scale


Quit sugar: The effect of sugar on our guts

Do you find that when you are stressed or tired, you automatically seek out something sweet?  And then many of us find it difficult to stop eating sweet foods once we have started.

It is as if, we are biologically hard-wired to crave sugar.

In fact we are.

In Paleolithic times, that sweetness was probably hard to find and the calories were valuable, and so our bodies today do not know how plentiful sugar is in today’s society and we still have that craving.

It’s not your fault that you crave sugar, and it’s perfectly normal.

Sugar in Australia

Australia’s sugar intake has been described by experts as ‘alarming’ with the worst habits among children and adolescents. The 2011 Australian Health Survey of more than 8000 participants found 55% of people consumed more added sugars than recommended. The average American is eating somewhere between 130 and 152 pounds, or 58 to 69kg of sugar a year! 152 pounds of sugar equates to 52 teaspoons a day.

If we could see this amount of sugar laid out, I’m convinced we would immediately do something about it. But as it is hidden away in many foods, we simply do not realise how much we are eating.

Sugar and gut health

But is sugar particularly bad when it comes to the gut?

It sure is!

The microorganisms that live in our gut, that is yeasts, bacteria, protozoa, act in a similar way to a metabolic ‘organ’. Sugar changes the gut microbiota in a way that increases intestinal permeability, or ‘leaky gut‘.

It can particularly feed Candida (a type of yeast), and ‘bad’ bacteria that cause inflammation, and again, causing leaky gut. This allows larger molecules to come into contact with immune cells, which react with further inflammation. These molecules then pass into the blood, and are transported to the liver via the portal vein.

And so the microbiome and leaky gut have been reported to be involved in the development of chronic liver disease and portal hypertension (high blood pressure).

Leaky gut has also been associated with visceral fat (fat around the tummy), presumably as the body uses the fat cells to store the toxic macro-molecules that have entered into the bloodstream. So it seems, leaky gut can make you fat, and that’s not just from all the calories in all that sugar!

Because there is so much sugar in the typical diet, our blood sugar levels are soaring, and high blood sugar has also been shown to increase intestinal permeability directly, at least in mice. These sugar spikes trigger the centers in our brain associated with reward, pleasure, and seeking out the source of that feeling. Amazingly, these are the same areas of the brain that light up in people that are addicted to cocaine, heroin, and nicotine.

It’s not your fault that you crave sugar!

It’s clear that sugar has addictive properties and we need to put in the effort to de-normalize sugar, so it loses its group on us. We can then choose to eat it in small amounts, as a treat, and under our control 🙂. We may find that our energy is more even, our gut is healing, and we have lowered our type 2 diabetes risk.

Retrain your taste buds

You can retrain your taste buds, by eliminating all added sugar from your diet for four weeks

At the end of four weeks without added sugar, your taste buds will have adjusted, and you may find sweetened foods just too sweet for your new tastes. The tea you drank with two teaspoons of sugar, may now taste weird and kind of disgusting. Congratulations!You have now successfully de-normalized sugar!

Added sugar is any form of sugar or sugar alternative added to, or contained in, your food. This includes the raw sugar in your tea, coconut sugar, rice bran syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or agave syrup on your fruit. While there are some metabolic differences between the forms of sugar, your gut and its microbiome don’t discriminate between the type or source of the sugar, or whether it is refined or unrefined. It is all the same:

Sugar = Sugar = Sugar

At the end of four weeks without added sugar, you can introduce a little maple syrup or raw local honey if you want to…

Artificial sweeteners aren’t recommended either as they wreak havoc on the gut by altering the gut microbiota. Small amounts of stevia are probably the best option, although even that may cause gut irritation in some sensitive people.

What does the science tell us about gluten and leaky gut?

Catchy headlines poke fun at the gluten-free ‘fad’, and many GPs still do not believe non-celiac gluten sensitivity could be affecting their patients. But many people are finding that they feel better when they avoid gluten. So what does the research tell us?

In case you didn’t know, gluten is a family of proteins found in most cereals including wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. It gives dough a glue like consistency which holds it together. Gluten is not only found in obvious foods such as bread, pasta, and beer but also soy sauce, sweats, chips, hot dogs and battered fish!

Celiac Disease

In people with celiac disease, gliadin is a powerful trigger of zonulin release. Zonulin increases intestinal permeability by opening the tight junctions in the epithelial lining, and in people with celiac disease, an auto-immune response follows.  This is a serious condition, and full-blown celiac disease is associated with complete atrophy of the villi which line the small intestine and absorb your nutrients. If you suspect celiac disease, particularly if you have a family history of celiac disease, please speak to your GP about testing.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Whilst increased intestinal permeability in response to dietary gluten is most severe in those with celiac disease, zonulin, a marker for intestinal permeability, is also increased in people with what is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and also irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea.

NCGS is a term applied to people who experience symptoms in response to consumed to gluten consumption but do not have celiac disease. They may feel gastro-intestinal discomfort, fatigue or neurological symptoms. These people tend to improve on a gluten-free diet. Unfortunately, these people can be mocked for avoiding wheat and told that it’s all in their head.

But researchers have found that people with NCGS have increased intestinal permeability compared to healthy subjects. This should not be surprising as we know gliadin increases the release of zonulin, which can affect tight junctions. The opening of these tight junctions, our gateways. allows macromolecules to come into contact with our immune system and our bloodstream and explains why the group with NCGS also had a systemic immune activation on eating gluten.

Gluten increases Intestinal Permeability in All Human Tissue

In a 2015 study, researchers found tissue taken from the duodenum of humans became permeable, and there was increased inflammation when exposed to gliadin (i.e. leaky gut). As this study is in tissue taken from people rather than directly in people themselves, we have to be careful extrapolating the results. However, this backs up the experiences of many people .. they feel better when they don’t consume gluten.

In people with gluten sensitivity and NCGS, the damage did not clear after 36 hours, and what is most surprising, is that after five hours the tissue taken from ‘healthy’ people without celiac of NCGS, still had increased permeability.

Now, the epithelial lining of the small intestine is made up of the fastest growing cells in the body, creating a new lining every 3 to 7 days, and the gut lining would heal itself after exposure to gluten. But, if you have toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner, it is never getting a chance to heal. Remember, I’m talking about people who aren’t celiac or don’t have NCGS here. If you consume gluten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, your gut lining never has a chance to repair and you leaky gut will develop.

Researchers refer to this as the loss of oral tolerance. Now, your body can not deal with the toxins you are exposed to, and it may also start reacting to foods you didn’t react to both, as your immune system fights to defend itself. You have pathogenic intestinal permeability or a leaky gut and this can lead to inflammation in the body and autoimmunity.

Although lab tests do exist to look at your sensitivity to gluten, it’s widely accepted that an elimination diet is the best way to test for gluten intolerance. If you have a chronic health condition, it may be a good idea to remove gluten from your diet and see if that is of benefit. If you want to go further with the elimination diet, a Low FODMAP diet may be the next logical step to improve gut health.