Today we take a look into the connection between joint pain and leaky gut.
Achy knees? Chronic knee pain? Stiff joints? Often, these ills are attributed to the unfortunate effects of aging and we just chalk it up to be arthritis. What if that pain in the neck was actually caused by an imbalance from another part of our body?
Several studies have uncovered a link between microbes in our gut and other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). People with RA as well as psoriatic arthritis tend to have higher levels of a certain type of bug in their intestines that those without the disease.
This research suggests that the connections aren’t just between the gut and arthritis, but any type of inflammation in the body.
Hippocrates was right when he said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
What exactly is leaky gut?
Think of the gut as a drawbridge. Naturally, the gut is semi-permeable to allow micronutrients (think of them as tiny row boats) pass through the intestinal tract into our bloodstream (this is normal). Certain external factors such as processed foods, infections, toxins and stress can increase intestinal permeability, causing our drawbridge to stay open which allows larger boats to escape into our bloodstream (this is NOT a good thing). Your immune system marks those foreign invaders that were never meant to pass through, such as toxins, as pathogens and begins to attack.
According to a description in the journal, Frontiers in Immunology, leaky gut is described as:
The intestinal epithelial lining, together with factors secreted from it, forms a barrier that separates the host from the environment. In pathologic conditions, the permeability of the epithelial lining may be compromised allowing the passage of toxins, antigens, and bacteria in the lumen to enter the bloodstream creating a ‘leaky gut.’
What causes leaky gut?
Maybe you just tweaked your ankle and have been trying to limp your way through the day with a few Motrin. Perhaps you’ve been taking birth control for years. Or your diet is filled with processed foods. Any of these scenarios can irritate the small intestine leading to leaky gut or intestinal permeability (when the food particles that pass through the intestine “leak” into our bloodstream) which triggers the immune system to go into attack mode and fight the invaders.
This is dangerous.
Leaky gut results in increase in inflammation, this inflammation can lead to joint pain and a host of diseases.
Leaky gut can also be caused by chronic stress, toxin overload (alcohol, antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin, other drugs), poor diet (inflammatory foods such as added sugars, refined oils, soy, food additives, gluten, dairy, pretty much your typical Standard American Diet SAD diet), sleep deprivation, bacterial imbalance, aging and could even be a genetic predisposition.
As you can see, many things on that list is IN our control (minus aging and genetics).
So, how do I know if I have leaky gut?
In addition to your joint pain, additional symptoms that may indicate the problem is all in your gut include:
- Inflammatory conditions, arthritis
- Digestive problems (bloating, gas, IBS, gastric ulcers, diarrhea)
- General/seasonal allergies and/or asthma
- Hormonal imbalances (PMS)
- Autoimmune diseases (celiac disease, psoriasis, lupus)
- Chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia
- Brain-related symptoms (brain fog, anxiety, moodiness, depression, ADD, ADHD)
- Skin issues (acne, rosacea, eczema)
- Candida overgrowth
- Food allergies and/or intolerances
Remove. Replace. Restore.
How do I repair a leaky gut?
The first thing is to remove all inflammatory triggers (such as stress and food such as gluten, dairy, sugar, etc…sound familiar to our challenge?), replace the good (whole, unprocessed foods that support nutrient absorption), restore a healthy bacteria in your gut (think: high-quality probiotics, prebiotics: non-digestible fiber compounds found in garlic, onions, leeks, raw dandelion greens, curcumin, bone broth).
Journey to a Healthier You
Remember, our gut is the gateway to health.
With nearly 80% of our immune system residing in the gut and 95% of our serotonin produced in the gut, chances are, if our gut is healthy, we will also be healthy.
But this is a journey.
These changes won’t take place overnight. So, channel your inner Dalai Lama, get enough sleep and restore your gut with a long term clean eating plan.
P.S. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information above, don’t hesitate to reach out and set up a free 15-minute consultation to learn more about our one-on-one nutrition health coaching.
More on our Foundation Nutrition Health Coaching Blog:
- Strive for Progress Not Perfection
- Plan Ahead
- Set Real Expectations
- Overcoming Procrastination: Just Do the Dishes Already
- Hangry? We’ve All Been There
- Taking Control of Cravings and Temptation
- Personal Improvement
- Changing Habits
- Mindful Eating
- Control Stress Before It Controls You
- Macronutrients for Energy Balance
- Importance of Staying Hydrated
- Eating Out and Staying In Control