We are a leaky gut family. I’ll explain how that works in a minute- it has to do with all the different ways poor gut health affects the physical and mental self. The poor inner ecology is what was ‘passed along’ but the symptoms present as many different things, from allergies to eczema to autism.
Have you ever wondered why your family seems to have so many ‘issues’ while others sail through life eating worse food and having much less healthy habits than you? Did you have a nagging suspicion that your family’s ‘quirks’, though seemingly unrelated, could actually be related?
As we talked about in the Gut-Brain Connection post, the inner ecology in our body has a LOT to do with conditions that you would not expect to be related to eachother or what is eaten, but they are.
Doctors are puzzled by this, and tend to just claim ‘genetics’ if they don’t understand something. I’m sure some things are genetics, but I find it difficult to believe that the ‘autism’, ‘eczema’, ‘hyperactivity’, ‘allergy’, ‘food intolorence’, and ‘OCD’ genes would suddenly show up in this current generation after being missing from so many before. A family full of these things is a family with the sign of leaky gut.
Read: 5 Signs You Have Leaky Gut (and 5 things you can do to fix it)
In addition to the inner ecology influencing brain function, generational nutrition does at well.
A family with leaky gut likely was very healthy 100 years ago, living on whole foods with minimal toxins and drug exposure. Two or three generations ago they switched to eating more packaged foods, cleaning with chemicals, and smoking cigarettes.
The next generation they may have quit smoking, but continued to eat even more food that came from factories, and started avoiding sun exposure (and with that avoiding fresh air) and fat.
Antibiotics, an amazing discovery that saves lives, unfortunately also are over prescribed without looking toward the long term consequences in the GI tract.
The following generation is where some big issues started popping up- Chronic fatigue, digestion problems, attention problems, autistic spectrum disorder, eczema, chronic unexplained pain, learning disabilities, depression, and possibly even obesity.
Our ‘progressiveness’ is hurting our families.
Each generation has said, ‘Well, I was raised this way and I turned out fine… Grandma lived to be 80… It must be something else, my great grandparents not only ate like this, but they also smoked a pack a day!”
Over time, our bodies have become depleted. Moving away from whole foods, reducing fat, and the stress of environmental toxins has left us depleted of nutrients. When we get pregnant (if we are able), these deficiencies are passed on to our offspring, and the toxins may be partially passed on as well.
If a mother’s liver is overwhelmed with toxins, it may not adequately filter them out and away from her developing baby, and the baby is then born fighting an up hill battle. A mother deficient in vitamin B12 passes that deficiency onto her baby, who then has trouble growing, developing, and learning (source) and detoxifying. These aren’t the only problems- there are many more.
As we talked about in the gut-brain article, just intake of the correct nutrients isn’t enough. We need to be taking in nutrients that our body can actually use (ie from whole foods) and our body has to be functioning well enough that it can digest and utilize the nutrients how it should.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Compulsive behaviors such as overeating, obsessive dieting, and excessive hand washing
- Chronic unexplained fatigue
- Digestive issues
- Chronic unexplained pain
- Sensory integration disorder
What Can We Do?
By taking the nutrition and toxin aspect of our family’s health seriously, I believe that we can change our family tree. If you suspect your family is also a GAPS family, I would suggest starting by reading the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book, and then implementing the diet as described in the book.
“What if I don’t want it to go away?” Some people ask me that; their child has loveable quirks, and they don’t want to lose the intelligence, different way they view the world, or their personality. I don’t think modifying their diet really does get rid of that sort of thing. I’m a bit obsessive and on GAPS I stop washing my hands 97 times a day and don’t have to re-check that the stove is off a dozen times before leaving the house, and I don’t repeatedly put my truck in first gear while waiting for the light to turn green, but continue being able to methodically evaluate things. In my experience, I haven’t noticed ‘losing’ any of my quirky traits that I find helpful in life, I only lose the ones I’m happy to not have.
*Disclaimer: I’m just a mom trying to figure out what will help my family. I’m not a medical professional. I’m not judging you, diagnosing you, or claiming to have all or any answers. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned lately, if you have any questions.
HOW TO START BALANCING The Leaky Gut
First we may need to start with supplements to correct nutrient deficiencies and try to temper the stress-causing leaky gut and leaky-gut-causing-anxiety cycle. I had good success with True Calm, an amino acid and herb blend (you can find this here). I also recommend cod liver oil to give the body easily absorbed fatty acids that the brain thrives on (more about cod liver oil here). My daughter saw calming benefits from L-Carnosine, which is also an amino acid. Many people who do not find success with Gaba (in True Calm) find that L-Carnosine is helpful. You can find L-Carnosine here.
We also need to make healthy changes to our homes and reduce our toxic load – these are pretty basic steps but can make a big difference. Click here to get a free printable checklist for a 30-day plan to get this started in simple steps
Next, we try an elimination diet. It’s so common that removing foods that often are allergy-causing, inflammation-causing, and cause a leaky gut. Removing dairy and/or gluten will most often relieve symptoms drastically. And then we can work our way back to really healing our gut with the GAPS diet. (click here for more information on working backwards to the GAPS diet)
Then once we are stabilized and eliminating common allergens from our diet, we can work on restoring gut flora balance and healing the gut. Most importantly, we clean up the gut. (click here for the GAPS intro diet for gut healing and sealing)
Probiotics can help, be sure to go slow – we’ll be introducing these beneficial bacteria, which will in turn kill off the bad ones – when this happens we can experience a rush of symptoms, so it’s important to go slowly (these are the probiotics that I use)
When the gut flora is balanced, we should crave healthy food, have a fairly stable mood, and feel nourished.
DEPENDING ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO MODIFY THIS PROTOCOL AND STILL SEE GREAT RESULTS; POSSIBLY JUST REMOVING GLUTEN, ANY KNOWN ALLERGENS (OFTEN EGGS, WHEAT, OR DAIRY), AND INCREASING PROBIOTICS FOR A TIME.
This article is right on, Cara! Thank you! I HAVE wondered why my babies always had digestive/sensory issues while I watched other moms’ babies behave calmly and remain contented….and eating anything!
Thanks for laying out the steps. Very helpful!
Thank you. After years of constipation Now i realize the microbiome is the underlying cause. Your blog really help me a lot. Last year i start intro diet with my 3 sons but at stage 2 we got stuck and return to our Rice diet. But i can see improvement in my 3rd boy speech-delay becoming fluent in 4days on intro diet. It’s amazing. I should get a coach to make it all over again.