The paleo diet’s answer for perfect digestion

Before I went on the paleo diet, my digestive system never did its job without complaint. Constipation, diarrhea, stomach pains and bloating were near-constant companions. Until I forswore the problem foods in my diet, the aftermath of many of my meals were torment.

A big part of my digestive insanity was a condition known as “leaky gut.” Although the digestive tract is supposed to keep allergens and pathogens from entering the body, when you eat grains almost every day, you open up the possibility of spaces opening up in the walls of the intestines. That allows the undesirables in your food to breach the digestive barrier and cause all sorts of maladies.

Plus, for me, my sensitivity to gluten just made my discomfort that much worse.

Inflammatory complications

The results of leaky gut can include intestinal inflammations like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. You can develop skin rashes and endure complications to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease.

If you suffer any of these difficulties, chances are you need to heal the walls of your digestive tract. You need to alter your diet. Continuing to eat the refined, grain-heavy foods that most of us devour, doesn’t help.

The most problematic foods that contribute to leaky gut are:

  • Grains like wheat, barley, rye and corn.
  • Dairy foods such as milk and cream.
  • Legumes, including beans, alfalfa, peanuts and soy.
  • Refined sugar – especially high fructose corn syrup.
  • Heavily processed vegetable oils like cottonseed, corn and soy oil.
  • Processed food in general. Food manufacturers can add ingredients not listed on packaging. Also, processed foods can be cross-contaminated with wheat, other grains and allergens.
  • Beverages containing alcohol, caffeine and/or sugar.

For some people recovering from leaky gut, nuts and seeds may also cause digestive problems. And if you are allergic to certain foods, you should avoid those items.

The susceptible people

Researchers are only beginning to understand why some people are more susceptible to leaky gut than others. Research at Emory University shows that some of us possess immune systems that are better able to cope with a leaky gut and dodge the inflammation issues that result from a porous intestinal wall.

But the Emory researchers note that stressful events and inflammatory foods can cause digestive difficulties in just about anyone.

“Breakdown of the intestinal barrier can occur as a result of intestinal infections or stress,” says researcher Charles Parkos. “The normal response involves several components of the immune system that help to heal the injury while controlling invading bacteria. When this normal response is defective and there is a leaky barrier, the risk of developing IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is increased.”

Food to heal by

Healing your gut may take time. An important first step is to take probiotic supplements that supply beneficial bacteria that help the health of the intestinal wall. Fermented foods that contain probiotics are also important. These include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kim chi
  • Pickled fish
  • Kombucha (a fermented form of tea)

You should also eat foods that contain the fiber (prebiotics) that the good bacteria feast on. These include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including bananas, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, leeks and apples.

In addition, many paleo experts recommend preparing organic bone broth to nurture the intestinal walls.

In my journey to better digestion, I have found the paleo diet to be indispensable. To some people, I know I seem obsessive about my fussiness over what I eat. But after suffering through years of digestive distress, painful arthritis, strange rashes, mental fog, persistent high blood pressure and other never-ending annoyances I can’t obsess about annoying other people with my food focus.

I’m just thankful I found a diet that delivers better health.

Margaret Cantwell

By Margaret Cantwell

Margaret Cantwell began her paleo diet in 2010 in an effort to lose weight. Since then, the diet has been instrumental in helping her overcome a number of other health problems. Thanks to the benefits she has enjoyed from her paleo diet and lifestyle, she dedicates her time as Editor of Easy Health Digest™, researching and writing about a broad range of health and wellness topics, including diet, exercise, nutrition and supplementation, so that readers can also be empowered to experience their best health possible.