What is Leaky Gut, and how can you begin Detoxing your body and sealing up the gut to stop chronic illness and symptoms?
Your intestines are covered with a protective layer of epithelial cells that are linked together tightly. In fact, it is found that over 40 different proteins play a role in this protection. In a well-functioning gut, this protective layer serves as a barrier between your intestines and your bloodstream. These tight junctions have two jobs while regulating their permeability:
- Allow key nutrients to enter the bloodstream, being absorbed from the food you eat
- Dis-allow toxic chemicals, yeast, bacteria, and even parasites from entering the bloodstream.
If these tight junctions of the intestinal protective layer are too permeable, #2 occurs and tiny particles that should never have entered your bloodstream are granted entrance. This presents quite the problem as it is found nearly 80% of the immune system lies directly outside the gut wall.
What would the consequence be of bad particles that should not be passing through the gut wall getting through, and disrupting the immune system as well as getting into the blood stream that circulates the entire body, including crossing the blood-brain barrier?
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Inflammation–the root of nearly all disease.
Science is continuously working to reveal the ultimate causes of Leaky Gut and an increased permeability. Surely the future will unveil many more solutions, but what we do know and have control over is clear:
- Toxin Overload
- Drug and Prescription Use
- Alcohol Use
- Synthetic Cleaning Products
- Synthetic Cosmetic Products
- Synthetic Body Products
- Poor Diet
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
- Refined, hydrogenated Oils
- Added sugar
- Synthetic Food additives
- Conventional Dairy products
- Bacterial Dysbiosis
- Ibuprofen Use
- Antibiotic Use
- Chronic Stress
- Unmanaged Emotions
- Sleep Mismanagement
Looking at the list above, we can begin to make a great difference in your body just by focusing these areas: cleaning up your diet, implementing gut balancing techniques, and finding solutions for chronic stress.
The list below offers my suggestions for identifying if you’re the perfect candidate for this journey through the phases. The list below was determined based on my experience of coaching clients through this process—just because a condition or symptom isn’t listed below does not mean this journey isn’t right for you either.
- You get sick frequently (at least once per month)
- You have digestive health issues or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- You frequently bloat and have flatulence
- You have more than 20 pounds of body fat to lose
- You have acne, eczema, or other inflammatory skin conditions
- You have hypothyroidism
- You have high cholesterol
- You have high blood pressure
- You have high hemoglobin a1C numbers
- You have chronic pain
- You have food sensitivities
- You have an autoimmune disease
- You have arthritis or achy joints
- You experience brain fog and memory decline
- You have experienced rapid weight gain recently
- You have mood swings or a history of mental illness
If you are someone experiencing moderate to severe emotional eating and bingeing symptoms, this may not be the right time for you to do this protocol. As someone who experienced over fifteen years of these turbulent eating behaviors, I feel confident in telling you the only way I would endorse your continuation into the protocol is if you have a weekly therapy session or binge-eating coach to support you along the path.
Undoing a lifetime of hardwired habits in a short amount of time is simply not plausible. However, if you are focusing just as intensely on developing mental strength tools and emotional outlets for triggering events as you are the journey of nutrition application, then this journey just may be one of the most healing events for you.
Meal Timing for Phase 1, 2, and 3
(I will be discussing Phases 1, 2, and 3 in the next few blog posts and podcast episodes.)
The question of ‘what type of person do I need to become to succeed with this roadmap?’ should be filling your mind right about now. It’s a needed pondering point as, without it, you can’t truly change the way you go about your life. And when we are talking about nutrition changes, I’m a true believer that after clearing my own brain fog, losing the extra weight, and fixing my own gut issues that your success hinges on how consistent you can actually be.
I know it’s overwhelming when you have lots going on in your life. But that is where the real mindset work begins. All you need are a few key habits to plug into your life–this is what becomes your daily routine.
Before I finally started succeeding with my own body and health in 2012, I was an excessive exerciser, then became injured so stopped exercising. I constantly fell off the wagon, got depressed about how I ‘couldn’t succeed with my goals,’ and ended up going crazy bingeing on even more food because I was so deflated. The day I woke up and realized I had to become the master of my thoughts was the most powerful pivot point for me.
And I began to get very efficient–and simple–in what I did each day. Consider which of the following you will need to implement, or what ideas you have when you read what worked for me:
- I began working out at the same time each day. First thing in the morning at 5 am. This was the only time I could make it happen, so I woke up and did it. NO. MATTER. WHAT. I stuck to a 60-minute simple program I had designed for myself at that time (I’ve been a personal trainer over 10 years now!).
- I began following the same meal plan every day of the week for one week before changing it up. This made my shopping and prep SO much easier. I didn’t have to THINK. I just ate it, even when I didn’t want to or it didn’t sound good. I knew I was finally getting consistent with the food coming in my body so I could heal.
- I kept a notebook with me so I could write down when I wanted to blow my diet, when I was frustrated with my weight, or when I was comparing myself to others and it ‘wasn’t fair.’ This became my outlet for these consuming feelings, rather than pushing me into my next binge.
- I had an accountability chart where I gave myself a gold sticker at the end of each day. Oh, how I CRAVED getting that gold star each day. In my first transformation of my body, I achieved 88 straight days of nailing it!
Where there is a will, there is a way! Consistency is the name of the game as you journey through the phases. Remember: this protocol is not the lifestyle plan. This is the healing plan. Adjustment into a maintainable lifestyle happens near the end of Phase 3.
Meal Timing Approaches
As we discuss meal timing, I think it necessary to point out that we, as people, change. Our lives rarely remain the same, so changing up your meal timing approach is normal and natural. Do not think you are failing or messing things up. The key is to be as consistent as you can, of course, but to always have the additional tools of knowledge in your back pocket.
Many people find that Option 1 works best Monday-Friday, while Option 2 works best on weekends. You may find you only enjoy one style discussed below. You may alternatively find that you enjoy the thrill of cycling back and forth between the options every day.
Lest you become too fixated on one being ‘more optimal’ or achieving ‘faster results’ than the other, remember that only the one you personally can sustain over the long run holds the value in optimality of fast results. Success comes down to you and your discipline.
Meal Timing Option 1: Intermittent Fasting
If you are somebody who doesn’t particularly enjoy eating often, and the thought of needing to make time for eating frequently feels burdensome, then Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) just might be for you. In this style of eating, you focus on feeding your body in an 8-hour window while you abstain from food (not water) for a 16-hour window. This fasting window includes sleep time.
The most popular approach to this is three meals per day, where individuals eat a lunch around 12 pm, a snack around 4 pm, and dinner around 8 pm. This 8 hour window can be shifted to whatever hours work best for you, though most do better pushing the fast as long as possible following sleeping to maximize the physiological benefits.
What are those physiological benefits?
- If you have high insulin levels, you may see a significant drop in these levels. This not only facilitates fat burning, but may also lead to a reversal of Type 2 Diabetes over a 3-month+ period of time.
- Levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) have been shown in studies to increase as much as 5x. This helps with retaining muscle as you age and facilitates the burning of more body fat for fuel.
- Studies of prolonged fasting have shown the body more efficiently completes cellular repair processes, such as removing waste materials from cells. This may help to protect the body from the rising statistics of cancer and other preventable diseases.
In addition to physiological benefits, there are a few potential psychological benefits:
- Moms and Dads with young kids find it easier to focus on morning routines of the children without having to worry about feeding themselves. This keeps their priorities straight and they don’t feel any ‘guilt’ for spending time on themselves when they want to be putting all attention into their children. When the first meal comes later, possibly during nap-time, Moms can feel relief that now it’s time to enjoy feeding their bodies. This may also be true of those with hectic business morning routines and appointments.
- Individuals who like the feeling of a full belly may benefit from doing I.F. Because it is best strategy in the long-term to keep total daily macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) as well as total calories to a standard amount regardless of the meal timing approach, eating larger meals less frequently means you will have a fuller belly with more volume. This may be the trick to sustainability for some people, rather than feeling they were ‘barely satisfied’ for a few hours with small, frequent meal-eating style.
- Since I.F. does not have to be rigidly observed with three meals, but could turn into a grazing period of all necessary macronutrients and calories over the 8-hour period, many people may find this to be more enjoyable–eating what they want, when they want it, so long as it’s on the plan and they’re within the eating window. Some may even shorten the window of eating based on the hustle of the day and find they enjoy thinking about food less, and simply making sure the food happens sometime. This may be a sustainable strategy in the long-term with its flexibility.
Meal Timing Option 2: Small, Frequent Meals
If you are someone who enjoys the act of eating, and would graze all day long if they could, small, frequent meals may be the right meal timing approach for you. In this style of eating, you focus on feeding your body regularly, about every 2.5-3 hours for a total of six meals per day. This adds up to an approximate 15-hour feeding window.
The most popular approach to this is the use of basic Power Foods Lifestyle principles as laid out in Edition 2 (www.powerfoodslifestyle.com).
- Eat Meal 1 within an hour of waking or following an early morning exercise session
- Eat each subsequent meal 2.5-3 hours apart
- Aim to eat the final meal of the day within an hour or two of going to bed
- If exercising mid-day, aim to have one of your meals 1 hour prior to starting exercise.
- All of these principles remain the same regardless of the times you are awake–I’m speaking to you, night-shift workers.
What are those physiological benefits?
- If you have high insulin levels, you may see a drop in those levels with your diligence in regular meal timing. It’s very important you do not skip meals so as to catch the fall of dropping blood sugar, regulating insulin levels. The smaller volume of each meal helps insulin surges remain lower.
- Studies of regular meals in small intervals show that leptin and ghrelin (hormones that control satisfaction following a meal as well as appetite to eat before a meal) are more regulated when regular feedings in small volume occur.
- Digestion may be easier for sensitive digestive tracts, smaller stomachs, recipients of gastric bypass, gall bladder removal, and many other conditions. Bowel movements may happen more frequently and less flatulence may occur.
In addition to physiological benefits, there are a few potential psychological benefits:
- You may be someone who just enjoys eating food. The restriction of eating times may result in a psychological ‘scarcity,’ wherein once you are allowed to eat (like in I.F.), control is lost and you eat more than you should–even with proper macronutrients and calories for your moderate caloric deficit. Eating small, frequent meals helps the brain quiet as it squeals for the desire to eat. The successful eater can quiet the mind with a reminder food is coming soon.
- Individuals who feel better with a light tummy and only a satisfied feeling (not gorged) following meals may benefit from following the small, frequent meals eating strategy. Because it is best strategy in the long-term to keep total daily macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) as well as total calories to a standard amount regardless of the meal timing approach, eating smaller meals more frequently means you will have a less swollen belly with less volume–this also means you may feel hunger or the desire to eat a bit more frequently, though this is manageable with proper preparation and structure in the day for meals.
Want to know what Phase 1, 2 and 3 look like? Make sure you’re subscribed to the Power Foods Lifestyle Podcast for upcoming episodes where I will explain each approach. If you’d like the meal plans associated with each phase, click here to purchase now.
~Kristy Jo Wengert