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The Leaky Gut Connection

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Keesha Ewers, PhD, ARNP-FNP-C, AAP, IFM-C

Welcome back to the Reverse Autoimmune Disease Summit Series. This is RAD 4.0 The Autoimmune Detox part of the series. And I’ve been doing webinars each day as a way of taking you through the process of reversing autoimmune disease, introducing you to the Freedom Framework, the four corner pieces of the puzzle, the edge pieces of the puzzle, and the 5Rs of the middle of the puzzle. And hopefully by now you have a good understanding and a good idea of how to approach yourself as a puzzle that actually just needs to be solved so that you can reverse your autoimmune disease. Knowing, like I said, that you’re not curing it, that my rheumatoid arthritis has been reversed but it’s not gone forever if I go back to the ways that I was living when I got diagnosed in my early thirties. 

So we are going to talk about this time, the connection between leaky gut and autoimmune disease with the understanding that you cannot reverse auto-immunity if your leaky gut is not being healed, and it can take years to do that. Now I was able to do mine in six months because I actually went after my trauma. The last webinar I did from yesterday was on emotional detoxification, such an important one and so under looked at. But one of the things that’s true is when you have that emotional toxicity then remember it’s setting off your perceptions so that your adrenals are sending out cortisol to break down that gut wall so then you have leaky gut. So everybody with auto-immunity has leaky gut. So everyone’s going to be a little bit different, like who are the microbes living in there. 

You have over a hundred trillion microscopic organisms that live in your digestive system. And we want to make sure that we don’t fall into the trap of standardized evidence-based medicine that says that we’re all the same. We’re not, we’re very different. And so what does that mean? Like, do you have an FUT2 snp or single nucleotide polymorphism in your genetics that makes that potentially more harmful if your microbes get a little bit off? Or are you more resilient? And I’ve found that people with auto-immunity tend to not be as resilient. So why we get it? We’re canaries in the coal mine. And if you don’t understand that reference, I realize people may not understand that reference. 

It’s when the coal miners would take little canaries down in cages and hang them up in the mine shafts and watch, and if they killed over dead, it was because the gas in the mine shafts was building up and the canaries were letting them know that it was getting to the toxic level. And I always think about people with autoimmune disease as being the canaries because we’re the ones that show up first with issues. So for those of you that haven’t met me before I reversed my rheumatoid arthritis in six months, on the left-hand side this picture is me running the Boston Marathon. I used to be very driven, perfectionistic, people pleasing person with a lot of poison from past pain and I was very bitter. Those are the four Ps that I always say is present in autoimmune illnesses. I had just had a baby when I was diagnosed so there’s this thing I talked about in the first two webinars called critical mass where a bunch of stuff is loaded onto your scale and finally something breaks up, and often it’s childbirth. 

So everything that I talk about in these webinars as I’m giving you this information to help you reverse your own auto-immunity is in my books “Solving The Autoimmune Puzzle” and “The Quick & Easy Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook,” the summer I’m writing my trauma book and that’ll be out too. It’s just taking you into more depth so that you can really understand, like “Solving The Autoimmune Puzzle” is set up with some worksheets in it so that you can do your own work. If you don’t know me, Board certified and functional, Ayurvedic medicine. I am a family practice nurse practitioner, which got left out, Family Practice ARNP, should be in here with integrative medicine a specialty. 

I’m not an MD, I’m a PhD, that Doctor of Sexology is a PhD. A certified psychotherapist Certified energy worker Yoga meditation teacher at Conscious Dying Doula and a Masters of Divinity student. So you can see I’m a very curious mind. And I always say whenever somebody came into my office when I was a primary care practitioner that would stump the chump, the chump would go back to school. And so the alphabet soup kind of grew behind my name just because I love learning about what causes our suffering and ways out of it. I’m also the founder of the Academy for integrative medicine health coach certification program where I teach people to do what I do. And my students range from being doctors of chiropractic medicine, MD, anesthesiology, nurse practitioners, PAs, as well as people that have never been to a medical training ever. 

And they’re usually my patients that are the summit junkies, people that love information and they want to really learn how to individualize it, to apply it to themselves, to heal their own issues and then the issues of their families and friends. And so what the health coach training program does is it teaches you to do what I do. And I offer at the end of each of these webinars a $3,000 scholarship, just this week of the summit. I’d encourage you if you’ve ever thought of working with me on that level, that you really want that mentorship that that’s a really good way of doing it. 

It’s a lot, it goes really in depth. From One Tree Hill, “If there’s no breaking then there’s no healing, and if there’s no healing then there’s no learning. And we’re going to talk about the breaking of the gut. We’re going to talk about secondary gain When you’re doing “everything right” What leaky gut is Food allergies versus food sensitivities Orthorexia, terrible eating disorder that we start in people as functional medicine providers And then choosing the right plan for you.  So secondary gain. I always ask my patients, mainly my students, one of my big things is to help you self confront. And if you have an autoimmune illness that you’ve been trying everything and you think you’ve been doing everything right but it’s still present, it’s going into this idea of, is there something in getting from this that I’m not willing to let go that’s very subconscious or unconscious? 

Like in the last webinar I talked a little bit in the health map, did you get paid attention to more when you were sick? So is there some part of you that allows your illness to take you offline? Like the only way that I can get time to myself is to have a migraine, so therefore I can shut the door, close the blinds, turn off the lights and my family will leave me alone and my husband will take over because I have a migraine. The migraine is doing the thing that I’m not doing by setting good boundaries for self nourishment. I’m not saying that that’s my thing, I don’t get migraines, but I’m just saying that that’s the line of questioning you’re doing, is that present? Conversion disorder is where there’s a trigger stressful events, emotional trauma, and physical trauma then there’s a physical response to that mental, physical, and psychological trauma. So it can occur when there’s no clear trigger like a car accident. 

So it’s an inability to put those two things together, that there’s emotional connection. So a lot of times the shaking, double vision paralysis that happens is because there’s so much cortisol that’s running through your system and that’s the thing breaking down your gut wall. So I love this quote from Robin William, “What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.” It always stick like there’s no wrong way of doing your healing journey because hopefully, like when people come to me and they’re really angry because they spent a lot of money and they’ve been working with a lot of people and they’re still not better, that’s not wasted time or effort or money because it’s giving you information. Even if it’s, Oh, that’s not the solution, that’s still information. So there’s nothing that you’ve wasted. 

So again, the four corners is to every puzzle we’re working on our gut, which we’re going to talk a lot about this time in this webinar, genetics, environmental toxins, and past trauma, and current day overwhelm. And this all fits into the Freedom Frameworks which we have to then do the edge pieces of the puzzle which of the 4Cs uncover your root causes and your body, your mind, your heart, your spirit, and your story. Confront the data that you get from your functional laboratory testing, your weight, your energy, your sleep level, your libido level. Connect the dots with that data and your lifestyle choices, your diet, your relationships, your mood, your behaviors, your beliefs and then create the life that you want with intention. And that means healing some trauma, doing some forgiveness work, reframing. And what that does is it starts to lighten the critical mass that has tipped your scale. We want to take as many things off that scale as we can that capsized you. 

So leaky gut, probably everyone listening to me has heard of this before. So I apologize if I’m going through old news that you already know. I have found that the people that follow me and my patients and my students are usually years ahead of most people in their education in terms of their self-education, like what they’ve picked up, what they’ve learned, how many sermons they’ve listened to and then what they’ve learned from their own journey. So just knowing. So we have this one cell layer. Sorry. Every single one of these webinars my alarm system has gone off my dogs. I’m actually recording this on a weekend when there are a lot of people out walking in the neighborhood and my dog is watching and letting me know when anyone walks by. 

So inside of your gut wall, you have one cell layer thick lining. And that one cell layer thick lining are cells that line up together and they have what are called tight junctions. And that same lining is present not just throughout the miles of your gut but also inside of your eustachian tubes and the nears of your nose and your arteries and your veins and your bronchial tubes. Like anything hollow has a lining to protect it. And when those cells start to pull apart and you have loose junctions, now there’s a space where you were supposed to keep everything contained in that gut, now molecules can get through and get into your circulatory system in your bloodstream. This causes mass cell activation. So our triggers that can break apart those cells and cause the loose junctions are myriad, we have so many of them, stress is number one, medications is another one, food sensitivities is another one which is why I always test. 

I always say test don’t guess. If your immune system is a raging bull and the matador is waving the red cap, what is the red cap made out of? Hey, is it made out of turmeric because you’re eating it every day and now it’s made its way into your bloodstream and your immune system has said, Well, hang on, that doesn’t belong here. I’m going to attack it. And now the very thing you’re taking to reduce inflammation is causing inflammation. That happens all the time. So genetics, low stomach acid, dysbiosis or disrupted gut flora infections, hormone imbalances, inflammatory foods and drinks, all of these things can break apart your cell wall. And then that leads to a hypervigilant immune system that’s on the lookout scanning for things that it’s already doing that but it’s kind of like, Now you’ve taken the Batmobile out of the garage when they’re supposed to just be a meter maid patrolling. 

So now the Batmobile is attacking everything which is not a good scene for you because it creates a hypervigilant immune system which is auto-immune disease. We get inflammation, we get pain, we get nutrient malabsorption, a leaky brain, and even cancer. So main causes of leaky gut: foods, infections, toxins, and stress. Those are the primary ones. And then when you have leaky gut it affects the entire body, everything, because your little microbes affect everything. So it affects the brain, ADHD, insomnia brain fog, anxiety, depression, and memory issues. It affects the pancreas with insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and diabetes. It affects the thyroid with hair loss, dry skin, weight imbalances, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and graves. It affects your sinuses in your mouth with postnasal drip, a runny nose. 

People will just say, Oh, I just know I have that. But no, that comes from having leaky gut because the mucus that your body puts into your gut wall to try and plug the places where your cells have pulled apart, I call it a mucus net that gets laid down as a protective barrier, it doesn’t just do that in the gut, it does it in all your hollow spaces including here in your sinuses. You can get tooth inflammation, frequent colds, it affects your immune system, frequent infections, auto-immunity, food reactions, hay fever, cancer. It affects your adrenal glands. It affects your ovaries, your hair, your digestive tract, inflammation and your vagina with yeast infections, UTIs, and pain. 

So signs of leaky gut, again, a myriad. Digestive issues are the most obvious, but a lot of people have leaky gut and don’t have digestive issues, have no gas, no bloating, no diarrhea, no IBS. They all have food allergies and food intolerances though and they don’t know it often because it’s silent. So people don’t realize that the thing that they’re eating every day, Oh I put ground fox seed in my smoothie every single day and then it shows up on a food sensitivity test and it’s a cause of inflammation. Well, hang on, I thought ground flaxseed were good for me. Well, they aren’t good for you right now because your body has just said, I’m a raging bull and that’s a red cap and it’s making me angry. So we want to listen and go, okay. All right, well, let’s get rid of that red cap for a little while. 

We’ll bring it back and we’ll re-introduce it once your free with the ball out in the field with the daisies and you’re happy, friendly. Brain fog is a big one so is fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood imbalances like depression and anxiety, skin problems, seasonal allergies, hormone issues like PMs, PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome and then any autoimmune disease, you have leaky gut. So we want to do those 5Rs of healing leaky gut. And this is why I say an auto-immune paleo nutritional program doesn’t make any sense because what this slide is showing you is that everybody does well with the super foods. All the land vegetables are fine, that’s not true. Here are your trigger foods. I agree that I take people off of those. Here are the nutritional supplements everybody needs. That is not true. You can do damage doing detoxification if your body is not ready. Here are the Th1 Th2 immunomodulators, so have all these. 

Well, that’s not true. We have to find out what your body is asking for.This is actually pretty damaging. And a lot of people feel about 80% better doing this because you’re getting rid of gluten and dairy and grains and sugar that you cannot go wrong with that. But then we need to get you the rest of the way by what your body is saying. And so we want to really understand that food allergies are not what I’m talking about. But if you have a food allergy and you eat it anyway you’re going to cause leaky gut. But food sensitivities are what 90% of us have going on. Those develop at any age and it’s where that leaky gut has occurred so now a food is making its way into your bloodstream and your immune system, which is supposed to do this, it’s not supposed to tolerate anything that’s outside the gut as friendly. 

So it’s actually just doing its job. So we want to find out what those are so that we can take them away so that they’re not causing your immune system get mad. So we have food allergies, very few people in the population actually have those, but those are IgEs, you go to an allergist to figure them out. If you have mass cell problems or histamine issues go to an allergist please and get RAST testing, find out what’s causing it. Then we have auto-immune induced inflammation and then we have food sensitivities, that’s most of everybody.  So food allergies are IgE mediated. They happen from 20 minutes to two hours of ingestion, they’re pretty immediate, they can be life-threatening. 

Food allergy symptoms can be anywhere from tingling to hives to anaphylaxis, lightheadedness, fainting, dizziness. These are food allergies. Food sensitivities can occur one hour up to 48 hours after a trigger food is ingested but up to four days, it’s usually four hours to four days. And those are kind of weird things that you wouldn’t really think like, Oh, I have acne two days later or I have brain fog or I’ve got a runny nose, difficulty losing weight. And when I had a brick and mortar clinic we used to carry a book called “Hidden Food Sensitivities Are Making You Fat”. I love the title of that boat because what it was pointing to is that you get third space fluid, you get this inflammatory stuff so that when you go away from that food sensitivity, all this water dumps out because now your body’s saying, thank you. I don’t have to be puffy and bloated anymore. 

I can’t believe how grateful I am to you. That’s what we want from a body. We want it to be grateful.  So there are these immunoglobulins when we talk about Ig. IgM is the first Ig type, it’s produced in infections. IgA works usually in the mucosal tissues, it’s in breast milk, It’s an immune component of the GI system, it’s one of the early detections. IgG, like I said four hours to four days of ingestion. Its main Ig is in the serum and it’s a major player in the immune response. 

And it’s part of a memory response. So people will say, well my IgG showed up that I’m sensitive to butternut squash but I never eat butternut squash. Well, it has a memory. Just like anything else it doesn’t make a ton of sense. So you could have eaten butternut squash when you were seven years old and your body didn’t like it and it logged it like, Oops, don’t like that. And now 40 years later, it’s reacting. That’s part of IgG. That’s why it’s so hard, you cannot do an elimination diet and figure out IgG. You cannot do a rotation diet and figure out IgG. It can take four days to react from a memory of something that you ingested 16 years ago. It’s impossible, it’s why I always do testing. And then IgE is Frank allergy. 

And then you get that done by an allergist, and they are not the same. So the link to autoimmune diseases… These antibodies are part of the immune system. They’re produced in response to the things we come in contact with, our bodies make antibodies to foreign substances like bacteria and viruses, or are supposed to, but they can also respond to food and dust and dander and pollen, and that’s when it’s become the raging bull in the Spanish arena. And we don’t want it to Mount a fight against blueberries. So it’s really useful to help you have a rotation diet that fits you, an elimination diet that fits you by doing this kind of testing. 

Because we know that if you ingest a food as a toxin, you have to think about like, if you’re eating blueberries and your body’s responding to them like a mad bull with a red cap, then you’ve just ingested a toxin. And is it kale? Like, that’s crazy, isn’t it? But if your body has decided it doesn’t like kale then you’re going to have an immune reaction. And then that’s going to create tissue damage over time and inflammation. So it’s good to know this is something we can control. IgA again, present in the mucus membranes. It increases in response to foods when the foods we eat cause inflammation, and it actually leads to autoimmunity. So we really want to make sure that we’re identifying not just IgG sensitivities but IgA too. 

So the testing I do does both. And then IgG is what we’ve just talked about. We know that chronic gut inflammation leads to gut dysbiosis. So when there’s inflammation, the environment in there is hospitable to bad bugs. So they move in, they love leaky gut because now you have a little apartment complexes between yourselves and those food particles will go into the bloodstream and so will the gas that they off gas when they reproduce. It will go up into the small intestine, you can wind up with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, you can wind up with a yeast overgrowth and ultimately you have immune sensitivity and then you have this what I call shrinking iceberg of foods that your body will tolerate. 

That is not okay. You don’t want to be in a shrinking iceberg. You want to actually have a good robust menu that you can choose from. If you’re auto-immune it doesn’t include gluten, dairy, alcohol, or caffeine or sugar, sorry everybody, or soy or corn. So why proper testing? Well, we want to make sure that we’re picking up the right thing. We want to know that if we have delayed sensitivity that we can pick it up. We want to make your raging bull Ferdinand, we want it friendly, living out in the field with the Daisies.  So allergy testing, they don’t look for IgA and IgG but they will pick up IgE. So I always say, please go to an allergist if there’s immediate response from you when you eat a strawberry, you get tingly lips, that means you have some allergy stuff going on. See an allergist. ELISA testing doesn’t look at the IgG or IgA. ALCAT looks at the white blood cell reaction and it’s not as reliable and reproducible. And then computer software like lasers and muscle testing and kinesiology, these have merit but they’re not reliable antibody tests.

I like doing food sensitivity testing with IgG, IgM, IgA because I want to make sure that you don’t develop orthorexia. Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with otherwise healthy eating. Like, Oh, I can’t have that. Oh, no. I’m afraid of that. A lot of people on ART get that way. I always say, no, we got to find out exactly what your body is triggering to heal your leaky gut and then start introducing those foods back in, like blueberries, you don’t want to be off that forever. Gluten. Yes. Be off of that forever, sugar be off of that forever. So in order to say like, am I on orthorexic? You want to ask yourself, has food turned into a “fear factor”, like a number one concern and it’s causing toxicity inside of you emotionally? 

Do you spend most of the day worrying about the quality and the purity of the food you eat, or do you have feelings of dread and anxiety around mealtime? Do your concerns about healthy eating limit where you go, where you socialize, and put a damper on your social life in general? Do you punish yourself when you’ve eaten something “unhealthy” by restricting? Does your fear about the purity of your food limit trying new foods that you’re curious about you might enjoy? Do you spend endless amounts of time on social media checking updates from all the health and fitness influencers that you follow? Do you judge others who don’t eat the way you do or refuse to socialize with others who don’t have a clean diet? So you want to really make sure that food is medicine not something to be afraid of because otherwise it puts you in this place of feeling like you’re a zebra being chased by a lion. 

And has I’ve taught you, you can’t get better from that. Leaky gut won’t heal if cortisol is constantly getting dumped in your system and continually breaking apart your gut wall. “The Quick & Easy Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook” is really great because I help you choose the right food plan for you, it help you know what testing to do like really look at all of this. It isn’t fair if you’re a canary and if you have mass cell activation and histamine and tolerances, it isn’t fair, but as long as there’s a space inside of you that says that, and I deserve something different then you’re going to be sending cortisol into your system. And it’s actually a cognitive distortion called the fairness fallacy. So the distortion is you cligned the idea that life is always supposed to be fair and when it’s not it causes you to feel negatively towards your situation and the others who are benefiting when you aren’t. 

So that actually is a way of sending cortisol into your system. Remember, it’s all about perceptions, all about perceptions. And so we want to really engage in a healthy way around fairness and come more into sort of a radical acceptance of, Oh, this is how it is. Okay. I hear you body. I really want to support you in the best way I can; because food equals mood. What we’re doing is we’re really individualizing your food plan so that your mood is fantastic. So it was like done in all the other webinars, here we are on Day 3, now you know that there’s no such thing as an auto-immune protocol that is right for everybody. And then the health coaching program where I teach people how to do this is one option of working with me, you can also work with me one-to-one, but this gives you a way of doing this testing for yourself, learning how to read it, learning what to do with the protocols that’s individualized to you and then having me mentor you as well as this amazing tribe of people who are also engaged in this. 

And during this week only, we’re giving you $3,000 off of the tuition of the six month online program with weekly case study calls. And I hope to see you there because it really is a robust amazing program with incredible people in it that are all engaged in this work.  Day 3, I hope you’ve been enjoying the summit series. It’s such a joy for me to do these and as you probably figured out, I do them a couple of times year, just a lot of work, but I love doing it, you could probably tell if you belong to the Reverse Autoimmune Disease Institute private Facebook group, I do talks every Wednesday to answer people’s questions. I love to teach, that’s why these talks I’m doing are this way so that I can give you information with slides to hopefully like you can follow it a little bit better. With that being said, I really hope that you’re enjoying this and enjoying the talks and getting a lot out of it and learning how to apply it to yourself through the Freedom Framework because you are your own unique puzzle. All right everybody, until next time, be well.

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