Lazy Gut vs. Leaky Gut and How Stress Causes Belly Fat

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This post offers a different perspective on the concept of gluten-free, and a bigger holistic view of healing digestive issues.

This is going to be one of my more irreverent and controversial posts. I’m not gonna hold back, and I’m gonna come off as snotty and annoyed. If you don’t want to be offended stop reading now. (because let’s face it, I’m known for being non-judgmental and compassionate…not offensive).
I find the gluten-free fads, like any so-called “nutritional diet” to have gone WAY TOO FAR. I think people have become obsessive and even addicted to the concept of gluten-free and these habits are simply trading one issue with another. In the long term, years of gluten-free eating could actually cause MORE DAMAGE to your digestive function.



A Gluten-Free Scene

A woman walked into a deli-bistro and asked the cook behind the counter, “do you have gluten free bread?” When the cook said no, she continued to ask about the gluten content of several other dishes on the menu. In the midst of this exchange, she told her companion that ordering at a restaurant is stressful for her, and that she hates that the only thing she can eat is soup. The cook warned her that there is some flour in the soup, and it is not gluten-free. He suggested several of the gluten free salad options. She said she hates vegetables and that she isn’t allergic to the kind of gluten in soup.

Lazy Gut Complaints

The woman and her companion chose a table close to the cook’s window. He listened as the woman shared a litany of complaints about her life with her companion. She complained about her back pain and how her chiropractor appointments didn’t seem to help. Her restricted diet didn’t seem to help her ever lose weight. She still carried the spare tire around her belly. And, she suffered fatigue and never slept very well at night.

A Cook’s Intervention

When the cook finishes their order, he personally delivered it to their table. With a happy smile he told them that he took the liberty of adding a few extra special ingredients into their meal. He said that the extra TLC required that they eat slowly and breathe deeply between bites in order to activate the special flavors. The ladies smiled and laughed at his suggestion, arguing that eating slow and breathing deep couldn’t have anything to do with flavor activation. But the cook was adamant and insisted. He refused to place their plates on the table until they took a deep breath with him. Once they had, he served them and said that if they continued to breathe like that through the whole meal, they’d feel a thousand times better.


Lazy Gut vs Leaky Gut

Many proponents of the Paleo or gluten-free diets preach about Leaky Gut. I argue that a gluten-free diet, practiced too much causes a LAZY GUT. Sure, if you have been eating hard to digest foods for too long, your belly goes into overdrive with the digestive juices and enzymes and can poke tiny little holes in your intestinal lining. This is Leaky Gut. And yes, you may need to seal and heal that gut lining, fixing leaky gut. But once the leaky gut is healed, staying on a paleo or gluten-free diet for too long will cause LAZY GUT. Eating gluten-free too strictly and for too long can trade your LEAKY GUT for a LAZY GUT.

The Stress of Gluten-Free

Yes, a gluten-free diet is less stressful on the digestive system. However, the stress of finding gluten-free food causes a different, and more disrupting type of stress in the system. Yes, biologically, gluten is difficult for your tummy to breakdown and digest. But that’s the job of your tummy. If you take away the challenging stuff, it loses its ability to process the tough stuff. In essence, by feeding your gut a “stress-free” diet, you are enabling your gut to be lazy, to not have to work as hard.

The woman in the deli-bistro likely had leaky gut at one point. The fact that the gluten in soups doesn’t bother her is indication that her leaky gut had likely sealed up and any remaining issues were psychosomatic. The process of deciding what to eat was extremely stressful for her. The more stressed she got, the more stress hormones her brain tells her body to spit into her bloodstream. Those stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, then tell the tummy to stop working so hard. This is because when stress happens, the stress hormones of your body direct the energy and fuel of your system to the essential functions of your body to deal with the stress. Her heart rate increased, her blood pressure increased, and more energy went to her muscles. That energy had to come from somewhere.

The energy to deal with streess came from the parts of her body that don’t have anything to do with putting out fires. It came from the parts of her body that are about resting and digesting, which happen when you are NOT stressed. So by stressing herself out about what to eat, her stress hormones told her tummy to not work as well. Her gluten-free diet was backfiring for two reasons. The stress of deciding what to eat turned down her tummy functions, AND the less challenging diet allowed her tummy to stay lazy. In the long run, her tummy loses function!


Heal and Seal the Gut

Let me be clear here, I’m not saying that she shouldn’t occasionally give her belly a break from eating hard to digest foods. If she has LEAKY GUT, she MUST heal and seal those tiny holes by eating a softer diet. However, after healing, she needs to return to eating some of the harder to digest foods like grains and glutens. The paleo or gluten-free diet for a time can teach her about eating more vegetables and a better balance. But eventually, she needs to swing back from one end of the pendulum to the center and eat a variety of foods in moderation.


Everything in Moderation – Eat a Variety of Foods

I’m a HUGE proponent in MODERATION IN EVERYTHING in life. You tummy needs a good moderate balance of easy and hard to digest foods. Just like your body needs a good balance of easy and difficult movements. If you work out too hard all the time, you fatigue. If you eat too much hard to digest stuff, your tummy is going to get tired. But if you cut out all the heavy lifting, you’re gonna get weak. Plain and simple. Your body, all parts of it, need challenge and rest.


Belly Fat & Stress

Why, even though she eats gluten-free and sugar-free and dairy-free and whatever-else-free, does she still carry a spare tire around her gut? When the tummy is told not to work as hard, it cannot process all the food given to it…even if she isn’t eating very much, it doesn’t have the “muscle” to push that food through because the “muscle” is being diverted to putting out stress fires. So, the tummy then sends the food into fat reserves.

While yes, fat comes from eating too much food, it also comes from too much stress! When the body has too much adrenaline and cortisol churning around all the time, the tummy functions are kept on low and it has to put the food into storage. She’s not living on the fuel of her food as much as she’s living on the bursts of adrenaline.

But the thing is, adrenaline also has a fuel tank that can be emptied. The more stress she has (and doesn’t know how to handle), the more adrenaline and cortisol she uses up. When those pockets of juice get dry, they squeeze harder. Her adrenaline pockets live just next to the kidneys, in the low middle back. Much of middle and low back pain isn’t something the chiropractor can fix because it is those juice pockets screaming out in overuse! That’s called adrenal exhaustion.


How to Heal BOTH Lazy Gut and Leaky Gut AND reduce Belly Fat

The cook in our little scenario knew precisely what he was doing in asking the ladies to breathe deeply as they ate. He took his time to prepare their food with loving intention, and he wanted them to appreciate it by slowing down. On another note, by slowing down and taking deep breaths, the deep breath tampered the stress hormones and infused their bodies with calming hormones. Their blood pressure dropped, their heart rates decreased, and their brains told their bodies it was okay time to digest because there weren’t any stress fire to put out.


Learn to BREATHE

If you learn how to breathe deeply, especially as you eat, you can reduce the amount of stress involved in your eating. Try Focused Breathing for two weeks and see if you notice a difference in how you approach food, how you feel when you eat. And maybe, just maybe, that belly fat spare tire will start to shrink itself.

Take the Focused Breathing Online Course Now!

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