Earlier this week, I was having lunch with an integrative psychiatrist, and we were talking about how gut health influences both your emotional and mental health. Although I’ve talked about this before, I wanted to put a new insight into how a leaky gut influences your ability to keep boundaries in your personal and professional life.
We’ve all heard this term many times but do you actually understand what is a leaky gut? Perhaps you’ve taken antibiotics or are on other medications? Or your diet isn’t what it should be for optimal health, and you’re eating too much processed, sugary food, high in “bad” fats, GMOS and chemicals.
These directly impact the health of your intestinal lining. Under ideal circumstances, the lining of your gut keeps large molecules and proteins inside the gut. But with leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability as it is also known, the size of the “holes” in the inner lining of your gut increase and larger molecules are then able to permeate, or pass through, the gut lining. Some items that can now pass through into your system are undigested food particles, gluten proteins, and bacteria.
The body “is not happy” when these large proteins cross through the gut lining, and increase production of antibodies, among other things, to compensate for this. This is truly the beginning of inflammatory process, and you can see reactions such as fatigue, arthritis and joint pain, bloating and irregular bowel habits, weight gain or inability to lose weight, headaches, thyroid disease and skin problems like acne and eczema.
The good news is a functional medicine approach of nutritional and dietary changes, and specific supplements, recovery is totally possible.
Leaky gut is a problem with the integrity of the gut boundary, so how does this translate into boundary problems in your life?
One of the main philosophies of homeopathy is “like treats like”. When prescribing a homeopathic remedy for someone, I aim to find the substance that resonates the most with the symptoms, emotional, physical, mental and spiritual, the person tells me about. I’ve often seen people who suffer from leaky gut syndrome also have difficulty with establishing clear boundaries in their person or work life.
Boundaries are defined as “borders, restrictions, limits or edges.” How do we develop this concept within ourselves? Initially, I think they are established as children, with positive, self-reflective parenting, and they are incorporated into a positive aspect of yourself. There is also a cultural aspect to boundaries; some cultures believe you need to do everything all the time to take care of your family members; while other cultures don’t have this attitude.
Positive self-esteem is developed in a similar manner. Feeling good about yourself makes it easier to know how to take care of yourself and incorporate self-care rituals as part of your daily life.
Here are a few tools to help you begin a new approach towards boundaries:
Know who you are, what works best for you and what you want in any given situation. While this sounds simple enough, it can be challenging to do this on a consistent basis.
It’s a natural response to be concerned that if you say “no” you’ll hurt someone’s feelings, so it’s important to be considerate of this when first starting to change your behavior.
Realize that your inner shift to begin establishing clearer boundaries is just that, inside of you, so the people it impacts, the people you deal with on a daily basis, are unaware of your inner shift. Patience and explaining your new approach will go a long way towards having a smoother transition.
It takes time and practice to create new habits and you will not always feel comfortable when you first start this new approach, and the people in your life will need some time to adjust, too. Stick with it! The lightness you will feel inside of you will make this well worth your efforts!