Talk of gut health is all around us. People finally don’t look at me like I have two heads when I say “leaky gut” and everyones favorite quote from Hippocrates (Not like I had to remind you, but it’s “All Disease Begins in the Gut”) is thrown around so often. We’re all hyper aware that gut health is an issue, and in the autoimmune community the gut/autoimmune/everything else connection is starting to become more and more widely accepted.
And let’s be real, if you’re here on my blog, you’re likely on a gut healing journey or have been at some point. I’ve spoken openly about my own healing journey from Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, any have counted my many gut healing mistakes as well. I share lots of recipes that help heal the gut, am frequently seen sipping broth, and move nearly all of my nutritional therapy clients towards a customized gut healing protocol. Not to mention that I literally have a marquee light up sign in my office that says “B O N E B R O T H .Yes. Seriously. See for yourself.
I guess you could say I’m just your friendly neighborhood gut healin’ gal 😉
First, just in case you’re not familiar… what is gut healing and why do we need to do it?
Gut healing is most often practiced by those with leaky gut or what I prefer to call, increased intestinal permeability. The effected may experience…
- Multiple food allergies
- Stomach pains after eatings
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint pain
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Binge eating
- Autoimmune disease
- The list goes on…
The intestines can become damaged for a myriad of reasons. The causes may include but are not limited to…
- Poor digestion
- Low stomach acid
- Poor chewing
- Poor fat digestion
- Low enzymes
- Eating in a stressed state
- Toxic overload
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Poor diet
- Overuse of NSAID’s, antibiotics, and birth control
I talk a lot more about healing in detail here.
One of the top questions that I get and see from other folks in my hood is, “how long does it take to heal your gut?”.
My general answer for a general audience is that it greatly depends on the situation. We’re all bioindividuals with different personalities, different health stories, different faces, different lives and different guts! The list of factors for what every person experiences goes on…
Leaky Gut Healing Time Factors
– How seriously you take your diet
Personally speaking, I did not get a healing diet right the first time at all. I cheated a ton on the wrong foods (hi, Pizza Hut delivery guy, remember me? Face palm). Treats within reason will likely sabotage you… they’ll help you keep your sanity, but they need to be within reason! Baked cinnamon apples saved me so many times.
– How many healing foods you add.
I also focused all on the food that I should cut out and not at all on the foods that I should be adding in. I would gladly eat a smoothie for every meal just because I thought it was okay since it was all foods I could have. While it was a fine treat, it was not healing whatsoever.
Food is medicine and the foods that we add in are more important than the ones we cut out. Adding in bone broths, healing herbs, tons of veggies, pasture raised meat, healthy fats, and fruit in moderation and focusing on quality, quality, quality is crucial for healing your gut.
– How poorly effected your gut is in the first place.
Someone who had one too many rounds on antibiotics is on a whole other level than someone who’s had ulcerative colitis for five years. The same goes for those with parasites, gut infections, and more. we can’t all expect to have the same healing time!
– How much stress you’re under.
Stress is inflammatory. When we’re in a chronically stressed state we cannot heal. Stress can range from anything from stress at work, stress at home or in relationships, or stress from blood sugar spikes and dips. Of course, we’ll always have to deal with some stress, but doing the best to limit your stressors helps your healing journey immensely.
So, there are a lot of factors.
We’re all different, but generally speaking, there are general some time stamps that I’ve seen in my own gut healing experience to help guide you. Clearly, this is not the same for everyone, and you may need a completely different set of time
General Gut Healing Time Stages
30 Days : The standard time for figuring out your own inflammatory foods
I kind of chuckle when people tell me that they have “no food intolerances at all”. In a world inundated with totally unnatural foods that’s far away from seasonal, local eating, I just don’t believe that that’s true. We all have some food that our body doesn’t like. However, we don’t always know it…
A lot of people believe that avoiding a food and reintroducing will cause an allergy to it. That’s really quite backwards. What happens is that if we have an allergy/intolerance to a certain food and eat it often, our immune system is unregulated to the point that we don’t even notice. We’re in a chronic inflammatory state that can manifest in headaches, joint pain, stomach aches, etc. It’s only when we give our immune system a rest that we realize how inflammatory the food is.
Thus, 30 days is a good general starting point for most people to heal up their gut a bit and down regulate their immune system to start noticing what foods are inflammatory to them.
It’s a good sign if you have a reaction to a reintroduction this early! It means that your immune system is actually working and that you just need more time to actually heal.
30-60 Days : A generally fine standard time to reset your gut health, or start to notice changes
Again, this is totally dependent on how poor your gut health is to begin with. It’s said for every year that you’re sick it takes a month to heal, and even that is an arguable underestimation.
However, 30-60 days can be enough for many to reset some of their gut health, do the initial healing, and really start to notice changes. I know that this is where I really started to feel it myself, and I see many others feel the same. Though the journey may just be started for some, it’s a good starting point.
So, what kind of changes may you notice?
- Better energy… the first thing I always hear from my clients!
- Lessened stomach aches and pains
- Lessened joint pain
- Disappearance of “white coating” on tongue (indicative of gut bacteria imbalance healing)
3-6 months : For those with moderate gut issues to reach healing
For those with more moderate gut issues caused by something like antibiotic or birth control use, etc. , this may be enough time. It’s really not much time at all in the grand scheme of our lives, but it may feel like an eternity!
For some, it may be all they need to really get the bulk of their gut issues under control, but that doesn’t mean that lifetime upkeep and awareness should be ignored (see below).
1-2 Years : General healing time for those on the GAPS diet and with moderate to severe gut issues
A few short months may be sufficient for some, but a year to two years is very common to really experience gut healing to where the diet can be a lot more normal and flares don’t happen anymore.
On the GAPS diet, or Gut and Psychology diet, the average time on the protocol is two years. That sounds like a long time and a lot of work, but still, to get your health back, it’s not a long time.
Think of all of the things you may have been through with your gut health… for me it was chronic antibiotic use, entirely too many NSAID’s, craptacular diet, way too much stress, and plastics for all of the things. I did that for 20 years. Did I really expect that 20 years of damage was going to patch up in 2 weeks? No. And you shouldn’t either. We didn’t get this sick overnight, and we won’t totally heal overnight either.
Some of us can experience healing in this time, but many need more, still…
Beyond 2 Years : Healing time for those with more severe gut issues
For those of us with severely chronic issues that experience many bumps along the way in our gut healing journey, it may even take more than two years.
Healing is not at all linear. We may do great for 6 months, and then get hit with food poisoning or a bout of stress that sets off our diet for a couple of months. That’s all okay.
Honestly, I fall into this category. And there’s no shame in it. I fell off my protocol entirely too many times and had to get back at. But you know what? Every time I learned more, and got better and healthier for it.
Even at the end of a few years, our work isn’t done…
A Lifetime : The upkeep that we all need to do
Our world is toxic. We’re surrounded by wifi, air pollution, screens, chemicals in our clothes and personal care products, and more.
Even our diets, no matter how cleaned up they may be can suffer at times. We may splurge here and there on food that’s not the best, eat food that’s contaminated with pesticides, or eat out of season. I often reference eating seasonally and how important it is for our longterm gut health. Our ancestors couldn’t run to Walmart and grab an avocado whenever they wanted. Literally, I’m freakin’ Hungarian, my nagymama did not eat plantains, get a grip, Michelle. Having a diet that consists of the same foods over and over is so far from how our guts and bodies were designed to live. There are CSA’s, Farmer’s Markets, organic food, and more to help us, but let’s be honest it’s nearly impossible to eat a perfect diet.
Though the intensive healing may be over after a few years, we always have to be aware of what brought us to our previous state of leaky gut, recognize the flares, remove the stressors, and embrace healing foods!
So, what the real answer here? How long does it take to heal a leaky gut? Well…
Leaky gut healing time depends on various factors and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Know thyself, work with a professional, don’t give up, be in it for the long haul, and know and trust that healing is possible 💙