Leaky Gut and ICV Repair

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Kombucha helps everything.

I have explained some of my health story in the past. In sharing my story, I hope to help others who are frantically googling “digestive problems” all day long. People who (like me) are looking for some flicker of hope via the testimony of someone who has been there and successfully tackled the difficulty and mystery of digestive distress. In the past couple weeks, I have stumbled upon some information that my explain the underlying issues of my gut woes. Namely, a chronically dysfunctional Ileocecal Valve as well as Leaky Gut.

Ileocecal Valve. What is it?

Simply put, it is the connection between your small intestine and your large intestine. The valve can get irritated, or get stuck in the open or closed position. Neither is good. With open valves, the waste gets passed back and forth between the intestines which can throw off your gut biome and encourage things like dybiosis and SIBO. When it’s closed, waste does not move through your system and creates a lot of problems like constipation, toxicity, etc. Click Here for a good explanation of the problem.

Something to be expected with ICV syndrome is a Leaky Gut. This is when the tight junctions in the intestinal wall begin to breakdown or separate. The explanation can get pretty technical but basically, the lining of your intestine begins to let pieces of waste/food pass through the “wall” into the bloodstream. You body perceives this passage as an invasion and the immune system responds with symptoms like bloating, food intolerances, fatigue, and a whole host of other problems. These can worsen over time if not immediately addressed.

Well, I’m happy (and hopeful) to be able to address it.

After 10 years of struggling to find a reasonable explanation for my digestive distress (bloating, constipation, and pain in my lower right side) and increasing food intolerances, I think I’ve finally stumbled upon the answer. And with the help of a recommended Chiropractor and Naturopathic Doc, I am on the path to healing.

My baby belly... say goodbye to those eggs little one :(
My baby belly… say goodbye to those eggs little one 😦

How did I get here? 

The ICV problem is often attributed to food allergies, stress or anxiety, spinal pressure on the nervous system, and parasites.

It is likely that my proclivity for anxious thoughts, my apparent inability to chew my food completely, a genetic history of digestive upset, and a brief tussle with a parasitic infection have all contributed to where I am now.

Fortunately for me, it could be a lot worse. My ability to pinpoint major food intolerances through out early adulthood, adopting the paleo diet for the past 4 years, and maintaining a relatively clean and healthy lifestyle have kept me mostly healthy until now.

The problem is that my efforts alone haven’t been enough. I like to compare it to a Wildfire. My digestive problems are like a raging California brush fire in the middle of Santa Ana season (VERY BAD). And all the while, I’ve been trying to douse it with the pitiful stream of a garden hose. Let’s just say, it’s not going to do the job.

Over the years, I have seen more and more food intolerances creep in and I’m not happy about it. This (assumed) diagnosis carries a lot of hope for me. I am looking forward to the day when I can eat apples, cauliflower, raw salads, nuts and seeds, and coconut flour treats without the wrath of my inflamed colon. It’s just not fun.


What do I do now? 

ICV is treated through diet and spinal manipulation. Leaky Gut is treated through diet and supplementation. My anxiety is treated through meditation, mindfulness, professional counseling, and low intensity exercise. Hopefully, this three-pronged approach will really get everything in working order.

The Intervention

3 Months

Supplementation with Apex Energetics RepairVite programs which includes a gut healing blend, Digestive support, probiotic, and Vitamin D.

An Elminiation Diet, which is somewhat of a marriage between a Candida Cleanse and AutoImmune Paleo.


In addition to Strict Paleo (no grains, legumes, dairy) there is no high glycemic fruit, nightshade vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, mushrooms, alcohol, caffeine, or sugar.


Most non-starchy vegetables plus roots and tubers, Low glycemic fruit, meats, fish, fermented foods, coconut, herbs and non-nightshade spices, tea, olive oil, olives, and apple cider vinegar.

Chiropractic Adjustments to realign my spine to release tension surrounding the ICV and neck, both places that influence the nervous system’s role in digestion, including  ICV function.


It’s going to be a long 3 months but I am so incredibly excited to be attacking this problem.

What does this mean for the Clean Plate Blog?

Well, I’d like to share the progress of my story so that other people who experience this issue can gain a bit of understanding about the process of dealing with these problems (Which may look different for someone else. Our guts are unique!).

I will likely do a weekly Leaky Gut Update and (hopefully) end with a non-Leaky Gut synopsis.



14 Comments Add yours

  1. Annie says:

    I will be follow you on this 3 month experience… I do have a looks like 3 months pregnant belly (not being pregnant)…I guess it’s called bloating…I had a jaw surgery in 2008 and my problem started there..my brain put all its energy on fixing the surgery instead of communicating with my body, which is why my intestines are not working,,, If you do come with a grocery list I would really like to see it..
    Good luck


    1. nikkiledford says:

      Awesome! Thanks for following 🙂

      I’m so sorry about your bloating, it is such a pain to deal with.

      I hope my journey is a help to you 🙂

  2. Alicia says:

    Hi Nikki! Thank you for your willingness to share your journey! I’ve followed your blog for a couple of months now, and part of why I like it is that we have similar stories (but you have much better recipes to offer the world!). When you posted this, I had been feeling like I’d done all I could on my own and had just decided that I would really like the help of a doctor or professional in healing ongoing gut issues. I’m wondering how you found your chiropractor and doctor. I don’t know how to find like-minded, paleo, natural-therapies-first kinds of practitioners; sometimes it seems like I’m on a paleo island in day-to-day life (a tasty island full of coconuts and avocados, of course 😉 and I can only find people who understand online. Anyway, thanks again for sharing; wishing you health and healing on this journey!

    1. nikkiledford says:

      HI Alicia, Thank you for visiting my site 🙂 It really just started out as a way for me to share food with the people in my life, but I’m so happy that it has grown to include so many other people 🙂

      I live in South Orange County so the chiro office in North San Diego, I don’t know if thats local to you but let me know and I’ll give you the number 🙂

      Also, check Paleo Physicians Network. That might bring up some good people too.

      I hear ya on the whole “paleo island” observation. It was much worse 4 years ago when I started, so I am seriously thankful for all the resources there are today!

      1. Alicia says:

        I’m certainly grateful to all of you paleo pioneers who have made it easier for me; I’ve only been at it for 6 months or so.

        While I wish I could take your recommendation and see your chiro, I’m definitely not local – I live in sunny Miami! However, the Paleo Physicians Network had several nearby practitioners, including a chiropractor who looks hopeful. Thanks for the tip!

      2. Lisa says:

        Hello Nikki,

        I am in desperate need of a chiropractor/practitioner who knows about the ICV! Please give me the contact of who you went to, it would be greatly appreciated!!!

      3. nikkiledford says:

        Hi Lisa, my chiro wasn’t super helpful with ICV problem. In fact, the pain in that area still persists. Since this post, I’ve even gone to a very reputable medical institution and their GI specialist and had an array of tests done to rule out any disease states, chronic inflammation, leaky gut, cancer, etc and he says that there is no reason to be alarmed nor to suspect that my ICV is somehow faulty. Based on decades of medical practice, He told me that some people just have very sensitive GI systems. My emotions are very heavily connected to my gut and i have a family history of gut sensitivity. And for people like me, we just have to be a bit more mindful about the things that we eat, how we manage stress, and self-care in order to quell any symptoms.

        I went to the Chiropractic Therapy Center in Carlsbad, CA. but I also know of an App. Kin. in Orange County who has also worked with ICV specifically. His name is David Crouch http://paleophysiciansnetwork.com/doctors/CA/Dana+Point

        I hope this helps!

  3. how have things been going for you??

    1. nikkiledford says:

      Hi AnnMarie! Sorry to get back to you so late.

      My journey with my digestion has really come to a place of awareness about my emotional life. When I’m in an anxious/stressed state, my digestion suffers greatly. I’m more sensitive to certain foods, I cramp/bloat/constipate more, I don’t digest or eliminate well, etc.

      When I’m calmer, well-rested, unhurried, and mindful, the whole process goes better. I can tolerate more kinds of food and have less problems in the bathroom 😉

      Ultimately, my personal curse/blessing is my digestion. For some people it’s their skin, temperament, hormones, cravings, headaches, joint pain, etc. Mine is my bowels. it’s a barometer for how the rest of my life is going. It’s extremely sensitive to my “internal” world.

      So more than controlling/managing my food, I am concentrating on managing my stress levels, sleep, counseling, meditation, journalling, etc. All these small behavioral habits are the biggest help to my gut and the ICV soreness.

      Thanks for asking! Hope this helps and is an encouragement to you 🙂

  4. ELAINE says:

    are your lists of food for closed ICV or open?? I have closed. thanks

    1. nikkiledford says:

      Hi Elaine,

      I never had my ICV issue formally diagnosed so I didn’t fall too far into the rehab for the ICV specifically. We did a diet that addressed leaky gut and tried some chiropractic intervention for the ICV. I didn’t see a direct correlation between the intervention and ICV symptoms relief.

      The more I learned how to de-stress and manage anxiety, the better my digestion became.

      Diet wise, I do see a direct correlation in ICV discomfort and high-insoluble fiber foods like raw veggies (especially cruciferous), seeds like chia and flax, and coconut flour. I generally try to avoid those foods.

      I also take a very high potency probiotic which seems to make a huge difference in my lower GI digestion. Hope this helps!

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