Leaky gut…what on earth! Sounds like a crazy phenomena but it can and does happen to many of us.
If you’ve been struggling with you health and can’t seem to find a cause or solution, then it may be down to things going on in your gut!
As Dr Axe points out:
- “A growing body of research has linked leaky gut to a number of “seemingly unrelated” health concerns and chronic diseases.
- As more Americans are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance it appears that the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions.
- The medical profession is just now agreeing this condition even exists!”
So, today I wanted to share some information about what leaky gut is and what symptoms might arise as a result of it. Then in a future posts I’ll share some effective strategies for fixing leaky gut too.
What Is Leaky Gut?
Our digestive tract takes food and processes it, that’s where it all happens, right? In our gut.
From the digestive tract, nutrients from inside the tube move across the barrier to inside the bloodstream/ body. Under normal circumstances anything that isn’t of use just gets passed out the other end. And under normal circumstances, there is a tight barrier along the intestinal wall that forms a layer of protection.
But, the intestinal barrier can become compromised.
The tight junctions that hold the cells together along the intestinal wall can become loose and allow food particles, molecules and toxins to pass the barrier. These are molecules that should be eliminated. So when a person has a leaky gut, the body ignites an immune response and increased inflammation occurs.
Other things that can cause a leaky gut can be changes to the mucus barrier that prevents bacteria from entering the body. When the mucus barrier changes, bacteria such as candida can get out of control, and also enter the body too. I’ve talked about candida before and it is closely related to leaky gut in many ways.
The changes to the lining of the intestinal wall can also occur as a result of inflammation in the gut. For example, foods can cause inflammation in the gut and this can lead to less mucus being produced as a defense or even the development of tiny holes in the gut wall.
Again we see how the food we eat can directly impact the state of our health. Research on leaky gut is still in early development so if you’ve never heard of it before that’s because it is a fairly new area of research but one that is very important and is becoming more and more recognized.
In a nutshell: A leaky gut is when you have intestinal permeability – particles, molecules and toxins that should be eliminated from the body can instead cross the barrier and enter the bloodstream.
Leaky Gut, Immunity, Inflammation
If you’ve followed Good Food Eating for a while, you’ll know I bang on about inflammation quite a lot. The reason being is that copious amounts of research now point to increased inflammation as a contributor to every single disease.
Having a leaky gut is going to cause inflammation because it causes a reaction of the immune system – remember, particles and toxins are entering the bloodstream and they shouldn’t be there!
This is a simple diagram showing how a stimulus causes chronic inflammation. Those molecules and toxins are a stimulus, one that is going to be ongoing unless you sort it out.
The immune response and increased inflammation that can occur from leaky gut is not isolated to the digestive tract but affects other organs and tissues in the body as well, including the skeletal system, pancreas, kidneys, liver, and even the brain.
The increased inflammation alone can contribute to a long list of health conditions.
Signs and Symptoms Of Leaky Gut
Health conditions and symptoms we have could all be related to a leaky gut. You’d assume that you’d just get digestive issues but that’s not the case.
We don’t have to have any bad digestive symptoms at all because the result of a leaky gut could present itself as skin problems, depression, arthritis, and autoimmune conditions like hashimoto’s.
Common signs and symptoms are:
- Food sensitivities – this is a big one
- Thyroid conditions
- Joint pain
- Skin issues like rosacea and acne
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain
- Syndrome X – high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes
Malabsorption Of Nutrients
As you can probably imagine, with a leaky gut you won’t be absorbing nutrients effectively either.
Being able to properly assimilate the nutrients we consume is very important to our health because without them we can become sick.
Key nutrients that often get affected are B12, magnesium and key enzymes that aid with the digestion of food. Magnesium in itself is one of the most critical nutrients to the human body. It’s even been shown that most type 2 diabetics have magnesium deficiency.
I find that interesting because although we don’t know for sure, it has been suggested that this could even contribute to the development of diabetes.
It really does fascinate me just how much of an impact our diet has. Our nutrition and having a healthy functioning body is critical to our overall health – it makes sense but somehow there’s been a disconnect, don’t you think?
Like Hippocrates, Greek physician from 400BC, said: “Food IS Our Medicine” and quite surprisingly, he also said: “All disease begins in the Gut.”
Strange that we knew it back then and are only beginning to recognize the importance of this again now that there are so many people with deteriorating health. And because we now have the technology to explore more about nutritional and biochemistry in science!
Anyway, I hope you’ve gained some new insight into the whole leaky gut ordeal.
In a future post, we’ll explore how to eat and what supplements can help overcome it too.
What do you think? Could your problem be related to leaky gut? Please leave your comments below.
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