Our intestines do a great deal more than just digest food and excrete waste.
The intestine actually contains about 100 trillion microorganisms, 10 times more than the cells in the body. And these good bacteria – the gut flora – play a very important role in maintaining our health.
The inner lining of the intestines, under normal conditions, is intact. Obviously. But when assaulted, this lining gets damaged and becomes porous, or ‘leaky’. The lining is highly selective, screening everything we take in, and allowing only desired elements ‘entry’ into the body. The rest, including toxins and harmful bacteria, are ‘shooed away’, ie excreted.
When this lining is damaged, the undesirable elements are able to ‘enter’ into the body, causing inflammation. The liver is the first to receive these and it fights against them. But when the toxin load increases and the liver is unable to cope, these foreign bodies now cause our immune system to enter into the fray. It goes into full battle mode to fight the evil intruders and get them out of the body ASAP. More often than not, the body cannot keep up with the task at hand and the majority of these foreign bodies absorb into tissues throughout the body… causing them to inflame. And now that the body is busy fighting this major war, it has to ignore small battles such as filtering blood and calming inflamed areas.
So undesirable elements have got entry into the body. And they form deposits in various tissues. When this happens, the body no longer recognises these tissues as its ‘own’, and it establishes a ‘foreign body’ response to its own tissues. And this is the basis of auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. Brain conditions such as Alzheimers, autism and Schizophrenia are also connected to a leaky gut.
How do we know we may have leaky gut syndrome? If we have:
– Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome.
– Seasonal allergies or asthma.
– Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS.
– Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease. Also chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
– Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD.
– Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema.
then it is likely we have leaky gut.
What are the conditions which cause leaky gut syndrome?
Diet: Consuming high amounts of refined sugars, processed foods, preservatives, refined flours, and flavorings introduces massive amounts of chemicals into the body. Wheat gluten is not tolerated by many.
Chronic Stress causes leaky gut, which almost always results in a suppressed immune system, which can itself increase inflammation and permeability of the intestinal lining.
Inflammation: Any type of inflammation in the gut can lead to leaky gut. This can be brought on by low stomach acid (which passes undigested food into the small intestine irritating everything it passes by), yeast overgrowth (Candida), bacteria overgrowth, infection, parasites and excessive environmental toxins.
Medications: Any medication or even over-the-counter pain relievers with Aspirin or Acetaminophen irritate the intestinal lining. This can start or continue the inflammation cycle (more bacteria, yeast, and digestion issues) and promotes an increase in permeability.
Food allergies or food intolerances.
What can we do
1. Remove the bad. The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract, such as inflammatory and toxic foods, and intestinal infections.
2. Replace the good. Add back the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption, such as digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acids.
3. Reinoculate beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria. These are present in probiotics.
4. Repair, with nutrients which help the gut repair itself.
So its simple! If we eat healthy, we stay healthy!
Images courtesy Google