Leaky gut, the vernacular term for increased intestinal permeability (or translocation) describes a situation where one’s gut lining becomes ‘leaky’, allowing large molecules of food & microbes into the bloodstream, opening up the doorway for the development of inflammation & potentially, disease.
Your gut is kind of like a sieve; all the food you eat makes its way down into your gut & over time, the micronutrients within the food, like vitamins, minerals & amino acids, slowly move through the sieve & into the bloodstream where they can be used to create each & every part of the human physical experience. This is one of our most essential processes in the body & put simply, it’s called digestion & assimilation.
The integrity of this process is somewhat fragile – as it relies on the proper functioning of a one-cell-thick membrane surrounding the gut – the gut lining. It’s fragility is its greatest strength because the thin membrane allows for maximum absorption of nutrients from food to keep the body alive & well, however it comes at a price, as various factors can actually create holes & tears, or increased permeability, in this membrane which cause unwanted molecules to enter the bloodstream. Let’s use another analogy to really make it clear.
Your gut is like a fly screen – a good fly screen lets in lots of fresh air & light but it keeps out bugs, flys & other things floating in the air. Now if you’ve got holes & tears in that fly screen, then you’re going to have those bugs entering the home & causing some issues (by the way, don’t use fly spray). It’s a simplistic way to put it – but it’s quite an apt analogy, as when macromolecules of food (as opposed to micromolecules) move into the bloodstream along with microbes who aren’t meant to be there, they can cause the body to activate an immune response which inherently involves an increase in inflammatory messages throughout the body.
This is a normal process – the body releases inflammation at different sites around the place to handle invaders all the time, but if left unchecked this process can spiral out of control – & if we are to listen to any of the world’s best health experts, inflammation tends to be considered one of the root causes of all disease. This is why the gut has become such an epicentre of research, because if we can potentially shut down this translocation of inflammatory molecules into the bloodstream, & subsequently shut down the inflammatory messages being sent throughout the body, we may potentially be able to curb the rate of disease across the board in a big way.
So what causes Leaky Gut?
Well, according to research by Professor Alessio Fasano, MD, from Harvard Med, gluten seems to be one of the major factors contributing to this ‘opening’ of the gut lining. According to Fasano’s research, gluten stimulates a protein called zonulin which causes the gut lining to become more leaky. And this phenomenon is not just restricted to celiacs; according to Fasano, 100% of human beings experience this increased intestinal permeability after being exposed to gluten.
Another major factor in the development of a leaky gut is the overall balance of the gut microbiome. Put simply, a population that is dominated with pathogenic microbes or a population that lacks diversity may contribute to an overall inflammatory environment which can cause the gut to become leaky. Microbes like candida albicans have also been known to literally ‘burrow’ into the gut lining & cause holes this way.
SO just how do you reverse this situation & begin healing a LEAKY GUT?
In The Gut Healing Protocol, I lay out a step by step plan on how you can begin reducing the inflammation within the gut to allow the gut lining to heal. Here is a short version of that protocol.
You’ve got to remove the bad bugs (or rebalance their numbers). By reducing dietary carbohydrates (only simple sugars) we can begin to alter the microbiome population. Also, take targeted, specific probiotics to help rebalance the gut microbiome. Consider a good anti-fungal program for those with sticky overgrowths.
Remove the inflammatory foods from the diet; sugar, dairy, gluten containing foods & certain grains & vegetables.
Replace the stomach acid & digestive enzymes the gut needs to function properly. This will naturally happen through taking appropriate supplementation like probiotics, but must be encouraged with adequate water intake & proper food combining.
Reinoculate. You’ve gotta wipe the slate clean & add in those good bugs. Take targeted, specific probiotics to help rebalance the gut microbiome. Consider getting a microbiome test done to specify those strains most beneficial to you – generally speaking lactobacillus & bifidobacterium trains will be best.
Last one – we evolve the diet. Begin the slow, patient reintroduction of whole food starches like rice, quinoa, in-season organic fruits & juices. Add in fermented foods to diversify the microbiome & more.
By taking this step-by-step approach it may be possible for one to overcome numerous gut-related illnesses; most of which have roots in the leaky gut process. Remember, your gut is like your body’s central dashboard, if you have a malfunctioning central dashboard, the remainder of the body will also malfunction as a result. By adopting simple gut supportive principles like those outlined in this article, there’s no reason why you can’t get on top of your gut health 🙂
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Disclaimer: Remember to always work with your well qualified, nutritionally-versed practitioner when it comes to the management & treatment of illness. The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only & should not be considered medical advice.