What is "leaky gut" ?
Leaky gut syndrome (sometimes called intestinal permeability) occurs when the layer of cells that line the intestinal wall become irritated and stop working the way they should. Meaning the intestinal lining has became more porous, with more holes developing that are larger in size and the screening out process is no longer functioning properly. The fallout results in larger, undigested food molecules and other “bad stuff” (yeast, toxins, and all other forms of waste) that your body normally doesn’t allow through, to flow freely into your bloodstream.
Normally, these cells act as a protective barrier that absorbs particles from food, toxins, and other microorganisms. But if the cells get damaged, they can become porous or leaky. So instead of absorbing those particles, the particles make their way into the bloodstream.
In short, leaky gut leads to inflammation, linked to conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or inflammatory bowel disease. Other common stomach irritants, including NSAID pain relievers, alcohol, and antibiotics are thought to be culprits, too. Some integrative and alternative practitioners also say that a diet high in inflammatory foods—like gluten, sugar, or dairy—could also have an impact. “These foods are hard to digest, so they wear down the digestive system and leave undigested food particles in the gut—triggering inflammation,”
The first reaction your body has to these “foreign” bodies in your blood is to fight like hell. Initially, your Liver is called into action to work overtime and try to screen out all the particles that your intestinal lining was supposed to be taking care of. In most cases, the liver has no chance of keeping up with the constant flow of waste into your blood and all the toxins, undigested food molecules, yeast, and other pathogens start to accumulate in your body.
Now, the sleeping giant wakes up (your immune system) and it is not happy. 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.
Inflammation is also an immune response and causes even more stress on your system. Now that your body is focused on fighting the large war, the little battles are starting to be ignored, like filtering out the blood, calming inflamed areas of the body, fighting bacteria, regulating the gut, etc. This process flow can lead to your body fighting itself and an array of autoimmune diseases such as Chronic Fatigue, MS, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, and Fibromyalgia.
Now, your body will begin to produce antibody soldiers designed to fight against these foreign objects (which can be things such as the Casein protein from the milk you’re drinking, or other proteins in nuts, grains, or eggs). Even chemicals normally found in foods such as Phenols and Glycerin can now trigger immune responses when they enter the body.
If you’re having sensitivities to more than a dozen foods, you likely have leaky gut. Any undigested foods that are absorbed into the blood stream are now considered enemies of the state, and your immune system will develop reactions to many of them, leading to food intolerances.
Bottom Line: The foods that you’re eating are not the root of the problem; it’s the leaky gut letting the food molecules into your bloodstream.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut can vary from person to person depending on the level of damage and the tissues being affected. Multiple Food Sensitivities can be a sign that your immune system is developing antibodies to everything you’re eating. Nutritional deficiencies are a sign of lacking vitamins and minerals from the improper breakdown of food in your intestines. Chronic diarrhea and constipation are signs of inflammation of the intestinal walls from Leaky Gut. Skin rashes are your body’s way of trying to dump the toxins through the skin perforations. A poor immune system will result from your body trying to wage war on itself and ignoring all the virus and bacteria we encounter on a daily basis, allowing you to get sick more often. Headaches, brain fog, memory loss, and excessive fatigue are a result of the inflammation of tissue and toxin build up. Yeast overgrowth (Candida) will cause cravings for sugar and carbs, gas, bloating, and anxiety. All of these things add up to a host of symptoms with a myriad of explanations… all leading back to one thing: the constant river of foreign objects being allowed to enter your bloodstream.
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get healthy by using food as medicine. In 2008, he started a functional medicine center in Nashville, USA which grew to become one of the most renowned clinics in the world. In his post titled 4 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease he thoroughly explains what you can do on a daily basis.
The cause of Leaky Gut is widely debated in the medical community. However, there is some level of consensus that the following are the basic contributors:
– Diet: Consuming high amounts of refined sugars, processed foods, preservatives, refined flours, and flavorings introduces massive amounts of chemicals into the body that is seen as toxic. If your body has a hard time keeping up the toxins start to build up and cause inflammation.
– Chronic Stress: Chronic stress almost always results in a suppressed immune system. A weakened immune system cannot handle doing it’s normal job and gets overrun with pathogens very quickly. This increases overall gut inflammation leading to increased 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 prescriptions or even over-the-counter pain relievers with Aspirin or Acetaminophen irritate the intestinal lining and decrease the mucosal levels (a membrane produces mucus on the intestinal lining as a natural protective measure). This can start or help to continue the inflammation cycle (more bacteria, yeast, and digestion issues) and promotes an increase in permeability.
– Yeast: Yeast is found in normal gut flora but as soon as it begins to get out of hand it mutates into a multi-celled fungus (usually Candida) that grows tentacles to grab onto the intestinal lining and stay put, consequently making its own holes in the lining.
– Lack of Zinc: Zinc is a critical piece of maintaining a strong intestinal lining. A deficiency of the vitamin can lead to the mucosal lining losing strength and becoming more permeable. There are studies that show that supplementing with Zinc when it is deficient can dramatically improve intestinal lining integrity.
Here at Akasha we often have integrative nutrition courses led by our 2 medical doctors specialised in Integrative Medicine teaching how to heal the gut and what an anti inflammatory diet is all about. Within our food here on retreat we promote a menu that is gluten free, dairy free & processed sugar free, a light detoxifying menu eliminating potential causes of inflammantion and high in essential nutrients.
Visit our retreat schedule here for details on our next retreats: https://www.akasharetreat.com/retreats#/events
If you suffer from these conditions please check with a medical advisor as none of the information on our website and on this blog constitutes medical advice.