Leaky gut is a term you may have heard about and in this post, I’ll give you clear information on what it is, the symptoms and how it can impact your immune health.
Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, means that the cells that form your intestinal lining are damaged and have small holes between the cell junctions. Your digestive tract is technically outside of your body – it’s one continuous tract from your mouth to your anus. It’s designed to allow digested food particles to absorb into your body and into your bloodstream, to be distributed through your body.
Food is meant to be digested in its most primary (simplest) structure, and it’s what our body recognizes. It becomes its most basic components through the digestive process – starting to break down with your saliva in your mouth, the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, and further in your small and large intestines where it is absorbed.
When you have leaky gut, it means that partially undigested food particles can be absorbed into your bloodstream.
It’s why if you’ve done food sensitivity testing that regular foods – like lettuce or broccoli – will show up when they’re not commonly ‘allergenic’ foods.
It’s the foods that you eat the most that will show up as allergenic because they’re the ones that are in your digestive tract. It also means that it can be a very difficult diagnosis to reckon with because all your favourite foods may be producing an immune response.
What causes Leaky Gut?
Leaky Gut stems from inflammation in your digestive tract.
It can be caused by a number of different things that you consume and that you experience. It’s important to recognize that emotional health, such as stress, have physical manifestations in the body, such as in Leaky Gut.
What you eat plays a large role as well.
- What you eat every day
- Dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance in your gut)
- Drugs (like antibiotics, NSAIDs, smoking and antacids)
…can all contribute to developing Leaky Gut.
Most likely, it’s a combination of factors that led to its development.
For example, you had to go on a serious round of antibiotics to treat an infection, you’re managing chronic stress (because life is busy), and you eat a diet high in refined sugar.
Some of the tell-tale signs you have inflammation in your gut include:
- skin issues
- muscle aches and pains
Leaky gut develops over time.
It may seem like you’re doing nothing different, but suddenly you’re having unexplained issues that are seemingly difficult to diagnose.
How does this impact your immune system?
Most of your immune system lives in your gut, so if you’re experience digestive issues like inflammation and Leaky Gut, your immune system will be compromised.
Add in nutritional deficiencies (because you’re not absorbing nutrients very well with a damaged intestinal lining), there’s a perfect stage set for a weakened immune system.
Your body is a system, and when there is a problem in one area, it impacts other areas of your body as well.
When undigested food particles and bacteria are permeating the intestinal barrier and accumulating, it can create a lot of extra work for your liver to detoxify your blood and remove the bacteria and waste that would otherwise not be there.
In addition, your immune system will be developing immune molecules and mediators in response to the foreign particles; every time you eat, there’s the possibility that the bacteria and pieces of that partially digested food will get into your bloodstream, meaning that your immune system is constantly working to keep up.
What are the consequences?
Leaky Gut is not something you want to leave untreated; research is also showing that Leaky Gut is a precursor to many autoimmune conditions, diseases where the body misidentifies its own tissues as foreign and attacks them.
Some common examples of autoimmune diseases include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Celiac Disease
What can you do?
Optimal health is an essential part of your enjoyment of life, and luckily, Leaky Gut is something you can address with food, herbal medicine and supplements.
If you’re concerned that you may have Leaky Gut, you first need to be diagnosed by a Naturopathic Doctor.
If you already have a diagnosis of Leaky Gut, you can sign up for my Wellness Program called “Sussing Out Your Symptoms” where I’ll guide you through all the dietary modifications and meals you have to make to make this seemingly complicated diagnosis as easy as possible.
If you want to have a chat to determine if Sussing Out Your Symptoms is the right program for you or if something else might suit you better, I keep spots open in my calendar for free Intro Sessions where we can review what’s going on with you and see if I can be of assistance.