Leaky Gut

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Leaky gut is as gross as it sounds. Not because what is in your digestive track is leaking out of your body but because it’s leaking INTO your body.

The lining of the GI track, like your skin, is a barrier to the outside world. What’s in your gut IS outside your body until your GI lining lets it through. Luckily this gut lining is extremely good at letting in the good and blocking the bad. It has tight junctions (imagine a net). Things that should get through: fully digested and broken down molecules of protein (amino acids) and carbohydrates (single monosaccharaides), as well as vitamins and minerals. Things that should stay out: bacteria, non-digested food particles, toxins and other things that belong in your poo and then the toilet.

But when the lining is damaged, the tight junctions become loose. And what shouldn’t get through does. This is leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability.

It is theorized that all autoimmune disease is partially caused by leaky gut. Something big and/or foreign get into your blood and your immune system attack these unwanted things. But over time, you immune system starts getting confused and starts attacking you. If you are genetically predisposed to an autoimmune disease, this can be a trigger. Leaky gut can also cause food allergies and sensitivities. If a protein molecule (that isn’t totally broken down into single amino acids) gets through, that will cause an immune reaction and trigger a food sensitivity or allergy.

Symptoms of a leaky gut:

  • Fatigue
  • Gut symptoms (bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation)
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Food sensitivities
  • Skin problems (rashes, eczema)
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Behavioral problems (ADHD, Autism)
  • Weight problems
  • Adrenal Fatigue

Causes of a leaky gut:

What can help?

  1. You want to remove all your triggers. (stop taking aspirin, start meditating, give up gluten, etc)
  2. Treat the root cause (infection, SIBO)
  3. Heal the lining

What heals?

  • Gelatin. I am not talking about Jello. I am talking about non-flavored unsweetened gelatin. The amino acids heal the tight junctions. Bone Broth, if made properly, is an excellent source. But you can buy gelatin powder too and add it to drinks and food. Check out this smoothie!
  • L-glutamine. An amino acid that heals the lining.
  • Zinc, Vitamin A
  • Probiotics (as long as SIBO, and other infections are treated appropriately)
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Real food

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Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net