Does it matter if my gut leaks?
Unfortunately, yes. But you are in good company it’s very common. However, it is a major driver in so many chronic disease conditions due to the systemic effects i.e. havoc a leaky gut can have on the body. Symptoms can manifest far and wide from diabetes to heart disease to arthritis to depression. It all depends on your weakest genetic link as to how the disease process develops.
But first, it’s important to know that it’s not just those pesky intestinal bugs that are causing the gut to leak (or be ‘permeable’ in scientific parlance). Almost any toxic substance can cause the epithelial cells in the gut to be breached allowing unwanted ‘non-self’ material to enter the bloodstream. Chemicals in medications and in foods from preservatives to sweeteners to pesticides have all been shown to break down intestinal defenses.(1)
Another culprit and primary trigger for many chronic diseases that can also cause a breakdown in the gut barrier is sustained stress. Now that we live a 24/7 lifestyle where overscheduling and overachieving are part of our lives’ fabric, it’s easy to see how we set up a vicious cycle of doing too much and relying on convenience foods and lifestyle shortcuts that drain the tank of vital health reserves.
Stress is a major cause of leaky gut.
Other causes include infections, genetics e.g. in the case of Celiac disease, food sensitivities, alcohol and radiation.
What happens if my gut is leaky?
Once foreign material enters the gut a complex set of reactions occurs. The liver is a clearing house and will try to detoxify and eliminate undesired substances but it also has other jobs to do i.e. process food and daily metabolic waste products. So, too much burden from extra toxins can overwhelm the liver and cause it to breakdown.
Before the liver even gets involved immune processes are upregulated and special cells will mount an attack and try to clear the unwanted material. However, in the process of constant immune system stimulation mistakes can occur and sometimes your own tissue will be mistakenly identified as foreign and become the source of collateral damage.
This is the basis of what’s called an autoimmune disease where the body’s own tissues are unwittingly destroyed. Examples can be seen with lupus, asthma, MS and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Inflammation is an outcome of these processes and is thought to be the root cause of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and digestive disorders including IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Chronic inflammation impacts tissue resilience and function. It makes sense then that reducing inflammation should be the cornerstone of any effort to restore health and wellness. By repairing the gut lining and maintaining its integrity, it’s entirely possible to reverse and fend off recurrence of your chronic disease.
It’s entirely possible to reverse chronic disease
In my next article I will explain the simple steps you can take to free yourself from chronic disease and slow down aging!
1. Lu K et al. Xenobiotics: Interaction with the Intestinal Microflora. ILAR Journal, 2015, Vol. 56, No. 2, 218–227. doi: 10.1093/ilar/ilv018