Do I have a Leaky Gut?
What is it?
Why Do I Need to Do Something About It?
What Can I Do to Heal It?
What is the gut?
The gut is a tube or hose from the mouth to the anus, otherwise known as the digestive tract. Food enters from one end, the lining of the tube absorbs the useable substances, and the waste products leave from the other end. It encompasses the mouth, esophagus, pyloric sphincter, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, ileocecal valve, large intestine (bowel) and anus.
What is the goal of digestion?
Our body is made up of trillions of microscopic cells which need to be fed minuscule molecules of nutrients and substances in order to function. The goal of digestion is to break food down into single units of protein called amino acids; single units of starch called saccharides and single units of fat called lipids and to extract all of the vitamins, minerals and fats (essential fatty acids) from it and deliver them to every cell in the body via the blood.
How does the digestive system work?
We have mechanical and chemical processes to break food down. Chewing starts the process of grinding the food and amalase enzymes in the saliva break starch down. The food ball (bolus) is squeezed down the esophagus to the stomach. The stomach churns the food vigorously breaking it up. Hydrochloric acid and other digestive juices dissolve it into a form suitable for chemical digestion. Blood vessels against the small intestinal walls absorb nutrients, amino acids (from protein), saccharides (from starch) and lipids (from fat) through mucosal cells lining the walls. The nutrient-rich blood flows throughout the body feeding it on a cellular level.
Leaky Gut is a condition where tiny holes erode the intestinal walls.
When this happens, nutrients do not go into the blood for cellular delivery but instead go directly to the tissues of the abdomen. The immune system works like an army and when it finds these large molecular ‘invaders’, it mounts an attack. This involves inflammation in the area and elsewhere in the body causing many disease symptoms. Besides the many devastating effects of inflammation, Leaky Gut causes our precious cells, which make up our tissues, glands and organs, to starve. Not only that but pathogenic microbes (bacteria, viruses, yeast, etc.) are able to escape into our tissues through the openings.
Leaky Gut can be involved any disease since illness is usually linked to: inflammation, immune system dysregulation and nutrient deficiency.
Here is a list of conditions where Leaky Gut is often present: Fatigue, Fevers, Abdominal pain, Bloating, Diarrhea, Feeling toxic, Memory loss, poor Concentration, ADD, Autistic symptoms, Chronic and Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Eczema, Food Allergies or Intolerances, Inflammatory Bowel disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Joint and Collagen problems, Compromised Liver function, Malnutrition, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Psoriasis, Schizophrenic symptoms, Skin disorders, Neurological issues, Cognitive issues, Bone density issues, Chronic muscle or joint pain, Elevated liver enzymes, Poor Immunity and Mental or Emotional imbalance. In fact, the feel-good hormone, serotonin, is made in the gut if the digestive system is intact.
The reason why so many illnesses are linked to Leaky Gut is because undigested food molecules are not broken down enough to release nutrients needed to feed every tissue, gland and organ. In addition, the immune system is attacking these undigested food molecules and attacking our own cells (glands, organs, tissues) elsewhere in the body.This is called autoimmune disease.The inflammation created is like a wild fire burning through our bodies.
Why does our immune system attack our glands, organs and tissues when we have a Leaky Gut?
Our immune system may decide that certain bonds that hold amino acids together forming protein (peptides), which should not be present after proper digestion, are foreign invaders.These peptides may have a similar chemical structure to other tissues such as peptides for example in the thyroid gland.The immune system gets confused about what is self and what is not and begins attacking the ‘offending’ thyroid tissue in this case.This is known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) condition causing slowed body function (metabolism) leading to a host of issues such as hair loss, weight gain, fatigue, coldness, poor brain function, hormone imbalances, etc.Metabolism is how fast the cells – tissues, glands and organs function.If it slows down, there are problems.
In fact, the key to curing any disease is getting the digestive system working properly.
Firstly, let’s start by eating fresh, healthy, nutrient-rich foods and taking necessary nutritional supplements to fill in the gaps. Let’s chew our food thoroughly, supply our digestive juices with enough hydrochloric acid and enzymes to break the food down. We may need to supplement here. Let’s eat slowly enough for the food to digest properly. Let’s limit or avoid foods that are not good for our bodies (sensitivities, allergies, junk food, sugar, alcohol, coffee, GMOs). Let’s avoid liquids with our meals so that our digestive enzymes are not diluted. Let’s take supplemental essential fats like EPA and DHA in fish oils and choline; vitamins A, B complex and inositol, C, D, E, folic acid, bioflavonoids; minerals like calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, boron, manganese and iron. We simply are not getting enough of these in our diets. These nutrients are needed by every cell -tissue, organ, gland - to function normally. When cells don’t get fed what they need, they cannot perform; this leads to disease.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
WHEAT & DAIRY
GMO foods- corn, soy, beets, wheat (the list is growing)
Food Allergies/ Sensitivities: gluten, diary, soy, peanuts, eggs, citrus fruit, etc.
Inflammatory Diet (tomato, potato, bell peppers, coffee, sugar, etc.)
Candida (a fungus that feeds on sugar, dairy, yeast, alcohol and simple carbohydrates like bread and pasta)
Parasites (mainly from meat and fish)
Prescription and over the counter medications such as Aspirin, Tylenol, etc.
Deficiency of Beneficial Bacterial Flora (probiotics, prebiotics- fibre)
What can I do to heal it?
L-Glutamine Powder assists with repair of leaky gut and is a major energy source of intestinal cells. Collagen in form of powder or bone broth is the key substance that holds tissues together including intestinal cell walls. Other essential nutrients for healing Leaky Gut include: Colostrum (first milk supplied to babies), Probiotics, Fish Oil, Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Proline, Lysine (amino acids)and MSM.
How it all starts:
Eating too many carbohydrates leads to an imbalance in the beneficial bacterial flora in the gut which release toxins (endotoxins). Endotoxins cause a disruption in the immune system (loss of immune tolerance). Gut Inflammation and Leaky Gut (intestinal wall breakdown) results. Undigested food molecules, bad bacteria, viruses, etc. (pathogenic microbes) enter blood stream. The immune system forms antigens or autoimmune compounds causing organ and tissue inflammation. Any tissue can be attacked by these antigens including the Liver, Brain, Muscle, Skeletal system (bones), Insulin production and pathways causing insulin resistance, Hypertension and Heart disease. Think about all the conditions related to these organs and glands.
Multiple studies show the connection between Leaky Gut, allergies and autoimmune disease.
A study of African monkeys proved this link. An AIDs-like virus was injected into Resus Macaques (monkeys) with healthy intestinal walls (intact GI mucosa) and because they had strong, healthy intestinal walls, they completely healed. The other group of monkeys injected with this deadly virus, Pigtail Macaques, whom had Leaky Gut and were genetically prone to diarrhea, died. This confirms the link between a healthy intestine (gut integrity) and the strength of the immune system. Likewise, without healing our digestive tracts and keeping them healthy, we simply cannot maintain a strong immune system to be able to heal from mild infections or severe diseases. In the pictures below you can see the loose inflamed intestinal walls of the Pigtail macaque monkeys who died from the AIDs-like virus injection compared to the tight, intact, healthy intestinal walls of the Rhesus macaque monkeys that survived the injection.
In the above picture LPS (lipopolysaccharides) are damaging endotoxins released by excess bacteria present in the Pigtail macaque’s colons.
People with health issues would be prudent to incorporate some or all of the above suggestions in order toheal their intestines and as an important step towards restoring their health.