Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Leaky Gut....What does this mean for our Body?

The small intestine is composed of cells called enterocytes that make up the membrane and prevent food particles from being absorbed into the blood stream.  When these cells become damaged, and gaps form allowing food particles to enter the blood stream, this is know as “leaky guy syndrome”.   This is problematic because our bodies were not designed to have food particles floating around in our blood.  When this happens, our immune system is alerted of something foreign in our system, and the inflammatory cascade kicks in in efforts to dispose of it.  Over time, this leads to excessive inflammation in the body, and the immune system will often become “confused” and begin attacking our own tissues, thinking they are foreign.  This is referred to as autoimmunity. 

Did you know that 80% of our immune system is in our gut?  Therefore, if our GI tract is not healthy, we are likely to have disease or side effects that can manifest in various ways.  Some examples include hypothyroidism, Hashimotos, eczema, rosacea, arthritis, sinus issues, just to name a few.  That being said, a lot of diseases can be addressed through repairing the GI tract, and restoring its optimal function. 

It is important to identify any food sensitivities and food triggers that may further the damage to the intestinal damage.   Genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, gluten, processed sugar and dairy are some of the key ones to avoid.  Other people will most likely have other food sensitivities that they need to identify and eliminate from their diet as well.  There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that grains contain anti-nutrients and other problem substances that may increase intestinal permeability. This includes Gliadin, which is the primary immunotoxic protein found in wheat gluten and is among the most damaging to your health. Gliadin gives wheat bread its doughy texture and is capable of increasing the production of the intestinal protein zonulin, which in turn opens up gaps in the normally tight junctures between intestinal cells (enterocytes).

In celiac disease the body will make antibodies to gliadin after it is digested by the intestinal enzyme tissue transglutaminase, resulting in severe autoimmune damage to the delicate, absorptive surfaces of the intestines. It does not, however, require full-blown celiac disease to suffer from the adverse effects of this protein. In fact, it is likely that our intolerance to gliadin and related wheat proteins is a species-specific intolerance, applicable to all humans, with the difference being a matter of the degree to which it causes harm. (Mercola)  This helps to explain why new research clearly shows gliadin increases intestinal permeability in both those with, and those without, celiac disease. (Drago) (Mercola)
Food is medicine, so some super foods to incorporate into your diet in order to repair “leaky gut syndrome” include bone broth, coconut oil, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, cabbage, blueberries and goats milk kefir.  Bone broth contains key nutrients, such as proline and L-glutamine, which helps to repair the gap junctions in the small intestine.  Sauerkraut and fermented vegetables feed your GI tract with the healthy bacteria that it needs, or probiotics.  Cabbage contains a specific type of sulfur that supports liver detoxification, and goat’s milk kefir improves mineral absorption. 

There are also some key supplements that will aid in the repair of the small intestine if you suffer from leaky gut syndrome.  Probiotics are very important to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in order to ward off disease, especially if you are not getting fermented foods in your diet.  When looking for a supplement, look for one with 50 billion CFU’s.  Digestive enzymes are also important for helping your body break down foods.  This allows you gut some time to rest so that it can heal.  Adaptogenic herbs can also be a great support for not only the GI tract, but for the thyroid and adrenal glands.  Some of these herbs would include ginseng, ashwaganda or licorice root.  L-glutamine powder is also another great supplement to include into your regimen.  It acts as a band-aid for the gut lining and repairs the intestinal lining.

Works Cited:

Drago, Sandro. "Gliadin causes intestinal permeability in both celiac and non-celiac intestinal mucosa." Scand J Gastroenterology (2006).

Mercola, Joseph. 21 Jan 2012. 14 May 2015 <>.

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