Leaky Gut is a term that has quickly become mainstream. (Yea!) Unfortunately, with our Western lifestyle, it's not just a term but is quickly becoming an epidemic.
I'm sure there are many of you who don't really know if you have it. You may not even be experiencing "gut" issues. So, does this mean you don't have leaky gut? Not quite.
The main purpose of this blog is to help you understand one thing:
"All disease begins in the gut." -- Hippocrates
So my short answer to the question, "Is your gut leaky?" would be ... "More than likely."
If you have any physical issues such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema; IBS or IBD; asthma or allergies; auto-immune disease; constipation or diarrhea; reflux; joint pain; food sensitivities; or even brain related disorders like depression, anxiety, or bi-polar...we must look to the gut because a leaky gut just may be the cause.
The gut is a major player of the immune system, with 70+% of immune cells contained within. (http://www.ecowatch.com/how-good-gut-health-can-boost-your-immune-system-1882013643.html) When we show physical and mental signs of not being well, we should look to gut the for at least 70+% of our answers.
But what does leaky, really mean? I know, you're picturing a stomach with massive holes and liquid oozing from it, right? I know I did! Better to think of it like this. Picture a window screen in perfect condition. That's how our Gut normally is, permeable just for the right nutrients to pass through, or get absorbed, into our blood stream. In this scenario with the screen the "nutrients" would be fresh air, right? Now picture the screen with just a few, or many, tiny holes that somehow widened just enough to let No-See-Ums or tiny gnats into our home. Get the picture?
Your gut, namely your small intestine, is bordered by a wall only one cell thick, however, it's designed to be super strong and to allow only properly digested nutrients from our food to pass through what are termed "tight junctions".
When we eat certain foods, one being "gluten", the villi protecting these tight junctions flatten, the tight junctions open wider, thanks to the production of zonulin triggered by gluten, and larger peptides from proteins in our food are allowed into our bloodstream when they would normally NOT be allowed. After a long enough period of our gut becoming leaky, inflammation creates a vicious cycle within our gut and the rest of our body. Food stops digesting properly, our microbiome (gut bacteria) is disrupted and out of balance, autoimmunity can occur, and the inflammation creates widespread havoc within our other bodily systems, including the nervous system and the brain.
So, is your gut leaky? If you have disease, in my humble opinion, you can bet on it. At the very least, if you have disease and you want to try to correct it, not just medicate it, start with your gut to see what's going on in there.
As for gluten, a huge contributor to leaky gut, if you're not "sensitive" or "allergic" then you're fine...right? Well, that's another entire blog post. According to many functional medicine doctors, including Dr. Amy Myers, one of my favorite thyroid experts, gluten is hard on ALL guts. Some people's guts are just better at repairing, time and again, and again. Others are not. But like too much alcohol and your liver, think about it, do you really want to keep damaging your gut just to put it through the repair process? When does too much become too much? Gluten is everywhere remember, not just in wheat. And gluten peptides allowed into the bloodstream? Horrible for Hashimamas. Why? Because those gluten peptides are too similar to the proteins that make up our thyroid. They cause our body to attack our thyroid...thus autoimmunity. When you have high antibodies, you can thank gluten as one of the culprits.
How about ending this blog on a lighter note? Leaky Gut CAN be repaired. Timeframe will depend upon the severity of hyperpermeability, but it can be done. And you can feel better while doing it. From someone who's been through it, the repair phase, it is worth every effort. Contact me if you want to discuss. Your gut will thank you, your brain will thank you, and so will your thyroid.