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Is your gut leaky? A deep dive into intestinal hyperpermeability

leaky gut
Is your gut "leaky"?

LEAKY GUT? Sounds scary, doesn't it? And it truly is scary - the foods you are consuming are literally leaking out into your blood stream since your intestinal lining has been compromised!

 

More commonly referred to as "leaky gut", intestinal hyperpermeability is a condition in which the gut barrier is compromised, leading to a heightened immune response, endotoxin absorption, increased inflammation, and adverse GI symptoms.

 

What are some common signs & causes of leaky gut?

👉multiple food sensitivities - literally you can eat like 5 things and nothing else

👉acne, rashes all over the body - yes there is a strong relationship between your gut and your skin

👉airborne allergies - mysterious coughs and sensitivities to dust, pollen, etc

👉prolonged/chronic stress - if you are extremely stressed out, chances are you have an unhealthy intestinal lining

👉frequent alcohol consumption

👉frequent use of OTC pain killers - or “gut nukes” as I like to call them

👉consumption of gluten & presence of gut pathogens (Fasano A., 2020)

👉 anti-nutrients found in raw grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables (lectins, phytates, saponins, digestive enzyme inhibitors, etc)

👉 Consumption of processed oils, sugars, emulsifiers, gums

 

What exactly is a “gut barrier”? You can think of your gut barrier or intestinal lining like a fence with an army of soldiers behind it. The cells that line your gut (enterocytes) are like fence panels: their primary function is to separate the inside of your body from the outside (until you absorb the nutrients, food in your gut is still technically outside your body). They also control what is (and is not) allowed into the body. Immediately beyond this first line of defense is an army of soldiers (your immune cells): their role is to attack anything foreign that may have snuck through the fence.

intestinal permeability

 

What happens with the gut barrier when you have “leaky gut”? In cases of leaky gut, those fence panels have been damaged, leaving open gaps for undigested proteins, bacteria, pathogens, and toxins to enter the body. As it should, the immune system army sounds the alarm (by increasing systemic inflammation) and mounts an attack (allergic & sensitivity reactions) against the invaders. However, this attack often gets out of control, leading to food allergies/sensitivities, neurological issues, autoimmune disease, chronic inflammation and many more!

 

Leaky gut=Weight gain? In addition to a chronic immune response, gastrointestinal inflammation can disrupt intercellular communication and make weight loss very difficult. Many people despite doing all the right things, will struggle to maintain a healthy weight as a result of this inflammatory process. This inflammatory process will inhibit the breakdown of fat, and increase the storing of fat (Das, S. K., & Balakrishnan, V., 2011).


Apart from managing some of the food & lifestyle culprits, you can strengthen your intestinal lining and kick the leaky gut with a number of very nourishing foods:

✨Bone broth - a lot of brands now offer it in frozen section of your store

✨Collagen

✨Colostrum - if you are not sensitive to dairy, it is a great option!

✨Beef gelatin - mixed in with juice and made as “gut gummies”

 

My recommendation: It is always better to TEST rather than guess! The functional stool test I use in my practice called the GI MAP has a number of markers providing invaluable information on whether you have leaky gut and to what degree it is present! Food sensitivities are always a big driver as well which is why I always recommend running a food sensitivities test alongside a stool test. This way, you can remove the offending foods and get back on track in the fastest way possible!


 

References:

 Das, S. K., & Balakrishnan, V. (2011). Role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic Fatty liver disease. Indian journal of clinical biochemistry : IJCB, 26(2), 202–209. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12291-011-0121-7


Fasano A. (2020). All disease begins in the (leaky) gut: role of zonulin-mediated gut permeability in the pathogenesis of some chronic inflammatory diseases. F1000Research, 9, F1000 Faculty Rev-69. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.20510.1

 

Disclaimer: This post is intended for inspirational and informational purposes only, is not a substitute for medical advice, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your routine.

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