Gut health has become a very popular topic over the past few years, you may have heard of a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Also known as intestinal permeability, a leaky gut can be linked to several seemingly unrelated health issues and can increase the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease. If you’re not familiar with leaky gut, here’s what you need to know about what it is and why it happens.
What happens with Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The gut performs several functions but one of the most underrated functions of the gut is the fact that it creates a barrier between the intestines and the rest of the body.
Generally, the cells of the intestine walls help to keep things balanced within the digestive system. Factors such as infection and food sensitivities among other things can affect this balance and allow the intestine walls to be compromised.
When this occurs, the gut is referred to as “leaky”. Toxins, bacteria and undigested food particles can pass freely through the intestine walls and into the bloodstream. Here, they are perceived as external threats by the immune system which sends the body into attack mode. This causes inflammation which can produce an immune response. What is the consequence of this immune response? It can lead to a range of symptoms that most times are not gut related. From brain fog to low immunity and joint pain, a leaky gut can be overwhelming.
What causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Key causes of leaky gut syndrome:
- Poor diet can be a trigger for leaky gut in itself. Foods containing gluten contribute to leaky gut. Consuming dairy, processed foods, excessive amounts of refined sugar, and fast foods play a major role in the development of leaky gut syndrome as well as excessive alcohol consumption.
- Bacterial imbalance (Dysbiosis) is a leading cause of leaky gut syndrome. This occurs when there is an imbalance between helpful and harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract which can contribute to a wide range of health issues.
- Stress: According to research, stress can increase the potential for a leaky gut. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system which can compromise the body’s ability to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, leading to inflammation and leaky gut syndrome.
- Toxin Exposure and overload can contribute to a leaky gut. We are exposed to chemicals on a daily basis. We come in contact with chemicals in our homes, personal care products, through the foods we eat and the water we drink, and via the environment. These chemicals that we come in contact with wreak havoc on the lining of the gut which, lead to intense symptoms associated with leaky gut.
- Infections: Infections can weaken the lining of the gut, leading to the development of a leaky gut. When the gut lining is weakened it provides a breeding ground for harmful bacteria which can result in the overgrowth of yeast, fungi, and parasites.
- Medications: Steroids, over-the-counter painkillers, PPI to reduce stomach acid and antibiotics are just a few of the medications that can contribute to a leaky gut. Prolonged use of these types of medications can greatly increase the chances of developing leaky gut syndrome. Taking NSAIDs, can make leaky gut worse over a period of 24 hours. If you can limit the intake of these medications, it can help to avoid increased gut permeability.
Leaky gut syndrome is rapidly becoming a common health condition that can be linked to various other diseases and disorders. Adopting a clean eating lifestyle, regular exercise regimen, and stress management can be beneficial to improving gut health.
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