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Leaky Gut Syndrome


“Health begins in the gut” is not a new concept and it is definitely true.


More and more people are learning about the importance of gut health as they realise that most health issues are stemming from an imbalanced gut.


We now know that our gut and our immune system are closely linked to each other as 70-80% of our immune cells are actually located in our digestive tract. This means that the state of our gut has a huge impact on how we feel both physically and mentally on a daily basis.


A lot of studies have shown that more than 90% of all autoimmune diseases have been associated with leaky gut and the reason is that this is what allows environmental factors to trigger predisposed genes.


It’s important to understand that just because you carry certain genes, it does not mean you are headed to your genetic destiny.


Genes are not expressed randomly and it is your environment and behaviours that actually affect how genes work. This is what epigenetics is all about.


WHAT IS LEAKY GUT?

Let’s go back to the basics and understand what a leaky gut is. It’s becoming mainstream now and you probably read about it in numerous places but are still lacking an in-depth understanding.


Do you know what causes it in the first place, its consequences and its symptoms?

We should all be looking at our gut health from the outset. If you haven’t heard yet, more than 90% of all autoimmune issues have leaky gut associated with them. That doesn’t even take into account the fact that a lot of health issues nowadays are also closely linked to gut health, think food sensitivities, migraines, skin issues, joint pain, fatigue, and low mood.


Our gut lining is a physical permeable layer made up of cells and a mucous membrane which has two vital functions:

(1) it allows for the absorption of nutrients and

(2) it prevents toxins, food compounds, bacteria, large protein strands and viruses from accessing the bloodstream where they can cause adverse reactions and infections.


Leaky gut refers to an increase in the intestinal permeability gaps and when this happens, all of the harmful substances start to leak through and spill into the bloodstream. There are multiple factors that can cause this, and it includes: alcohol, birth control, food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, medications, poor food combining and stress.


In a healthy gut, long strands of protein are broken down and absorbed through the intestine so they can then be transported and used in the body. With leaky gut, however, the body does not see the actual broken down amino acids but instead sees actual pieces of food swimming around the bloodstream.


The immune system then recognises these “foreign particles” as antigens and the immune cells begin to fight them off. This leads to inflammation around the gut wall, which can trigger food sensitivities and be the starting point of an autoimmune disease.

The inflammation causes an issue with your genetic programming, so yes, genetics do matter but only if there is a causal factor for them to be turned on.


HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?

It can start at birth. When you’ve had a C-section instead of natural birth, you’re not getting the good bacteria that you’d get if by passing the vaginal canal.


Antibiotics, birth control, tap water, steroids, over-the-counter pain relievers, excessive sugar intake, stress, yeast overgrowth are just a few ways that a lot of your good gut bacteria is wiped out.


Keep in mind that the good bugs are essential when it comes to building the gut. Remember, the intestinal lining’s surface area is about 4,000 square feet and this is basically built and protected by the good bacteria.


This lining is like a barrier that determines what gets through the bloodstream and what doesn’t. So, if this is damaged, it will have “holes” that will allow bacteria, food particles and toxins to freely enter the bloodstream. That’s when a leaky gut starts…


WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING LEAKY GUT?

If good bacteria are wiped out, bad bacteria will start to dominate the area including yeast and fungi. You’ll then have candida overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, and inflammation around the gut lining. The immune system will get triggered and react once it detects the foreign bodies in your bloodstream. Then you’ll have inflammation which is the foundation of almost all diseases and this will then be spread throughout your body.


WHAT NOW?

One of the first things we must do is work on gut health The reason is that our gut is the foundation of our health and it will regulate everything else in the body.


It is not an overnight fix but the length of the healing process varies depending on the degree of intestinal permeability. On average, the healing process takes 4-6 months. While on some occasions it can take a little longer, a lot of the symptoms would have improved during the first six months so there will have always been progress in this timeframe.

Healing leaky gut is not difficult but it cannot be healed with just nutrition alone.


You need to work on intestinal dysbiosis and remove all pathogenic overgrowth before healing leaky gut. This is why we should always start with looking at a gut healing protocol (unless this is not needed based on functional lab testing) before you begin healing and sealing the gut wall.


The reason we’re starting to hear so much about gut health from functional medicine doctors, integrative doctors, the media and even sources such as The Wall Street Journal is because we now know that most diseases and symptoms such as eczema and psoriasis are related to gut health.


WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?

Just like when you have a cut in your skin, we cover those cuts with band-aids in order to prevent the outside having a direct line to our bloodstream.


We have our blood stream right outside the intestines too so if you have leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability gaps), the gaps in our gut wall start to widen. This can be caused by a number of different factors such as alcohol, stress, poor food combining, birth control and medications. When these gaps widen, all of the “stuff” that is not supposed to pass through the gut wall such as bacteria, parasites, yeast and longer strains of protein get spilled into our blood stream. So now, our body sees all of these as foreign objects coming into our body, so it turns the immune system ON, causing inflammation.


If you can’t fix your gut health, you can’t fix anything else. You work on everything else after you get your gut health in proper order otherwise everything you eat, you’re literally spilling all of these objects into your bloodstream


SYMPTOMS OF LEAKY GUT

Bloating and gas: If the digestive system is broken down then every time you put food into your body it begins to ferment. The fermentation process then creates bacteria, and it shows up as symptoms such as acid reflux, indigestion, bloating, gas, lose stool or constipation.


Food sensitivities: When you have increased intestinal permeability, undigested food particles can enter your bloodstream more easily. Over time, food particles “leaking” into the bloodstream can confuse immune cells and trigger an inflammatory-based reaction to harmless foods.


Fatigue: If your immune system is always on, you are going to feel tired.


Joint pain: Rheumatoid arthritis for example, is absolutely connected to gut health. It is scientifically and clinically proven that more than 90% of autoimmune diseases involve, or are a consequence of, leaky gut.


Migraines: Your immune system is reacting to all of these “invaders” that are being spilled into the blood stream, causing an inflammatory-based response which can trigger migraines.


Skin issues: Cystic acne, rosacea, psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema are a perfect example of leaky gut. There is candida and bacteria being spilled into the blood stream.


Constipation: When the gut is not functioning properly, digestion will be much slower.


Unexplained weight gain and cellulite: When we have all of the toxins being spilled into our blood stream, our liver gets overwhelmed and is unable to detoxify as quickly as it should, so a lot of it is left in our blood stream. Our body then pulls those toxins into fat cells (adipose tissue) and they start to swell causing cellulite, puffiness and bloating. We then become swollen because our body holds to all of the excess toxic water weight and makes us look as if we were holding more body fat than we are.


Depression and Anxiety: If your digestion system is not functioning properly there is going to be a lot more stress in the body. The gut is directly connected to the nerves of the brain, and this is known as the gut-brain axis. This means that the digestive system can actually affect the brain and lead to lower mood, anxiety and depression. There is a link between the bacteria in our gut and the way we think.


Low mood: You will not be producing enough serotonin which is the “happy hormone”.


Sleeping issues: Not enough serotonin is equal to low melatonin which will then affect sleep.


No energy: The body can’t maximize and absorb nutrients like B vitamins, especially B12 correctly and this will then affect your energy levels.


Low libido: Low mood and no energy contributes to this but here’s a fun fact: serotonin is found in the genitals too! So, low serotonin = low libido.


Sugar/carb cravings: Good and healthy bacteria crave a balanced healthy diet but bad bacteria demand sugar, starch, and other carbohydrates. An unhealthy gut means many bad bacteria lurking inside your body and that will cause cravings for sugar or carbs.



CAUSES OF A “LEAKY GUT”


1. Poor diet and inflammatory foods

As always, food is a big factor when it comes to leaky gut. Processed foods, alcohol and saturated fats can increase inflammation and injury in your intestines but the main offenders are sugar and gluten. Food sensitivities or food allergies can also lead to leaky gut.

Sugar can cause a boost in various cytokines (an immune system messenger) that causes inflammation, triggering poor gut function.

Guess what? Consuming gluten can boost the production of zonulin, a protein that can lead to loose junctions around the gut wall!


2. Stress

Stress boosts cortisol levels which can damage the tight junctions, decrease the number of good bacteria and trigger inflammation in the gut lining.


3. Lack of Sleep

Without proper sleep, the body will be more likely to produce cortisol. High levels of cortisol affect digestion and absorption of food and nutrients and can cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can lead to leaky gut!


4. Low fibre diet

Low fibre means low levels of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Butyrate is vital for a healthy digestive system and for fighting inflammation. It is also the main source of energy for the gut lining.


5. NSAIDS and prescribed medicines

These medications create “holes” in the mucosal lining which causes the gut to become even more exposed to the effects of toxins.


6. Alcohol consumption

Alcohol can help deteriorate the mucosal lining of the gut making it weaker and easier to break.


7. Environmental toxins

Environmental toxins like heavy metals, plastic, food additives, antibiotics, and pesticides can cause oxidative stress and inflammation. These will also boost the levels of bad bacteria in the gut.


8. Gut Dysbiosis

If you lack good bacteria, bad bacteria can easily multiply and cause digestive issues such as IBS, constipation, diarrhoea, or bloating. All of these can lead to leaky gut…



WHY ARE WE NOT LOOKING AT THE GUT?

It’s simple. We do not have enough data and we have limited resources on this.

It is a good thing that right now, functional medicine is now being considered by many which then leads to topics like these ones.


If you’re worried that you’re suffering from a leaky gut, you can run an Organic Acid Test. It will look for candida, yeast, or fungal overgrowth. It also looks at bacteria, if you have too much or too little. It can also determine your serotonin, dopamine, mitochondrial and energy function levels, glutathione for the liver, and all of the B vitamins and Vitamin C. A hair tissue test is also very useful to assess mineral imbalances and heavy metals which can often lead to major health issues, including leaking gut.


These can be very expensive. That’s why another option for you is to work with an integrative health practitioner, directly for a more personalised approach and support throughout your protocol.


My job is to give you the information. You don’t have to work with me, you can work with any integrative health practitioner if you want. My aim is to help you become aware of it because if you have acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis or autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto, Rheumatoid Arthritis, constipation, headaches, IBS, then you have some sort of gut issue steaming from leaky gut.


Or you can jump straight to a gut healing protocol as this is a proven formula to heal the gut (including leak gut). This is not available for purchase yet but it will be soon!


BOTTOM LINE

You have to be very careful when it comes to the foods you put into your body and being cautious with medicine is just as important! Food is a basic need for all humans but most of the time, it is also the cause of unwanted diseases.


It is not easy to heal a leaky gut; it will take time and proper guidance from a professional. That is what integrative health practitioners do. They should be asking “WHY”. The gut is the foundation of your health, and it directly impacts every other part of your body.


Always remember the 4 R’s: Remove, Replace, Repair and Rebalance.

· Remove everything in your diet that is not good for your health.

· Replace it with healthy, natural, and organic foods.

· Repair not just your gut but your overall health and mind.

· Rebalance means making a lifestyle change: eating healthy, meditating, exercise, controlled stress, good quality sleep, etc.


Healing from leaky gut requires a specific supplementation and nutrition plan such as a Gut Healing Protocol but lifestyle changes are just as important.






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