The Untold Dangers of Leaky Gut
One of the major theories that we operate on here at Robinhood Integrative Health is, if you can fix the gut, you can fix many of the other health problems you might be battling.
As much as your brain controls how you feel, your gut is also responsible for your general health.
You see, your gut is home to something known as the enteric nervous system.
The enteric nervous system is often called “the second brain” because of how it works to help control health.
It’s made up of roughly 500 million neurons and stretches to be about 27 feet long.
It’s one of the reasons that an upset stomach can royally screw up your day (just like a migraine would).
And, what most Americans don’t realize is that their diet is seriously affecting the health of their “second brain.”
Let me put it this way.
In the same way that putting a plastic bag over your head can be extremely harmful for your brain, eating certain foods can have an equally devastating effect on your body.
One of the biggest concerns you have to worry about is “Leaky Gut Syndrome” or intestinal permeability.
Leaky gut is probably one of the most common and most under-diagnosed problems in the nation. It’s likely that the incidences in leaky gut are one of the leading factors in many of the most common conditions I see in my office.
More than likely you suffer from leaky gut (most Americans do). The good news is fixing your leaky gut will likely lead to substantial improvements in your health.
Leaky Gut 101
Think of your gut as a screen door. If you want to keep flies and other insects out of your house, you keep the screen door closed. If you’ve got holes in your screen door, then all of the sudden you’ve got moths and wasps and mosquitos buzzing around inside.
Your gut is meant to act in much the same way. Except your gut’s role is to keep most of the “bad stuff” inside your gut so it’s eventually excreted as waste.
The only thing that should pass from your gut into your bloodstream are fully digested proteins and sugars that are then used by the body for constructive purposes.
Leaky gut occurs when the food you eat actively attacks your intestinal lining. These foods (which I’ll discuss in a moment) then begin to punch holes in your gut. Once those holes are there, you’ve got undigested food moving into your bloodstream.
Your body doesn’t like this, not one bit.
In fact, your immune system views these food particles as being “hostile” and actually launches a full scale attack on the food particles.
If you’re constantly ingesting these harmful foods, then your body is on constant “high-alert,” and is always at war with the very food that you’re attempting to nourish yourself with.
This then leads to chronic inflammation, which as I have mentioned before, is one of the top culprits for most of the diseases of civilization we see.
Not to mention that, in many cases, your body can’t even tell the undigested food apart from your own body’s cells, which then leads to an auto-immune attack.
In short, the inclusion of these harmful foods produces two basic responses. Neither of them are beneficial for your health.
What Exactly Causes Leaky Gut?
For the most part, it’s food.
The SAD (Standard American Diet) is full of foods that drop-kick your gut in the…gut. That’s why you’re seeing so many new diets come out. Most of them designed to help steer you clear of succumbing to the harmful effects of a leaky gut.
Here are the top four food types to worry about:
Part of the reason for the gluten-free fad is the science behind how destructive gluten really is.
Gluten is found primarily in wheat products, and gluten actually creates big, gaping holes in the lining of your intestines.
Here’s how gluten wrecks your gut.
Contained in gluten is a protein called gliadin. Gliadin works against a protein in your body known as zonulin. And zonulin helps the villi (the small, tentacle like protrusions that line our guts and allow particles to pass) stay closely together and act as a tight barrier between the gut and the bloodstream.
Gliadin rips the villi apart and then lets undigested food into the blood.
With most meals containing at least a small portion of gluten, it leads to a constant ripping and tearing in the lining of the gut.
This chronic inflammation then leads to a host of health issues (which I’ll name soon).
:: Dairy Aside form containing sugar, dairy also contains lectins. Lectins are a key mechanism through which plants protect themselves against being eaten and are found in highest concentrations in their seed form — which makes sense, considering that seeds are the plants’ “babies” and whose survival ensures the continuation of their species.”
What happens is cows will eat plants that contain lectins, and these lectins are then passed on to you in the milk.
The lectins then actively resist being digested in the intestines, and this eventually will harm your intestinal lining.
There are a lot of people who are making a big fuss about GMOS and for good reason.
GMOS are suspect food types since they have been genetically altered to perform differently than nature intended. And, new research shows that some of the new biologically manipulated food-stuffs have toxins inside of the them that are responsible for creating huge holes in your intestine.
For most Americans, anywhere from 80-100% of their diet contains GMO foods.
If most of you diet is GMO, it means your gut is taking a constant beating. The result of course are billions of undigested food particles oozing into your bloodstream. Which, of course has tons of obvious, adverse affects.
If you’ve been reading my work for any amount of time you’ll know I hate sugar or at least how bad it is for us.
Sugar can have horrible effects on the lining of your gut.
Sugar contributes to to the growth of yeast in the gut. In fact, sugar is to yeast what keg beer is to college kids. When yeast particles remain in your gut for long enough they’ll eventually decide to move in and wreck the place. Yeast particles will do what the aforementioned foods do, rip holes in your gut lining.
However, yeast does it in a more disgusting fashion as it grows long tentacles and then savagely rips your gut apart.
Not a pretty picture, and definitely not a good end result
And, now that you’ve heard the lovely news on some of the food types that cause leaky gut, you get to hear about the man-made components you have to deal with.
:: Antibiotics & Medications
Antibiotics negatively affect the healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut. When those bacteria die off, yeast is free to flourish. Yay, another yeast party! The problem here too is that antibiotics are so commonly prescribed that many forms of bacteria are actually becoming resistant to antibiotics,
meaning longer cycles of antibiotics and even worse damage to the gut.
And then there are medications.
Many of the common pain meds, NSAIDs in particular, affect the mucous lining of the intestines. If mucous isn’t at optimal levels, the acid from your stomach along with certain enzymes can come in and rip your gut apart.
That’s why taking Motrin can make your stomach hurt.
Now that you know the mechanisms that cause leaky gut, it’s important to see why you should work to fix it as fast as you can.
Leaky Gut Can Destroy Your Life, Here’s How
Like I mentioned before, when undigested food moves into your bloodstream, your white blood cells will attack both the food and your body’s own tissue, as it’s unable to tell the difference between the two.
This can eventually lead to weak immune health.
Autoimmune diseases include (but are not limited to):
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis I
- Interstitial cystitis
- Multiple sclerosis
Fortunately improvement of these conditions can often be achieved just by fixing the diet.
And here are several other conditions leaky gut likely contributes to:
- Skin rashes
- Psychological symptoms
I’m literally only covering a handful of the prominent conditions.
As more and more medical research is done on the effects of leaky gut and total health, I’m sure they’ll see that most problems is caused by the destruction of the intestinal system.
Curious what some of the fixes are?
Well, you’ll have to wait, because I’ll be talking about that in my next article.