5 Common Culprits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

In my previous article, I showed why and how increased permeability in your intestinal system — known as leaky gut syndrome — is linked to many chronic diseases. I also showed which four tests need to be run to see if a leaky gut is a factor in your case. If you haven't already, I would read that article first to gain understanding of leaky gut syndrome.

Your gut health is intertwined with every other system in your body. When the lining of that wall is damaged, it can cause systemic inflammation and trigger an autoimmune response in any of those systems in your body. In this article I want to go over five culprits that can play a part in damaging your gut.

1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen relieve pain and inflammation by blocking an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase. The problem is that this enzyme also performs important functions, such as protecting the stomach from the corrosive effects of its own acid, which strengthens the activity of the immune system. Because of this, they can cause intestinal inflammation, damaging the lining of the intestine and causing intestinal permeability. This process can turn on an autoimmune response in the body. Among people who chronically use NSAIDs, research estimates that 65% will develop intestinal inflammation and up to 30% will develop ulcers.

2. Antibiotics

Frequent use of antibiotics can decrease your beneficial, protective gut bacteria. With your body's natural defenses down, antibiotics are more prone to damaging to your gut's lining. What's worse is that without some healthy intervention, your body's unique diversity of trillions of beneficial bacteria won't automatically be recovered after it's lost.

3. Stress

It is no secret that stress is deleterious to our health. Chronic stress will weaken your immune system's response to infection. Your brain and intestines are mediated by many of the same hormones (which is why your gut is referred to as your second brain). This connection is referred to as the gut-brain axis.

4. Alcohol

Overuse of alcohol has a negative impact on just about every system in your body. As far as your intestines go, alcohol can irritate the stomach and intestines and suppress the hormones which protect against the inflammation that contributes to leaky gut syndrome.

5. Grains

The negative impact of gluten is well documented now, but in a few years research will find a similar, possibly even worse, negative impact from other gluten-free grains. With their abundance of amylose sugars that cause inflammation, anti-nutrients such as lectins and phytates that bind to the intestines and make nutrients inactive in the body, grains can cause a wide array of damage to your gut and your health.

In my next article, I'll give you my favorite healing tips for your gut.

Ready to learn more about what anxiety, brain health, and your diet all have in common? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.

William Cole, D.C., IFMCP

Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr. Will Cole, leading functional-medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam at www.drwillcole.com and locally in Pittsburgh. He specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing health programs for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal dysfunctions, digestive disorders, and brain problems.Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional-medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the author of Ketotarian in which he melds the powerful benefits of the ketogenic and plant-based diets.
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William Cole, D.C., IFMCP

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