Wondering if leaky gut might be contributing to your health issues?
First, let's review what makes a gut "leaky." The gut is a long tube, running from your mouth to your anus. The gut includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The term "leaky gut," however, is referring to a specific part of the gut: our intestines.
The cells that line the intestines are bound together and keep the bacteria and undigested food from entering the bloodstream. There are gates between the cells that can be opened and allow fluid from the bloodstream to come pouring into the intestines, leading to diarrhea. When people are infected with the cholera bacteria, a toxin is released that makes these gates open very widely, and profound watery diarrhea ensues.
The scientist Allessio Fasano discovered these gates open and close in response to the cholera toxins. In addition, these gates will also partially open in response to gluten in someone who is genetically susceptible. When the gates are partially opened, bacterial fragments and incompletely digested food particles get into the bloodstream. This can cause a marked increase in inflammation and worsening of symptoms.
If you have the genes that put you at a higher risk for developing an abnormal immune response to food—that is, a food sensitivity reaction—having a leaky gut makes you more likely to develop gluten sensitivity. And if the leaky gut continues for years, you are more likely to develop an abnormal immune response to other foods such as dairy protein, eggs, shellfish, legumes, other grains, and other types of foods.
If you have a chronic health challenge, you likely have a leaky gut. Many medications can also contribute to the development of a leaky gut. So for example, if you're taking acid-lowering medication, antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or prednisone, you likely have a leaky gut.
In my therapeutic lifestyle clinic, I see people with many chronic medical problems. I presume that everyone who comes to us likely has a leaky gut, at least to some degree, contributing to their health issues.
Healing a leaky gut is a key step in restoring health. Here are the five most useful steps I recommend: