Leaky Gut Explained
What is leaky gut?
Our intestinal tract is lined with specialized cells that can facilitate the absorption of nutrients while also act as a barrier against potentially harmful substances from passing through the digestive tract such as toxins, microorganisms, and other antigens (allergy or immunity triggers). In healthy intestinal tracts, these specialized cells form tight junctions between themselves to allow for this selective permeability (allow things to pass through). When exposed to certain environmental triggers, the junction between the cells is affected and forms openings that allow larger particles to travel through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “leaky gut.” When the gut is “leaky” and bacteria and toxins enter the bloodstream, it can cause widespread inflammation and possibly trigger a reaction from the immune system causing a multitude of health issues from autoimmune disorders to brain fog and skin issues.
What are some symptoms of leaky gut?
-Cognitive issues, such as memory problems or brain fog
-Digestive issues, such as chronic diarrhea or constipation
-Joint pain, inflammation
-Multiple food sensitivities
-Nutrient malabsorption and resulting deficiencies
-Skin conditions, such as acne vulgaris
What can cause leaky gut?
-Chronic antibiotic use
-Prescription medications (ex. NSAIDs, immunosuppressants)
-Chronic or excessive stress
-Excessive alcohol consumption
-Exposure to environmental toxins (pesticides, herbicides)
-Gluten, a protein found in certain grains like wheat
-Poor diet (low in fibre, high in saturated fats and carbohydrates)
-Bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis)
Conditions associated with leaky gut:
Twenty-five hundred years ago, Hippocrates stated that “All disease begins in the gut” and he was right. According to current research studies, leaky gut is responsible for a multitude of conditions including:
-Irritable Bowel Disease (Crohn’s, IBS)
-acne, skin irritations/rashes
So what can we do help heal the gut?
In holistic healing, the 4R’s approach, listed below, is used to help heal the gut lining
Remove: where pathogens and inflammatory triggers are removed from the diet.
-food sensitivities such as dairy
-trans and saturated fats
-foods high in sulphites (cured meats)
Replace: where essential nutrients that support digestive health are added to the diet
-fibre from fruits and vegetables or if you don’t eat enough foods that contain fibre, a good supplement is a great alternative. Ultimate Fibre Plus Powder
-omega-3 fatty acids (flax, salmon, herring)
-organic fresh produce, fruits, and vegetables
-anti-inflammatory herbs/ spices like curcumin and garlic
Reinoculate: where beneficial bacteria are introduced through probiotic supplements and diet
-fermented foods such as tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi
-cultured dairy such as kefir, Greek yogurt
Repair: where certain nutrients are used to help promote healing of the gut
-zinc: helps to strengthen the gut lining
-l-glutamine: L-Glutamine is an amino acid essential for the health of the immune system and digestive tract. In the gut, it promotes the health and function of the mucosal cells for healing and repair
-Fibre: Ultimate Fibre Plus Powder by Alpha Science Laboratories
–Omega Fatty Acids: Super EFA Forte Capsules + D by Genestra
– Mushrooms: Mushroom Complex SAP by Pure Encapsulations
–Probiotics: HMF Forte by Genestra
–Zinc: Zinc Supreme by Designs for Health
–L-Glutamine: L-Glutamine Powder by Designs for Health
Here at Nutrition Dispensary, we are always here to support and help you with any unwanted health symptoms you may be experiencing. If you think you may have a leaky gut based on the symptoms listed above, please contact the Nutrition Dispensary website for a one on one consultation for nutritional support and supplement recommendations.
Institute of Holistic Nutrition course notes: Symptomatology
Fasano A. Leaky gut and autoimmune diseases. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2012 Feb;42(1):71-8. doi: 10.1007/s12016-011-8291-x. PMID: 22109896.
Obrenovich MEM. Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain? Microorganisms. 2018 Oct 18;6(4):107. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms6040107. PMID: 30340384; PMCID: PMC6313445.
Blog Written By: Kacia Mongeau
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