Is leaky gut a real thing and could it be the cause of your health problem?
Leaky gut syndrome, or intestinal hyperpermeability, has become a hot health topic recently. As medical research and science moves towards a more holistic understanding of how the body functions and the role your gut plays in health and immunity, so issues such as chronic inflammation, autoimmunity and leaky gut are coming to the fore.
The modern diet (high in sugar, fat and processed carbohydrates), fruit and vegetables with low nutritional value, environmental toxins, excessive stress, and abuse of modern medicine have all contributed to the rising level of toxins
our bodies are subjected to on a daily basis. The immune system is not only left defending the body from attack by
bacteria, viruses, allergens and genetic predispositions, we’re adding many more new problems for it to deal with, causing a rise in general health issues around the world, from obesity and diabetes to autoimmune conditions and cancer.
Why is your gut leaking?
It’s common knowledge that the intestinal tract is one of the largest surface areas in the body, playing host to millions of microorganisms that make up your microbiome. The intestinal lining is a very thin, permeable membrane which, during digestion, allows essential micronutrients to cross into your bloodstream. Leaky gut is a condition whereby
the intestinal membrane malfunctions, allowing microbes and larger digested food particles to ebb out of the digestive tract. These particles make their way around the body, and because they shouldn’t be there, trigger an immune response from the body in order to deal with them. This creates inflammation, and if triggered constantly, puts the body on a high alert state, which induces chronic inflammation.
While the jury is out in medical circles on whether leaky gut syndrome is itself an actual condition (more research is yet to be done), more healthcare professionals are embracing the role our gut plays in overall health, and how a disrupted gut affects the immune system, where the majority of it originates.
- Gastric ulcers
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Respiratory infections
- Acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis
- Obesity-related metabolic diseases
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic fatigue
- Inflammatory skin conditions
So what causes your intestinal membranes to break down and ‘leak’?
- Existing inflammation
- Dietary sensitivities such as gluten, sugar, dairy
- A dysfunctional gastrointestinal system, especially in the good and bad bacteria
- Yeast infection
- Environmental toxins
How to heal
If you think your health issues could be related to the health of your gut, there are steps you can take to help heal it.
However, before embarking on any drastic dietary or lifestyle changes, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.
- If you think food sensitivity or allergy is causing your health troubles,try removing them from your diet.
Gluten is one of the biggest causes of leaky gut. Speak to a nutritionist or dietician to form a new eating regime without restricting important and essential food groups from your diet, which in turn may cause other health-related issues.
- Balance your microbiome by feeding the good bacteria in your intestinal system. These include both pre- and probiotic foods, which can help strengthen your immune system and fight chronic inflammation.
- Heal your gut with foods and essential nutrients that help strengthen the intestinal lining, such as bone broth, fermented foods like kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut, and supplements such as L-glutamine, an essential amino acid.
FEATURE: TARYN DAS NEVES PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM
The advice contained here is strictly for informational purposes. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always consult your GP or a doctor for specific information regarding your health.