Do you suspect that you may be dealing with leaky gut? Leaky gut (or the more accurate scientific term: impaired intestinal permeability) has been implicated in several health conditions, including digestive disorders and autoimmunity.
What is leaky gut?
Within our gastrointestinal tract, we are continuously exposed to a variety of pacteria, pathogens, toxins and food components. The cells lining our intestine act as a front-ine barrier to protect us from the contents of our GI tract. This lining is one-cell-thick and these cells are linked together by tight junctions.
These tight junctions act as gatekeepers to our bloodstream, and when functioning normally should be transiently permeable. This means that they quickly open to allow the passage of water and small molecules, and then close to seal the barrier.
In the case of leaky gut, these tight junctions become poorly regulated and non-transiently permeable. This means that the gates stay open (or become ‘leaky’) and allow bacterial toxins (known as lipopolysaccharide or endotoxin) and other antigenic particles to pass into the bloodstream. Here, they stimulate the immune system and can initiate an inflammatory cascade.
Leaky gut has been associated with a variety of chronic inflammatory diseases including IBD (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis). It is also thought ot be a trigger in the initation and development of autoimmunity, including conditions such as Hashimotos thyroiditis, MS, SLE, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
Leaky Gut: Potential Underlying Causes
There are several underlying factors that may contribute to the development of leaky gut. Investigating and addressing these underlying factors is critical in restoring and maintaining the health and integrity of our gut barrier.
Underlying factors that may contribute to leaky gut include:
- Altered gut microbiome or dysbiosis
- Gut infections (e.g. H. Pylori)
- SIBO/ Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- Western diet
- Gluten-containing foods
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Various drugs
- Chronic stress
- Vitamin A + D deficiency
Depending on your signs and symptoms, addressing leaky gut may involve addressing these underlying factors. To learn more about leaky gut, book a consultation today!