What Is “Leaky Gut” Syndrome?
There are many different types of illness that can affect our body, some are more commonly known than others. Nearly half of the American population suffer from at least one chronic disease. That number was discovered in 2019 and is still growing. Chronic diseases and illnesses, as we have talked about in the past, have the power to make or break someone’s health. Most conditions are preventable by making healthy lifestyle choices and being aware of your environment. I think it is important that we are all educated on the possible illnesses that we can develop throughout life, this way we can take the preventable measures to avoid their development.
Our population is so widespread that the amount of diseases that are out there are increasing by the moment. New diseases and illnesses are being uncovered and treated every year. Take the COVID-19 pandemic for example, one day we didn’t have a clue about what the coronavirus was and now it is the most talked about illness to this day. In addition, there are many different illnesses that we know about but we have trouble treating or diagnosing.
Leaky gut syndrome is an example of one of these medical conditions. Many people do not know or understand much about the illness and what it does to our bodies. In some ways it is considered a medical mystery. Actually, some medical professionals do not identify leaky gut syndrome as a real condition due to its diagnosis.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where the digestive tract has a “leak” in it. Our digestive system is where our food is broken down and where nutrients are absorbed. Think of the walls of our digestive tract as a barrier, it controls what nutrients can enter the blood stream and what gets eliminated through waste. When a person has leaky gut syndrome their “barrier” is not as strong as others and it can have leaky parts within it. This causes toxins to enter the blood stream resulting in a number of possible symptoms. Someone that has leaky gut syndrome can have one or many of the following symptoms: headaches, nutritional deficiencies, chronic diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and more.
Again some medial professionals do not identify leaky gut syndrome as a true condition and this is because everyone to some degree has a leaky gut. The walls of our intestines are not entirely “leak proof”. Even though we like to think of our intestines as these steel barriers, that is not the reality of it. Medical professionals also question the disorder because some believe that a leaky gut does not stand alone as a diagnosis. Some doctors believe that having a leaky gut is a symptom to other disorders or illnesses. For example, some disorders that are associated with a leaky gut are: diabetes, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowl syndrome, and even something as common as food allergies.
As we stated, our intestines have a large surface area used for the absorption of nutrients. When someone has a leaky gut that means that their intestinal surface area may contain cracks or holes in them. When this occurs it results in possible toxins, viruses, and even partially digested foods entering the blood stream. This issue can cause inflammation and changes in one’s gut bacteria. Now you may think that a change in one’s gut bacteria is not important, however that can not be more false! Everyone has a microbiome of bacteria in their gut that help keep you healthy and regulates more than just what happens in your stomach, so it is important to take proper care of it.
Below are a few reasons why it is important to take care of your gut health:
- Your gut is often referred to as your second brain! This is because our brain is connected to the GI tract through the Vagus nerve—if your stomach is inflamed, so is your brain.
- Chronic leaky gut syndrome can cause chronic inflammation which results in a multitude of different possible issues and may even be linked to the development of auto-immune disease.
- Your overall health is dependent on your lifestyle choices and a leaky gut does not have a positive impact on you health, so make smart food and environmental choices when it comes to your health.
Our overall health is dependent on us—the exercise we get, the hours of sleep we have, the environments we are in, and the foods that we eat. When it comes to a leaky gut, our diets especially important. There are a few foods that actually hurt our gut health: dairy, red and processed meats, added sugars, refined flour and wheat. These foods, plus others, when consumed in excess can lead to gut issues that can further advance into other issues.
Here our a few ways that we can keep our gut clean and healthy:
- Take pre and probiotics.
- Increase your intestinal permeability by eating clean and avoiding the problem foods listed above.
- Remove alcohol and other toxins.
- Be aware of the medications that you are taking and the possible side affects that come with them. Any concerns, check with your doctor.
Our gut health is just as important as our brain, heart, or lung health. After reading this blog take note of your diet and your environment. Notice if you are eating any unbalanced foods or being placed in a toxic environment that may lead to a leaky gut. The most important part of taking charge of your health is becoming aware. Notice what is not good for your body and what is. A leaky gut can be a cause to other issues or even cause symptoms to something more advanced like autoimmune disorders.
Talk to your health care provider if you are experiencing stomach issues and see what steps you can take to help get the relief you need. Remember that your health is in your hands and you must begin to ask yourself, “how do I wish to age?”