LEAKY GUT: JUST AS GROSS AS IT SOUNDS

The term “Leaky Gut” may induce the same repulsive feeling that the word “moist” does, but please stick with me.. I swear it’s worth the mild discomfort.

So what genius decided to give this affliction the absolute worst name? Not sure. I didn’t research that little factoid. I did try to come up with some alternative names, however. Like: Loose Lining, Inflammation Station, Liver Attack, Belly Drip, etc. Basically, the poor soul did the best they could and who am I to judge? We’ll leave the name the way it is for now, though suggestions are welcome.

So what is Leaky Gut? Well, pretty much what it sounds like. Due to many factors (we’ll get to those in a bit), the lining of your intestines can “loosen” and allow food particles, bacteria, fungi,  parasites, and toxins to “leak” into the bloodstream.  Why is this important? Well, besides giving you intuition, your gut is the leader of the body’s immune system. A compromised immune system is no body’s friend. (get what I did there?) When these unknown particles start to infiltrate your bloodstream, your body’s first response is to start destroying them. Also, your liver will kick into overdrive to try and filter these particles that should have never made it that far through the digestive system. An overwhelmed and overloaded liver will allow these foreign bodies to get backed up, allowing their numbers to increase, and now you’ve got war.

So what happens when a foreign entity encounters your immune system? That’s right, your immune system will develop antibodies to fight and conquer. Well, when you have Leaky Gut, It isn’t just the bad guys leaking into your bloodstream, the food you eat is also getting in on the party. Food particles are not supposed to be in the bloodstream, so now your body has to create antibodies to fight and kill them. That may sound like a good thing, but that is now, technically, what us in the medical biz would call a food allergy.  You are not alone if you are able to eat a particular food one day, and suddenly cannot tolerate it the next. You are especially not alone if most of what you eat starts causing bloating, cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, etc.

The body has officially set its site on public enemy number 1: itself. Now you’re inflamed, have pains that you cannot explain, have opened the door to a slew of autoimmune problems (IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, Fibromyalgia, etc), and have forgotten what normal ever felt like. Just to throw a cherry on top of if all, you’ve also most likely awakened a once dormant chronic fatigue virus such as Epstein Barr or Herpes Simplex. And now you barely have enough energy to hold your head up or form a coherent thought. Your traditional doctors don’t know what to do with you and you’re stuck. Now you’re depressed, can’t sleep, your thyroid and hormones are throwing in the towel and your emotional state, well we better not bring that up at this sensitive time. Oh, and one more thing, you’re now just ripe with fungus (yeast to be more specific).

So what on earth did you do to bring this on? We owe this mess to a few different things. The main culprits are stress, inflammation, gluten sensitivity, yeast overgrowth, medications and food-related toxins.

Stress, well we’ve all got that. Uncontrolled stress can lead to inflammation and lo and behold your gut just got leaky. Gluten, well over the last few years we’ve started hearing more and more about the downside of consuming this guy. He can be pretty mean. We aren’t only talking about people with diagnosable intolerances, like Celiac Disease. Little by little, the medical community is starting to accept that gluten can contribute to gut and inflammation problems in people without a condition like Celiac. This isn’t just some hippie notion anymore. It can be hard to convince people that they have a sensitivity they cannot see a clear-cut reaction to. Just because you ate a piece of wheat bread and didn’t immediately throw it up, does not mean that you can’t have a gluten sensitivity. If you are curious about the possibility of having a gluten sensitivity, you can test it by eating completely gluten-free for 3 weeks and then introducing gluten again to your diet. See if there is a noticeable change. I know when I stop gluten for a stretch of time and then eat it again, I swell up so bad that my clothes don’t fit and my face looks like I was crying all night. Not too much of a stretch to think it could be the cause of Leaky Gut.

Yeast (or Candida) overgrowth, another culprit that causes inflammation and, in turn, Leaky Gut.

Medications and food-related toxins… where to begin? I think we all know that half of what we consume is a mystery. Food dyes, pesticides, chemicals, fillers, preservatives, they’re in, like, everything. Drinking soda and eating chicken nuggets made from “pink slime” is basically a bomb to your digestive system, so, yeah, it can contribute to Leaky Gut. Medication has an important role in modern civilization, but it isn’t perfect. To keep this brief, I’ll just give one example: prolonged use of painkillers such as NSAIDs can have lasting and damaging effects on the stomach and intestinal lining as well as the liver. Once again, leading to inflammation, and all-around leaky-ness.

So, it’s pretty easy for Leaky Gut to develop. We see it in humans of all ages, even pets. Luckily, given the right tools, it can be an easy fix. You will need an arsenal of supplements like potent/high-quality probiotics to combat bacteria and fungi, enzymes to aid digestion, glutamine to heal your gut lining, a natural anti-fungal to kill the yeast, liver detoxification and some changes to your diet. You’ll want to avoid wheat/sugars to slow inflammation and avoid feeding the yeast. In a matter of weeks, you can be recovered.

For help in diagnosing and treating Leaky Gut, come in to Spectra Wellness Solutions. Like, really, we do this every day.