There’s A Condition Called Leaky Gut and It’s a Very Hot Topic
Do you have any chronic illnesses? I hope not. How about the smaller ailments like fatigue, allergies, mood swings, constipation, eczema, bad breath, joint pain or lack of libido?
If you said yes to any of those, then you might have Leaky Gut.
(I guess this means that almost everyone I know has leaky gut?)
I was out at dinner the other night with some friends watching them munch on bread and cheesecake and sipping some delicious looking wine – with minimal jealousy, of course. I began talking about my food project and my results thus far, specifically about my non existing allergies. Someone made a comment that struck me:
“I would never have thought that food had any impact on any of those little things.”
Do most people share this sentiment? I suppose I had never put much thought into it either, until recently. Only now am I convinced of how much food plays a role in almost everything.
Let’s just get one thing out of the way: I can’t stand the phrase “leaky gut”. Or even “gut” alone. I don’t like how it sounds and it just leaves me cringing. Kind of like the word “moist”. Ick.
Unfortunately for me it’s a phrase I’ve been hearing dozens of times each day this month because it’s all over the health and wellness and community. It’s even making headlines in mainstream news.
Basically, experts are saying this: Most health issues plaguing the world today can be traced back to gut issues. That’s because 80% of the immune system is located in the gut and when you mess with your “gut bacteria”, you mess with mental, digestive, immune and overall health.
Wow. That’s a bold claim.
How is that possible?
What is the gut?
It’s the digestive tract – what connects our mouth to our anus and home to 100 trillion microorganisms, mostly bacteria. What we swallow passes through our body and what is not digested and absorbed passes out the other end. The gut serves as a barrier where the intestinal wall prevents some of the bad foreign substances from entering the body.
What is leaky gut?
“Leaky gut” happens when the intestinal wall weakens, usually from an adverse reaction to a food or toxin. This allows proteins that don’t belong in the gut to escape into the bloodstream. When that happens, the body begins to attack these foreign proteins. Studies have shown that these attacks could be linked to skin problems, fatigue, infertility, depression, asthma, autism, heart disease, Hashimoto’s disease, joint pain and more. As Michael Pollan, author of two must reads Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, puts it:
“Disorders in our internal ecosystem — a loss of diversity, say, or a proliferation of the “wrong” kind of microbes — may predispose us to obesity and a whole range of chronic diseases, as well as some infections.”
What causes leaky gut?
A common culprit is gluten, rather one of the proteins found in gluten, but it can also be caused by other food sensitivities, environmental toxins, stress, hormonal imbalances or medication.
This all sounds very vague
I agree. It’s caused by a lot of things and can cause a lot of things. And since so little is understood about it, it’s hard to make any certain conclusions. Are some of these coincidental? Perhaps. I have no idea. But if taking charge of your diet, sleep and stress are potential “fixes” for all of these ailments – as opposed to medication, surgery or even just dealing with it – why not give it a shot?
Want to learn more?
- A Primal Primer (Mark Sisson)
- Say Hello to the 100 Trillion Microbacteria That Make Up Your Microbiome (New York Times, Michael Pollan)
- Leaky Gut Syndrome in Plain English – and How to Fix It (SDC Lifestyle)
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