Leaky gut an introduction

Good digestion is key to good health, both physical and mental.  Sometimes however,  the gut can become 'leaky' which may cause a variety of symptoms such Irritable Bowel Syndrome, food intolerances, allergies, weight gain(especially in the abdominal area due to increased insulin resistance), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraine, skin problems such as acne, rosacea and eczema, tinnitus, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. The mental health effects may be due to the effects of inflammation on the blood-brain barrier which becomes more permeable leading to anxiety, depression, 'brain fog' and maybe even autism.

How does the gut become 'leaky'?
To some extent, the gut has to be 'leaky' in order to allow digested food particles to enter the blood and be carried to where they can be used by the body.  The problem arises when the gut lining becomes irritated and releases excess zonulin, which is a protein that controls the size of the opening between the cells of the intestine lining.  When this happens undigested food particles and toxins can pass into the bloodstream.  The immune system treats these as 'invaders' and the inflammatory response is triggered. 

What causes 'leaky' gut?
Sometimes a leaky gut arises as a result of a gut flora imbalance in which candida albacans, a type of yeast, which is naturally found in the gut, proliferates to the extent it 'squeezes out' other more beneficial bacteria.  The 'good' bacteria are important in the digestive process and can produce B vitamins which can be used by the body.  The yeast may proliferate to the extent that they start to penetrate the gut wall and enter the blood stream, triggering an immune response and allowing undigested food and toxins into the blood. Please see 'Tired all the time-could it be candida?'- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/tired-all-time-could-it-be-candida.html The cause of this proliferation may be sugar which 'feeds' the yeast.  Long term antibiotics are another cause because they kill the good bacteria as well as the harmful bacteria they were prescribed for. Stress too, can affect the balance of gut flora because it lowers immunity allowing the yeast to grow.  It may also be that there is a link between zinc deficiency and 'leaky' gut. In some people gluten may irritate the gut lining as can certain medications such as aspirin.  We will look gluten in more detail next time before we look at how to treat 'leaky' gut.

Stay well, 
Janet x

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