Let’s talk about leaky gut.
According to me, and a lot of the other functional medicine docs out there, leaky gut is one of the secret causes of IBS. And unlike IBS which is basically just a collection of symptoms, leaky gut has a few very clear causes and is 100% treatable.
Leaky gut is a very non-medical term. The medical version of leaky gut is intestinal hyperpermeability - but no one has time to say that.
Leaky gut is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when your gut gets leaky. Under normal circumstances your intestines are semi permeable. This means they let some things in and keep other things out. This is very important as your gut has a direct connection to the external environment and there's lots of scary things out there.
Typically your intestines will let in very small particles, like digested foods. But, sometimes the gut can become leaky and it transitions from semi-permeable to more permeable. Essentially the space between the cells increases. When this happens larger particles can pass through the intestinal barrier. And this is when bad things happen.
When larger particles cross the barrier they enter the bloodstream, where they are not supposed to be. This is essentially how food sensitivities happen - food particles cross the barrier they’re not supposed to, the body recognizes them as foreign, and mounts an immune response attack on them. This immune attack creates inflammation - a lot of it. And not only just in the gut, but all around the body like in the skin & brain.
Researchers have identified 2 big culprits for leaky gut. One is bacteria and the other is gluten.
Let’s talk about the bacteria first. We need bacteria in our gut to keep it healthy. Ideally the balance of good to bad is 85 to 15. When this balance is maintained the bacteria help the gut lining to stay intact and work hard to support the immune system.
But we are constantly exposed to things that can challenge this defence - like environmental toxins, poor diets, stress & more. Our good bacteria can become overwhelmed, and when this happens the bad bacteria make their move and start multiplying rapidly. The bad bacteria disrupt the gut in many ways - one of those being by creating holes in the gut lining - ie. creating leaky gut.
It’s important to note that we all go through phases with leaky gut - ie. likely after that all-inclusive vacation in Mexico with too many margaritas and burritos.
Problems happen when this leakiness becomes chronic. When the body can no longer counteract the bad.
As I mentioned before the other direct culprit for leaky gut is gluten. Gluten has been shown to directly affect zonulin levels. And zonulin directly damages the gut lining. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we should never touch gluten again. I love my bread just as much as everyone else, but I think it’s important to consider the mass overconsumption that has been happening in Western society.
This is the fun part. If you were paying close attention I already answered this. I said that bacterial overgrowth, which is caused by stress, poor diet & environmental toxins, and gluten cause leaky gut.
So to fix the leakiness we need to decrease the bad bacteria, lower stress, focus on an anti-inflammatory diet, without gluten, and reduce toxic load.
Simple right? There’s some other pieces too but essentially it doesn’t need to be so complicated. This just proves how when you figure out the root cause of a problem, treatment becomes a heck of a lot easier.
And this is exactly what I do in my practice.
If you’re in BC and looking to start prioritizing your gut health let’s book a discovery call to see if we would make a good team.