Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut

What is “leaky gut”?


Leaky gut, formally known as Increased Intestinal Permeability refers to a phenomenon in which the intestinal lining or gut barrier becomes compromised letting the outside world into the body which can cause many problems. The gut lining is made up of a layer of mucosal cells that should be bound close together by tight junctions. Certain molecules like nutrients (vitamins/minerals) are able to pass through between the cells or through the cells making their way into the body. An intact intestinal barrier is critical for normal physiologic function and disease prevention. 

The trouble is when these cells lose the tight junctions and become more permeable to things like bacteria, food particles, toxins and inflammatory molecules from bacteria like lipopolysaccharide (LPS) which then enter the body. This causes the immune system to activate, triggering systemic inflammation and many downstream problems, like chronic disease. 

What triggers leaky gut?

  • Medications (antibiotics, NSAIDs, hormonal contraception)
  • Food allergies/antigens (gluten)
  • Infections (viral, bacterial, fungal, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
  • Dysbiosis 
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Many diseases (autoimmune conditions, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, metabolic disease, Sleep Apnea)
  • Imapired digestion (low stomach acid)
  • Toxins (pesticides, BPA, glyphosate, cadmium exposure)
  • Diet/Nutritional insufficiencies (zinc deficiency, simple sugars, high fat diet)
  • Stress 
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Strenuous exercise (HIIT)
  • Increasing age
  • Alcohol 
  • Concussions/Traumatic Brain Injury 
  • Sleep disruption (lack of sleep, shift work, obestructive sleep apnea)

This list may make it seem like many of us are at risk of increased intestinal permeability and the truth is we are with our modern lifestyle. The good news is, there is a lot we can do to promote gut health. 

Next week we will discuss how to re-establish healthy gut barrier function when we discuss the 5R approach to gut health!

To learn more about Wild Rice Wellness and Functional Medicine, visit our ABOUT page for more details! If you are looking to improve your gut and overall health, schedule a free consultation with me to kick off the New Year!!

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