I have spent two years, studying the work of experts in the field of autoimmunity and have combined what I’ve learned, in 24 steps. I’ll be sharing one step every week for the next 24 weeks, on my website and social media platforms (starting Monday 18 May 2020). This is step 8 of 24.
Facebook: Autoimmune Way
Instagram: Autoimmune Way
STEP 8: UNDERSTANDING WHAT CAUSES LEAKY GUT
To understand leaky gut, let’s first look at how our bodies absorb nutrients. Your digestive tract is where food is broken down and nutrients are absorbed. Your intestines form part of your digestive tract. The wall of your intestines has a dual purpose.
- It protects your body from harmful substances by controlling what enters the bloodstream and what is transported to your organs. It therefore acts as a protective barrier between your gut and your bloodstream.
- It also assists your body in absorbing nutrients. Your intestine wall has tiny finger like projections called villi. The villi fingers are covered with hairs called microvilli. The role of the villi is to grab micronutrients floating in your gut that have been broken down from the food you eat. The villi and the microvilli push these micronutrients directly into your bloodstream through tiny openings in your intestine wall, called tight junctions. Your blood then carries the micronutrients to all the cells in your body.
Intestinal permeability refers to how easily substances pass through the tight junctions of the intestinal wall. When the tight junctions stretch or break apart, the gut becomes more permeable, which may allow undigested food, bacteria and toxins to pass from the gut into the bloodstream. This phenomenon is called leaky gut.
When the gut is leaky and the bacteria, toxins and other foreign invaders enter the bloodstream, our immune system recognizes them as foreign invaders and trigger an immune response against them.
According to Amy Myers MD, the main culprits are foods, infections, toxins, and stress with gluten being the number one cause of leaky gut.
- Gluten causes the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart the tight junctions in your intestinal lining. Other inflammatory foods (such as dairy) or toxic foods (such as sugar and excessive alcohol) are suspected as well.
- The most common infectious causes are candida overgrowth, as well as intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- Toxins come in the form of medications including NSAIDS (Aspirin or ibuprofen), steroids, antibiotics, and acid-reducing drugs, as well as environmental toxins including mercury, pesticides, mycotoxins (from mold) and BPA from plastics.
- Stress can also contribute to a leaky gut.
Join the Autoimmune Way program for as little as $7 to learn more about leaky gut. In the program we answer the following questions:
- How do I know I have leaky gut?
- Can I get tested for leaky gut?
- How do I heal my gut?