You might have heard of it, stumbled upon it or even have it without even knowing it. It’s one of the most underrepresented common medical maladies this day and age—inexplicable considering the significant technological advancements achieved in modern medicine over the years. I’m talking about the ‘leaky gut’.
If you haven’t heard of it don’t worry, you’re not alone. There’s a reason why I called it an underrepresented common malady. It’s not because only a few people are studying it. Believe me, there are more than enough researchers out there. It’s because it’s being frowned upon by mainstream medicine. Many medical practitioners know exactly what it is and the risk it poses to a human body but no one seems to talk about it for fear of being labeled as ‘quack’.
And its wide-ranging symptoms don’t help its reputation either. Doctors dislike it because its symptoms are all over the place and can be anything—leading to a misdiagnosis. If what you’re reading so far is confusing you, don’t despair. This article is meant to inform and not to start counterproductive debates. This is a nonpartisan and straightforward exposition of one of the most misunderstood illnesses of today.
The Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is a medical condition where the intestinal lining has become too permeable thereby making the screening out process of ingested food faulty and problematic. You see, a healthy digestive system’s main function is to break down the food that you eat, allow simple essential molecules like amino acids, simple sugars, vitamins and minerals etc. to be absorbed and transported to the bloodstream and discard harmful toxins and waste out of the body through the anus.
When a person has leaky gut syndrome, his/her digestive tract gets too permeable (especially when the gaps between the cells of the intestinal tract become too wide), unwanted foreign particles like large food molecules, toxins from bacteria, yeast and wastes just to name a few seep through the gut and are distributed to the rest of the body via the bloodstream; hence the term ‘leaky gut’.
Why is it Bad?
When unscreened molecules flow freely into the bloodstream, it stimulates an immune response. It’s your body’s natural reaction to foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. When a person has a leaky gut, the immune response can be hyperactive resulting in inflammation and diseases.
Your body can become too preoccupied with protecting you against those foreign invaders that it ignores some of its basic functions. When this condition remains unchecked or untreated, the vicious cycle can lead to autoimmune diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis, habitual fatigue, Fibromyalgia etc. Eventually, even chemicals that are normally found in the food that you eat everyday can trigger an immune response resulting in countless food allergies/sensitivities.
Factors that Contribute to Leaky Gut
There are various factors that cause leaky gut and since some are not recognized by the medical community, I’ve narrowed down the list to 4 of the most accepted out there.
- Chronic stress—Well, it’s pretty much common knowledge that stress weakens the immune system and when this happens, you become susceptible to pathogens. When your body gets overwhelmed by these agents of disease, chances are, your gut get’s inflamed which then results to the increase permeability of the intestinal tract.
- Medications—Prescriptions that contain Acetaminophen and Aspirin have been believed to irritate and decrease the mucosal level of the intestinal tract (mucus protects your intestinal walls against pathogens). Overtime, these prescriptions can also cause inflammation and widen the gaps between cells of the intestinal tract.
- Diet—Eating processed foods, refined flours, preservatives and other unhealthy snacks excessively can cause your gut to be inflamed too as they contain toxins that your body can’t flush out of your system all at once. When they begin to build up, that’s when the inflammation starts.
- Inflammation—The common theme among all the three contributing factors I’ve mentioned above is inflammation. An inflamed gut leads to a leaky gut—plain and simple. There are various causes for this such as bacterial and yeast overgrowth, environmental toxins and parasites among other things. So eat and live healthy to avoid such condition.
So there you have it. The ‘leaky gut syndrome’ explained and discussed in a straightforward manner–stripped off unnecessary medical jargons to be understood by the layman like me. Knowing is half the battle. The other half is putting the acquired knowledge to practice. I’d be discussing more information (in great detail) about this often overlooked disease in my future articles. This condition has become some sort of an epidemic these days and ignoring it and passing it off as some type of quackery or medical mumbo jumbo is negligence at best and criminal at worst. There is no getting around it. The ‘leaky gut’ syndrome is all too real. Be informed and do something, now!