- Leaky gut in scientific research is called intestinal permeability. There are 123 entries for leaky gut and 11,000 entries for intestinal permeabillty on pubmed, but it doesn’t matter what we call it partially digested food particles leaking through your intestinal lining into your bloodstream is not a good thing.
- The mucosal barrier of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is built to allow very small fully digested particles through. However, when the GI tract becomes stressed the tight junctions between the cells lining our GI tract or enterocytes become loose this allows the unchecked entry of bigger particles into the blood stream. Your body then sees these larger particles in systemic circulation as foreign and activates the immune system just like it would for any pathogen. The problem is that your immune system has a great memory (via memory B cells) that don’t care what exactly that large particle is – it just sees it as intruder who needs to be pulverized. Thus, if you have intestinal permeability depending on what larger particles get through your immune system can start attacking literally any items that you commonly eat like tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, even a lean piece of grass-fed steak. The problem doesn’t end there because if a large particle gets through that looks similar to thyroid, ovarian, adrenal, or mucosal tissue you may have just set the stage for an auto-immune disease – where your own immune system now sees yourself as foreign – this is called molecular mimicry and this chain of events is not something to take lightly
- Now the next question you must have is what causes leaky gut? Well here are the big players in no particular order
- Environmental Toxins – items like BPA, BT Toxin (found in GMO corn), and Glyphsate (AKA round-up)
- Intestinal parasites, microbial infestations, or fungal overgrowth – this is much more common than you might think and 80-90% of our population is believed to have some kind of unwanted GI intruder
- Dysbiosis – or in appropriate ratio of good vs. bad bacteria residing in the gut. This is the topic of entire articles and books but in the simplest terms you are the wolf that you feed. Healthy bacteria thrive on colorful fruits and vegetables, bad bacteria thrive on sugar, artificial sweeteners and unhealthy fats. Also, if you have transit time issues it is very likely that you have some kind of dysbiosis and brain to gut axis issue.
- Food sensitivities – common allergens and food sensitivities wreak havoc on our digestive system eventually leading to a shutdown GI tract, a blunted brush border, dysbiosis, and leaky gut.
- Gluten leads to increased intestinal permeability regardless if someone has a gluten allergy/senstivity or not (via activation of the zonulin pathway).
- Just two alcoholic beverages will cause damage to the intestinal lining and in turn intestinal permeability. Period. So a night of bottle service and Ropolos pizza is a fantastic way to ramp yourself for an incredible inflammatory response and maybe even good ol autoimmune disease.
None of this sounds sexy or fun. Sorry I don’t make the rules and I have found in my practice a fair number of people who are weight loss resistant. These people try everything but can’t lose body fat and constantly crave sugar. This is because whenever your immune system is running wild you will be in a perpetual state of sugar burning and have zero shot at burning stored fat no matter how little you eat or how much you exercise. Fixing the GI tract and securing up the junctions between our entrocytes is the first step on the road to putting out the inflammatory fire and having a real opportunity to incinerate visceral fat or the bulge around the middle.
Now some of you jacked specimens may be like this doesn’t apply to me because I obviously don’t have leaky gut because I look like a chiseled piece of granite. Well let me tell you I have met quite the large percentage of workout aficionados who can shart all their friends out of a vehicle and drink their weight in tequila. These people generally don’t really feel well and rely on stimulants to feed their lifestyles (think Attitude Nation dry-heaving Cellucor). The saddest fact to me is that this constant inflammatory state from exercise, alcohol, and poor dietary choices is literally killing their gains because they are flooding their body from all sides by free radical damage and inflammation. Talk about an unbelievable way to exponentially increase the aging process and cancer risk.
Enough doom and gloom. We have to do something. But that will have to wait until the next post.
By: Ben House
- Mutzel, Mike. Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret about How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat. Print
- Arrieta, M. C. “Alterations in Intestinal Permeability.” Gut 55.10 (2006): 1512-520.
- Kharrazian, Datis. Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism. Garden City, NY: Morgan James, 2010. Print.
- Davis, Reed. “Functional Diagnostic Nutrition – Lecture Series 4.” FDN Certification. 8 Aug. 2015.