Why is Leaky Gut the Root Cause of Disease?
If you live in the world today, it’s a sure bet that you and me have some degree of leaky gut or gut permeability.
For the sake of our discussion today, I’ll be using both concepts interchangeably.
Leaky gut is a syndrome that is linked to so many diseases, especially autoimmune disease and symptoms of autoimmunity.
Leaky gut translated medically, is referred to as increased gut permeability.
It’s a common condition affecting just about everyone. Our gut lining is compromised in such a way that it no longer “seals” the outside from the inside.
Imagine having no seal around your windows. You’ll feel a draft and also will invite pests into the house.
Let’s say that you have a mosquito problem and get irritating bites everyday. What would be the first thing you’d do?
Seal your windows, right?
Then you’d kill off the mosquitos in the house as soon as possible and take care of your mosquito bites so that they heal.
Then your house becomes a safe and comfortable place where the temperature and the cleanliness is controlled once again.
In the same way, gut permeability means that we’ve got “gaps” in our gut lining where the pests like bacteria and viruses, as well as toxins begin to pass through to get into our body.
Our body has a robust regulating system, specifically our immune system, which can protect our cells by putting together a good army to fight and kill off the enemy that entered our bodies.
This is called the innate immune response.
This works for a while until our immune system gets tired from lack of sleep, insufficient nutrition, and diminishing metabolism.
Our soldiers begin to get confused and tired and in their efforts to protect, they begin to confuse our own cells with the enemy. This leads to an acquired immune response.
Our own immune system turns against us and begins to kill off our own cells to the point where it’s self destructive.
This is where autoimmunity begins.
This process can take years to develop into a diagnosed autoimmune condition.
What Contributes to Autoimmunity?
What we do know is that multiple factors predispose us to getting autoimmune disease.
- Genetic Susceptibility
- Leaky gut
So whether it started with trauma to the body, such as a bad fall or a motor vehicle accident, or a bad infection such as a sinus infection, food poisoning, or even a simple cold, anything that sets off the immune system is considered a trigger.
Our genes are the deck of cards we are dealt when we are born. But they are largely affected by our environment, nutrition, and lifestyles.
Some of us don’t get sick much and if and when we do, we spring back quick.
On the other hand, some of us struggle with health all our lives and even though our behaviors are so healthy, we tend to get sick frequently.
Outside of that, we know that we can alter our genetic expression. For example, by changing our diet strategically to enhance our health, we can turn on and off the very genes that can potentially affect our overall health.
The problem is that we’re not super clear on exactly which diet is most suitable for us.
Leaky gut means that we’ve got large gaps that are opportunistic for harmful bacteria and toxins in the gut to freely enter our bodies.
We’ve got significant amount of immune cells on our gut lining but over time they’ve degraded to a point where they’re not helpful.
Also, due to highly acidic lifestyles and exposures to certain medications, especially antibiotics, we’ve killed off the good bacteria that helps us to metabolize our food and keep our gaps tight in our gut.
Not only that, but due to the good bacteria that was killed off, we harbor more bad bacteria which takes over our body and creates so much acidity to the point of severe disease.
When our gut lining is leaky, bacteria, fungi, parasites, undigested foods, and toxins that normally should not enter our body now has free entry.
While we can run some specific tests to determine if you have a leaky gut, it’s often unnecessary and cost prohibitive.
We’d rather you spend your resources of time, money, and effort in restoring your gut permeability, because everyone, to some degree, has leaky gut.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut
Before we talk about what to do, let’s review some symptoms of leaky gut:
- Autoimmune diseases, RA, Lupus, etc.
- Rash, Eczema, and psoriasis
- Inflammatory bowel disease- IBS, Crohn’s
- Celiac Disease
- Type I Diabetes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Chronic infections
So What Specifically Causes Leaky Gut?
- Common Infections: flu, pneumonia, sinus, UTI, bronchitis, etc.
- Meds: NSAIDS, chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, any meds
- Celiac disease
- Strenuous exercise
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Trauma: surgery or accidents
As I mentioned above, gut permeability is especially a suspect in autoimmune and various other diseases.
It is the root cause of many of the common diseases including autoimmune, heart, diabetes, PCOS, IBS, and cancer.
This is why it’s important to start with gut restoration when reversing disease or symptoms.
Truth is that we are all aging faster than we’d like and a direct effect of aging is inflammation.
Inflammation then increases gut permeability and as we have increased the amount of toxins in our bodies, we slowly become acidic to a point where we have bad bacteria overgrowth in our gut. We call this dysbiosis, which is too much bad bacteria in comparison to the amount of good bacteria.
Leaky gut wrecks havoc in our body by over stimulating our immune system, increasing inflammation, and decreasing metabolic efficiency.
Our body shifts into a dangerously acidic mode. To add to this, it further perpetuates the problem by disrupting our ability to absorb the nutrients from foods.
What’s worse is that as the bad bacteria take over the body, they begin to compete for the nutrients that you need.
What Can You Do About Leaky Gut?
Next week we’ll talk about the microbiome, but what we need to remember is that we need to get busy creating alkalinity in our body, strategically doing the right things to restore our gut and immune system, decrease overall inflammation, and improve metabolic efficiency.
So when my patients ask for a diet or a specific supplement, I have to have this conversation before I can lead them in the right direction.
I tell them, that unless we fix their gut, no amount of clean diet or the most quality supplements will fix their problem.
Because their ability to digest and absorb is poor, the supplements go right through and will end up being expensive urine.
Also many patients want to know what lab testing to do.
My recommendation always is the same.
If you want to fix what’s going on in your house with the mosquito infestations, we’ve got to repair the damage, restore its function and then fine tune with interior decoration to have it functionally and aesthetically pleasing.
Without a strategic approach, all too often, I find that many patients end up with expensive testing and a number of supplements and medications, but are not feeling any better.
So the gold standard diet is an elimination diet for at least 28 days to allow your body to be free from any toxins. You can find our elimination diet guide here.
This diet will allow you to find out what foods you are sensitive to and what foods are safe to eat.
The following are non negotiable supplements for you to consider to ensure you’re getting everything that you need:
These supplements will require a practitioner code to purchase, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the code.
You’ll feel significantly better, however, without proper nutrient supplementation, it’s not possible to restore your gut completely, so we’ve got the Alkaline Detox Protocol, an 80 day program if you were serious about getting your body back under your control.
I am confident that no matter what your health struggles are, that you will transform your body in ways you never thought possible.
Thanks for listening, I’ll see you next week when we’ll discuss more about our microbiome.
About the Author
Dr. Connie has suffered from Lupus for the last 16 years. As a result, she discovered that a holistic minded approach to health was most beneficial for herself in battling Lupus and for her patients, who battle everything from Autoimmune Disease to Weight Loss. Dr. Connie holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a Masters in Public Health (Nutrition) from the renowned Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions. She is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian in the State of Georgia. Additionally, Dr. Connie is a Functional Medicine Practitioner (Certification Pending 2017), a Registered RYT-200 Yoga Teacher & School (Yoga Alliance) and Certified Pilates Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance).