Leaky gut is exactly what it sounds like. The intestinal tract is like a fine screen or mesh, which only lets nutrients of a certain size through. The nutrients then pass into the hepatic portal blood vessels, which can bring nutrients to the liver, your chemical detoxification plant.
In a leaky gut condition, the intestinal tract becomes inflamed and the selective permeability (letting only digested food particle through) breaks down. This allows the passage of not only normal digested nutrient building blocks (amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars from carbohydrates), but also the passage of larger food particles, like larger chain proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and toxins that were never meant to pass through. This can be likened to a window screen. If the screen is functioning properly with no holes in it, air will pass through, but the flies, mosquitoes and other bugs will not. In leaky gut, the intestinal barrier becomes inflamed. Instead of only letting the digested broken down food particles through, the larger food particles and toxins enter, causing the immune system to become weakened and over stimulated. This is like the screen that now has tears, making larger holes that allow all types of insects to get through.
This presents a few problems.
Larger chain proteins can trigger not only intestinal irritation and inflammation, but also all kinds of allergies, immune and autoimmune problems, and inflammatory joint conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Leaky gut can also result in toxicity, since toxins leak through the “screen” of your intestinal wall (because of the larger holes produced by the inflammation). These toxins ultimately end up in the liver, your chemical detox plant. Unfortunately, your liver is then overburdened, and the toxins end up circulating throughout the body, causing havoc wherever they go. If the toxins deposit in the brain, you might have foggy thoughts, possible memory loss and/or confusion, and even the start of neurological disease like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. If the toxins deposit in the joints, you will have arthritic-type pains. If the toxins deposit in organs that produce white blood cells (WBCs), your immune system will be weakened, making you more susceptible to illness, including cancer.
What causes Leaky Gut?
1)Food allergy/sensitivity is one of the largest daily causes of leaky gut.
2)Hormonal Imbalance including cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone
3) Stress causes increase in cortisol levels and lack of blood flow into the organs, including the bowel, which results in leaky gut.
4) Neurotransmitter Imbalance of Serotonin and Dopamine ratio
5) Parasites can be found in all of us, especially intestinal parasites. They come mainly from animal product consumption and traveling overseas.
6) Bacteria from overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria as opposed to beneficial bacteria
7) Candida is a normal pathogen present in the intestinal tract. But when the beneficial or good bacteria in your intestinal tract are killed off because of antibiotic use, the Candida overgrow and cause a wide variety of symptoms leading to poor health.
8) Toxic heavy metals—like metallic lead, mercury or cadmium—cause irritation to the intestinal lining.
9) Drugs kill the normal flora of bacterial growth in the bowel, allowing pathogenic bacteria to grow back in a greater proportion. Other drug side effects like pain killers (NSAID)are corrosion to the gastrointestinal tract, causing the inflammation and leaky gut.
10) Poor diet, usually manifested in eating food that is highly processed or preserved, or chemical filled.
11) Alcohol, kills tissue and sets off an inflammation reaction, which causes increased intestinal permeability.
Leaky gut is probably the second greatest cause of sickness and disease after mental/emotional stress because it is the greatest physical cause of INFLAMMATION. It is interesting to see that even in young, healthy children the first system to show negative physiological changes is the digestive system.