What you need to know about “leaky gut” and how it affects our health

"All disease begins in the gut"

Hippocrates had said more than 2000 years ago and it is being proved by science to be true today.

You may have heard the term "leaky gut" since it increasingly in the news lately. The "gut" part that we are referring to in "leaky gut" is a specific part which is our "intestines". Any damage to the internal lining can lead to a cascade of health issues. The cells that line the gut wall keep bacteria, undigested or partially digested food and toxins from entering our blood stream. The gut lining is in fact selectively permeable and only allows digested food particles to enter the body under normal circumstances. Also, it is our body's first line of defense against foreign particles entering into our body and about 70% of the immune system resides in our "gut". But, if for some reason, this one cell thick gut lining becomes damaged and starts allowing large protein molecules and other foreign bodies to go through, our body naturally mounts an immune response and attacks them.

Our gut is also home to trillions of microbes and our body actually has about 10 times more bacterial than human cells!

Our gut flora is responsible many important functions like manufacturing and absorbing key vitamins; maintaining the integrity of the gut lining, promoting normal digestive function, providing protection from infection and regulating our metabolism. If there is any imbalance in our gut flora, the above mentioned functions can get disrupted leading to weight loss resistance, metabolic disorders, allergies and many other common modern diseases.

The triggers for this gut health imbalance can be

  • medications and other medications like antacids and NSAID (Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs)
  • chronic stress
  • chronic infections
  • poor diet which comprises refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • low fibre diet
  • high toxin exposure from household products and environment

An unhealthy gut can eventually lead to leaky gut due to a reduction in biodiversity leading to a preponderance of pathogenic bacteria over healthy ones. These pathogenic bacteria produce endotoxins (toxins generated inside the body) like LPS or lipopolysaccharide which can be harmful to our health. Our body does not like LPS and the immune system attacks it with full force thus beginning an inflammatory process. This inflammatory response is helpful initially but if it goes on long enough, then what should have been a temporary attack leads to chronic inflammation. This chronic intestinal inflammation can lead to breaches at critical junctions in the gut lining leading to what I have mentioned earlier in this post as "intestinal permeability" or "leaky gut".

One thing that is important to note at this point is: you do not have to necessarily suffer from digestive symptoms to have a leaky gut. 

It can manifest as other conditions like

  • skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis
  • asthma
  • arthritis
  • autism
  • food sensitivities
  • autoimmune conditions
  • thyroid issues
  • weight loss resistance
  • type 1 and type 2 diabetes and many more

Healing the gut

The gut starts healing the when the damage stops and the nutrients for healing are readily available. Starting with food, we can make several changes to our diet which can help restore our gut flora. I will be covering the 5R gut healing protocol that we use in Functional Medicine in another post in details.

Some basic steps that you can take to heal your gut are

  • eat whole, unprocessed foods with plenty of fibre, focusing more on plant foods
  • if you think you have food sensitivities, try an Elimination Diet (I will be covering this in another article)
  • add plenty of healthy fats like omega 3
  • have foods rich in gut healing nutrients like zinc and glutamine
  • add more fermented foods like yogurt/dahi, kefir and sauerkrat

 

Ready to find out how you can start your own gut healing protocol?

Schedule a 60 minutes "Initial Health Session" session with me today!

What is an autoimmune disease and why you need to know about it

I have mentioned in my earlier post about how chronic conditions are increasing worldwide. And inflammatory chronic conditions like autoimmune conditions, allergies, asthma and arthritis are increasing at dramatic rates. Hidden food sensitivities, stress, toxins, inflammatory foods and poor lifestyle are usually the real reason for these inflammatory conditions.

Autoimmune conditions prevail when your body's immune system attacks it's own tissues rather a potentially dangerous foreign substance like an allergen, bacteria or virus, a toxin. The immune system fails to differentiate between the foreign molecule and parts of your body and develops antibodies against itself rather than the intruders. In some cases it’s your thyroid under attack, in others it’s your intestines, or your skin, your brain, your pancreas, or another organ. There are more than 100 types of known autoimmune diseases that have been classified. For instance rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease among many others.

Various symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions (but not limited to) are

  • joint pain, muscle pain, weakness or tremor
  • feeling tired or fatigued, weight gain or cold intolerance
  • dry eyes, mouth or skin
  • difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • weight loss, chronic diarrhea

The role of chronic inflammation

Apart from a complex genetic component, research shows that all autoimmune conditions have an epigenetic component as well. That means that a large part of the risk for developing an autoimmune disease is due to lifestyle factors; in other words, how much you move, what you eat, how you live your life, your social connections and your exposure to environmental toxins play a very large role. Due to this reason, chronic and systemic inflammation due to the misplaced immune response is an underlying factor for many autoimmune conditions. The good news is that by finding out source of the inflammation can help in managing the condition. This is where Functional Medicine can play an important role.

There are only a handful of Functional Medicine practitioners in India as of now; you can find them on the Institute of Functional Medicine website. There are many medical professionals (based in the US and UK) who are trained in the Functional Medicine paradigm whom you can reach out to as they do consultations online.

Some things to think about

Since autoimmune conditions develop due to the body's immune system going rogue, the solution lies in getting the immune system back under control. I will discuss this in more details in a separate post later, but there are some basic steps that you can take today to move towards health and vitality-

  • Consume a maximally nutrient-dense diet and avoids foods that you have a sensitivity towards (this can be identified by doing a comprehensive elimination diet)
  • Reduce your toxin exposure
  • Move your body and activate and use your muscles.
  • Control your stress hormones using restorative practices (yoga, tai chi, massage, deep breathing) and meditation
  • Maintain or build social connections with supportive people

My role as a Health Coach

My role as a Functional Medicine certified Health Coach is to guide and support you in taking the steps mentioned above. Even with knowing what needs to be done, it is not always easy to make the necessary changes. Keeping the principles of Functional Medicine in mind, I guide my clients through the process of making important lifestyle and dietary changes.

In my coaching sessions you can expect customised guidance and support on

nutrition

– movement

– sleep and relaxation

– social relationships and connections

– mindfulness and stress management

If you are interested in knowing more about how I can help you, please feel free to contact me using the form below


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