Does leaky gut really exist?
🌿If you'd asked most doctors 10 years ago about leaky gut, the resounding response would be 'it doesn't exist' 🌿Yet like many things, we've since discovered it actually DOES exist - just in a different way to how we thought. And it plays a huge role in immunity. The medical term for leaky gut is 'intestinal hyper-permeability' - dont try google leaky gut in pubmed ;-)
🌿In a healthy gut, the intestinal contents (food, microbes) stay completely separate to the rest of the body 🌿The gut wall is very thin- just one cell thick - connected by tight junctions that let nutrients into the body, and keep germs and toxins out 🌿Overlying this wall is a coating of mucin, which contains antimicrobial compounds and protects the wall 🌿The gut is also lined with immune cells - 70% of the entire immune system!! 🌿The bacteria in our gut (microbes) arrive at birth, and alter through life in response to diet, stress, antibiotics etc. 🌿There are 'good' and 'bad' strains - the good ones help the immune system, and reduce inflammation, among many other roles. 🌿Good bacteria also produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA) - one called butyrate is the main energy source for the gut wall, and helps create mucin and the proteins required to form tight gut junctions 🌿When the balance of bacteria shifts to more 'bad' bacteria, this does several things : - increase inflammation - damage the gut lining - alter immune function 🌿The tight junctions between gut cells then loosen, and by-products of digestion and metabolism 'leak' into the body, triggering inflammation, allergy, and contributing to autoimmune disease 🌿Diet has a huge impact on this - diets high in saturated fat, omega 6 and red meat, low in fibre, and high in refined sugar promote gut inflammation and 'leaky gut', as well as increasing bad bacteria 🌿Emulsifiers in processed food such as CMC, maltodextrin and polysorbate also promote gut inflammation 🌿All of these factors play a major role in autoimmune disease, allergy, and inflammation 🌿A gut healthy diet: -is high in plant foods (fibre, prebiotics, polyphenols), omega 3 and citrus -is low in saturated fat /added sugar/red meat /alcohol, processed food - has adequate protein and fat soluble vitamins 🌿Even small changes help!!17w