Your gut plays an important role in how well your immune system works! Over two millennia ago, Hippocrates, the Greek father of modern medicine said it best, "All disease comes from the gut." Thousands of years later, we're realizing he may have been on to something! Some of the chronic diseases faced by our culture may be stemming from a bad gut.
What is Leaky Gut?
We are beginning to use the term "leaky gut" more and more. In a normal, healthy woman, her intestine can be as long as 4,000 square feet long! It is lined with a protective barrier that stops unhealthy substances from entering into our blood stream. Leaky gut is an easy term for increased intestinal permeability which means that cracks and tears have formed in the intestinal lining and now allow bacteria, partially digested food and other toxins to enter into the blood stream. Nasty, right? This leads to INFLAMMATION in the digestive system and possibly other places in the body that can cause long-term disease conditions. There are two major concerns with leaky gut syndrome in women: (1) a woman's inability to properly digest and absorb food and nutrients, and (2) a compromised immune system. You may be shocked to learn that your immune system plays an important role in how well your immune system works.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Some women's DNA may make them more sensitive and at risk for these type of digestive tract changes. However, DNA is not the main culprit. DIET is a major cause. Our diet seems to be a huge trigger for gut inflammation because it is low fiber, high fat and high sugar. Not good! Furthermore, heavy alcohol use and extreme stress (all to common now-a-days) can damage our digestive tract lining and make the gut more leaky. Other causes may be: overexposure to caffeine, radiation, heavy metals, chemotherapy, certain medications such as prolonged antibiotic, aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen use.
What Conditions Can Be Caused By Leaky Gut Cause?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Other research is studying the link between leaky gut and the following conditions:
Autoimmune diseases (Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What Are Some Signs I May Have a Leaky Gut?
The most common symptoms are: diarrhea, bloating, constipation, food sensitivities, joint pain, chronic fatigue and constantly getting sick (due to weakened immune system).
How Can I Have A Healthier Gut?
Healing the gut may be the key to fighting disease. A great first step would be to remove foods that can cause a lot of inflammation and causes changes in the digestive tract environment. This step includes removing alcohol, processed foods, certain medications and any foods that cause allergies or sensitivities. A daily probiotic also helps improve gut health! Others may try adopting a gluten-free diet. Eating foods that promote gut healing may be the first step to initiate healing throughout the body. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before self-diagnosing or adopting any major changes.