Leaky Gut---What Is It? Do I Have It?

September 18, 2018

By Emma Stafford, RN, APN-C, ACHPN, APHN
Integrative Nurse Practitioner
Hippocrates is quoted as saying, all disease starts in the gut.”
How right he was! Getting your gut healthy is one of the most important things you can do for your health; in fact it is the gateway to our health. Your gut wall is home to 70% of our immune system. The gut’s primary function is to protect your body from unhealthy and harmful toxins, which flow through your intestine, from reaching your blood cells.
Foods go from your stomach into your small intestine where there is a membrane that allows nutrients to pass through into your bloodstream. Think of this membrane as a cheesecloth. However, sometimes this barrier gets compromised by ‘toxins’ such as antibiotics, NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen), stress, infections, dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria in gut), unhealthy diet, and environmental toxins. This causes the ‘cheesecloth’ to develop microscopic holes. Now instead of only nutrients getting through, undigested food particles are leaking through from the small intestine into the bloodstream. Thus, the term ‘leaky gut’.
This loss of integrity may go on to cause inflammation and chronic disease may develop such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, (Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) gas, bloating, constipation are most common. Other people experience systemic symptoms, such as, depression, anxiety migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, and brain fog. Others are diagnosed with autoimmune diseases like Celiac, Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroid, and Type 1 diabetes.
The good news is you can heal your gut by removing the ‘toxins’, whatever that is for you and replacing it with a gut healing protocol. Talking with a functional practitioner and nutritionist are good first steps to begin the healing process.
This may include eating organic, adding more diverse and colorful fruits and vegetables, removing foods that may be causing inflammation, such as gluten and dairy. Practicing meditation and exercise are also important part of healing. Healing the gut is about healing the whole person – mind, body, spirit.

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