Our digestive gut is lined by a very thin semi-permeable membrane, think of it like a sieve with very small holes in it. This barrier lining the gut wall is very selective about what it allows to pass through. Bigger particles are prevented from crossing the barrier while smaller essential molecules such as vitamins and minerals readily pass through.
Leaky gut can also be called “increased intestinal permeability” and occurs when the holes in the sieve get larger and become less discerning about what they allow to pass through. Thus, larger particles are filtered through and enter the blood stream. These bigger particles could include undigested food, bad bacteria and proteins such as gluten. This could lead to negative consequences when these larger particles include toxic substances which have entered the blood stream through this leaky membrane and are now present in the blood. Since these toxic substances are not supposed to be in the blood stream, the body begins to mount an attack against them. This leads to the immune system being primed against these toxic elements resulting in allergies and widespread inflammation.
Causes of leaky gut
So, what are the causes for this damage to the gut lining?
· Bacterial imbalance
· Dysbiosis- the imbalance between the harmful and beneficial bacteria in the gut
· Toxin overload
· Chronic stress
· Poor dieting
· Inflammatory foods
· Lack of fibre
· Lack of short chain fatty acids
Symptoms of leaky gut
Since the leaky gut allows toxins to pass through to the bloodstream it then causes allergies and widespread inflammation. So, a leaky gut affects your whole body. One early warning symptom that you may have leaky gut is multiple food sensitivities. Partially digested fat and proteins can slip into the bloodstream causing allergic responses to be developed against them leading to weight gain, digestive problems, skin problems, headaches, joint pains, fatigue, thyroid issues, syndrome X and bloating.
If left untreated, the leaky gut can then go on to cause chronic conditions such as arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue, muscle pain, migraine, headaches, anxiety, candida overgrowth, eczema and inflammatory bowel disease.