Leaky Gut Syndrome… I'm leaking from where now?! - By Jim Chialtas, L.Ac. – Acupuncture, Functional Medicine, Autoimmune Disorders, Pain Management, Thyroid Conditions, Nutritional Healing, Chinese Medicine, Gluten Sensitivity – San Diego, California
Is anyone else out there fascinated with the colon… Or is it just me? And why on Earth would I want to talk about “Leaky Gut Syndrome” anyway? It is a rather eloquently named pathology don't you think? Contrary to the graphic image that it hints towards, Leaky Gut Syndrome does not have anything to do with that synthetic fat substitute that came out in the 80’s whiched caused anal leakage. I suppose that would be called "Leaky Butt Symdrome." Leaky Gut Syndrome is much more dangerous than that. And here’s why:
Quite simply put leaky Gut Syndrome is no more than a nasty inflammation problem. In fact it is inflammation in a big way that is located along the lining of the gastro-intestinal system. The lining of the gut is an extremely important part of the body not only in the digestion and absorption of our food but as a barrier to the outside world. Even though it is located within the confines of our skin it really is still technically touching the outside. This being the case it is surrounded with over half of our immune system. And when the immune system is activated we have inflammation.
In a healthy gut the cells are packed tightly together to form the lining of our intestines. Once our food is broken down appropriately the very small particles are then actively transported through the lining and into the blood to be made into energy. (That’s the short story!) Once the lining of the gut has become inflamed due to infection, drugs/medication/alcohol, food allergies, high cortisol, or a myriad of other things, the cells that make up the lining of the intestines begin to swell and separate just a little. Once this has occurred there is no longer a nice tight junction between the cells and slightly larger particles of food can pass through the lining. As I mentioned before the body is only used to very small particles which it chooses. These larger particles are now recognized as foreign invaders and an immune response is launched against them. This response is inflammatory in nature. So from then on you have a viscous cycle taking place. The more inflammation you have the more the cells allow larger particles to pass through and then more inflammation… Do you see the pattern? Very quickly the things that you like to eat most become damaging to your system and you get more and more inflammation. This is bad news! "Does that mean that I can't eat my Hot Pockets anymore?" Well yes, I think it probably does since the four most allergic foods are egg, soy, dairy and grain. So sorry.
Most people think of inflammation as something that leads to pain like in diverticulitis. And it certainly can. But people get into trouble when the inflammation is low grade and goes under the radar. The body recognizes this inflammation as a stressor on the body and sets the person up for big problems like heart disease, stroke, cancers and again, a myriad of other conditions. Leaky Gut Syndrome is often not noticed by the person, but with some basic tests we can screen for this condition and practice true preventative medicine. And from there you can get this condition under control.
If there is one thing that I want you to take home from this blog entry it is this: The surface area of the gut is enormous and has a huge impact on health in general. Take care of your gut. Do not fill it full of poison (even if it tastes like Hot Pockets!) and keep an eye out for inflammation in the body. Just about all chronic diseases have their start in low grade inflammation. Once the GI system is inflamed the disease pathway is well on its way.
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