Itchy skin? Swollen joints? Feeling exhausted? These could all be caused by Leaky Gut. But what on earth is that? How do you know? And what do you do about it?
What is Leaky Gut?
Our gut is a very long, clever piece of kit that keeps the food we eat and waste products to be eliminated separate from the blood stream and the rest of the body. Its best design feature is also its weakest – the walls are only one cell thick. And if you have ever looked through a microscope you will know that there are minuscule gaps between every cell.
These gaps enable nutrients from food, such as proteins, vitamins, minerals, to pass into the blood stream from where they are whisked away to cells in need of them. Even better, waste products from the body pass into the gut for elimination. Excellent system, and so far, so good.
But what if the gaps between the cells lining the gut become bigger than they should be? Then larger molecules can pass into the blood stream. These are toxic to the body, ie not good for it at all. The clever body sets out to isolate the toxins, creating antibodies to destroy them and get rid of them out of the body. Meanwhile, these toxic escaped particles have already begun their journey around the body in the blood. And that is when joints can become inflamed, your skin comes out in a rash (lots of toxins are excreted through the skin) or myriad other symptoms appear. Each person’s body will deal with the toxins in its own way. Which is probably why doctors are reluctant to acknowledge Leaky Gut as a valid issue.
As if that isn’t bad enough, some of the products of protein digestion may leak into the bloodstream and act as hormone mimics. For instance, they may mimic the hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland and result in you feeling exhausted. Or another fragment may act like glucagon which will deplete your sugar stores and mimic diabetes. Again leaving you feeling washed out.
You’ll probably agree that Leaky Gut is something to avoid or get repaired as fast as possible.
How do you know if you have a leaky gut?
Difficult to pinpoint except you have unexplained symptoms and those might be explainable by the Leaky Gut. A healthy gut = a healthy immune system. So, those unexplained symptoms could be underlyingly caused by your poor old intestines behaving like an oil pipe with holes in.
What to do about it?
Have to say that healing a Leaky Gut is not an overnight event. It starts with removing the inflammatory foods that are putting fuel on the fire. Start by cleaning up your diet, cutting out processed food along with foods that are very frequent problems such as wheat and dairy. Yes, it’s a pain, but it will be a short-term pain rather than a life-long dedication to taking prescription drugs.
There are likely to be vitamins and minerals that are in short supply to your body, and supplements may be necessary – it’s not what you eat that determines your health but the way your body uses the food that you eat. Mind you, processed foods will always be bad news! And you'll probably find that sorting out your gut will improve your weight, your sleep, joint pain and all sorts of other issues.