Leaky gut is a controversial topic, many conventional medical experts have dismissed it as a holistic mumbo jumbo but recent research evidence is suggesting there is reason to take it seriously.
What is Leaky Gut
Your gut wall is the site of a tremendous exchange of nutrients. People suffering from leaky gut however, are thought to have a gut lining that is overly permeable. This hyper-permeability allows substances like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles to enter the blood stream and cause havoc.
How Strong is the evidence?
Whilst the theory seemed plausible, the evidence was unconvincing until a pioneer in gut health Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and his team discovered a gut protein called ‘zonulin’ which can tighten or widen the openings in the cell membrane of the gut wall. This discovery created a paradigm shift in understanding of the gut lining and whilst, there is still debate about the impact of leaky gut, we have an accepted model that explains how large molecules that cause diseases like allergies and autoimmune conditions are ending up in the blood stream.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
There is definitely a genetic component, to whether you are prone to gut permeability and whether you suffer adverse reactions from the particles that slip through. There is also strong evidence that when the balance of your gut flora, the beneficial bacteria that make up your microbiome becomes unbalanced you’re susceptible to developing an overly permeable gut lining.
What’s the Impact?
Opinions differ, but most agree that allergies, autoimmune diseases like type I diabetes, a thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s disease and Chron’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome are linked to leaky gut. Other conditions including inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis, mood disorders and even autism are also thought by many to be connected to leaky gut although not everyone agrees. Given how rapid and steep the learning curve is with regards to the gut and the immune system it is fair to say we will no doubt hear more about the effects of leaky gut in the years to come.
How to Heal Leaky Gut?
It depends on your symptoms and your overall wellbeing, but in general terms healing the gut requires re-establishing a healthy gut flora. There are also specific nutrients that can heal an inflamed and overly permeable gut wall but it is a complex area that is best treated professionally. For further information I recommend speaking to Live Well's naturopath Shanna Choudhary or a holistic GP who specialises in nutritional wellbeing.
Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stress, anxiety and depression.
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation.