Whatever your current relationship is with your gut, it should be acknowledged just how important it is in your life. Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple states that the human gastro-intestinal tract houses the bulk of the immune system, about 70% to be exact. It is a selectively permeable system that is responsible for the breaking down and assimilating of the foods we consume, the elimination of waste products and the protection from toxins and foreign invaders from the environment. It’s a very big and important role for the gut, therefore it’s vital that not only are you aware of its pivotal influence on your system but also understand how poor upkeep of your gut can lead to your worst nightmare – that is weight gain, aches and pains, and chronic diseases to name a few.
The wise philosopher, Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” It has been a thousand years now and such words have never been truer. Our digestive tracts are long passageways that go from one end of the body to the other and for the most part, it creates a barrier between the outside and our insides. It’s through a specialized and complex process involving intestinal cells and a variety of healthy microbes that the nutrients in food are actually distributed throughout the body allowing your organs, tissues and cells the proper fuel to go about their daily functions. But sometimes, it’s not just nutrients that go through, when your digestive tract is malfunctioning toxins and waste can slip through the heavily guarded system. Once it does that, these harmful chemicals have full allowance into your bloodstream, where it is transported and sent to wreak havoc wherever it pleases.
This type of malfunction is considered in the medical realm as “Leaky Gut Syndrome”. According to gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD and Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Cleveland Clinic, from a medical standpoint, it’s a very grey area and most physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is the biggest immune system organ. Leaky gut syndrome isn’t exactly a diagnosis taught in medical school, but it’s something that has been a reoccurring issue and topic for debate. Despite opposition, it can’t be denied that poor treatment of your gut is usually the heart of most of our chronic diseases.
And it should be no surprise either, considering that the modern society has made so much room for error. Our current lifestyles, diets and habits are all causation factors for a deficient intestinal tract. Our diets, stress, toxic chemicals in our food, water, and environment, consumption of alcohol and frequent use of antibiotics are not only causing damage to our intestinal cells, but are also depleting the healthy supply of beneficial bacteria our body provides. We’ve become so negligent in the way that we treat our bodies that it’s only natural that our gut defends itself. That’s why we have autoimmune reactions such as arthritis, asthma and eczema (to list a few), it’s only our gut’s last stand against the toxicity in our bodies and its vain attempts to stop the bad bacteria and waste from taking over.
So what exactly causes Leaky Gut Syndrome? Most research according to the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition points to an increase in intestinal permeability or intestinal hyper-permeability. There is a link between leaky gut and Candida as well. But generally, diet and environment are the main players when it comes to Leaky gut syndrome. Some of the common contributors include: processed/packages foods, sugar and refined grains, prolonged use of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory or vaccinations, food allergies, stress and the overuse of alcohol. When we succumb to any of these factors the beneficial bacteria in our intestine is weakened and doesn’t work properly. After which, our intestinal lining also becomes compromised as that tight junctions in the gut that control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, loosen and begins allowing every substance into the bloodstream, be it nutrition, vitamins, toxic materials, pathogens, bacteria, parasites and even waste. When this happens our body is directly introduced to negative factors and we develop issues of poor nourishment, auto-immunity, aches and pains, illnesses and diseases.
For these reasons, it’s important to really start treating your gut right. If you’re looking for a longer, happier and healthier life – then your gut is the first place to start. It doesn’t take much to restore your gastro-intestinal system. For the most part, if the damage isn’t too severe, you can turn back the clock on your digestive system and revert it to its fully functional and efficient state. All it takes is a simple lifestyle change, one that stays away from foods that are processed or packaged, high in sugar, refined grains and any other item that your body might be allergic to. Stress plays another huge role in the way your gut functions, so it’s in your best interest to manage your stress accordingly and try to prevent it from controlling your life. Sufferers from Leaky Gut Syndrome also find relief in habitual usage of probiotics. Since the syndrome causes a huge imbalance of bad and good bacteria, probiotics help even out the odds and eventually overcome the bad bacteria that have harvested within your belly. Finally and probably the most important: just to be happy with yourself and lead a very active and fruitful life. You only live life once and your gut doesn’t have to be your worst enemy, instead make an effort to make it your best friend. It’s your partner on this road to a happy life.