Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RNLeaky gut syndrome may just seem like a buzz term in the supplement industry and it may even sound a little gross, but is it something you need to know about? Probably.
Why? Because science is revealing that it’s a real problem.
More than a site for nutrient breakdown, your digestive tract contains a vast network of nerves and a significant part of your immune system cells.
So, it’s important that you take good care of it and don’t take it for granted.
So how can a leaky gut compromise your health and what you can you do to prevent it from happening to you? Here’s the bottom line.
What is a Leaky Gut Anyway?Your gut lining is just one cell thick. It’s where nutrients get absorbed, and it also keeps toxins, undigested food, and bacteria from entering your bloodstream.
The intactness of this lining is very important. When it’s more permeable than usual, it doesn’t do a great job of keeping toxins out of your blood.
So how do you pinpoint a leaky gut? It involves drinking a solution made of lactulose and mannitol1 (both sugars) and collecting a urine sample.
Under normal circumstances, the gut absorbs mannitol but not lactulose. But when it’s “leaky,” lactulose is absorbed through the gut and ends up in the urine.
What Diseases are Associated with Leaky Gut?First, a leaky gut sets the stage for inflammation, which is basically the common denominator of all age-related diseases.
Next, it may also cause your immune system to react in unusual ways, which can also set the stage for disease.
Here are a couple of diseases that have been linked to a leaky gut:
• Chronic fatigue syndrome2
• Crohn's disease3
• Irritable bowel syndrome4
• Autoimmune disease8
Natural Methods to Strengthen your GutSo what does this information imply? That your gut needs to be in tip-top shape for optimal health. To get there, you must adopt a gut-friendly diet.
Here are a few tips to start off with:
• Eat plenty of fiber and antioxidant rich foods. Antioxidants protect the gut lining, and fiber cleanses the digestive tract.
• Regularly consume foods like yogurt, kefir, natto, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables. They contain natural sources of probiotics.
• Avoid constipation! A stagnant colon is a breeding ground for unfriendly gut bacteria, which could compromise the gut lining. A stagnant colon also holds in more toxins.
• Decrease your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether, as it can damage the intestinal lining.
• Test for food allergies and modify your diet accordingly.
• Eat prebiotic-rich foods like asparagus, onions, garlic, and artichokes. Prebiotics nourish friendly gut bacteria.
Also, focus on getting plenty of these nutrients. In studies, they’ve been shown to actually decrease gut permeability:
The Bottom LineThe importance of digestive health is heavily underestimated, but it can make a major impact on your overall state of health. As such, please take good care of yours.
Have you noticed any major health improvements after taking measures to strengthen your own digestive system? If so, please share your experience in the comments!
References:1. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 1999 Oct;1(5):410-6.
2. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Dec;29(6):902-10.
3. Bowel Dis. 2001 May;7(2):94-8.
4. Pain. 2009 Nov;146(1-2):41-6.
5. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Oct;51(4):418-24.
6. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Feb;29(1):117-24.
7. Clin Exp Allergy. 2011 Jan;41(1):20-8.
8. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2012 Feb;42(1):71-8.
9. Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Aug;26(6):911-8.
10. J Pineal Res. 2012 Aug 23. (doi: 10.1111/jpi.12013)
11. J Pediatr. 2004 Nov;145(5):612-6.
12. Dig Dis Sci. 2012 Apr;57(4):1000-12
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