In the latest years the scientific research community turned towards the gut microbiota endless possibilities to improve our health. We are becoming more aware of this every month passing by (you can find more in-depth information related to the gut intestinal flora in my own book treating this subject).
So, the leaky gut was just recognized lately as a medical problem, and it is noticed quite often in our patients, contributing to increased inflammation and other various conditions. Just think about this! Many of us will do everything possible to secure our house, to ensure that everything is locked, roof is in perfect condition, windows closed and pipes are well maintained. Yet, we do not take a similar approach to tighten the barriers in our body, starting with crucial systems like our gut.
All the cells lining our gastrointestinal tract need to maintain tight junctions (this will happen as a protein complex with occludin acts like a sealant between our cells). The cell lining will keep the food inside our gut and only few selected molecules such as aminoacids resulted from proteins breaking down can pass through and reach the bloodstream, being carried everywhere throrough the body. Sometimes this cell junction starts to loosen up, under the influence of soft drinks or alcohol, chemicals from pesticids, sugar, processed foods, gluten sensitivity, preservatives, yeast, inflammation, chronic stress and medication (aspirin and acetaminophen are just two examples of it). As the cell lining is loosening up, bigger molecules trespass (glucose, fructose, vitamins, various bacteria and yeast). All these new molecules are identified by our body as being intruders, triggering inflammation. Even more, because some of our own cells contain or are similar with the new molecules, sometimes an autoimmune condition is triggered, with our own tissue getting collateral damage. You start with persistent low level inflammation and you can go all the way up to dangerous autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus or arhtritis. When we spoke about Alzheimer’s disease (AD) types, i mentioned that type 1 has inflammation as a key cause, and clearly having a leaky gut will increase the risks of AD type 1 as one of the most common way to generate a systemic inflammation is a leaky gut.
There are many ways to test our gut permeability. One test will measure the urine sugar level and check what kind of sugars are present in it, after we ingested different sugars like lactulose and mannitol, the mannitol goes through the gut barrier, while the lactulose shouldn’t. If we have manitol in our urine, that is proof that the gut can absorb the necesarry molecules, but if we have lactulose, this will translate in having a leaky gut. Antibodies to the gut barrier protein will also indicate a leaky gut. There is an antibody array called Cyrex Array 2, and the result should be negative. To test for food sensitivities, you can use Cyrex Arrays 3 and 4, or you can eliminate the foods you suspect they are triggering a reaction, and introduce them one by one, to find out when the symptoms reappear.
In the next post i will write about the bloodstream-brain barrier.
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