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Leaky Gut

Updated on August 21, 2014

What is a Leaky Gut

A leaky gut is the one that allows the passage of substances from the intestinal cavity into the blood stream through the lining layer of the intestine. This is what a leaky gut is in plain English. This condition has been under diagnosed and, in many cases, unrecognized by most physicians. The consequences are diseases immediately related to the gut, and worse, immune disorder diseases.

The latter includes a variety of the disorders that are spreading to reach more people recently, such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma, osteoporosis, and food allergies.

Another condition related to leaky gut is ciliac, which is a gluten intolerance condition. Gluten is the protein responsible for the elastic texture of daugh made of wheat flour, and is also found in barley, rye, and some oats and their products.

This lens will shed some light on the two conditions as they are thought to be related and because their symptoms and consequences have some similarity.

Leaky gut process explained
Leaky gut process explained

Development of Leaky Gut

How a gut becomes leaky

The small intestine is lined by a layer of epithelial cells. These cells are responsible for absorbing small molecules and ions from the digested food. The cells only permit these nutritious small molecules to pass through their membranes, and they pass them to the blood stream through which they travel to the kidneys to be purified then to the rest of the body.

This absorption process does not account for the passage of larger molecules from the digested food to the blood stream. They are simply too big to pass through a cell membrane. Instead they pass through the tiny areas between the epithelial cells, also known as the "Tight Junctions".

TJs normally allow some larger molecules, such as small peptides (protein molecules), to pass through to the blood stream. And this is not a condition that needs treatment ... this is normal.

What's abnormal is the passage of much bigger molecules and toxins due to damage of TJs in some areas of the intestine. And this is when two abnormal reactions occur:

1. The toxins that pass through the TJs cause immediate illness, such as mild fever and abdominal pain.

2. An immune reaction to the foreign large proteins that entered through the TJs to the blood. This is what causes food allergies and autoimmune disorders.

Causes of Leaky Guts

What makes a gut leaky

The known causes of leaky guts are either genetic or environmental.

Genetics causes the passage of the weak, wide TJs trait from parents to children. This one no one can avoid unless such parents don't have children to begin with. Even if this idea becomes acceptable (which is not due to obvious human rights violations), the syndrome might exist without being diagnosed.

The environmental factor is the one we can do something about. This environmental factor includes any thing that affects the intestinal lining, such as antibiotics, pathogens, and rough foreign objects.

So obviously you need to chew food very well before you swallow it, and avoid swallowing any coarse material like seeds and contaminant sand grains.

Any foreign objects should be prevented from passing through the mouth at any cost.

And antibiotics should be avoided unless really really necessary. The reason is that antibiotics kill all bacteria in your body, including the good ones lining the intestine. The result is that the harmful antibiotic resistant organisms such other other bacteria and yeast will have the opportunity to grow (because the good bacteria was suppressing their growth) and disturb the balance in your intestine.

Celiac Disease and Leaky Gut

Celiac disease is the sensitivity of the intestine to a group of proteins found in cereal grains called "prolamines". The most dangerous one of them is gluten that's found in wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease patients are usually advised to stay away from gluten and stick to a gluten free diet.

When gluten, and some sugar-binding proteins (called lectins) are consumed by a celiac disease patient they bind to the epithelial cells lining the gut. This prevents them from normal healing process and causes them to die, and eventually those molecules find their way past the lining cells causing the leaky gut syndrome.

The only obvious manifestation of celiac disease is the prevalence of enamel defects and aphthous ulcers. Sometimes they are not easily spotted, so ask a dentist first.

Have you gone through a leaky-gut like experience? Share your knowledge with the readers.

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    • JohnRabbit profile image

      Yaheem 7 years ago from Toronto

      @TraderGirl LM: As I said, the condition has been either under diagnosed or just no recognized as a condition by most physicians. Look it up in Wikipedia for more information.

    • TraderGirl LM profile image

      TraderGirl LM 7 years ago

      I'd never heard about this.