Leaky gut – could this be causing your health problems?
Did you know that the intestinal tract represents the largest interface between the external environment and the human body, that most nutrient uptake happens in the intestinal tract and that approximately 90% of the immune system is found in the gut? Indeed, regulation of intestinal barrier is crucial to control intestinal permeability and increased intestinal permeability, aka “leaky gut”, is associated with chronic inflammatory conditions, such as depression, neurological disorders and gluten intolerance mediated problems.
In terms of dietary and nutritional factors, protein, vegetable and fruit intake, oily fish, specific minerals (e.g. Zinc), alcohol (which makes the gut “leaky”) and gluten (derived from gluten-containing grains, wheat, rye and barley) all affect how well your intestine works.
Understanding the impact certain foods and nutrients have to influence the direction of pro-inflammatory pathways to anti-inflammatory pathways and their significance in regulating intestinal permeability, could significantly improve your health.
For example, having a “leaky gut” means that toxins produced by bacteria (endotoxins) can pass across the epithelial wall causing an immune response to be activated which contributes over time to the progression of a whole host of chronic diseases.
Further, understanding more specifically what role the microbiome (your gut flora) may play in altered intestinal permeability, could lead to information about whether which probiotics and prebiotics, if any, may be most helpful for you. In addition, this information may be useful so that a diet can be tailored to promote these beneficial commensal bacteria.
A further example is Vitamin D, which has been shown to decrease intestinal permeability, and yet it is known that Vitamin D deficiency is widespread (http://patient.info/health/vitamin-d-deficiency-including-osteomalacia-and-rickets-leaflet) and that in the winter and spring, about one in six people (16%) have a severe deficiency and most people become deficient by March as stores have become depleted.
Investigating what may be contributing to your symptoms, would enable a trained nutritional therapist to tailor dietary and supplement advice to help alleviate your health condition, especially if you have obvious digestive symptoms. Hence, asking a trained nutritional therapist to carry out a dietary evaluation is a sensible step. They will be able to work out from your diet history, how to improve what you are eating or if you may be low in certain food groups, minerals or vitamins. Diagnostic testing can also be discussed.
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