Hi, it’s me. Your digestive system. Call me DS for short.
That’s my nickname here on A Gut Feeling. Finally, you’ve noticed me. While I’ve got your ear, I want to set a few things straight and tell you what I’m really up to here in your body. For, before it’s too late, I don’t want to be known as a leaky gut.
You don’t have a tummy ache? You don’t have digestive issues? Don’t think I’m not talking to you still. I’m talking to everyone, stomach problems or not. That’s where people misunderstand me. My work involves more than your stomach. Mess with me and I can mess with your entire body.
You see, I’m friends with many other organs. I’m especially good friends with your brain. We talk a lot. I’m also fond of your skin and your bones too. In fact, I’m closely connected to every aspect of your body’s functioning. We are designed to work together.
I work hard. I have a big job to do. People like to put me down though. They think I’m inferior to other ‘more significant’ systems in your body. But they’re wrong. Just because I deal with poop doesn’t mean you can treat me like poop!
Fortunately, and it’s about time, some clever people are discovering just how critical I am to your health. Until recently it was believed that my job was to simply digest and absorb the food you ate. Like some kind of waste disposal unit that people were ashamed to mention. I do digest and absorb but that ain’t the half of it. I work twenty four seven. Not just meal times. I have a second job; a complex high security surveillance job. I work extremely hard to protect you from everything outside your body.
I’m in charge of your intestinal barrier function. This is the layer of cells that protect you from the outside environment. I tightly coordinate passages (little doors) into your body, called tight junctions. There are miles of these passages and junctions to patrol.
These are specifically designed to only allow nutrient-rich food molecules into your body. It’s a very clever thing, because at the same time these tight junctions prevent harmful parasites, viruses and bacteria from invading your body.
Zoom right in and take a look
I’m at the front line of your body’s defenses
I’m the checkpoint where the outside environment and the body meet. I take my job seriously and I’m tougher than border security on all that foreign riff-raff that was never designed to enter. I say, what comes in and what stays out!
Now, assuming you are healthy, I can do my job well. I’m good at what I do; thorough and ruthless. I reject and I accept. But, if my tightly controlled security doors are, for whatever reason, jeopardized, things can start going horribly wrong and all sorts of nasty stuff can make its way into your body.
These things can cause you problems
People like you are exposed to all kinds of stressors and toxins, and too many of these will inevitably weaken this important protective barrier. It might be antibiotics, pollution, cleaning products, processed food or GMO foodstuffs, any of these things can prevent perfect function and start to change the state of your gut.
What happens when the bad stuff gets in?
When the bad guys knock at my doors, this intestinal barrier becomes a battleground. I have a big fight on my hands. Some of these foreign molecules are very determined! I do my best but weight, of numbers, wears me down.
As time goes by, depending on your body, I might lose the ability to recognize the bad from the good. Then at some point, I struggle to patrol all the doors. The bad guys jimmy them open like with a crow bar. With repeated attacks, the doors stay jammed open and become holes where foreign molecules manage to penetrate. These holes are referred to as your guts permeability. I call it Leaky Gut.
When I’m not fed well, when I’m not looked after (by you, that is) these indigestible foreign molecules get past me and are able to move freely into your bloodstream and wreak havoc on your whole body. They are real wreckers, believe me! Leaky gut makes it impossible to do my job.
Every unique digestive system will look different on the inside. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms with their version of leaky gut.
There are 3 things at play. I like to call this the Modern Disease Equation.
- The genes that you are born with. These are the things that make you predisposed to a condition.
- Environmental instigators. Things outside your body like toxins.
- Your Gut Lining and the condition of your intestinal barrier function.
Leaky gut + modern disease equation
For example, you could develop food allergies if you’re skewed to develop allergies. You could develop autoimmune diseases. You could develop chronic inflammation that can lead to psoriasis, Alzheimer’s, even cancer.
Leaky gut aka ‘gut permeability’ can cause inflammation anywhere in your body
Don’t ignore my warning. It’s fundamental to concern yourself with the state and quality of the food you eat and the environment that you surround yourself with.
When you eat well and don’t expose me to toxins, I’m a friendly, mild mannered, highly vigilant, well-functioning system that you don’t even know you have. You eat, I make you poop. Lovely! Everything in between is seamless. Why would you want to mess with this?
The good news is….
The state of your gut can change. You can control 2 out of 3 of these factors!
If you help me out, I help you out. Save me from leaky gut. It just takes a little bit of care and most importantly a good diet!