Wellness: What you need to know about 'leaky gut' and how to fix it
We all know that almost all diseases begin in the gut and 70 to 80 percent of our immunity lies in the gut. So if your gut is healthy, your immune system will be good! Several metabolic, autoimmune, and cognitive diseases start with gastrointestinal disturbances or imbalances. The gut hosts trillions of microbes, fungus and many other organisms, plus it is responsible for much of the neurotransmitter production and digestion. The gut has a major influence on our metabolism too, plus a healthy gut contributes to energy homeostasis, and so much more.
Approximately 70 percent of immune cells are located in the gut and that’s why efforts to restore gut health should improve, in order to improve immune function and modulate allergic responses.
Leaky gut: Our intestine is made of a thin mesh or net. Normally, this mesh allows easy exchanges of nutrients, enzymes, and hormones. But when there are constant unhealthy food choices, the gut has no choice but to process them. In the process of digesting unhealthy food, over time, this gut net bears the damage. As this worsens, the spaces between the net increase, allowing even a bigger protein particle to cross the gut barrier and enter one’s blood circulation. These big protein substances are not recognized or accepted in the blood. The body recognizes it as foreign matter and builds immune cells to destroy them. So the bigger the spaces between the gut net, the higher the chances of inflammation. If these undigested food particles happen to make it to the large intestine, they conquer the healthy and necessary flora (bacteria), leading to an overgrowth of Candida, parasites, fungus and undesirable bacteria. The gut has this flora army to aid in its protection. The beneficial gut microbiome swallows up other bad bacteria, viruses, toxins, fungus and various dead tissues and destroys them. What happens when we lose this line of defense? Yes, you guessed it. The body starts attacking itself and this can lead to an autoimmune disease.
As you can see, it starts with what we put in our mouths. I truly believe that almost everything starts from what we swallow, whether it is our food, beliefs or emotions. We have the power to be healthy and stay that way. Now is the time to take control of your own health, one bite and at a time. Autoimmune diseases include a variety of conditions and are characterized by increased activation of T or B cells toward one’s own antigens (autoreactivity), causing local or systemic issues like inflammatory bowel diseases, Hashimoto’s disease, Ankolysing Spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia and so on.
Dietary habits and specific food types play an important role in the onset, treatment, and prevention of GI disorders and that’s why nutrition becomes an integral part in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies that can develop from a GI tract disorder. Next week: Food and lifestyle modifications.
The writer is the Chief Nutrition Officer, Luke Coutinho Holistic Healing Systems. She is a clinical nutritionist with a focus on healthy lifestyle choices.