Hippocrates warned us over 2000 years ago that "bad digestion is the root of all evil," and "all disease begins in the gut." Over 100 years ago, Elie Mitchnikoff won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in studying the physiological function of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and he famously said, "Death begins in the colon." Turns out they were right - nearly all chronic illness can be associated with a break down in the gut.
Intestinal permeability, also known as 'leaky gut,' is one of the key things that lead to imbalance in the GI tract. As the term suggests, leaky gut is a process whereby the integrity of the intestinal lining is compromised allowing maldigested food and bacterial toxins to enter through or "leak" into the blood stream causing the immune system to react.
Here are some conditions medically associated with a compromise to the intestinal barrier:
- Autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes
- Food allergies
- Reactive arthritis
- Many other chronic conditions
What Causes Leaky Gut?
The gut barrier is a barrier system, one single cell layer thick, that prevents certain substances moving from the gut into the lymph system and blood stream. But when there is breakdown of this important barrier, toxic agents from inside the gut can seep across the leaky barrier, jump on the circulatory super highway, and travel all over the body.
There are multiple predisposing factors that can break down the barrier system, including:
- Current or past use of certain medications, like antibiotics, corticosteroids, and NSAIDS like ibuprofen
- Chronic yeast infections
- Digestive enzyme insufficiencies
- Standard American Diet (SAD) - high in bad fats, sugar, refined grains, low in vegetables and fiber
- Excess alcohol
- Food sensitivities/allergies
If you have an unresolved chronic illness, a leaky gut may be at the root of your issue, and it could even be coming from something you eat every day. A compromise to the gut barrier could be the first domino that dropped, leading you down the road of chronic illness and dysfunction.