Your digestive system is the seat of your health and keeping it healthy prevents many chronic diseases. Your intestines have a lining that acts as a semi-permeable barrier, controlling what is absorbed into your body from the food you eat. Tiny blood vessels surround your intestines, absorb nutrients that pass though this semi-permeable barrier and transport them to your entire body through your bloodstream.
Poor diet, antibiotic use and lifestyle choices destroy the lining of your intestines, exposing your entire bloodstream to improperly digested food particles and toxins. These absorbed toxins and food particles cause unhealthy chemical reactions and inflammation throughout your body, compromising the health of your organs and altering the balance of hormones and brain chemicals.
Probiotics and Leaky Gut
Your intestines have naturally occurring good bacteria known as probiotics that keep harmful bacteria and harmful yeast (candida) in your digestive tract to a minimum. Probiotics also produce chemicals that protect the cell lining of your intestines. Excessive antibiotic use, stress, improper diet, poor lifestyle choices and other factors kill off your probiotics, allowing candida and harmful bacteria to increase in numbers. The harmful bacteria and yeasts release toxins in your intestines, which cause your intestinal cells to become inflamed and die off, leaving gaps in your intestinal barrier, a condition commonly known as leaky gut syndrome.
When the lining of your intestine becomes damaged, toxins and undigested food particles enter your system and cause an immune response. This immune response triggers excessive inflammation in your body, which produces more toxins and increased cortisol levels. It also changes the chemistry of your blood, and the balance of hormones and neurotransmitters, causing chronic diseases and mood disorders.
The added toxicity of leaky gut syndrome also harms the health of organs such as your liver, pancreas, adrenal glands and thyroid gland – all crucial to emotional stability. When your liver becomes burdened with toxins, its ability to clean your blood decreases. This results in even more inflammation and toxins in your body – worsening the imbalance of cortisol, hormones and neurotransmitters.
As the organs involved in digestion (intestines, pancreas and liver) become unhealthy, their ability to produce the digestive enzymes necessary to digest and absorb your food is reduced. When nutrients aren’t absorbed properly, your body’s ability to produce brain neurotransmitters is impaired, causing a decline in your physical and mental health.
Due to its contribution to chronic end excessive inflammation in your body, leaky gut syndrome also causes plaque formation in your blood vessels, including those in your heart, kidneys, and genital organs. This increases the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, poor erections and reduced sexual stimulation. Chronic inflammation is also a leading cause of skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis, increased food sensitivities, asthma, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, chronic sinusitis, arthritis and other chronic diseases.
Treating Your Intestines
The good news is that there are steps we can take to repair our intestines and reduce inflammation:
- Cut out toxic foods from your diet. Gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods, pesticide-treated foods and alcohol are some of the most common foods that mount an assault on the sensitive cells lining your gut. Consult with a qualified practitioner regarding toxic foods to avoid.
- Work toward a heavily plant-based diet. Consult with a qualified practitioner regarding specific foods that heal your intestines and reduce inflammation.
- Eat more healthy fats. Consult with a qualified practitioner regarding healthy fats that heal your intestines and reduce inflammation.
- Manage your stress through mind-body practices. Stress hormones attack and break down the tight junctions that hold the cells that line your digestive tract together. When you reduce stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine through rest and relaxation, eating mindfully, and meditation, these tight junctions can heal.
- Take digestive enzymes. Enzymes taken regularly with meals help break down large proteins and bacterial products that can damage the lining of the gut. Consult with a qualified practitioner regarding which enzymes will work best for you.
- Up your cardio. Studies show that cardiovascular exercise improves the transport of oxygen within the body and through the digestive tract, helping to promote the presence, activity, and diversity of gut microbes.
- Get some sleep. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to ensure you’re giving your body and brain the time it needs to rest and recover.
Do you have any questions about Leaky Gut Syndrome and how it may be impacting your body? Schedule your free consultation HERE!
Cathy Abreu, RN, BCPA
President & CEO
Navita Health Advocates