Leaky Gut is a poorly recognised but extremely common problem, and as such is rarely tested for. Essentially, it represents a hyperpermeable intestinal lining. In other words, larger than normal spaces develop between the cells of the gut wall, and bacteria, toxins and small particles of food leak out of the gut and into the body.
It can masquerade as fatigue, anxiety, depression, digestive symptoms, weight problems, and other serious conditions… It’s been found in association with chronic diseases including: asthma, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel, psoriasis, cancer, and heart failure.
Leaky Gut sounds a bit messy, but actually it isn’t at all. The gut should, indeed, be permeable to a certain degree to allow nutrients through. Ordinarily the large intestine acts like a one-way protective sieve that filters out certain food molecules and peptides. In the case of Leaky Gut, the one-way gate of the gut opens too wide, allowing through an increased number of peptide molecules and pathogens, which attract certain cells of the immune system called phagocytes, letting them pass through the gut wall. It Is the presence of these phagocytes that causes an inflammatory reaction in the gut wall.
We liken it to sieving flour. If you are sieving flour for baking, you need a fine sieve that will allow the fine flour through and keep the lumps out. This is how the gut operates normally, it allows appropriate molecules of nutrients through, but stops larger molecules and pathogens getting through into the bloodstream. When the gut becomes too permeable, the effect is like trying to sieve flour with a colander – many more lumps get through. This equates to undigested molecules and particles of food, along with pathogens getting into the body and setting off an immune reaction. Such foreign bodies, circulating in the blood, will sensitise the immune system and often cause adverse reactions to food, showing up as either an allergy or intolerance.
Many people suffer from leaky gut and do not realise it. A leaky gut can be caused by anything that damages the lining of the intestine – infectious microbes, such as bacteria and parasites, a Candida albicans overgrowth, allergies or even certain prescription drugs, such as antibiotics and particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Damage to the gut is a phenomenon that is a well known and studied side effect of NSAIDs. Even single doses of aspirin or of indomethacin increase cellular permeability, in part by inhibiting the synthesis of the protective fatty acid prostaglandin. Longterm exposure to NSAIDs can leave the gut highly inflamed and highly permeable.