Most people have heard of "Leaky Gut", and to be honest, for a long time it was a bit of a Naturopath Buzz word.
But in todays society, more than ever before, it appears to be more relevant than ever.
You've heard of Leaky Gut...but what the heck does it mean?
Leaky gut refers to the when the lining of the gut wall essentially pulls apart, forming tiny holes and making the gut wall permeable or 'leaky'
The impact that this has on health is that as food particles, wastes and toxins are travelling through the digestive tract to be cleared by the body, they are able to be absorbed through the 'leaky' gut wall and make their way into the bloodstream. From here the immune system identifies these particles as foreign, and mounts an immune response.
This immune response causes an increase in inflammation and can result in a myriad of symptoms such as digestive symptoms like bloating, wind, diarrhoea, constipation; skin conditions like eczema or acne; immune system imbalances such as asthma, hay-fever, autoimmune conditions; and even systemic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, depression or cardiovascular disease.
Other symptoms of leaky gut include:
-Poor immune function
- Sugar Cravings
- Nutritional deficiencies
Now this does seem very broad, and thats because everyone is unique, and how someone presents will depend on the severity of the leaky gut, as well as environmental influences such as stress levels, diet, pre-existing conditions and genetics.
One particular pathway known as the Zonulin pathway has been linked with the development of leaky gut, as it encourages gap junctions to occur with the gastrointestinal tract at a cellular level. This zonulin pathway can be triggered off by bacteria levels within the gut, as well as exposure to gluten. So when we look at a patients presenting condition or symptoms, we always take into consideration their gut bacteria levels (good vs bad) and gluten exposure throughout their diet, as both of these factors can increase the chances of leaky gut occurring.
Want to hear the best news? Studies have shown that the severity or leaky gut can be reduced by doing a number of things. Diet alteration is always important, and what we recommend to one person will always be slightly different than the next. But generally speaking we need to ensure that there is a wide variety of food in the diet, lots of fresh fruit and veggies, whole-grains, minimal processed foods and refined sugar.
Supplements such as glutamine (an amino acid) has been proven to reduce these gaps within the gastrointestinal tracts, as well as prebiotic foods like slippery elm, pectins and lactoferrin.
And going back to basics and using foods as medicine is always a favourite thing of ours to recommend here at The Sana Co. Bone broths are a great way to support gut health, as they are rich in collagen - promoting strong gut walls as well as being packed with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A and Zinc, both important for maintaining good gut health.
Karah is a degree qualified Naturopath with over 8 years experience in the health industry. She is the owner and head naturopath at The Sana Co. She also practices from Ocean Grove and Bannockburn and specializes in digestive conditions.