Leaky What? Why our Guts Leak, and How we can Stop it

Gary Merel, M.S., L.A.C., has a nutritionally-based acupuncture and holistic health practice in Ann Arbor. You can read Gary's article "Reconsidering the Impact of Grains and Carbs on our Diet"  (published in the January through April 2014 issue) here. 

Gary Merel, M.S., L.A.C., has a nutritionally-based acupuncture and holistic health practice in Ann Arbor. You can read Gary's article "Reconsidering the Impact of Grains and Carbs on our Diet"  (published in the January through April 2014 issue) here. 

By Gary Merel

Everyone is talking these days about leaky guts, but what is it and how does it affect you? A leaky gut happens when our digestive tract becomes more permeable than it should. Under normal circumstances, our digestive tracts serve as filters that both absorb food and keep toxins out of our bodies. However, certain behaviors, foods, and medicines can wear down the intestinal lining until it becomes threadbare and weak.

Over time, these stressors create small fractures in the intestinal lining, allowing toxins and undigested food to penetrate. This triggers a defensive reaction, white blood cells attack, and inflammation increases. Once the bodies natural filtering system begins to fail, the gut cannot absorb nutrients properly, leading to nutrient deficiencies, and an overstressed immune system constantly on the alert. Additionally, even healthy food that enters the blood stream through the leaks begins to trigger an immune system response, and soon enough our body goes on full attack mode over a sip of milk.

Though all this is happening in our guts, our bodies manifest a leaky gut all over through symptoms such as acne, anxiety, asthma, and abdominal pain. Why? Because 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract. If ignored too long, a leaky gut can lead to autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease. It’s even been linked to schizophrenia. The best thing to do if you or a loved one suspects they have a leaky gut is to do a food allergy test and remove other potential stressors. Once you remove the stressors and take appropriate action to heal, the gut can begin to mend itself.