Leaky Gut Syndrome also known as intestinal permeability has increased its significance over the last 5 or so years. But what is it and could we all be affected? Our intestinal barrier is the mucosal lining of our intestines. Our intestines consist of our small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum) and our large intestine (appendix, cecum, colon and rectum). Our intestine barrier covers 4,000 sq. ft. of surface area and requires about 40% of our body's energy expenditure. It works to prevent foreign invaders from entering into our intestines along with preventing loss of water and electrolytes and allowing the absorption of nutrients. When working properly it forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into our system. Needless to say, our intestinal barrier has a very important job!
An unhealthy mucosal lining may have breaks and cracks and not be tightly aligned; therefore, allowing only partially digested foods, toxins and foreign matter into our bloodstream and tissues. This triggers inflammation and changes in our normal gut bacteria potentially leading to leaky gut or problems with our digestive tract.
There is emerging evidence that the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is low in fiber, high in sugar and heavy in alcohol may initiate the process of leaky gut. In addition to diet, a stressful lifestyle can contribute to inflammation in our intestinal barrier.
Signs and symptoms of leaky gut:
- food sensitivities: digestive pain, skin rash or irritation, chronic diarrhea, constipation
- joint pain
- difficulty concentrating or confusion
It is important to create a healthy relationship with food while eating a nutrient dense, unprocessed diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods. Introducing stress management techniques and pinpointing what triggers inflammation in your specific body will help reduce potential intestinal permeability.
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Maggie King MS, CNS, LN
RAW Functional Nutrition