In our last post, we discussed Gluten Sensitivity and the Autoimmune Cascade.
One aspect of this cascade that was not discussed but will be throughout this post is what is called “The Leaky Gut.” A Leaky Gut is extremely common and results in an abnormal entry of unwanted immune system invaders to the GI tract. This can result in multiple food sensitivities, increased Gut inflammation, and autoimmunity.
The Digestive Tract
The Digestive Tract is a part of our body that allows your body to absorb the foods you eat. The digestive tract is a long tube that starts at the esophagus and ends in the colon and rectum. Once you eat food your digestive system begins releasing certain enzymes that break down your food into small particles to be absorbed by the mucosal cells of the GI tract. Your stomach also has what is called tight junctions between the intestinal lining. These tight junctions allow ONLY the absorption of tiny particles that our immune system DOES NOT react to. When the digestive tract is working properly, we have maximal absorption of our nutrients which gives us higher energy and optimal health. Unfortunately this digestive tract can become compromised with a diet high in refined sugars, low in fiber, antibiotic/medications use, stress, parasitic infections, bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies, and alcohol use. A compromised digestive tract can result in symptoms such as bloating, systemic inflammation, skin rashes, multiple food sensitivities, constipation, abdominal discomfort, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and depression.
The Leaky Gut
A Leaky Gut, also referred to as having increased intestinal permeability, is a result of chronic inflammation of the stomach causing by the above mentioned lifestyle. The “tight junctions” of the stomach begin to break down and are no longer able to block the infiltration of larger undigested compounds, toxins, and bacterias. These large compounds of undigested proteins then become attacked by the intestinal immune system and promotes an exaggerated immune responses. This immune response is what starts the autoimmune cascade.
Disorders linked to a Leaky Gut and the Autoimmune Cascade
- Chronic Fatigue
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disorders (IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis)
- Chronic Allergies/Sensitivities
Clinical Presentations of a Leaky Gut Syndrome
The most obvious presentation of someone suffering from leaky gut syndrome is bloating, gas, abnormal bowel movements, systemic inflammation, and food sensitivities. If the person begins to have increased systemic inflammation they may present with symptoms progressing from joint pain, eczema and muscles aches to a more aggressive depression, brain fog, or chronic fatigue.
This is a very serious disorder that is highly overlooked by many health professionals! 90% of our immune system lives in the intestinal tract. Dysfunction of this tract can cause dysfunction in our immune system which will result in an unfortunate cascade of autoimmunity. Proper evaluation and treatment of a Leaky Gut Syndrome is highly recommended, especially if you have symptoms mentioned above.
For more information about how to properly diagnose and treat a Leaky Gut Syndrome please feel free to contact our office directly at 973.228.0500. Stay tuned for our next post as we discuss in more detail the Autoimmune Cascade that results from Gluten Sensitivity and a Leaky Gut.