Listen: 529 - Is Leaky Gut a Legitimate Diagnosis?
"Intestinal permeability or what people like to refer to as leaky gut refers to an abnormal amount of flow of stuff from inside the gut between the cells of the gut, and so to understand what it really is. You have to understand that your guts main function, in terms of digestion and nutrition is to serve as a very selective barrier. Your intestine is a barrier from the outside world to the inside world. So that everything from the outside doesn't just willy nilly flow, into our body. Right. Don't forget. We've got trillions of bacteria living in there. They need to stay there and not have access into our bloodstream. And so the gut has a really important. Dear function. Okay. The main way that things get from the outside world of the gut to the inside world of the body is actually through the cells of the gut themselves. Okay. So the cells of our gut, they're called and terra sites. And they can allow all sorts of food proteins, vitamins and minerals in nutrition into the body, very selectively through the cells themselves. And that's the primary way that things from the outside world, come in, but there's a secondary channel, and that is in between the cells. And so if you picture, these sills kind of lined up in a column like soldiers standing tightly shoulder to shoulder, there's a little bit of room for some water for some sodium for some teensy-weensy. Little sugars to kind of flow in between the shoulders of these cells standing like soldier shoulder to shoulder, and that is between the cells, and that is normal. Okay. That's called Paris cellular transport, and that's normal as well. Intestinal permeability or leaky nece refers to a situation. Where more than that normal amount of just a little bit of water or small sugars or sodium starts being able to flow in between those cells. That's what we mean by intestinal permeability now the question is what actually happens when more than just that small normal amount of stuff flows through? There is a second barrier of defense at the base of those cells because your body isn't just going to let anything flow through, if it makes it through, just come on in. So there's a second line of defense, and that's your immune system. There's all sorts of immune cells. White blood cells kind of standing at the base of those channels at the ready as a second line of defense. And so if small fragments of bacteria or bacterial toxins, or larger food molecules or food proteins, that don't really belong there if they kind of flow through those power cellular, or between sell channels, the interact with those white blood cells, those immune cells, and it produces an immune reaction, which can cross some loc-. Michael inflammation within the gut. That's a great explanation. And I think it gives us maybe a more helpful visualization than the kinds of diagrams. We might see online where you actually see little pieces of cupcake floating around in your bloodstream, because it snuck through the the barrier. So do we know what causes the situation, what might give rise to intestinal permeability? So we know a few of the things, but, you know, the science and the research into intestinal permeability is still really at its infancy. So there's some stuff we know in a lot more that we don't quite now. So one of the known causes of increased intestinal permeability is sort of an acute bacterial infection, food poisoning or like a really bad, bout of bacterial infections, or something called c diff which some people get in a hospital or certain strains of E, coli toxin from contaminated food or water. And so if you have sort of an acute bacterial infection of the gut from traveler's diarrhea or food poisoning certain bacterial toxins can cause. Ause increase intestinal permeability, so that's one pretty well established. 'cause as far as other causes, you know, scientists are still trying to understand cause and effect. So we see increased intestinal permeability associated with other types of diseases, for example, Crohn's disease, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. We also see it in association with irritable bowel syndrome, and with Celia disease, but it's not clear whether those diseases caused the intestinal permeability or are caused by it. And so the, the direction of that relationship is not really, well understood quite yet."
The Nutrition Diva's Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous