How your Leaky Gut CAUSES Chronic Inflammation!
What is a leaky gut?
Leaky gut, inflammation, and autoimmunity affect your small intestine, which is, roughly, 25 feet long (Figure 1). In the event you have an autoimmune condition, which means your body is actually attacking its own tissues as foreign objects, you can do something to reverse this condition.
How functional medicine can fix your leaky gut
Because 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, you have a HUGE ability to control your body’s responses (Figure 1). Let’s talk about functional medicine. The ultimate goal, when you have a leaky gut, should be to heal and seal your gut/small intestine - yes, all 25 feet. This can be done without the use of drugs. Your body has the ability to heal and seal your gut without drugs. Medications just cover up your symptoms.
Let’s look at the small intestine. The picture on the top left is a picture of your gut or small intestine (Figure 2). The picture to the right is a picture of your skin on your thumb (Figure 3). They are side by side so that we can compare the two and discuss the differences between skin barriers and gut barriers.
When you’re looking at the skin on your finger (Figure 3), you can see the bloodstream is located at the base of the example (see Point 1 in figure 3). In order for a cut to actually bleed, you have to cut through, approximately, 10,000 skin cells.
That’s a GREAT barrier between the outer layer of the skin and the bloodstream flowing beneath. God designed us to have a great skin barrier for protection! Now let’s contrast this with the picture you see to the right (gut), which is the small intestine. Notice the picture on the right (gut/small intestine) is ONLY ONE CELL THICK to your bloodstream!!!!
When it comes to your small intestine, it’s only one cell thick versus the thumb’s skin 10,000 cell thick. This is a drastic difference! Don’t forget this one cell barrier is protecting your small intestine that is 25 feet long and houses 80% of your immune system. That’s an extremely poor barrier for something so large, which can easily lead to leaky gut and chronic inflammation. THIS IS A KEY POINT….
Let’s continue to the next example, which is a blown-up picture of your gut (Figure 4). As a recap, your bloodstream is at the base of the structure, separated by a one-cell thick barrier. When you have a tight junction, as indicated in the green rectangle box, this means the cells are basically meshing together tightly, not allowing anything to pass into your bloodstream (no inflammation will occur). When you have a leaky gut, the cells start to deteriorate and the junctions between the cells widen. THIS IS BAD. See the blue rectangle box above for leaky gut cells.
Let’s use an analogy to make this easier to visualize. If you build a house out of brick, your bricks are held together by a layer of cement spread in between each of the bricks, holding them together. In this comparison, the leaky gap in the intestine would be comparable to the cement that holds the bricks/cells together that are breaking away (Figures 5/6).
Why a leaky gut is so dangerous
This leaky space can become dangerous since your food is located directly above this one cell barrier that is starting to deteriorate. So let’s say you just ate gluten, which comes from wheat. If your tight junctions are intact, the gluten particles would not be able to cross this barrier. However, if you have a leaky gut, the barrier starts to break down and the food particles can enter your immune system and bloodstream. See figure 4 and look at what has gotten into the bloodstream? All the things that should have stayed in your small intestine and found their way into your bloodstream!! CAN YOU SAY CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE DEVELOPING?!
If a piece of gluten enters your bloodstream, your immune system recognizes that as a really large foreign particle that shouldn’t be there. Any time this happens in your body, your immune system starts to attack it. As a result, you begin to experience food intolerance and systemic inflammation throughout the body.
Symptoms of a leaky gut
This could lead to pain in your body, fibromyalgia, and brain fog. Let’s look back at the leaky gut cell (Figure 4). These small brown bits with the tails floating around represent bacteria (the ones that look like sperm). You have both good bacteria and bad bacteria in your small intestine. When you have a leaky gut, these bacteria can enter your bloodstream from your small intestine, causing ADDITIONAL inflammation throughout your entire body. Now let’s take a second look at gluten. Once this gluten molecule is in your bloodstream your immune system recognizes it, just as we recognize people’s faces.
However, when your body sees it, it cannot differentiate between gluten and other tissues. Ultimately, your body can confuse this with other body tissue. THIS IS THE CAUSE OF AUTOIMMUNITY. A CONFUSED IMMUNE SYSTEM.