I love stumbling upon notes from medical school. There's some good stuff in there! One of my favorite topics, by far, was and is leaky gut.
Leaky gut also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, is when the cells in the intestines are no longer tight and instead have too much space between them.
Intestinal cells are normally held together by a mechanism called tight junctions. Normally tight junctions allow water and small particles to pass through. When tight junctions are no longer tight, too much space allows for large molecules to pass through, which leads to digestive upset and inflammation.
First and foremost, leaky gut is a symptom, not a disease. It can be an underlying problem in a number of illnesses. Here are few reasons why leaky gut can occur:
Stress hormones - yikes, a doozy! Just another example of how the gut and brain are connected. See my previous blog post for more in-depth examples.
Exposure to toxins - this includes bacterial toxins, like shiga toxin, and food toxins, like carageenan and excess alcohol.
Nutritional deficiencies - especially low vitamin A and Zinc can cause increased permeability in the intestines.
Disrupted sleep cycles - hello again gut-brain connection!
Medications - The big 5 are medications that cause increased intestinal permeability are: antibiotics, NSAIDs, birth control pills, steroids, and antacids.
These are the heavy hitters for intestinal hyperpermeability, but there are quite a few more.
If this list is terrifying to you, please don't worry. There are a lot of treatments for leaky gut and for increasing overall gut health! . Stay tuned next week for how to treat a leaky gut. Be well!