The repercussions of gut dysbiosis. So often overlooked! So rarely taken into account. An important mechanism by which gut dysbiosis undermines health and promotes illness is its effect on the intestinal lining.
Before we look at the effect of gut dysbiosis on the gastrointestinal lining, however, let’s consider the vital tasks that a normal, healthy gut wall performs:-
Firstly . . . it acts as a barrier to toxic substances and foreign proteins. Food proteins are usually broken down to their component amino-acid ‘building blocks’ which are then absorbed and reassembled into proteins useful to the body.
Secondly. . . it transports vital nutrients through to the body. For example, carrier proteins are attached to vitamins and minerals to transport them into the bloodstream to be distributed throughout the body.
Thirdly . . . the mucous lining of the gut is an immune sensing device. Mast cells that lie below the surface of the gut lining are capable of responding to bacteria, viruses, parasites and other antigens. The gastrointestinal tract, in normal circumstances, learns to tolerate antigens that are presented regularly. Oral tolerance to food is learned by infants as solid foods are introduced. In the best case tolerance to regularly eaten food endures throughout the life of the individual.
An overgrowth of harmful intestinal bacteria and yeasts (gut dysbiosis) can have a particularly damaging effect on the lining of the gut, making it porous and leaky. This allows partially digested foods to get through the gut walls , causing immune reactions and damaging other parts of the body.
Also, alcohol and caffeine can exacerbate leaky gut. So can steroids, including the ‘pill’ and hormone replacement therapy. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also increase gut permeability. Intestinal parasites can certainly cause leaky gut. Current research is suggesting that some vaccinations, such as the measles vaccine may increase gut permeability.
So, as the condition of the intestinal lining deteriorates, malabsorption follows. The production of carrier proteins, for example, is hindered preventing vital nutrients like magnesium and zinc from being absorbed.
Apart from the direct symptoms of digestive disturbance in gut dysbiosis (such as indigestion, bloating, wind or abdominal pain), fatigue, headache, memory loss, poor concentration, and irritability are common.
In what conditions is leaky gut implicated?
A healthy balance of gut flora and a normal gut wall are key to a healthy immune system. Disordered intestinal flora and a leaky gut wall, therefore, can contribute to many diverse diseases in other parts of the body.
Allergy and food intolerance . . . As incompletely digested foods leak through the gut wall they cause immune reactions. Food proteins affect distant tissues (in the lungs, eyes, nose, skin etc.) This can contribute to, for example, asthma, eczema, allergies, food intolerance, and hypersensitivity to food additives or chemicals. It can even result in a constantly running nose!
Autoimmune disorders . . . This is where the body starts reacting to it’s own tissues. There is evidence that such disorders may be associated with leakiness of the gut and its consequent failure to provide a healthy immune barrier.
Inflammation . . . Research suggests that many conditions involving inflammation, are associated with the overgrowth of unfriendly intestinal bacteria and yeasts and the consequent damage to the gut wall.
Mental/behavioural . . . Research into autism has suggested some interesting connections between leaky gut and brain function. Imperfectly broken-down fragments of wheat and milk protein, absorbed into the bloodstream through a leaky gut wall, can cross into the brain. These protein fragments act rather like opiates on the brain, contributing to some of the behavioural and emotional problems associated with autism. They may even affect the proper formation of brain cells during early development.
Gut dysbiosis and leaky gut can have other far-reaching health consequences
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A large number of toxins are produced by intestinal yeasts which cause severe damage in several ways, including the suppression of important enzymes. These toxins directly suppresses the immune system by killing immune cells and causing histamine intolerance and inflammation.
Health information is not a substitute for good diagnosis,
and a doctor should be consulted when illness is present