By Justin Pearce D.C. | Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center
Never heard of it? Don’t be alarmed, many people have not. Yet, leaky gut is associated with an increased level of visceral fat, liver fat and larger waist circumference.
It’s also been associated with metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Even if you are healthy, you can have a leaky gut, which is often caused by poor diet (consumption of sugar and processed foods), certain medications and other toxins.
So, what does it mean when you say leaky?
Think about it this way: Your intestines are long, convoluted tubes of membrane that specialize in absorbing nutrients from chyme (the medical term for partially digested food). Surrounding these membranes is smooth muscle tissue, which churns the chyme to increase absorption and moves it through the intestines in a process called
Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal
permeability, occurs when there are gaps in the membrane lining the intestine. These tiny gaps allow substances best contained within the intestine to leak into the abdominal cavity and blood stream. These leaking particles can include yeast overgrowth, partially digested food, and waste. Clearly not stuff you want escaping from the intestine.
And your body doesn’t want it leaking, either. In response, the body activates its defenses, aka the immune system, triggering inflammation. This reaction can cause a lot of different problems, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Of course, not everyone has leaky gut, and not everyone who has leaky gut has Crohn’s or celiac disease. Nonetheless, even a tiny amount of leakage can predispose you to higher levels of visceral fat, which can, in turn, increase your risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Often, people with leaky gut will experience gas and bloating; constipation or diarrhea; fatigue; nausea; and food cravings, especially for sugar and processed carbs (think potato chips and the like).
What can be done about leaky gut?
The first thing is to start thinking about the things you put into your digestive system and the impact they have on your gut (aka, the second brain, the home to 80 percent of your immune system). The bacteria in your gut adapt to your lifestyle. If your diet is filled with sugar, fructose, refined grains and processed foods, flora in your gut that thrives on this type of diet will increase, and the flora that craves nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, quality foods will decrease.
Here’s the important point of this: we now know a healthy gut is central to overall health. A thriving population of healthy gut bacteria has been shown to have a profound impact on the ability of the immune system to fight off infection. Healthy gut bacteria also play a role in mental health, and just recently, researchers have been looking into a possible link between gut health and autism spectrum disorders.
If you have symptoms of leaky gut, or you’d just like to know more, please visit the Millpond website at MillpondWellnessCenter.com. We’ve been serving people in the Lexington area since 2012 with chiropractic and alternative wellness services that focus on personal health and easy mobility. Our goal is to change your life for the better!
Give us a call at (859) 219-0617 to schedule an appointment. Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center is located at 3650 Boston Road, Suite 188, Lexington.