What is a leaky gut?
A leaky gut, no, that doesn't mean your intestines are leaking all day long. That you have to get back to old-fashioned diapers. A leaky gut is something completely different, but just as annoying and more and more people are suffering from it.
Then what is a leaky gut? Now imagine the following: your intestines are a kind of long, long sausage, in which nutrition is brought from A to B. A means your stomach and B, the exit, to the toilet. During this long, long journey, nutrients, vitamins and minerals are extracted from your food and transported through your intestinal wall to your bloodstream. Via your blood it reaches the organs where those nutrients are needed at that moment. So far, so good.
This intestinal wall consists of so-called "tight junctions", a kind of tiny blocks stuck together, which ensure that the gates open a (tiny) bit to allow the correct nutrients and water to pass through. With a leaky gut however these blocks are just not close together as they should be. The results can be:
- Too liquid, mushy or too hard stools or one and then the other.
- Food intolerances / allergies
- Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, blurred head
- Thyroid problems
- Skin problems such as eczema, acne, rosacea
- Malabsorption, in other words you do not (sufficiently) absorb the nutrients
- Autoimmune diseases
How does a leaky gut develop?
There are actually a number of causes. In addition to the most obvious, namely nutrition, we have become increasingly cleaner. This is reflected in the cleaning products we buy, in the soaps we use to wash our hands. Anti-bacterial, aimed at eliminating the bacteria, but the secret lies precisely in the cooperation of those bacteria, good and bad! We all need them: the good ones to help us with all kinds of processes in our body, but also the bad ones to stimulate our immune system. As these bacteria go through our gut, signals are sent that there are nasty intruders: our immune system learns from those bad guys, so that when a whole gang comes by, our body knows exactly what to do.
Medication, however valuable in many cases, harms the gut. We have all started taking too many antibiotics (not to mention the antibiotics that we consume through meat. 80% of all antibiotics produced are consumed by livestock!). We find it normal, when we have a pain, to take a paracetamol or ibuprofen. It is great that we do not have to suffer so much pain, but it also means an attack on our intestinal flora.
Finally, stress. Maybe you think of yourself as very relaxed and maybe you are, but how often a day do you really do nothing and are completely relaxed? When are you without a telephone, computer, or when do you eat your food in peace? In addition to the fact that stress, through hard work and having to do many things, gives a continuous bombardment of stimuli, it often also has to do with the small things in life, which ensure that we are never completely done with our to-do-list. That too is stress.
Stress causes cramping of the intestines: mixing and propelling the food mash is more difficult, toxins remain longer in the intestines and attack the intestinal wall. Under stress, we hold our breath more often, so that the up and down movement of the diaphragm, which supports the intestinal peristalsis and the good blood circulation in the intestines, misses. Stress causes vasoconstriction in the intestinal wall, which prevents the cells from losing their residual products and reduces the mobility of the tight junctions.
Due to the factors described above, they remain open and harmful substances, which are left in the intestines and enter the bloodstream, where they undermine your immune system with their toxins and can cause disease processes.
What can you do about it?
I think I will divide this into several blogs, because I can go on about this for hours and tell very long stories. Number 1 for me is of course: