In particular, there are five health conditions that people in the Western world complain about the most right now: digestive issues, obesity, fatigue, depression, low sex drive and/or PMS. Imagine if these health conditions could be cured! How much better many of us would feel then!
This is my first article of 4 about leaky gut. Among other things, I will answer the questions:
"What is a leaky gut?" (part 1),
"Do I have a leaky gut?" (part 2),
"Why do I have a leaky gut?" (part 3),
"How do I heal my leaky gut?" (part 4).
Hippocrates said already 460 BC that all diseases begin in the gut and that poor digestion is the root of all evil. In the present time won Elie Metchnikoff Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on microbes and the importance of a healthy gut in maintaining our health. He noted that death begins in the intestine.
The human gut is very centrally located in our body and many people call the gut our second brain. 95 % of our body's serotonin, which many of us think of as a brain chemical, is found within the gastrointestinal system (GI-system), not in the brain. And there are more than 100 million nerve cells in the intestines. That is as many as there are in our spine. 70-80 % of the body's immune system is found in the GI-system. Our gut is so cruelly important!
And unfortunately often overlooked when it comes to Western medicine. We are so good at treating symptoms and so incredibly bad at finding the cause of the symptoms. Hippocrates and Elie Metchnikoff's knowledge has been swept under the carpet for too long now and I think we need to start seeing the human being as a whole organism, where every part is important and connected in one way or another. What if our top 5 health conditions could be cured if we started looking at the well-being of the gut?
The continuous canal that runs from the oral cavity to the rectum is called the gastrointestinal tract and is about seven meters long. The main function of the gastrointestinal tract is to manage digestion. It is where food is broken down, digested and transported. Water, nutrients and salts are absorbed from the food on the way and the remains are disposed of by the body in the form of faeces. A magical interaction inside our bodies takes place without us having to think about it too much. This magical interaction is amazing when it works properly.
The small intestine is strongly folded and fitted with small projections, called villi, to increase the surface area that absorbs nutrients. On its surface, the villi has a layer of intestinal cells, which absorb nutrients. These intestinal cells in turn have their own projections on the surface. The total surface area of the small intestine has been estimated to be about 250 square meters, or the size of a tennis court.
If you have a leaky gut, substances and molecules that should not be present outside the gut leak into the body and these molecules can cause lots of problems if released into the bloodstream. When toxins, bacteria and food particles get into your blood, they can go on their own journey and cause problems anywhere in your body.
Our immune system doesn't like having these unknown molecules in our blood. The result is a reaction that can be seen as a war between the body's own immune system and the unknown molecules that have found their way out. When the immune system kills these molecules, it can also attack other parts of the body and you can get all sorts of symptoms far away from your gastrointestinal tract. They can cause problems in joints, brain, skin, pretty much everywhere.
The gut has a huge impact on the brain. Leaky gut and inflammation go hand in hand. Gut health also plays a big part in maintaining an optimal weight and how well your metabolism burns and stores fat. There is also a correlation between your gut and your skin. And, of course, between your gut and your immune system. I wrote before that a leaky gut creates a war between our immune system and the invaders. It's not good to have an immune system that's on full blast all the time! Dr. Fasano showed in his research that you can't have an autoimmune disease unless you first have a leaky gut.
Hopefully, you now understand the impact of gut health on all parts of your body. And if you have a leaky gut, you can have symptoms just about anywhere in your body, so it doesn't have to be just in your gut.
Now you might be wondering if you have a leaky gut? In the next article I will describe the symptoms associated with a leaky gut in more detail.
See you soon!