Is Leaky Gut Real?
Updated: Sep 19, 2018
My latest installment in the AIP Demystified series! FULL TRANSCRIPT below!
What? Your doctor said there is no such thing as leaky gut?
It happened to me too. I know how frustrated you feel. Maybe you can send a link of this video to him/her. A lot of research has been done recently that they need to be aware of.
Yes, “Leaky gut” is a layman’s term. But someone smart enough to graduate from med school should understand that you are referring to “intestinal permeability” when you mention leaky gut, and intestinal permeability is REAL and is a REAL trigger for autoimmunity. Actually, a leaky gut is necessary for autoimmune disease to develop.
That’s a bold statement, isn’t it?
This info is direct from none other than medical research scientist Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, the lovely lady that gave me the information I needed to finally feel healthy after 20 years of frustrating doctor visits and chronic unwellness.
You don’t have to take just her word for it though. There are links below in the description to studies like:
Enterocytes’ tight junctions: from molecules to diseases, published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology Dec 2015.
This sounds like blah blah blah to you right?
No worries, I’ll break it down for you.
Enterocytes are the cells, epithelial cells, that make up our gut barrier. They are what divides insides of our gut from the rest of our body.
So our gut barrier consists of a single layer of these cells which produce a mucous layer which also helps to provide a barrier between what stays inside of our gut and what is released into the rest of our body.
These cells are connected to form that barrier, and these connections are called tight junctions.
Now this barrier is semi-permeable. In other words, it’s designed to allow nutrients, which are very small molecules, out and to keep in any other larger molecules.
Now, there are food particles, bacteria, waste products and toxins in our gut that need to stay behind that barrier. These things do not belong inside of our bodies and if they sneak past a compromised gut barrier they are going to activate our immune system and cause inflammation and food intolerance and things like that.
So, when one of those cells that lines the gut barrier is not healthy, or when it loses it’s ability to control tight junction formation and those tight junctions are unraveled and opened up, what we get is increased intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut.
And then what happens incompletely digested food proteins or antigens stimulate the immune system and we can develop allergies and intolerances.
Or maybe what will seep through the gut barrier will be some gram-negative bacteria aka endotoxins, which are even found in very healthy individuals (inside of the gut), but when these pass the intestinal barrier and get into the bloodstream it triggers the immune system into overdrive and causes inflammation.
Here’s a quote from that article:
“Clinical and experimental studies suggest that altered intestinal barrier function might play an inciting role in the development of celiac disease by allowing gliadin to cross the intestinal barrier and activate the immune system.”
In layman’s terms?
We have proof that when gluten particles pass through a leaky gut it activates the immune system and triggers the development of an autoimmune disease.
Want more? This article goes on to say that "a similar mechanism has been proposed to contribute to the pathogenesis of diverse autoimmune diseases like atopic dermatitis, ankylosing spondylitis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and autoimmune hepatitis".
My favorite quote: "The classical paradigm of autoimmune pathogenesis involving specific gene makeup and exposure to environmental triggers has been recently challenged by the addition of a third element, the loss of intestinal barrier function".
In plain english? We used to think autoimmunity developed due to genes + an environmental trigger. Now we see that there is a third element involved- the intestinal barrier.
Dr. Alessio Fasano, a pioneering researcher in intestinal permeability, explains in an interview with Chris Kresser why leaky gut is sometimes viewed as “quack medicine” by conventionally trained physicians.
He admits that the term was used and abused by the alternative medicine community in the past and says that they had, in a “visionary fashion” identified leaky gut as a possible cause of many health problems.
Most of these statements were not based on factual evidence, and they went to the extreme of developing the whole leaky gut “syndrome” that had no studies to back it up, and that’s why the medical establishment has been so skeptical for many years.
This” leaky gut syndrome” was a common culprit in alternative medicine even before the discovery of tight junctions and zonulin and the Genome project. So we had these two viewpoints that saw this topic as either it’s quackery, or a magical cure-all..
NOW we DO have scientific studies and research on tight junctions, how they can be altered, we have clinical evidence that intestinal permeability IS associated with autoimmunity- actually, like I said earlier having Intestinal permeability is a prerequisite to developing an autoimmune disease.
And then the Genome project came along and gave us more evidence by discovering genes that regulate intestinal permeability and their association with autoimmunity and then came the discovery of zonulin...a protein which regulates intestinal barrier function...and is now used as a biomarker for autoimmunity.
So now we have the evidence, but some doctors still view it as it was 20 years ago without all the scientific proof and conclusive evidence we have now.
The bottom line today, is that - intestinal permeability aka leaky gut is a major major contributor to autoimmunity and inflammation and needs to be addressed.
And of course AIP was designed to do just that. We go over exactly how Leaky Gut is caused and how AIP can heal it in future videos as part of my AIP De-mystified series.
If you enjoyed this video and you’d like to see more subscribe to my channel, I publish new videos every thursday. I hope to see you soon and until then, be healthy! :)
Aaaaand yes, I know it is not proper grammar to start a sentence with the word "and"... ;)