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Do you have leaky gut?

The bazooka in your doughnut hole…

Some authors suggest that 70-80% of the US population has leaky gut.  What is leaky gut? Do you have one? Let’s use a doughnut to explore whether you might have a leaky gut.

Think of yourself as a doughnut, as a body with a hole in the center! It’s actually a lo-o-ong hole, much like a tunnel. Unlike most doughnuts – and tunnels – there are gates at either end and throughout the tunnel that help us forget we are doughnuts.

Traveling the doughnut
Our digestive system, starting at the mouth, is the beginning of the tunnel with “rooms” that have specialized jobs and doors between the rooms. The stomach room is responsible for gnashing and gnarling and tossing acid on proteins. (We hope the doors are closed at either end – that acid burns!) Why such a vicious activity room? Because stomach acid – with gnashing and gnarling – breaks down protein foods into protein fragments, an essential step for our absorption of nutrients. 

Are proteins a threat?  Might be. Bacteria and parasites are protein structures as well as the more favored guests of roast beef or sprouted nuts! Remember, roast beef and sprouted nuts are not useful to the body in whole protein form, even after some mouth processing. Stomach acid is needed for both immune protection (disintegrates most bacteria and parasites) and nutrition (breaks proteins into more usable protein fragments called peptides).

Leaving the stomach we enter the small intestine of 3 rooms with specialized functions, but with more of an open flow from room to room. As gnashed, gnarled and acidified fragments enter the small intestine, specialized chemicals are secreted into these rooms of the small intestine to further break down protein peptides and starches.  The remaining nutritional nuggets can be absorbed through the wall of the doughnut hole into the doughnut itself – into the bloodstream – to provide building blocks and energy to the body.

Here’s the leaky gut part: the rooms of the small intestine where nutritional nuggets are absorbed into the bloodstream  – are “gated” walls. Those walls are thin but tightly guarded for specific nutrient structures. If the nutrient nuggets aren’t the expected shape (from sufficient digestion) then the nuggets can’t pass through the absorption gates of the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. They just keep moving through the doughnut hole. Furthermore, if unidentified protein fragments aren’t sufficiently digested, the immune system is activated and sets the proteins on fire!  (Metaphorically speaking. It’s a chemical fire.)  Uh-oh, fire in the gut!  If it’s a minor skirmish, no problem. If there are lots of undigested protein fragments, or repeatedly these protein fragments appear, we have a significant flaming.

Try shooting fire onto an unidentified creature crawling around in your kitchen. (Do not attempt this at home.) Oops, there’s another one, and another!  Just imagine your immune system as a fire-shooting bazooka gun, and it’s shooting up your kitchen as it  tries to kill those weird, unknown but possibly dangerous protein creatures. They may be just ordinary protein fragments, but shoot now and ask questions later (bacteria? tofu?), because it could be dangerous if the wrong guys got into circulation and  into your bloodstream!

Leaky gut accomplished
Now you did it. You may have stilled those creatures (maybe it was just undigested tofu..) but you’ve also got fire damage to your kitchen walls and floor.  Remember the gated walls that control absorption into the bloodstream? Your immune system’s bazooka burned holes in those walls. You just lost control of that gating mechanism, until the bazooka damage is repaired. Any protein structure, any organism, any chemical can now leak through those walls. Congratulations, you have leaky gut.

The body is a miraculous worker, you can have those repairs done in about 4 days with a healthy diet and good metabolism.  Leaky gut repaired! – – Unless there’s another fire bazooka incident after dinner, or before the damage is fully repaired, or repeated fire damage weakens the overall gut wall integrity.

Leaky gut is a known contributor to Alzheimer’s, asthma, brain cancers, Chrohn’s disease, diabetes, IBD, MS, pancreatic cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia – and many more inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. It’s a concern, when leaky gut persists or recurs. You don’t want it, you don’t want to keep it.

Whoah!  Why would the body have such a destructive built-in mechanism?  In a world not filled with toxic chemicals, everyday stress and fake food, this mechanism would allow a small leak in the gut wall while fighting a few stray bacterial proteins that survived the stomach’s acidification. That leak would alert the body that bacteria escaped the initial defense efforts by the stomach and small intestine and would signal the entire immune system to mount an appropriate defense. The leaked bacterial protein becomes “targeted” for any future travel in the body.  Which is GREAT if it’s really bacteria; and not so great if it was tofu or a bite of roast beef. The latter is one way to birth a food sensitivity, to be falsely targeted as an enemy protein.

What incites a bazooka spree by the immune system?

  • undigested proteins, because you ate in a hurry, were stressed while eating, or you’re taking antacids or protein pump inhibitors
  • undigested unfriendly bacteria/parasites – the bad guys, for sure, who escaped because your stomach was under-acidified 
  • excessive sugars – which damage proteins to unrecognizable protein fragments
  • excessive starches which turn into excessive sugar
  • deamidated proteins (distorted protein structures) found in many processed foods
  • glyphosate (aka Roundup), a pesticide found in the water supply, sprayed on Genetically Modified crops as a pesticide, and on non-GMO crops to speed harvesting
  • radiation exposures from cell phones, towers, household electronics, transformer stations
  • chemical exposures from dry cleaning, auto exhaust, printing chemicals, solvents, art materials (remember Silly Putty?), polluted water and air
  • increased sensitivity to food proteins (allergy, food sensitivity) which may be genetically pre-disposed, or stress-induced

What can you do?
Prevention, at least.  Eat clean food, limit processed food, chew your food to stimulate stomach acid, focus on eating,  support healthy digestion, don’t dilute digestive chemicals with excessive liquids at meals, quiet activity for 30 minutes after eating (yes, doing the dishes helps digestion). The challenge is that there are many factors arousing and sensitizing the immune system. Choose to change what you can to minimize the load.

Healing a leaky gut from bazooka damage is a different challenge that may involve herbs, essential oils, and/or nutrients. Energetic support for healing and more appreciation for your doughnut nature will also serve your healing. 

dr m