Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed, damaged, and porous. This allows undigested foods, bacteria, fungus, and other foreign invaders into the sterile environment of the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream these toxins trigger the immune system, causing inflammation and lead to a long and varied list of symptoms. Chronic conditions associated with leaky gut include depression, joint pain, Crohn’s disease, food allergies, eczema, psoriasis, asthma, autoimmune diseases and more.
By better understanding the cause of your leaky gut, you will have more success restoring health to your gut and your immune system.
Although the causes of leaky gut can be ambiguous, Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS has identified ten factors that contribute to leaky gut.
Rightly so, most people blame poor diet for leaky gut as many popular foods can damage the gut. Gluten, dairy, processed foods, excess sugar, fast foods, and even excess alcohol are all common culprits.
Certain medications increase the risk of leaky gut, including some antibiotics and antacids. Additionally, some medications contain gluten as a filler.
An overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the stomach, yeast infections, parasitic infections, and intestinal viruses can cause ulcers and a leaky gut.
Chronic stress raises the adrenal hormone, cortisol, which degrades the gut lining and contributes to leaky gut.
The gut depends on proper hormone levels for good health. When estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, or thyroid hormones are deficient or out of balance, a leaky gut may be the result.
We often think of leaky gut contributing to autoimmune diseases such a Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis. While this may be true, sometimes other factors can trigger an autoimmune condition, including toxic exposures or stress. In these cases, the autoimmune condition can be the cause of leaky gut and managing autoimmunity is a strategy to improving leaky gut.
Industrial Food Processing
The food processing industry uses a variety of methods that can increase intestinal inflammation and leaky gut. Some examples include the deamidation process of wheat to make it water soluble, high-heat processing of sugars, and adding excess sugar to processed foods.
We are surrounded by toxins in our environment. Some of these toxins have been found to break down immune barriers like the gut. One way to shore up your defense against environmental toxins is to make sure your body is sufficient in glutathione, the body’s primary antioxidant.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Sufficient vitamin D is vital to good health and to help preserve gut integrity.
Poor Glutathione Status
Glutathione is the body’s primary antioxidant and is necessary to defend and repair the gut lining. Poor diet and lifestyle factors deplete glutathione. We discussed this topic here.