2 October, 2015
The Leaky Gut, Immunity And More on the Gluten Issue
A post I’m taking to Fiesta Friday #88, after a long break from attending their parties. Thank you Angie, and co-hosts Julie and Liz!
Also sharing at the Plant Based Blog Hop #64. Thank you for the opportunity, Deborah.
Forgive me if I get too technical in this post, but I’ll keep it as simple as possible. Just continuing with my post on gluten:
What is a Leaky Gut?
One is said to have a leaky gut when they have intestinal permeability ; when the lining of the intestines has got “holes” in it so that undigested food particles can get into the blood stream.
Most nutrient absorption occurs in the latter part of the digestive tract or in the intestines. If the lining of the intestinal tract is faulty, unwanted particles can get absorbed into the blood stream and accumulate as toxins in the liver and other major organs.
How Can A Leaky Gut Develop?
From what I have understood, chronic constipation, digestive issues, dysbiosis and stress can lead to a permeable intestine. Some health experts believe that gluten itself can lead to inflammation and a leaky gut.
Why is Gut Health SO Important?
According to health experts, 85-90% of our immune system is in the gut!!!
Isn’t that enough reason to keep our digestive system healthy?
What is Gut Dysbiosis?
Dysbiosis is the opposite of symbiosis, as one would guess.
Gut dysbiosis occurs when there is an excess of “bad bacteria” (streptococci, staphylococci, h.pylori, candida yeast) over “good bacteria” or beneficial strains of bacteria (lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, bacillus species).
The immunity connection with the gut now makes sense, doesn’t it? If there is permeability in the gut, some bad bacteria can easily get in the blood, travel to various organs. Think of all the tenacious strep throat and other infections that we so commonly get in the fall season.
The Importance of Probiotics
This is why nutrition experts tell us to take a probiotic whenever we are on a course of antibiotics. All the good bacteria gets wiped out too, by the time infection has gone. And what about the immune system? It is weaker than when the infection happened in the first place!
Well, one may consume yogurt everyday, but there is always the question of does it have enough number (in terms of billions or strains of good bacteria). Even if my general practitioner does not prescribe one, I just buy a good brand of probiotics and take it diligently. More so during the winter months. They say you cannot overdose on probiotics!
Refer to this post from Simple Medicine for the steps to heal a leaky gut.
What is the relation between leaky gut and Gluten?
Gluten is composed of (at least) two proteins, glutenin and gliadin. As with all proteins, it is made of a long chain of amino acids. In the digestive system, it is broken down into peptides or smaller fragments of amino acids.
This particular fragment or peptide (called “gluteomorphin”) is hard to digest in those people who lack the enzyme to break it down:
- In someone with a leaky gut, this whole fragment can easily be absorbed in the tissues and create trouble.
- If it crosses the blood brain barrier (the protective lining around the brain) it can affect the speech and behavior centers (very easily observed in children).
- It also is supposed to act like an addictive substance (attach to opioid receptors in the brain, similar to opium) which is why it is so hard to give up eating wheat when you want to start a gluten-free diet!
- Health experts also make a connection of gluten with auto-immune disorders, which can apparently be aggravated by it.
Why Is Gluten Linked To Dairy?
Interestingly, the protein in milk called casein breaks down in the gut into the peptide fragment called “casomorphin” which is this:
Looks familiar? It is the same as the peptide that came from gluten! That is why, most people who try to go on a gluten-free diet still see symptoms of intolerance (gas, bloating, brain fog, inflammation, aches and pains etc.) For full relief, milk also needs to be avoided.
How Can Leaky Gut Be Healed?
I found this immensely useful article in Nutrition Secrets.com that is worth a read! It addresses food allergies, antibiotic overuse and measures to take to help heal a leaky gut.
I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist; just a well-informed mom with extensive background in chemistry. I write these articles to spread awareness about nutrition and health. These are information I have gleaned from various books, talks and from personal experience.
References and Further Reading: