Did you know these 4 foods or substances contribute to intestinal permeability (i.e. a leaky gut)?

1) Dairy (casein protein)
2) Gluten (E.g. Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rye)
3) Sugar
4) Alcohol

Gluten: We know that gluten and certain bacteria cause the gut to release a protein called zonulin. Zonulin causes leaky gut, meaning that the tight junctions in the gut lining become larger. This allows food proteins and pathogenic bacteria into the bloodstream. Usually these tight junctions would only allow nutrients and water to pass through the gut lining. It has been discovered even in people who are not celiacs, the removal of gluten from the diet decreases the amount of zonulin in the gut. In turn, allowing the gut lining to naturally rebuild itself, given other inflammatory foods are not frequently being consumed and provided adequate nutrient intake.

Casein: Recent studies have also discovered that casein promotes intestinal permeability- increasing inflammation. Dairy has an opioid like effect. It can cause many gastrointestinal disturbances, promoting leaky gut.
(Nutrients 2015, 7, 7285-7297; doi:10.3390/nu7095339)
Casein has been shown to activate the Th2 pathway, causing an inflammatory response in the gut.

Sugar: We know that sugar not only increases inflammatory markers, it feeds pathogenic bacteria. When we feed our “bad” gut bacteria we allow it to grow and cause dysbiosis in the gut. Dysbiosis is where we have the imbalance of good to bad gut bacteria ratios. Pathogenic bacteria contribute to the release of zonulin in the gut, leading to further intestinal permeability. (Leaky gut).

Alcohol: Studies also conclude that alcohol can trigger intestinal oxidative stress, higher inflammation markers and intestinal hyperpermeability, not to mention the negative impact on the liver.

Eliminating these foods from the diet doesn’t have to be 100% removal forever- the gut lining was made to rebuild itself. However, when inflammation causing foods are frequently consumed it makes it impossible for the gut lining to rebuild and to repair. When focusing on gut health and intestinal integrity, it is pivotal for inflammatory foods to be removed from the diet for some time or at least minimized significantly to allow repair and rebuild of the GIT. The time this takes to happen is relevant to each person individually. For some people it can take years, and for others not quite so. However, any gut health focused work for any length of time can help to reduce the likelihood, severity and occurrence of all other disease and illness, remembering that over 80% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

I hope this post inspires ways in which you can help to better your gut health and thus improve your overall health and well being.



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