The body’s digestive system is like a city’s power plant whose furnaces burn fuel and supply energy to all parts of the city. It all works something like this: the fuel must be the proper type or the furnaces won’t function efficiently. The power plant must also supply the heat or spark which causes the fuel to ignite. If the fuel does not burn, the city will have no energy. Can you see how all the functions are interdependent?
Our bodies also need proper fuel to provide the energy needed to maintain our own spark of life. The body is built, repaired and fueled by about a half ton of food per year. Your body becomes the food you eat. If you eat garbage, your body acts like a garbage truck. If you eat clean, your body functions like a high-octane race car.
Fuel must be selected carefully to provide maximum performance, but having the right kind of fuel is not the only part of the equation. The food we eat must be digested and assimilated in order to provide the life energy our bodies require. The digestive system supplies the spark (nutrients), which initiates the burning (digestion) of our food. If this system is not functioning properly, even the best nutrients do us little or no good. It is the various secretions of the digestive system, most importantly the enzymes, which provide the initiation that breaks our fuel down into compounds which the body can use.
The Dangers of Poor Nutrition
Poor nutrition leads to a lack of nutrients needed to provide the building blocks for GI (gastrointestinal) repair. If the gut continues to lose its health and integrity, the mucosa become leaky, causing increased intestinal permeability. This is not a disease; however it can be manifested by an enormous variety of symptoms depending upon genes and ecology (the flora, healthy bacterial population). This is a dysfunction of barrier system.
The intestinal track is lined by a brush border of cells that screen, digest and protect against foreign invaders. It is an important part of keeping the whole system free from metabolic waste and toxic substances that, if let in, could cause serious harm. A weak brush border may be part of where autoimmune disease starts. If the brush border begins to become frail and its ability to absorb and digest nutrients declines, the whole system may become bogged down with symptoms of irritable bowel, emotional irritability, mental fog, joint aches, pains and chronic fatigue.
To further clarify, the tight junctions (called desmosomes) are seals that occur between each cell and act like a glue to further prevent passage of large molecules and toxic substances into the blood stream. When mucosa is damaged, large molecules are allowed into the blood. Bacteria, undigested food, additives, preservatives and, metabolic waste enter the bodies’ circulation and create a systemic toxicity. The passage of these undigested particles leads to an IgG antibody production (an immune response) and an end result of food sensitivity or allergy that has a delayed reaction. The gut develops a low grade/subclinical inflammation. This inflammation can result in excessive amounts of weight gain and metabolic disturbance. The weakened gut then becomes leaky and an associated leaky gut syndrome ensues.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Digestive abuse results in a syndrome called leaky gut. The gut develops a low grade/subclinical inflammation. Symptoms that occur with the syndrome of leaky gut can be broad: Abdominal pain, asthma, chronic joint pain, fuzzy thinking, gas, indigestion, mood swings, poor immunity, recurrent vaginal infections, skin rashes, diarrhea, recurrent bladder infections, fevers of unknown origin, poor memory, shortness of breath, constipation, stool odor, bloating, bowel habit changes aggressive behavior, anxiety, primary biliary cirrhosis, fatigue, malaise and toxic feelings.
Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut boils down to gut abuse: an over consumption of sugar, alcohol, additives, preservatives, saturated fats, low fiber, drugs and common food allergens. The food you eat matters. Common food allergens: Gluten/grain, nuts, bananas, egg protein, soy protein, and cow’s milk.
How to Avoid Leaky Gut Syndrome
Set your health priorities. Restore digestive health by improving your nutrition and your relationship to food. Food is gasoline to run your engine. The type of food you eat plays a large role in the integrity of intestinal lining and digestive efficiency. Focus on restoring the local immunity and flora, managing and reducing stress, avoiding offending foods, and or anything that would jeopardize the health of your GI tract. It is all connected.
Our relationship to food matters. Ask yourself these questions when you start to indulge in that bowl of ice cream: Do I need this ice cream? If yes, ask, do I need it right now? If the answer is yes, then ask why? Often times you will discover that what you really need most is rest or perhaps, something is bothering you emotionally. Mindfulness will lend much more reward with long term health. Give it a try and stay on the wellness train.