Gut Health and Chronic Illness
Gut Health! It’s the catch phrase right now (along with Kambucha, probiotics, kefir and anything else related to gut bugs), but it’s one of those things that may have a lot of folks thinking “why the heck should I care?” Well let me tell you, if you struggle with Autoimmunity or any other type of chronic illness (even allergies, asthma, fatigue, depression), you really do need to care!
While chronic illness doesn’t JUST stem from poor gut health, it can play a huge factor. Our lifestyle and predisposition to certain illnesses are pieces of the puzzle, but often it’s the leaky gut piece that activates the illness. Oh, and as a side note here…lifestyle is a huge contributor to leaky gut!
To break it down from a very high level (I’m by no means a doctor or rocket scientist!), a leaky gut occurs when the lining of our small intestine becomes permeable, allowing all sorts of body-invading little pests to move from inside the intestine, to inside the body. These nasty little critters are anything from undigested pieces of proteins and waste to bacteria and toxins. Not to mention, 80% of our immune system resides in the gut, so it’s imperative that we keep it in prime operating condition!
When these invaders move into the blood stream, our immune system identifies it as an enemy and goes into attack mode. Sounds great, right? But the problem here is that it sets off a chain reaction that can be hard to shut down once it starts.
When the body goes into attack mode, it relies heavily upon the liver to filter through and screen all these bad guys to see if they are friend or foe. And, over time, it just can’t keep up with that AND all the other 4,692 functions it performs (ok, that isn’t an exact number, but you get the idea…the liver is busy). This means all those nasty invaders are left to hang out in our body
Enter the immune system! It springs into action for two primary purposes:
It creates antibodies to fight against these foreign invaders. In the case of autoimmunity, these antibodies end up attacking our body’s own tissues, instead of the invaders. And a constant presence of these antibodies (because leaky gut continuously allows permeability), can ultimately lead to allergies and food sensitivities.
Inflammation is increased; inflammation is an immune response to injury and illness, but this particular type of inflammation is focused on more of a global enemy than a specific enemy (AKA, widespread inflammation).
Leaky gut allows a constant barrage on the immune system, which is believed to play a large role in the development of autoimmune conditions; not to mention, it keeps inflammation present.
So, there it is… a very encapsulated version of leaky gut’s impact on our bodies! And to think, almost all of this can be avoided, and in some cases reversed, through the care of our gut.
Original Post 8/19/17