It’s important for you to know from the beginning that leaky
gut is not a formally recognized diagnosis by the conventional medical
community. On the other hand, most natural medicine practitioners readily
accept the condition exists and can be the foundation for a number of chronic
and serious illnesses.
There are no numbers available regarding the number of
people who may suffer from this condition. However, considering the possible
causes of leaky gut the number may be very high.
In the small intestine the lining of the gut consists of a
single layer of epithelial cells that are tightly packed to prevent materials
from passing from the gut into the blood stream. When leaky gut develops, the
normally tight junctions between these cells becomes looser, allowing
undigested food particles, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens to pass
This allows those substances access to the blood stream and
the rest of the body. Typically, when this happens, the immune system is
triggered to treat all of these substances as foreign invaders in the body. The
immune system then begins attacking them.
Two major negative things can happen then.
Inflammation sets in because of these substances
and travels throughout the body.
The immune system can get overwhelmed by the
amount of things crossing the epithelial barrier and begins attacking normal
cells of the body as well
These two events are said to be the beginnings of chronic illnesses
such as Type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease,
and possibly even Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
This is leaky gut.
Causes of Leaky Gut
There are several potential causes of leaky gut, many of
them related to lifestyle choices.
Poor dietary choices may be a significant cause of leaky gut. The so-called
Standard American Diet (SAD) contains large amounts of highly processed foods
that have high levels of additives and preservatives that have been said to be
harmful to your health. These additives have been shown to be inflammatory in
nature. High levels of sugar in the diet has also been linked to development of
Some people are believed to have a genetic predisposition to developing leaky
gut. This genetic factor may stay ‘dormant’ for years until the right trigger
enters their lives and ‘turns on’ the gene.
Stress. In our society stress is a given. And not just a single stressor at
a time, but constant stressors of different kinds that affect people
continually. Stress of this kind has very detrimental effects on all parts of
the body, including the gut. Changes in the immune system can result from this
kind of stress, leading to any of several chronic illness conditions.
Toxins. On a yearly basis, it is estimated people are exposed to up to
80,000 different toxins. These toxins are in the atmosphere, in the food you
eat, in the clothes you wear, and in many typical household products. Add this
to the medications that can have toxic effects when taken in higher than normal
doses, and you have a tremendous number of potential toxins that affect your
of Bacteria. Internally, you have many trillions of bacteria living in your
intestine. Normally, these bacteria work in balance to keep your gut
functioning optimally, allowing food you eat to be digested properly and the
nutrients in them absorbed well. Sometimes, these bacteria get imbalanced, the
levels of bad bacteria growing and spreading while levels of good bacteria
decrease. When this happens, the result is called dysbiosis.
to Foods and Environment. An estimated 24% of people in the U.S. are
reported to have some kind of hypersensitivity to foods or elements in the
environment. They may not be full-fledged allergies but rather
hypersensitivities that occur quickly on exposure.
Treating Leaky Gut With Probiotics and Collagen
Although it may seem those with leaky gut are doomed to
suffer from its symptoms while waiting for lifestyle changes to make a
difference, there are beneficial effects that come from taking probiotics
Probiotics affect the bacterial balance in the gut. This
balance is important in maintaining your health.
Bacteria. Probiotics reduce the number of unhealthy bacteria in your gut. This
can re-balance the number of microbes in your gut. Estimates are a balance of
85% good or neutral bacteria to bad is optimal in the gut.
Probiotics stimulate the growth of enzymes. These particular enzymes are
necessary in destroying the bad bacteria in your gut. Doing this restores the
pH levels in your gut and assists in healing a leaky gut.
Yeast Overgrowth. When there is a dysbiosis in your gut, an imbalance in
the bacteria types, one thing that can happen is an overgrowth of yeast in the
small intestine. This can lead to increased fatigue, inability to concentrate,
infections in the genital or urinary tracts, and digestive problems, among
Between Gut and Brain. Yes, your brain and gut talk to each other. In this
way the health of one affects the health of the other. Probiotics make this
Inflammation. Since inflammation has been said to be a major cause of most
illness conditions, a reduction through the use of probiotics is a real
Collagen is a protein that makes up the majority of the
connective tissue in your body. Type I collagen is the most prevalent type in
the body, including in the digestive tract.
the Digestive Tract. Your digestive tract needs water in order to work most
efficiently. Collagen and sugar form a matrix that helps water go through the
GI tract better to increase the breakdown of proteins and carbohydrates,
leading to better absorption of nutrients.
the Intestines. Type I and Type III collagen make up the materials for
nearly all connective tissue in the intestines. It is believed by clinicians
that adding collagen to the diet will help heal issues in the intestines.
Balance Stomach Acid. An imbalance in your stomach acid has been linked to
several chronic illnesses. Bad bacterial overgrowth, hypothyroidism, some
autoimmune disorders, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies are some of those
conditions. Imbalanced stomach acid also contributes to digestive problems.
Adding collagen to your diet has been shown to increase the amino acid glycine
which then improves stomach acid balance.
Heal Leaky Gut. Collagen makes up the microscopic folds between the
epithelial cells lining your intestinal wall. When you add collagen to your
diet, it ‘fills in’ the gaps between these cells that cause leaky gut. In this
way, collagen adds to the healing of a leaky gut.
With Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Ulcers. Studies have shown people
who suffer from IBS have lower levels of collagen in their blood than those who
do not have the condition. Another study showed collagen to fight the
inflammation in the body and in IBS by turning off pro-inflammatory cells that
are found in immune cells. A recent study in Brazil showed the effectiveness of
collagen supplements in protecting the stomach against lesions brought on by
Leaky gut is a serious condition in the small intestine brought
on by a number of factors. Chronic stress being one of the most prevalent,
along with dietary choices.
These factors cause gaps between the epithelial cells that
line the small intestine and prevent material in the intestine from getting
into the blood stream. When the gaps occur, problems arise.
Leaky gut seems to be on the rise not only in the U.S. but
around the world.
It leads to a large number of serious chronic illnesses.
Fortunately, there is help. Both probiotics and collagen appear to have healing
properties that affect the gut.
In choosing the best probiotic for you, several things are
important to keep in mind. One of these is to be sure the probiotic you take
has at least 15 billion colony forming units (cfu). This gives you a sufficient
number of the bacteria in order for you to get the most benefits.
It is also important for the probiotic you choose to have
multiple bacterial strains. Some strains improve immune function and others
enhance hormone balance. Still others promote other healthy factors. You should
be sure you’re getting the strain that gives you the health benefit you need.
Bone broth may be the source of the best types of collagen.
It contains proline and glycine, two of the essential building blocks used to
heal your intestinal lining.
You also may want to look into taking a soil-based probiotic
pill. These probiotics are designed to be like those that grow in harsh
climates. This is beneficial because many probiotics on the market today are
destroyed by the stomach acid before ever getting to the small intestine. This
makes them useless. The soil-based probiotics survive the harsh environment of
the stomach and live to do their beneficial work in the small intestine.