Risk Factors For Leaky Gut Syndrome

February 20, 2024

The digestive system is the home to bacteria, the immune system, enzymatic functions, and plenty of food particles. The intestines act like a gateway, providing a barrier that disposes of waste and carefully pulls out vital nutrients. Leaky gut syndrome manifests when the tight junctions of this seamless barrier begin to crack and become loose. This failure of a critical function of the intestines begins to let particles and toxins into the bloodstream. The body may become inflamed by these large particles and the intestines may begin to struggle to digest nutrients. Learn about the risk factors for leaky gut syndrome now.

Deficiency In Certain Nutrients

Having a deficiency in certain nutrients may be a risk factor for developing leaky gut syndrome. Vitamin D deficiency is known to be associated with inflammation and gut health. Vitamin D works to activate the immune system and improves the gatekeeping functions of the intestine. It does this by helping the cells of the intestinal wall activate their ability to intelligently discern pathogens from digested nutrients. It also helps regulate the function of the killer T-cells in the gut that can either cause inflammation or help keep the intestinal flora balanced. Zinc is another important nutrient known to help with tightening the junctions between cells of the intestinal lining and improve immune function, and thus a zinc deficiency could mean leaky gut syndrome.

Yeast Overgrowth

Yeast overgrowth is a common problem for many men and women. Yeast lives in the body as a natural part of the flora populating the intestine, but the intestinal flora may become imbalanced due to a diet high in sugars and starches, from chronically high-stress levels, or a weakened immune system. Certain yeasts, such as candida, can proliferate and begin to release a toxic substance called zymosan. These toxins trigger inflammation and may lead to many unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. This inflammation can damage the lining of the gut, causing leaky gut syndrome. Candida yeast can even penetrate the gut lining while colonizing along the intestinal wall, further weakening the barrier.

Chronic Inflammation

The immune system responds to threats from infections and injuries by creating inflammation. This increases blood flow and sends white blood cells to the infected area. Chronic inflammation occurs when the body is attempting to eliminate a perceived threat on an ongoing basis, whether it is real or not. The immune system may be mistaking organ tissue as the culprit causing the body to attack itself or try to eliminate exposure to a certain toxin, but is unable to completely rid itself of the contamination. This constant state of hypervigilance can cause a progressively weakening immune system or for the immune system to continue to target other areas of the body. The gut is a common area of inflammation, due to the easily upset intestinal flora and foods that may be causing an allergic reaction. This may trigger the immune system to begin attacking the intestines, as it's unable to eliminate the foods perceived as a threat. The result is a weakening of the intestinal lining and the possible onset of leaky gut syndrome.

Excessive Consumption Of Sugar

Too much sugar is known to be generally unhealthy for the body, increasing the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Excessive consumption of sugar can even upset the intestinal flora and cause inflammation, which may increase an individual's risk of developing leaky gut syndrome.

Yeast feeds on sugar and can proliferate if too much is present in the intestine. It can be easy to eat too much sugar, as many products add extra sugar to enhance flavor. But the daily recommended allowance for added sugar is only twenty-five grams for women and thirty-eight grams for men. Refined sugar breaks down in the gut too quickly and doesn't provide the healthy bacteria of the gut with macrobiotics to support their growth. Instead, yeast may begin to thrive and quickly take over, crowd out the flora population, release toxins, and deteriorate the lining of the gut. Sugar can also cause inflammation, further aggravating intestinal health and causing a breakdown of the intestinal barrier.

Chronic Stress

Cortisol and adrenaline are two components of stress that flood the body when the fight-or-flight response is activated. These hormones repress normal functions to direct all attention to avoiding a potential threat. In a natural setting, once the threat is eliminated or escaped from, the stress response eases. In the modern world, we might not have the luxury of being able to destroy or escape from what is causing stress. Too often, individuals simply learn to live with chronic stress.

Cortisol and adrenaline can have deteriorating effects on the body through inflammation. Gut flora is particularly affected by stress, as blood blow to the intestines is reduced. Over time, good bacteria can be eroded away and harmful pathogens and yeasts may take their place. This begins the landslide of consequences, as the inflammation, harmful pathogens, and yeast wear away the gut lining and further weaken the intestines.

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