The gut is the gateway to health; as Hippocrates once said: "All disease begins in the gut." Leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability is a result of damage to the lining of the small intestine. As a result, undigested food particles, toxic waste, and bacteria leak through and enter the bloodstream. Leaky gut plays a role in some diseases of the intestinal tract, such as Celiac and Crohn's disease. Whether or not it can cause health problems outside the intestinal tract is unproven. The theory is that particles enter the bloodstream through a leaky gut and may activate the immune system and cause or worsen autoimmune diseases. More research is needed to prove this.
No one knows exactly what causes a leaky gut, although there are a variety of theories. Diet is a possible cause. Inflammatory foods such as gluten, soy, and dairy may be a factor for people who are allergic or sensitive to these foods. A diet rich in ultra-processed foods and sugar may play a role, but this theory requires more research. Toxicity is another cause of leaky gut. Humans regularly come into contact with antibiotics, pesticides, contaminated tap water, and medications that the body may see as toxins. Dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, can also lead to leaky gut. This imbalance can begin at birth, due to the mother's gut bacteria during pregnancy, though too many prescription antibiotics can also adversely affect the gut biome. In addition, physical and mental stress can alter the intestinal lining in a way that causes leaky gut.
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