Leaky gut syndrome is also known as intestinal permeability due to
the idea that unhealthy bacteria and other toxins pass through a
permeable intestinal lining and into the bloodstream and body, wreaking
health havoc. And while it may be called “leaky gut,” the symptoms can
be in other areas than the gut, since toxins are allowed to circulate
bodywide. Up until recently, leaky gut was not given the
credence it was due, but newer research shows that it is a definite
force to be reckoned with, and may also be the cause of or tied to
several diseases and disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome;
inflammatory bowel disease; rheumatoid arthritis; asthma; eczema;
psoriasis; chronic fatigue syndrome; kidney disease; diabetes;
depression; heart failure and more.
Leaky gut syndrome is so
real, that there is even a test for it—a test developed in the 1980s by
UCLA researchers seeking to understand what caused Crohn’s disease, an
inflammatory bowel disease. The researchers found that leaky gut came
before the inflammation, leading the researchers to believe that the gut
leakiness played a key role in the disease development. Likewise, there
are over 10,000 articles related to intestinal permeability.
now we understand even more about how leaky gut occurs. Harvard celiac
researcher, Alessio Fasano, M.D., discovered that our bodies produce a
protein called Zonulin that functions to “unzip” the tight
junctions that seal up our intestinal lining—leading to leaky gut. It’s
not determined what all causes the release of Zonulin, but gluten and
unhealthy bacteria can do it, leading to unzipped tight junctions and
leaky gut. Add that to genetic factors or predispositions, and you’re
looking at the perfect storm set for leaky gut. Dr. Fasano writes, “I
firmly believe that without the loss of the intestinal barrier, it is
difficult to understand how autoimmune diseases would develop.”
and other doctors have gone so far as to say that gut health should be
their main objective in medicine. That makes sense, too, since
Hippocrates, known as the Father of Medicine, said that all disease
begins in the gut—a statement he made over 2,000 years ago.
Now let’s discuss the effects of gluten and Candida
on the gut. For starters, some people find it difficult or impossible
to properly digest gluten. If the gut isn’t healthy, then gluten
proteins can damage the intestinal tract—causing inflammation and
irritation, leading to leaky gut. What happens is the intestinal villi
are damaged or destroyed. That’s a problem, too, because the villi are
tiny hair-like projections along the epithelial lining of the intestinal
wall which function to help our bodies absorb the nutrients and fats it
When the villi are damaged or destroyed, then the gut gets “leaky” and also attracts Candida albicans,
a fungus, as well as unhealthy bacteria, leading to further
permeability of the gut as well as more inflammation and more damage.
Over time, the walls of the intestinal tract become so “leaky” or
permeable that unhealthy bacteria and other toxins can enter the
bloodstream where they then circulate bodywide. The villi aren’t the
only things damaged in the gut, though. The cells that make up lining of
the intestinal wall can take a hit, too. These cells are usually bound
tightly together, making up what’s called “tight junctions,” which we
mentioned earlier. But when gluten comes on the scene, it loosens up
those tight junctions, allowing undigested food particles, parasites,
unhealthy bacteria, fungi and other toxins into the bloodstream as well.
Even for those with a healthy gut who are genetically
predisposed to celiac disease, eating gluten even in minute amounts can
damage their intestinal lining, leading to making it more susceptible to
Candida, unhealthy bacteria and to developing leaky gut. For them, no amount of gluten is safe.
Interestingly, a protein called HWP-1 found in Candida is nearly identical to two gluten proteins named alpha gliadin and gamma-gliadin—proteins known to stimulate immune cell responses in those with celiac disease. In short, Candida has the same protein sequence as gluten and may also be a trigger for celiac disease.
Of course, Candida
overgrowth degrades the intestinal walls, too, and also grows
filaments, or tentacles, that “drill” into the gut lining and grow in
the gut wall. Candida also feeds on sugar and the standard American diet is packed with sugar—giving Candida an almost never-ending source of food to feed its growth.
Leaky gut—it’s real and can cause a lot of damage. So, avoid possible triggers, including gluten and Candida.