We’ve all heard that over time processed foods, chemicals, and medications can be harmful to our health. Health experts say these things can also put you at risk for something called “leaky gut.”
Julie Hill, a dietitian with Lee Health, says as we eat our gut absorbs the nutrients and digests the food. “Leaky gut really, the proper term is permeability, intestinal permeability. What it means is there are gaps in the cell structure and the cells can actually become damaged or withered or old.”
If patients have leaky gut, things like toxins and undigested food particles can escape from the intestines and travel throughout the body through the blood stream. “A lot of the toxins or different things that come in through our food, like it can be pesticides, chemicals, MSG, anything that is a nonfood substance that typically we’re putting in our food as preservatives, a lot of times those are the things that effect our permeability of our GI system,” said Hill.
Permeability is the loss of integrity of the intestinal barrier. It can be caused by things like long-term use of anti-inflammatories, poor diet, uncontrolled gluten sensitivities, and illness. “What happens when we eat a food the body digests it. We have different enzymes that bind to the food to make it absorbable. So when we have a food that comes through it needs a buddy to get through the intestinal barrier,” said Hill.
If the intestinal barrier is damaged, nutrients can find a way to get through it without a buddy, leading to inflammation. “The body doesn’t recognize the food because it lost its buddy so it causes the immune system to fire up and we can get inflammation from that,” said Hill.
Patients with leaky gut may develop auto immune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, or migraines. “A lot of times when we’re doing things long term, repeated abuse to the system that’s when we’re going to see the damage,” said Hill.
Removing certain foods from your diet, cleaning your fruits and vegetables, eating organic, and drinking filtered water, can prevent and treat a leaky gut.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.