After I had my youngest daughter almost 5 years ago, I was in bad health. I was tired all of the time, even when I woke up in the morning, my brain was always in the fog, and I had eczema all over my hands and stomach. After a year of seeing doctors, tests, hospital procedures, crazy diagnosis, and inconclusive results, I took my health into my own hands and scoured the Internet to try and figure out what was wrong with me. I found ChrisKresser.com and I had symptoms of a leaky gut. I followed his protocol to heal it and feel so much better. Now that I have made the changes in my lifestyle to maintain good gut health, I want to go back and understand the science behind what is going on.
Dr. Sara Ballantyne from thepaleomom.com, has been my best resource for my research. She explains using drawings which is how I learn best. Below is my visual explanation of a leaky gut.
The gut is your digestive track, a tube that starts at your mouth and ends in your anus.
- Digestion in the tube occurs when enzymes (pictured above with the letter “E” and teeth) and friendly bacteria break down food into a nutrients the body can use.
- Proteins (P) are broken down into amino acids (AA)
- Carbohydrates (C) are broken down into monosaccharides (M)
- Fats (F) are broken down into fatty acids (FA)
- Everything else is discarded as waste (W).
- The tube is a single layer of specialized cells, called enterocytes. Enterocytes let nutrients (proteins, monosaccharides, fatty acids) out so the blood and lymphatic vessels can transport them throughout the body, while keeping the waste inside the tube. Right outside the enterocytes are the gut specific resistant immune cells that attack any waste or pathogens (disease-causing organisms) that accidentally gets through the enterocytes wall. A healthy gut has tight protein bonds holding the enterocytes wall together. A leaky gut has damaged or altered protein bonds resulting in holes in the enterocytes wall. Pathogens such as partially digested proteins, friendly bacteria that is suppose to stay inside the gut, toxic substances and waste leak through the wall. The body identifies these foreign substances and attacks with the gut resident immune cells and also sends backup from resident immune cells from other body parts like the liver.
My next post will be the symptoms of a leaky gut.
The Dumpling Mama xo