Digestive Health: Why You May be Suffering from ‘the Leaky Gut Syndrome’ and How You can Fix It
“Life and Death are in the Power of the Gut. They that master it shall prosper in health thereof. They that do not shall gnash their teeth in dis-ease.” -Uzo Onuwkugha, MD.
You are not just what you eat; you are what you ingest, digest and assimilate. Everything you’ve ever eaten since you were a baby all contribute to your overall health and well-being up till this point. All the cells in your body have an immunological memory and imprint of all that you have eaten. The law of sowing and reaping works behind the scenes. Some people don’t even understand that there are dietary laws that govern optimum health. We should stop focusing on the type of disease and start asking, “What type of person has the disease.” Your cells tell the story better because it has a record (biological time clock) of your state of health even when it has not manifested with symptoms and no medical test could pick it up.
Well, you are as healthy as your individual cells. There is a law in Science that says that in a closed system, any phenomenon in a large scale is also repeated in a smaller time frame. Therefore, your cells hold the key to your overall health. To be precise, the focus is on the cells of your intestines. My zoom lens is on your small intestine where the majority of absorption and digestion of food materials take place. The word ‘gut’ is somewhat vague because it could refer to the digestive system, part of it or even the stomach.
Now, do you know the best selling drugs in America? It doesn’t matter if it is over-the-counter or prescription drugs. The best selling drugs are antacids or drugs for intestinal disease remedies. You probably know all the brand names: Gelusil, Sucralfate, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Tagamate, and all kinds of laxatives. Please note that taking antacids worsen the problem because these patients are suffering because of lack of acid. This is because their enzymes that manufacture acid (hydrochloric acid) are depleted. Neutralizing the little acid you have give symptomatic relief and tend to worsen the problem.
The target diseases include heartburn, gastritis, flatulence dyspepsia, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, chronic constipation and other forms of digestive ailments. Some of the diseases may not even have a well defined symptom or signs that fit into a definite clinical pattern. That’s why they are often called syndromes.
Many times, clinical tests will reveal nothing, and yet the patient continues to agonize. What is the underlying cause of these diseases? The answer is not what you think. It is an uncharacterized phenomenon most doctors don’t talk about. The name is ‘the leaky gut syndrome.’ It is simply saying that your intestines are ailing because they are short of energy as such has become porous. I prefer a more scientific term called ‘intestinal permeability disease.’
The onset coincides with depletion of functional enzymes in the body. This is the time when the resilience of youth tends to wean. Depending on your dietary habits, it peaks around late twenties or early thirties. Rapid aging seem to pick up at this point. It is a process that sneaks in on you. At this time, your hairs begin to thin and fall off. Bald head set in. Some of your hairs may even start graying because of nutrient depletion especially the B-complex Vitamins. Symptoms of intestinal malady seem to worsen at the same time. People begin to notice bloating, gas, belching, constipation and lactose intolerance.
The key to explaining ‘leaky gut syndrome’ lies at the cellular level. The small intestine has the hardest working cells in the human body. These complex cells may even work harder than brain cells. (No wonder they are called ‘brain in the gut’ because they have all the chemical messengers found in the brain.) In fact, the gut is regarded as the center of life and intuitive thinking. People tend to called it gut instinct–a meeting point of supernatural and physical energy. The Japanese call it the ‘power center.’ The cells of the gut are arranged in finger-like fashion called villi–designed to increase the surface area for absorption of nutrients. This process is an energy-dependent mechanism called active transport. (Water is absorbed by osmosis and is not energy-dependent).
Thus 85% of our life-time energy is used in digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. You could imagine that only 15% is reserved for the rest of the body for active work and other functions. Do you see why your digestive health is very important? Everything about life is energy and sickness is nothing but lack of force. It is either you take care of your digestive health or live at the mercy of the medical community. Most times they are confused because most doctors are not trained in nutrition therapy.
Furthermore, the gut acts as a semi-permeable membrane. In other words, it has a gating mechanism that allows some nutrients to pass while eliminating others. For instance essential nutrients like minerals, vitamins, and essential fats are absorbed while toxins, bacteria, parasites, and partially digested or allergic foods are prevented from entering the blood. These wastes are eliminated through the stool. However, if the linings become porous like an old filter, everything goes into the blood without restrictions. The gut is now said to be leaky. Note that most of the junk food all full of nutrient-depleted, energy deficient elements called oxidants or free radicals. Because these substances lack electrons, they are very reactive and attack the cell membrane lipid bi-layer. The tight and gap-junctions between cells also give way creating more holes on the membranes.
As the unwanted substances and chemical toxins pass through, they now set up a chain reaction. The body hates these intruders just like you hate spam. The body tries hard to fight off these free radicals as foreign bodies. Often there is no help from the victim who continues to eat junk, nutrient-depleted food causing more free radical damage. The stage for auto-immune reaction has already been set by these allergens and carcinogens (allergens are foods that cause allergy and carcinogens are risk factors for causing cancers). At this time, the body’s defense mechanisms are also down giving rise to all kinds of degenerative diseases or even cancer depending on the end organ and nutritional deficiency involved. Leaky gut also triggers premature aging process. The victim also suffers from chronic fatigue. (Food is should give energy and not deplete your reserve).
Foods that cause leaky gut include fast sugars, partially hydrogenated and trans-fats, wheat gluten, yeast, bacteria, viruses, canned nuts, dairy products, cigarette smoking, alcohol, corn-syrup solids, food additives and flavors. Acidic foods and free radicals worsen the whole scenario. All non-living foods, chemicals, processed foods and all junks food deplete the body of the existing enzymes and leave it open for attacks with all kinds of illnesses. For instance one teaspoon of sugar shuts down your immune system for two hours. Also if you eat in a hurry without chewing your food or meat very well, you are a candidate for leaky gut syndrome. Digestion is a process and it starts in the mouth coupled with your state of mind. Stress is a powerful contributory factor.
Here is the good news: “Anything that can prevent a disease can also help to cure it,” said Dr. Bernard Jensen. These foods boost your immunity, attack free radicals, strengthen your intestinal walls, help digestion and absorption, cleanse and detoxify you, give you energy, and add more years to your life and more life to your years. The list of healthy alternative is many. But my favorite is a bunch of green super foods–barley grass, wheat grass, chlorella, green kamut, wheat grass, alfalfa and spirulina. Please add avocado to your staple diet. Also essential fatty acid blend (omeg-3, 6 and 9), multivitamin and mineral supplements, aloe vera-papaya, periodic fasting and colon cleanse. Avoid junk and processed food. Drink eight glasses of water per day. Our body is 70% water. Water supports metabolism and help to eliminate toxins that cause diseases and ravages of premature aging. Don’t forget the recommendation of at least five servings of green leafy vegetables daily. Minimize acidic food eat more of alkaline food. Practice food combining to make it easy on your digestive enzymes. Don’t eat for at least 3 hours before you go to bed. (The body heals itself at night). Otherwise the body will use the energy for regeneration and repair to digest food. This makes you tired when you wake-up.
I must add that I take lemon juice and green tea regularly. Just cut off taking coffee it can worsen the leaky gut. Lemon is excellent because all the bacteria that cause disease hate anything bitter. They love sugar because they can multiply in nanoseconds. Both lemon juice and green tea help digestion (has life enzymes) and boost your immunity and strengthen your enzyme reserves while cleansing your system. Both are potent antioxidants that combat free radicals that cause lack of energy and aging. Lifestyle of regular exercise should be added.
Exercise is so important that it requires a special emphasis. Lack of exercise causes intestinal paralysis of some sort. This gives undigested food more transit time to sit in the gut and for toxins to leak into the blood triggering degenerative changes, allergy and stagnant immune system. However, when you exercise, nature cooks the food twice– both in the stomach (more acid is mixed with the food) and in the intestines. This improves digestion and elimination of wastes. Overall, many people notice bowel movement during or shortly after exercise. Also exercise draws air into the body which is more efficient in combating the bugs that cause diseases. Disease does not exist in aerobic environment. All cells start to age when they don’t get enough oxygen. Many other benefits of exercise are beyond the scope of this article.
In a nutshell, if you do these basic things, including adding raw food to your diet you will improve the quality of your life and enjoy optimum health all the days of your life. The key is to take responsibility for your own health. Watch what goes into your mouth. Educate yourself on how your body works. Listen to your body. Give it what it needs to serve you better. Your life is in your hands; not the doctor. Don’t kid yourself. You don’t put water in your gasoline tank. Do you? Don’t think you’re a machine. Even machines break down. Before you blame God and your parents, change your eating habit first. There are healthy alternatives to the junk you see all around you. Good health is lifelong journey. The earlier you start the better. Good luck in your quest for optimum health!