Over the past few years the term “Leaky Gut” has been used more and more. It has been tied to depression, inflammation, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, neurodegeneration, cancer, and autoimmunity to name a few. All of these conditions are continuing to grow, but why?
The Western Diet
Hippocrates once said “let food be they medicine”. Unfortunately while food is able to provide our body with many vital nutrients, it is also responsible for many negative things. Food has become something equivalent to poison if the right dietary choices are not made. If you think for 30 seconds, you can identify at least 5-10 restaurants within a 5 minute drive. This tends to be on the low end for many in metropolitan areas. Now, I want you to think about places with fresh fruits and vegetables that haven’t been stored for months. This is much harder, as most of our food is not fresh. There are some places you can go to have fresh food, but these are harder to come by.
The problem is that we consume far too much processed foods. These foods through preparation have been made to have long shelf life and taste good. In order to achieve this, quality has to be sacrificed. This sacrifice leads to excess salt, bad fats, sugar, dyes and preservatives being added to food. None of these should be part of our diet, and actually cause inflammation. Inflammation impacts our gut barrier, hence the term “leaky gut”. Inflammation changes the normal environment within our gut. The presence of good bacteria changes and leads to imbalances that further promote inflammation. It is important to understand that inflammation is going to result in immune dysregulation. This is the same immune dysfunction that aids in the development of food sensitivities, cancer, neurodegeneration, and autoimmunity.
Inflammation also results in pain receptors moving closer to threshold resulting in more susceptibility to pain such as in fibromyalgia. Inflammation has been shown to impact depression, diabetes, fatigue, and make other chronic conditions worse.
What Changes Do I Make
Now that you have an understanding that many of the things that people suffer from on a daily basis are diet related, let’s talk about simple changes to feel better. First, start by removing foods known to be more inflammatory, such as gluten, dairy, and soy. Second, avoid processed food and think fresh. Third, count your calories because you may unknowingly consume far too many. Finally if your symptoms have seen little change, then it is time to become more specific with dietary choices that can be identified using food sensitivity testing. Not every person has reactions to the same food, but to those things you are reacting to can promote inflammation and prevent you from healing and recovering in the way you would like.
Myles, I. A. (2014). Fast food fever: Reviewing the impacts of the western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal, 13(1), 61-61. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-61