Leaky gut, IBS, and the root cause of chronic illness
It’s estimated that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects about 15% of Americans and approx. 20-40% of all visits to GI specialists.
What is IBS?
The Rome IV diagnosing criteria defines IBS as recurrent abdominal pain at least once a week in the last 12 weeks with 2 or more of the following:
– related to defecation
– associated with a change in stool frequency
– associated with a change in stool form (appearance)
So basically, it’s chronic abdominal pain and altered bowel movements. Sounds common and familiar, right?
Although the exact cause is unknown, symptoms may result from a disturbance in the way the gut, brain, and nervous system interact. Spoiler alert: the gut is connected to EVERYTHING.
A 2014 endomicroscopy study showed real-time response to COMMON food antigens in IBS subjects. After introducing antigens (dairy, wheat, yeast, soy), intraepithelial lymphocytes increased, epithelial leaks and gaps formed, and intervillous spaces widened. The influx of inflammatory cells resulted in both structural AND functional changes. This entire sequence of changes occurred within FIVE minutes of exposure. After implementing a food exclusion diet, IBS symptoms improved more than 50% after 4 weeks and 74% after 12 months.
Most of us don’t have IBS so what can we take away from this study?
There are certain foods that trigger our immune system, such as gliadin in gluten. The inflammatory cascade results in structural and functional changes to our gut lining that lead to intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Persistent exposure to these inflammatory foods + leaky gut = CHRONIC systemic inflammation.
What do most disease, illness, and autoimmunity have in common? What is the root cause?
Intestinal permeability + chronic inflammation.
H E A L T H Y H A B I T S
Inflammation is like lighting a match inside your home. One lit match is no big deal because you can easily blow it out. But when there’s more matches being lit all around your home faster than you can blow them out, eventually one will start a fire.
What is the first step to reduce inflammation? Reduce exposure to immune stimulating triggers. Read more about it here.