The power of how gut bacteria and how it effects your health seems to have no limit. Every study that roles out proves the same thing; the gut is the fulcrum of human health.
There was a recent study of particular significance. In April of 2017 researchers in Germany found striking evidence that heart failure and a depletion of intestinal bacteria are directly related.
The Study at a Glance
This was not a study performed on mice. The German Centre For Cardiovascular Disease performed remarkable research on human beings. They took a control group that was healthy and collected stool samples.
Then, they took the stool of those deceased from heart failure. These stool samples were studied carefully for their bacterial composition. As they studied the stool they found that the patients with heart failure had an extremely low amount of gut bacteria.
The results were not slight and thus revealed a substantial difference between healthy subjects and those who had died from heart failure. However, how do we know that the study was foolproof?
These German scientists were incredible in their research. The control group and the test group both were from the same region, reasonably similar diets (standard European diet), similar medications, and had no diseases that would effect the Gut Flora.
Also, they were matched in their Body Mass Index, age and gender. With all of them in the same area there was nothing environmentally that could have dramatically impacted the gut flora. Also, none of the Heart Failure or control groups had had antibiotic treatments in the previous three months or probiotic treatments.
This means that this study was about as good as it gets when it comes to information gathering. To find that the gut composition was so different between the two groups is striking evidence as to the importance of a healthy gut.
How Gut Bacteria Effect The Heart
It’s been long studied that Heart Failure is directly related to gut bacterial composition. This study only confirms the dozens of studies before it. However, there is something fascinating about this correlation.
One of the striking truths from this body of research is that patients with Heart Failure more times than not have Gut Permeability (1). Much of the research points to not only a low diversity of gut flora but gut wall permeability.
The issue is that when you have a gut wall that isn’t functioning properly food stuffs and other bacteria “leak” into the body. This causes more problems than one. Yet, one of the standout issues is inflammation.
Once these bacteria and food particles make their way into your blood stream your body turns on its defense mechanisms. One of those major mechanisms is inflammation. Rushing blood to specific areas allows the white blood cells to pour to infected tissues.
The issue is that when this happens in your arteries you have major complications. As the arteries constrict because of inflammation they restrict blood flow. If ,on top of that, you have congestion of those pathways from plaque you’ve created a recipe for disaster.
I. WHAT IS LEAKY GUT?
To start, let’s begin with a brief definition of the gut. The gut is your gastrointestinal tract. It begins in the mouth and ends at the ‘other’ end. It is comprised of your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum. (1) (2.)
The gastrointestinal tract is designed to protect the body simply by allowing what’s intended to be absorbed into the body through the gut wall while keeping out dangerous toxins. It is lined with a protective lining called the intestinal barrier.
This intestinal barrier and is comprised of three layers: the mucus layer, the epithelial layer, and the underlying lamina propria.
The intestinal barrier covers about 400 m² and uses about 40% of the body’s energy expenditure. This proves the vitally important role the intestinal barrier plays in your body’s functioning. The three layers of the intestinal barrier work together to both allow nutrients and water to be absorbed into the body by passing through the gut wall and keeping parasites, fungi, pathogenic microorganisms and harmful toxins from entering the body.
This multi-layer system works together to keep the contents of the gut separate from rest of the body. Essentially, everything that’s inside of the gut is ‘outside’ of the body.
The Epithelial (middle) tissue of the intestinal lining consists of a layer of epithelial cells which provides the main physical barrier between the mucus and lamina layers. It consists of protein cells which regulate the tight junctions of the gut wall. When these proteins fail to work properly, these tight junctions in the lining of your gut walls weakens, often resulting in intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). (Source)
Unwanted contents from the gut then spill into the body. The bloodstream is then overwhelmed with dangerous toxins triggering an immune response. This wreaks havoc on your body.
II. HOW DO YOU GET A LEAKY GUT?
How does this nightmare all begin? What causes a leaky gut? There are multiple factors that contribute to the malfunction of the tight junctions in your gut:
As you might have guessed, a big factor in determining the health of the gut intestinal barrier is diet. It’s safe to say that the Western diet is a recipe for disaster and not supportive of a healthy gut, to say the least.
However, there are many lifestyle factors that can weaken the intestinal gut barrier and contribute to causing a leaky gut.
Some of which are psychological and emotional such as worry, depression, anxiety, and anger. This is largely because the gut and brain are connected through the gut-brain axis.
Others are endogenous factors from both the body and gut. ‘Endogenous factor’s is a fancy way of saying factors that already exist from within the body. There are many endogenous factors from both the body and inside the gut that can contribute to causing a leaky gut.
Another contributing factor is the state of an individuals microbiota (aka the gut flora in the large intestine).
Gut flora resides on the inner most layer of the intestinal lining, the mucus layer. The body’s largest bacterial community is located in the gut with about 10¹² of bacteria per gram of tissue. In a healthy individual, their gut flora is dominated by beneficial microbes. A healthy gut flora includes beneficial fungi, protozoa, beneficial viruses, and even beneficial worms. In a healthy gut, all these beneficial microbes work together to live in harmony, keep the body balanced, and keep the tight junctions in the intestinal barrier working correctly.
Amidst the beauty of all the beneficial microbes, it is important to recognize that there are also hundreds of bad bacteria and pathogenic microbes that coexist along-side the beneficial bacterial strains. For an individual to be healthy and have strong immune system, these good bacteria must far outnumber the bad. When the gut flora is dominated by healthy microbes, the pathogenic bacteria are outnumbered and kept in check, often remaining neutral. However, these neutral microbes are very opportunistic and when given opportunity, will eagerly take over and turn pathogenic.
When the gut flora is out of balance, the immune system weakens, making that individual more vulnerable to sickness and disease, such as IBS-C, IBD, IBS-D, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohns etc.
III. DO YOU HAVE A LEAKY GUT?
A list of common signs and symptom of Leaky Gut are as follows:
- Constant Digestive Issues
- Diarrhea/Loose or Watery Stool
- Nutrient malformation
- Food allergies (often, an ever-growing list)
- Sinus Congestion, itchy-watery eyes,
- Inflammatory skin issues
- Mood and Neurological Imbalances
Obviously, many of the above symptoms coincide with Ulcerative Colitis, IBS-D, IBS-C, Crohns and IBD.
So, now that we got all that science out of the way…
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
I know what you’re thinking…
Wait…the title of this article says ‘focusing on recovering a leaky gut is a waste of time’?
What?!?!? Why would I say that?
… Especially since I spent half an article on how Leaky Gut is a real thing and causes major issue in your gut.
Well, the truth is, when you learn the science behind Intestinal Permeability you naturally want to rush back into (or start for the first time) any or ALL of the following:
I. A Strict Elimination Diet like the LowFODMAP diet to avoid foods that will irritate the gut lining.
II. Going Back to See Your Doctor for Gut Tests like Food Allergy panels, colonoscopies, testing for parasites etc trying to ‘get to the bottom of things’.
III. Researching New Probiotic Supplements, trying to find ‘the one’ that will magically solve all your problems.
IV. And Heck, maybe you’ll even get your anxiety and depression remedied with Anti-anxiety and Antidepressant drugs … I mean, why not?
That should solve it all, right?
The answer is not surprisingly…
No. All those above ‘solutions’ and ‘quick fixes’ that you find all over the internet are NOT the solution.
But, you already knew that.
How do I know?
Because I’ve been there too.
I desperately tried any and all solutions I could get my hands on and my mind wrapped around.
Yet, it would always end the same. You end up frustrated and disappointed that you wasted all that time and money on stupid ‘solutions’ that don’t help anybody in the long run.
So … what DOES work?
Anything???? Anything at all????
Surprisingly … Yes. There is something.
What DOES actually work is a well formulated plan backed by, PROVEN and tested by Scientific Research AND Neuroscience to attack the root cause of your IBS for good AND prevent reoccurrence. This is crucial.
You need to go after the Deeper root problem that is at a cellular and neurological level with Hard Work, Dedication and Consistency.
Otherwise, you’ll stay on the vicious cycle of cutting out trigger foods, trying elimination diets, endlessly researching while NEVER annihilating the ROOT of the problem causing your IBS.
If you’re tired of wasting time and energy on ‘solutions’ don’t work such as the LowFODMAP Diet, watch our free training to learn 5 scientifically backed shifts that can help you naturally alleviate your symptoms.
1. Enders, Giulia. Gut: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Scribe, 2015. Print.
3. Stephan C Bischoff; Giovanni Barbara; Wim Buurman; Theo Ockhuizen; Jörg-Dieter Schulzke; Matteo Serino; Herbert Tilg; Alastair Watson; Jerry M Wells. “Intestinal Permeability – A New Target for Disease Prevention and Therapy.BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14(189).