‘Leaky gut syndrome’ (intestinal hyper-permeability) is when toxins are reabsorbed into the body – that is really “when the shit hits the fan.” This is a disorder associated with increased intestinal permeability, subsequent to the loss of intestinal mucosal integrity. Degradation of this barrier is often due to toxins that damage the ‘tight junctions’ between intestinal epithelial cells leading to a ‘leaky gut’. Researchers have found that certain proteins in grains (gluten in wheat, rye, oats, barley, millet, rice and sorghum); zein in corn, casein in dairy, and other proteins in some legumes damage the lining of our gut, which enables the entire contents of your intestine to make its way into your body. One of these proteins – wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) – also affects the enzyme ‘transglutaminase’ – this enzyme modifies every protein in our body and can produce a myriad of diseases. Other common toxins include alcohol, milk, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), stress, viruses, bacteria, parasites, antibiotics, cytotoxic drugs and yeast. Often yeast overgrowth produces chronic fatigue and sugar cravings. Gluten can also cause inflammation of the brain and skin without abdominal symptoms.
Overgrowth of any one of the more than 400 microbial species in the human gut can produce adverse effects. Excessive growth by undesirable microbes alters the metabolic and immunologic status of the host. These microbes can turn our genes on or off. When this leads to dysfunction or disease it is termed ‘dysbiosis.’