Could your leaky gut be causing a leaky brain?

The cells of your intestinal lining although only 1 cell thick, should be tightly packed together.

This creates a mucous membrane that allows selective absorption of certain safe molecules and nutrients into your bloodstream.

What is leaky gut?

Research has shown that zonulin, a protein found on the digestive wall acts as a ‘gate keeper’.  It can be activated by inflammation, creating gaps between these junctions resulting in ‘leakiness’, or increased permeability across the digestive barrier.

This results in an intestinal lining that is damaged and often inflamed, allowing undigested food particles and other microbes though to the blood stream, resulting in an immune response and further inflammation.

Leaky gut may present as:

  • Food intolerances or allergies
  • Eczema, asthma, hay fever or allergies – any of the ‘atopic’ conditions
  • IBS symptoms – bloating, reflux, pain, constipation or diarrhoea
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases – Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis
  • Autoimmune conditions – Hashimoto’s or Graves, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus
  • Raised levels of inflammation
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Weight gain

“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates

A recent study now shows that increased levels of zonulin, from a leaky gut, may in fact not just present as a digestive symptoms or those conditions listed above. They may also affect the gate keepers of the brain endothelial cell barriers, allowing toxic compounds to cross the blood brain barrier.

Leaky brain may manifest as:

  • Depression and low mood
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings or outbursts
  • ADD / ADHD / Autism spectrum disorders
  • Nerve pain or neuropathy
  • Forgetfulness, brain fog or poor concentration
  • Dementia, Alzheimer’s or other inflammatory brain disorders

What to do?

The first steps are to begin to heal the gut and reduce inflammation are complex and may involve:

  • Testing for food intolerances and removing offending foods
  • Consider removing gluten containing foods from your diet even if not coeliac or gluten intolerant
  • Support gut healing with nutrients and correct food choices for you
  • Consider a heavy metal detox if appropriate
  • Manage stress levels
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Balance blood sugar levels carefully

Consulting a qualified practitioner, to help support you through an individualised gut healing protocol, is essential to find the right fit for you.

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Karen Ball
Karen Ball