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Learn More About Leaky Gut

Gut health is the foundation of our overall health. Our digestive system allows us to break down and absorb nutrients (and energy) from food and eliminate toxins from the body. It is also the control centre of our immune system, and produces many of our hormones including serotonin and dopamine, which impact our mood, sleep, appetite, and the nervous system.

The gut lining is like a neighbourhood made up of houses along a street. If we have a good neighbourhood, there are people living in each home who take care of their yards and go to work to contribute to society as a whole. Cars may drive down the street in this neighbourhood, but they only pull into driveways and enter homes if they’re invited guests.

A healthy digestive tract is very similar! There are single cells lining the digestive tract, populated by beneficial gut bacteria that ensure the gut lining functioning in a healthy way, and who have jobs to benefit the body, including immune system and hormone functioning. The gut lining selectively absorbs nutrients from the contents passing through the digestive tract, and the rest continues on its way to be excreted from the body.

When the gut lining is inflamed, it’s like we have a bad gut neighbourhood. The good neighbours have left, and squatters have moved in. They don’t take care of the properties, and don’t contribute positively to their communities. Uninvited guests might break into houses and cause issues throughout the neighbourhood. In an unhealthy digestive system, there is often an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria or yeast that contributes to inflammation in the gut lining. We refer to this as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. This limits the digestive tract from carrying out its normal functions, resulting in symptoms throughout the body.

Leaky gut can be caused by antibiotic use, eating inflammatory and processed foods, some medications, contracting traveller’s diarrhea, prolonged stress. These factors can negatively alter the gut flora, resulting in inflammation in the digestive tract.

When our digestive tract is inflamed, we may experience bloating, gas, heartburn, nausea, abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, or mucous in the stool. If we have prolonged issues with our digestion, it leads to whole-body symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, depression, frequent cold and flu, and inflammatory issues like eczema, acne, joint pain, and autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Dr. Hilary’s Lifestyle Tips To Improve Gut Health

Our digestion should function like a healthy neighbourhood, absorbing nutrients, eliminating waste, and supporting the immune system and hormone production. However, factors including eating unhealthy foods, antibiotic use, and prolonged stress negatively alter gut flora, which leads to digestive upset and inflammation. It’s important to improve the diet, practice healthy eating habits and reduce stress, but providing additional support for healing the gut is the best thing we can do to get our gut-neighbourhood back on track.

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