The Paleo diet isn’t just another fad whose sole purpose is to lose weight. Losing weight is often a side effect of eating Paleo but one of the greatest benefits of eating like a caveman takes place where all that food you eat travels to and through…the gut.
We live in a world of disease and many of these diseases are closely related to gut health. Inflammatory diseases with gastrointestinal ties like Celiac disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as well as metabolic disease like diabetes or cardiovascular disease have strong correlations to Leaky Guy Syndrome.
When I first heard the term ‘Leaky Guy Syndrome’, I thought, “Gross, I hope my gut isn’t leaking everywhere. How do I stop it if it is? Why aren’t more people talking about how your gut can leak!?” And, “I wish there was a less disgusting term for Leaky Gut.” Well it turns out there is a more palatable term, abnormal intestinal permeability. It’s actually less disgusting and more scientific all at once! Yay Science!
To understand what abnormal intestinal permeability is we need to understand how the gut actually works. The gut is there to let helpful, good things in, like nutrients and to keep harmful, bad things out like undigested food or pathogens. It uses two things to do this, a physical barrier and an unattached barrier. The physical barrier is made up of tissue that provides a literal wall between your insides and the things you put inside your body. The unattached barrier is made up of proteins, chemicals, substances related to immune health and other molecules that help to put the good in and keep the bad out. These two barriers make up the gut barrier and need help figuring out how to work together, that’s where the microbiota of the gut, or gut flora come in. Gut flora help with the office dynamics, so to speak. Gut flora are not part of the barrier but they do still play a vital role.
When all of these things are clicking, life is good. When one or multiple things are off…not so much. For example, your eating a ham sandwich at work, in the break room. Your coworker Lonnie sneezes. Lonnie’s powerful sneeze plants a pathogen right on your third bite. That third bite tastes great, awesome even. It’s probably the best bite during your whole lunch time. Gosh, it really was a good bite. But, the pathogen is now in your body. Normally, your body would recognize it and kill it with no mercy. But your gut barrier is feeling off today, it sees the pathogen and hallucinates a warm fuzzy feeling. It waves in a slight daze. “Come on in, friend.”
This is bad, very bad. But don’t worry. If your gut is mistaking enemies for friends, you can be helped. More on that that in a few days.