Leaky Gut is something that I first learned a little about only during the past year or so. At the time I first read about it, I was not all that concerned that it is a problem I have, so I did not pay very close attention to what I was reading. Over the months there have been reasons for my thinking to have changed, so now I am a bit more interested in learning more about what this thing - Leaky Gut, is said to be.
The basic understanding I have is that Leaky Gut begins as a defect in one's Small Intestines. It is not clear to me what it is that might cause the defect to occur, but so far it seems that there are at least 2 main possible causes: 1) due to hereditary influences IE> one may be born either with Leaky Gut from the get go in life OR one is born with a predisposition to eventually develop Leaky Gut... so I guess this cause can be thought of as being along the lines of one of numerous birth defects that people may be born with; 2) due to lifestyle/diet/habits. I do not really have a clear idea of exactly what kind of lifestyle/diet/habits may lead to Leaky Gut.
As I understand it, the problem starts in the Small Intestine. The SI is where the body really starts to get down to the business of taking "food" that's been digested to one degree or another and converting it... or allowing it to assimilate further into the body. The walls of the SM are designed to facilitate this process. As far as I know, the SI technically begins somewhere not far from where the stomach exits into the Duodenum. The SI has these little projections caled Villi. Think of them as kind of like tiny finger-like projections that stick out sideways from the inside of the SI,which has many, many Villi. The job of the Villi is to absorbed nutrients from the food stuffs passing through the SI and pass these nutrients into the body via the bloodstream. Also keep in mind that whatever one may eat as "food", whether it is actually nutritious stuff or not, the body, through digestion, will attempt to break down this stuff into smaller and smaller particles so that the body then has a chance to eventually extract & utilize whatever nutrition is present. * For whatever reasons there are for Leaky Gut to develop, the main problem of it is - the SI become excessively permeable, and begins allowing overly large particles of food stuff into the bloodstream when they would normally be too big.... or not well enough digested yet, to normally get into the blood.
Just for sake of explanation, lets say that the SI will normally only allow particles into the blood if and when they are the size of a pin head or smaller. (this is an exageration, but you get the idea). Leaky Gut is an abnormal condition where the SI has become damaged in some way such that it begins allowing food particles bigger than a pin head into the blood stream. This then begins a chain reaction that may lead to all sorts of other problems that themselves may each manifest in various and many different outward symptoms that eventually cause people to notice "hey, I have a symptom!.... why?".
Assuming my basic understanding is pretty much correct, it is clear to me that Leaky Gut, at a minimum, will lead to the condition of one's blood being "dirty", so to speak, and dirty blood in and of itself is probably susceptible to leading to all kinds of other problems. The question of "which other problems?" will probably be influenced by other factors/conditions already present inside the body that has a Leaky Gut. For this reason, like many health conditions, there are symptoms, and causes, and these two basic conditions can combine and mix in so many various ways that it then becomes difficult for the afflicted person to easily determine "what is wrong with me?".
That is pretty much the extent of my limited understanding of Leaky Gut. Oh, there is one more thing. There is a decent amount of anecdotal information out there that indicates one way that people have successfully treated/healed leaky gut ,is through the combined use of fasting and if/when one eats anything, eat only Slippery Elm Grewl. As an experiment, I recently fasted for the first time and lasted 3 days. At the end of this, I ate some Slippery Elm grewl. I was surprised at how well it went down. It is made from the ground up powder of the bark of the Slippery Elm tree, mixed with enough water to make a sort of loose paste that is of a consistency somewhere between slippy jello and cooked oatmeal. There is one person in particular who claims they were able to heal really bad Eczema by having fasted (don't quote me) some where around 20 to 30 days, during which they only thing they consumed besides water was Slippery Elm grewl and, if I recollect, a few basic other supplements/herbs/minerals. This person pointed out though that before they were able to pull of a fast of this duration, they had to gradually work up to it by having done several shorter durations, such as a 3-day, then 5-day, then 8-day, and so forth.
* there was a lecture I found that was done by William Donald Kelley several years ago, back in the 70s, I believe. WDKelley, by the way, had developed his own, home-made cure for his own very severe late-stage cancer that had caused his own doctor at the time (1967) to announce to him "you are terminal, there is nothing we can do for you, you are best to go home and make whatever preparations you feel necessary for dieing". Kelley then went home, but rather than spending his last moments on earth (he doctor had forecasted him to die within 6 weeks or so) just waiting around to die miserably, he began his own research. He had a head start on this effort since he himself was a licensed doctor and dentist. Long story short, he developed a regimen, and he was his own first guinea pig; he healed his cancer. Over the years he then began trying to tell other people about the success he'd had with his regimen. His regimen focused on a few specific areas, but the digestive system & diet was one of these areas. During this lecture in the 70s, he provided a lay explanation of how the Small Intestines and Villi work. That's where I got the "tiny finger like projection" description.
In this lecture, Kelley described how the SI is routinely corrupted by the kinds of things we western people habitually consume as "food". He especially focused on the kinds of sugary substances and processed-grain substances and denatured dairy substances that we people like to eat, all of which, over time, cause this "coat" of gunk to build up on the outside surface of one's Villi, which eventually leads the Villi to malfunction - because they are so heavily coated with gunk that they basically are unable to absorb much in the way of nutrition from the food stuffs one continues to eat. He used this explanation to describe why - based on bio diversity among people, the same basic condition - coated Villi, can result in one person ending up very skinny, and another person ending up very fat, yet they both have the same basic condition - screwed up Villi. This is another reminder that we are all a little bit different on the inside....remember those many, mixed up conditions/symptoms I mentioned?