Many of the pathogens that make us sick enter the body through the food we eat. This means that an individual with leaky gut syndrome is much more vulnerable to infection than someone with a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
The activation of immune cells within the huge surface area of the gut lining can cause a systemic inflammatory response—and overall bodily inflammation, we are now learning, is a key to many different disease states, including heart disease, cancer, Arthritis and diabetes. The passage of bacteria and toxins through leaky gut mucosa may amplify or perpetuate this systemic inflammation.
Inflammation causes damage to the tissue, resulting in excess permeability and unusually large spaces between the cells of the mucosal lining, which allows bacteria, viruses, fungi and other potentially toxic materials to enter the bloodstream. The widened spaces can also allow undigested food particles to “leak” through the intestinal lining. This could pose a serious health risk since these particles may be considered “foreign” by the body and the immune system may try to destroy them.
Thus, by this logic, leaky gut can be linked with a whole host of chronic diseases. It is not the only cause but, in many people, leaky gut isn’t detected, and they don’t know that they should be healing the gastrointestinal lining with probiotics and other nutritional supplements.
Probiotic bacteria favorably alter the intestinal microflora balance, inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, promote good digestion, boost immune function and increase resistance to infection. People with flourishing intestinal colonies of beneficial bacteria are better equipped to fight the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora by producing organic compounds—such as lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid—that increase the acidity of the intestine and inhibit the reproduction of many harmful bacteria. Probiotic bacteria also produce substances called acidophillin (produced by DDS-1 L. acidophilus) or bacteriocins, which act as natural Antibiotics .
Benefits from a Healthy Gut Lining
There are many benefits that accrue to people who free themselves from leaky gut. Allergies and food sensitivities are markedly reduced. Risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Arthritis also decrease, along with overall bodily inflammation.
There are even basic nutritional benefits. Repairing the intestinal damage caused by leaky gut syndrome can improve nutrient uptake. Leaky gut syndrome results in significant mineral deficiencies because the same inflammatory process that injures the mucosal lining damages carrier proteins. These carrier proteins are the means by which many of the essential minerals are absorbed.
In the September 2001 issue of Gastroenterology, researchers from the Division of Gastroenterology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, found that the probiotic compound VSL-3 improved gastrointestinal epithelial barrier function and resistance to salmonella invasion. Perhaps this effect is due to its impact on mucin secretion or probiotic immunomodulation of gut-associated lymphoid tissue.
And in Nutrition Today, researchers stated, “As a result of intestinal inflammation, a greater amount of antigens may traverse the mucosal barrier, thus becoming an important risk factor for the development of allergic disorders.” They noted lactobacilli and other probiotic microorganisms “help reinforce the barrier effect in the gut. The results of the studies in this article s how that the capabilities of such probiotics may introduce immunotherapy as a new approach for the early management of allergic diseases.”
Other researchers have stated, “Studies have shown probiotic bacteria have potential in the treatment of clinical conditions with altered gut mucosal barrier functions.”