The only thing that separates your bloodstream from your entire digestive system is the lining that runs along the gut wall and stomach. Think of this healthy intestinal lining as a zipper barrier that selectively allows important nutrients to pass into your bloodstream. The gut microbiome (a beneficial bug that lives in you) is of the many things the body has to maintain this barrier.
If the intestinal barrier is damaged and unzips, toxins, harmful bacteria, and undigested food particles enter the bloodstream; otherwise known as leaky gut.
Multiple health conditions have been associated with a leaky gut including depression, dementia, celiac disease, and gluten sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, headaches, skin rashes, autoimmune disorders, and food allergies.
What causes a leaky gut? A study in 2017 showed that diets consisting of highly processed foods were associated with leaky gut and depressive symptoms.
Other culprits that can unzip the intestinal barrier include stress, antibiotics, environmental toxins, chemical pesticides, sugar, proteins in gluten, conventionally raised meats, and more. An imbalance in the immune system and increased inflammation also play a part in a leaky gut.