Why are our bodies attacking themselves? Autoimmune disease part 2 (leaky gut)

Why are our bodies attacking themselves? Autoimmune disease part 2 (leaky gut)


H24LEANMACHINEJUN 5, 2018, 11:39:11 AM


If you haven't already check out the first installment in this autoimmune series giving a more detailed look into the fundamental aspects of autoimmune disease:


Briefly, the first post identified that chronic inflammation is the fundamental cause of the symptoms of autoimmune disease.  Inflammation is a start in the immune process of finding / fixing problems.

This article is going to go in detail into a particular cause of chronic inflammation which is extremely pertinent to autoimmune disease: leaky gut.

Leaky gut, by the way it sounds, is not a pleasant thing to have.  The name says it all.  The guts, or digestive tract, in particular the small intestine, are leaking.  But the real questions are what is getting leaked, and where is it leaking into?



courtesy of simplemedicine.co

Leaky gut is important because the research I have assembled over the last decade point to this as being ground zero for most autoimmune diseases.  That may seem like a broad sweeping statement, and it is, but understanding leaky gut yields common sense solutions for real people with real problems.

Why would your digestive tract start to leak?

Obviously, a normally operating digestive tract does not leak into the bloodstream.  It allows certain things to go through, but it does not have "leaks" just like you wouldn't want leaks in the plumbing in your house.  The digestive tract is meant to act as the first and most powerful line of defense against foreign invaders.

Today's diet is much different than it was even a few decades ago.  Chemicals in the food and water are at an all time high.  More medications are being consumed than ever before.  More plastics are being used, as well as all sorts of complex chemicals.  Many of these chemicals were meant to be beneficial, as in flame retardant bromines that reduce the incidence of fires with electronics.  There are also flame retardants in clothes and furniture.  Sure, it stops life-threatening home fires, and that's great.  But they are not meant to be ingested.  

A particular concern is pthalates which are present in many plastics.  Whether we like it or not, every time we touch and use plastic, tiny little pieces are getting on our skin, into our lungs, into our mouths and stomachs.  These tend to store in fat which is especially dangerous.

And of course, the laundry list of toxins in most foods that don't need to be explained here.

All of this takes a toll on the digestive tract over time.  

The second problem is that we don't consume enough things that help to heal and protect the digestive tract.  We don't eat enough veggies and raw fruits, herbal aloe, mushrooms and other things that sooth the digestive tract and keep it strong.

Simply put, most people are 1) deficient in the good things and 2) overloaded with the bad stuff.

There are specialized cells in the GI tract called "villi" which are essentially microscopic hairs that line the digestive tract.  This is one of the reasons the intestines are so insanely long compared to the chest cavity.  The surface area allows for maximum absorption of nutrients.  In fact, different parts of the guts absorb different nutrients.  For instance one area may absorb vitamin D better, while one is more efficient at extracting vitamin C, another b12, etc.

Blockages at these areas can cause nutritional deficiencies by blocking absorption, further adding to the distress.  A malnourished body is a diseased body.

So anyway, in between the villi are what are known as tight junction and this is where certain things are allowed through, directly into the bloodstream.  You could think of them as the airport customs of the body.  They decide what's getting in and what's getting out.  And these are VERY important areas, because if the wrong particle is allowed through...

And here's the crux of the whole thing.  The simplicity of it is mind-blowing.

We know from grade school that when foreign bodies enter the human body, they are flagged by the immune system and inserted into the "memory" of that system.  This is how vaccination (supposedly) works: once the body has identified a particle, then it can take care of the antigens later if the same thing happens again.  So with chicken pox, once you get it once, you don't get chicken pox again (although you could get shingles later).

So when we have literal wholes punched in the digestive tract, which at time can be only one cell thick, then this is like opening up the jail cells at a maximum security prison.  All these offenders are allowed into the streets where they can wreak havoc.  Think of the Batman movie where all the lunatics are released into Gotham suddenly.

So as a precise example of how this works we will use gout.  Gout is consistent with increased uric acid in the blood, which crystalizes in joints and causes all types of pain and inflammation.  Gout is an autoimmune disease.  But what causes it?  

Proteins are broken down into peptides which are broken down into amino acids which are crucial for the body.  With gout, partially digested peptides actually punch through into the blood stream.  Undigested food is not supposed to be in the blood stream!

The immune system goes on red alert.  The peptides congregate at joints, and the immune system attacks the joint.  This creates the inflammation.  Without changes to the diet and rejuvenation of the digestive tract, this inflammation is chronic; the hallmark of autoimmune disease!

So with gout the typical dietary guidelines are to avoid ultra-high protein diets.  But the real reason for this, is that the more protein consumed while the digestive tract is compromised, then the more chance that more proteins will go partially digested into the blood stream!

Gluten is a molecule that is implicated in autoimmune.  Why?  Because gluten tends to "glob up" and clog the walls of the digestive tract, triggering zonulin which pries open the gut walls, allowing, you guessed it, stuff into the bloodstream!

So leaky gut is the catalyst.  And without fixing that problem, more and more particles will go into the blood, where they can find different organs, including the skin, and wreak havoc.  Different particles do different things.  

One of the reasons autoimmune is so hard to diagnose is because there are literally tens of thousands, or more, different particles that could be getting into the bloodstream.  Heavy metals are another concern, as aluminum, fluoride, lead and and many others do real damage in the bloodstream.

The biggest takeaway here from my perspective is that we need to be particularly attentive to the health of our digestive tracts.  It really is the gatekeeper to the human body and it is under a vicious assault by the environment in the name of toxins and anti-nutrients, as well as bacteria, parasites and fungi.

The bulk of the immune system is in the digestive tract.  It really is the biggest line of defense.  Just imagine the damage that can be caused when the largest immune organ in the body is compromised, or worse poisoned!

In part 3 we finally get to the positives: What can we do to maximize digestive health, feel better, have more energy and stay disease free for life?

Benjamin Hetzel