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What is a leaky gut?
With a surface area of up to 400-500 square meters and a length of nearly eight meters, the intestine is our largest organ with the largest area of contact with the environment. Our intestine is similar to the brain in that millions of neurons run through the intestine. On the one hand, our colon must be so permeable that useful nutrients are absorbed but on the other hand, it must protect our body against pathogens and toxins.
This involves the following organs:
- Intestinal flora
- intestinal mucosal cells
- Intestines own immune system
A healthy intestinal flora consists of about 400 different strains of bacteria that cover our mucous membranes and protect them so that they recognize pathogens and toxins and render them harmless. The cells of the intestinal mucosa serve as mechanical protection. The gut’s immune system is located in the cell layer, which is next to the mucosa. It is here where most immune cells are found in our body.
Several factors can cause the intestinal flora and the intestinal mucosa to change and make the intestine more permeable. When this occurs it is known as "leaky gut". Instead of just the useful nutrients being absorbed into the body, harmful toxins and metabolites penetrate the damaged intestinal mucosa and cause various problems such
as; food intolerances, bloating, abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhea, allergies, depression, etc. Nutrients are not properly absorbed causing deficiencies to occur.
How is a ‘Leaky Gut’ formed?
Pathogens (eg, fungi, viruses), antibiotics, malnutrition, radiation therapy and surgery, damage our intestinal flora, which is supposed to protect us and our mucosa from such harmful factors.
If this protective function becomes damaged then pathogens and toxins damage the cells of the intestinal mucosa and the intestinal lining becomes more permeable. This allows harmful substances and not properly digested food ingredients to enter our body. In our immune system they build an immunity to such substances as they are seen as foreign and harmful. This is how, for example, food intolerances are caused. Consequently, the intestine's immune system gradually weakens with time.
The protective function of the intestine can be measured by means of a stool sample. For this, the intestinal flora, fungi, the pH of the intestine, defence bodies produced by the intestine (secretory IgA) and defence processes (alpha-1-anti-trypsin) are measured in the stool sample. For the determination of all parameters a simple stool sample is sufficient. A free mouth swab to test for Candida is also included. Both samples can be easily taken at home.