You may be wondering, what on earth could my GUT have to do with my incessant sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and skin rashes? What could my GUT have to do with my over-reaction to dust mites, pollen, animal dander and other seemingly harmless things?
This is the very question I had when it was first suggested to me by a holistic practitioner back around 2006, that my leaky gut was behind all the misery. But at the time, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept that what she called a “leaky gut” could have anything AT ALL to do with all the misery and suffering caused by my allergies.
It seemed too far-fetched to me at the time (and honestly her explanation was a bit vague and unconvincing). Unfortunately I held onto the belief that my allergies were just due to my genetics for several more years. And I continued to live in misery.
Turns out, I was wrong. And it took a two-year autoimmune attack on my respiratory system – after the problems that were leading to my miserable allergy symptoms got so bad that my immune system went rogue – for me to finally take a closer look at the gut thing.
YOUR GUT: THE FOUNDATION OF ALL HEALTH
Did you know that allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States? People who suffer from them often believe that they won the bad genetics lottery when it comes to all the misery that comes along for the ride with seasonal and environmental allergies.
But what if I told you that your genetic predisposal to allergies is only a TINY piece of the puzzle, and one that YOU have direct control over?
Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, said about 2500 years ago, that all disease begins in the gut. The dude was on to something.
Our gut, comprised of the small and large intestines, is part of a long tunnel that winds through our bodies. It’s the only part of our body that is inside our body AND exposed to the outside world. And it is beautifully and intricately designed.
There is so much magic happening in your gut at every moment of the day, and the integrity of it has the most profound impact on your overall health.
Your Microbiome – The Life That Makes or Breaks You
Your microbiome, composed of trillions of microorganisms living in your gut, is working hard for you every day. It:
- Protects you from dangerous microorganisms.
- Establishes your immune system.
- Keeps your gut lining nice and strong.
- Aids in digestion & creating vitamins and enzymes.
- Regulates your metabolism and blood sugar.
- Manages hormones.
- Manufactures neurotransmitters → influences your brain chemistry.
- Helps you to eliminate toxins.
A dysbiosis happens when an imbalance occurs between the friendly microorganisms of our microbiome and pathogenic microorganisms. This can be brought on by a variety of assaults on the friendly inhabitants of our gut, including:
- Bad diet (gluten, chemically laden processed foods, non-organic foods, inflammatory industrial seed oils, high sugar, etc)
- Antibiotics and other medications
- Heavy metals
- Chronic stress
Gut dysbiosis is a major contributing factor to inflammation in the gut, and leaky gut, which I’ll explain below.
Let’s Talk Digestion
Digestion actually begins in your mouth where ingested food first comes into contact with digestive enzymes in your saliva. There are two main purposes of the digestive system:
- To pull essential nutrients out of the foods you eat to be used by the body, and;
- To filter out toxins, harmful microorganisms, and other irritants to prevent absorption into the bloodstream, where they could run rogue and cause trouble.
The lining of your gut, known as the intestinal barrier, plays a critical role in this process. This lining, which is only one cell-layer thick, has many jobs, but perhaps the two most important are;
- To shuttle essential nutrients and fluids across the intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream where they can be transported and used throughout the body, and;
- Providing a protective barrier between harmful substances such as toxins, allergens, harmful microorganisms, undigested food particles, etc from the outside world and your bloodstream and vital organs.
😳 Holy Toledo!
So it’s safe to say that you’d be wise to want to keep that sucker intact! Unfortunately, in our modern world, we are placing an unprecedented number of assaults on our guts and our microbiomes. These continuous assaults eventually overwhelm the body’s natural defense mechanisms, leading to a condition called leaky gut (or intestinal permeability).
How Your Gut Gets Leaky
The cells lining the gut, creating the intestinal barrier, are held together tightly by something called tight junctions. The design is beautiful, allowing only the smallest essential particles through the tight junctions into the bloodstream, and keeping larger unwanted particles and toxins out.
When your gut is exposed to various assaults, such as harmful microorganisms, toxins (including medications), harmful foods such as gluten and inflammatory processed foods, and even stress, a protein called zonulin is released in the small intestine.
Zonulin tells the tight junctions to open and close.
When your gut is under constant assault from a wide range of assailants, as is common in our world today, the gut becomes chronically inflamed and zonulin is constantly being released. This causes the tight junctions in your gut to be wide open. And, drumroll please…a leaky gut!
A Leaky Gut. So What?
Remember that the purpose of the intestinal wall is to provide a protective barrier between the outside world and the bloodstream and vital organs. When the gut becomes leaky, foreign substances sneak through into the bloodstream, where the immune system goes on red alert and stays heightened, leading to a state of chronic systemic inflammation in the body.
And what happens next? Symptoms. And the development of chronic issues such as allergies and asthma, and even autoimmune conditions and cancers. As Dr Tom O’Bryan explains in his book, The Autoimmune Fix, the development of specific conditions and symptoms depends on an individual’s genetic weak link. One person may develop chronic migraines, another may develop an autoimmune condition such as multiple sclerosis or Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, another may develop cancer, while another may develop allergies and asthma.
Sure, there is a genetic component to many of these conditions. However, research has shown that fewer than 10 percent of those with the gene for a particular condition actually develops it. Why do some develop these conditions? Simply put, environment, lifestyle, and personal history.
So, what on earth could your GUT have to do with your incessant sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and skin rashes? The short answer, everything.
MYTH: Your allergies are determined by your genetics.
FACT: Your genetics have FAR LESS influence over your health than you’ve been led to believe. The decisions you make every single day have enormous impact on your state of health. The foods you eat, the relationships you keep, your sleep habits, the products you use around your house and on your body, the medications you take, and your stress levels all make the difference between illness and health.
This is why I address gut function with all of my 1:1 clients as a foundational part of our work together, and why I use functional lab tests that help to uncover hidden infections and assess overall gastrointestinal health.
When the gut repairs, chronic symptoms that once seemed only manageable with medications and other treatments, begin to disappear. Like magic!
Over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and the annual cost of allergies exceeds $18 billion. For a problem that is fixable.
By investigating and identifying the root causes of your allergies, I can help you understand and guide you on the steps you can take to eliminate them.
You don’t have to suffer any longer.
Ready to find long-term relief from your miserable allergies and asthma? Want to find out how I live free from allergies & asthma — without medications or injections — after suffering from nuclear-level symptoms for over two decades? Schedule a COMPLIMENTARY call with me to learn more.
Alessio Fasano and T. Shea-Donohue, “Mechanisms of Disease: The Role of Intestinal Barrier Function in the Pathogenesis of Gastrointestinal Autoimmune Diseases,” Nature Clinical Practice: Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2, no. 4 (Sep 2005): 416-22
Dr Tom O’Bryan, The Autoimmune Fix, 2016
Camilleri, M., et al. “Intestinal barrier function in health and gastrointestinal disease.” Neurogastroenterol Motil. (June 2012): 503-12
Dr Josh Axe, Eat Dirt, 2016
Datis Kharrazian, PhD, “Unwinding Leaky Gut.” 2017