The National Institutes of Health, (NIH) estimates that over 23 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and more than 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified (The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) many you may not relate to intestinal health.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Schizophrenia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Just to name a few.

In the last post, we learned about the gut microbiome and how everything you eat, EVERYTHING, affects and changes your microbiome each time and daily, but certain bacteria attained at birth and throughout you youth remain.

damaged intestinal wall - leaky gutLeaky what?

Breakdown of food starts by chewing. Small pieces enter the stomach where stomach acids break it down further until it turns to mostly liquid. ON it’s way to the small intestine, your pancreas adds digestive enzymes.  The small intestine is some 20 feet long as you may imagine it takes a while to move through.

During this time the now micromolecules of amino acids “seep” between the cells of the inner intestinal wall and into the bloodstream where nutrients are carried to every cell in your body.

As long as your gut microbiome is balanced (symbiosis) the lining is healthy, and you’re eating the right foods the nutrients extracted during this process work to build a healthy immune system.  When the lining is not healthy, as with Leaky Gut, this same process can lead to autoimmune disease.

It ain’t your grandparents’ food!

What you eat is extremely important for a healthy body AND intestinal lining.

Foods today are not the same as our grandparents and great-grandparents food, even though we eat the same things. Some of our foods have been genetically modified to withstand herbicides and sprayed with pesticides. Milk, meats, and eggs have antibiotics and growth hormones in them.

Our grandparents didn’t have boxed foods, fast foods, processed foods like our grocery stores are full of. They made their food from fresh ingredients.

The worst food for gut health is wheat. Wheat has been gene-spliced with the herbicide, glyphosate, so crops can be sprayed with glyphosate and not die. Great for crop yield but not for your gut bacteria.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup the most used herbicide in the world. In fact, seed sold by Monsanto and used by the vast majority of large-scale wheat farming is called Roundup Ready Seed.

Glyphosate was discovered to be an herbicide by Monsanto in 1970 and was patented and marketed as Roundup in 1974.  However, in 2015 The World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen. (1)

Monsanto also found that glyphosate acts as an antibiotic by blocking the production of certain amino acids in bacteria, and the bacteria will die or quit reproducing. (2)

Are you getting the connection here?

At least one study finds a correlation between glyphosate and antibiotic resistance. It seems that bacteria develop resistance up to 100K times faster when exposed to Roundup. (3)

What the heck causes leaky gut?

The primary causes of leaky gut are the consumption of wheat, the consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and excessive alcohol consumption.

 As Dr. Tom O’Bryan ( explains some tissue reproduces very quickly. Intestinal tissue is reproduced about every 3 to 5 days. Wheat, or rather gluten in wheat causes the tight junctions between cells to expand or tear, which allows macroparticles of food that are usually too large to pass, through these junctions.

You may eat wheat for many years with no problem. You eat toast for breakfast, the tissue tears and regenerates. A sandwich for lunch the tissue tears, then tissue regenerates. Salad with croutons for dinner, the tissue tears and regenerates. Until one day the tissue doesn’t regenerate. Now you have leaky gut and the gateway to autoimmune disease.

healthy intestinal wall to leaky gut to inflammationLeaky Gut and inflammation.

Inflammation or rather the process of inflammation is an important part of wound healing. When you slice your finger while preparing food, or any type of wound, including surgical incision, the cells in your blood, the white cells or immune cells, race to the wound site. Two of the immune cells called neutrophils and macrophages come to “seek and destroy” foreign substances such as bacteria from the knife and destroy them before they can cause infection. The area becomes red and hot. Inflamed.

During the process of nutrient absorption when macromolecules pass through the damaged junctions these same white blood cells see these macroparticles as foreign and seek to destroy initiating an immune response. Inflammation. When this process is initiated over and over, it’s chronic inflammation.

Infections attack us from the outside —autoimmunity is when we attack ourselves from within.

chronic inflammation, the fire insideChronic inflammation and autoimmune disease.

As the immune cells are destroying the” foreign” molecules they are creating antibodies to the foreigners, much like is the process of fighting off a virus, the immune cells form antibodies to the virus and you now are immune to that particular virus.

Molecular mimicry is when a macromolecule of food resembles a tissue in your body close enough for the immune cells to mistake it for the same. For example, a macromolecule of beef may resemble thyroid tissue closely enough that the immune cells see your thyroid tissue as foreign and begins attacking it. If you’re lucky you may just get an allergy to beef. Or you may get Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis an autoimmune disease of low thyroid hormones.  As hypothyroidism progresses, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • tiredness
  • weight gain
  • trouble tolerating cold
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation
  • dry, thinning hair
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods and problems becoming pregnant
  • depression
  • memory problems
  • a slowed heart rate

As you continue to eat the foods that tear your gut lining, and immune cells continue to seek and destroy becoming hyperactive, you now have chronic systemic inflammation. Chronic systemic inflammation has recently been found to incite nearly every form of chronic autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and multiple sclerosis, even Alzheimer’s.

Inflammation also plays an important role in the most common causes of death worldwide, including atherosclerosis, cancer, and chronic obstructive lung disease.

The trilogy leading to autoimmune disease

Everyone eats wheat so why doesn’t everyone have an autoimmune disease? Dr. Alessio Fasano dubbed three situations key to the development of autoimmune disease.

  1. Genetics, or a predisposition to a specific disease. You have no control of this.
  2. An environmental factor such as wheat gluten and celiac disease.
  3. Intestinal permeability, leaky gut.

An example. Approximately 30 percent of the population has the genetic predisposition for Celiac Disease but maybe 1-2% develop it. Everyone eats wheat, if their intestinal lining is healthy and intact, no problem, if they also have leaky gut they can develop Celiac Disease.

You have no control of your genetics. You DO however have control of what you eat. Again, according to Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian, all autoimmune disease link back to the microbiome.

At least 70% of your immune system is in the gut. This is where all the action is. If you ingest foods that you cannot tolerate, they tear your gut lining and cause permeability. Poor microbial balance or dysbiosis can accelerate this.

The food you eat is not the only factor in gut health, also medications and stress can throw the microbiome into dysbiosis.

If you are dealing with symptoms of leaky gut such as gas, bloating and abdominal pain several hours after eating you must ask yourself,

  • What am I eating
  • What medications have I taken throughout my life
  • Did I have a major stressful event, major surgery
  • Interpersonal stress, the death of a loved one
  • Or trauma, major car crash, an assault

Research has found that stress actually causes certain pathogenic, disease creating, bacteria to grow more.

So you think you may have leaky gut, now what?

 You will probably go to see your doctor who practices conventional medicine. Most conventional doctors do not have the time to read all the new literature with current studies to be up to date on these new findings. They’re just too busy seeing patients.

Considering the control the insurance industry has over every aspect of medical care, most doctors must schedule 15-minute office visits because that is what insurance companies reimburse them for.

15 minutes is just not enough time. When the doctor sits there and doesn’t connect with you, the person, he is looking for a symptom to treat. He is looking for a pill to treat the ill and that doesn’t work for chronic disease. It may stop or cover the symptom but doesn’t address the cause.

The new paradigm in medicine

Functional Medical Practitioners, as we learned in this post, are not so closely tied to the insurance industry that they are able to spend much more time with a patient to get to know the individual. The whole you. A more “wholistic” approach if you will.

Dr Mark Hyman heads the Institute for Functional Medicine and he says that:

“…often people might not have digestive symptoms. Sometimes they do, and I always connect the dots.

If someone has inflammation, the likelihood is it’s coming from their

gut, and so, if someone has an inflammatory disease … And we know that almost every

chronic disease is inflammatory. Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia,

depression, autism, Alzheimer’s, these are all inflammatory problems. When anybody

has an inflammatory problem, my first thought is always, ‘What’s happening in the gut?’”


“We remove the things that are creating a problem, and then we replace the things

that are missing. If there’s digestive enzymes needed, or other support, prebiotics.

We give probiotics, just to re-inoculate and support the gut, and then we use various

nutrients to repair the gut, which is things like glutamine and zinc, fish oil, vitamin A,

curcumin, quercetin. These are just nutrients that the gut needs to actually repair

and heal, so we put that all together in a therapeutic program, regardless of what the

disease is. If it’s rheumatoid arthritis, if it’s autism, if it’s psoriasis, if it’s depression,

often will get better by simply fixing those things.”

— Mark Hyman

You can see by Dr. Hymans comments that gut health is probably the single most important thing you can control for your health. Well, along with getting enough exercise and sleep.

 What you learned.

  •  Intestinal permeability, leaky gut, tears in your intestinal lining
  • Tears allow macromolecules to enter the bloodstream initiating an immune response
  • Your immune system is your bodies defense against disease
  • Autoimmune is your body “fighting” itself
  • Your microbiome controls your immune system, produces vitamins and amino acids to keep you healthy
  • A balanced microbiome equals a stronger immune system
  • What you eat, your environment and how you live directly affects your microbiome


 What can you do to keep your gut healthy?

 You may not have control over your genetics, but you do have control over your lifestyle.

  • Stay away from prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (there’s a list at the bottom of this post) and antibiotics
  • Eat fresh organic food not boxed highly processed food
  • Avoid meat unless its grass fed free roaming hormone and antibiotic free
  • Limit dairy. Find organic hormone-free milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Reduce stress, I know easier said than done
  • Get at least 7 hours of restful sleep each night

What happens when your gut bacteria run amok?

We’ll talk about that next time so be sure to sign up so you will be notified when we post the next article. 

List of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (Nsaids)

  • aspirin
  • celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Zipsor, Zorvolex)
  • diflunisal (Dolobid – discontinued brand)
  • etodolac (Lodine – discontinued brand)
  • ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • indomethacin (Indocin) aspirin
  • celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Zipsor, Zorvolex)
  • diflunisal (Dolobid – discontinued brand)
  • etodolac (Lodine – discontinued brand)
  • ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • indomethacin (Indocin)




Until next time


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Child of the '70's - passionate about natural health for people and pets, Baby Boomer health, herbs and oils, green living, vegetarian, treehugger.