A leaky gut may be the root of some cancers forming in the rest of the body! This is according to research looking at a tumor-suppressor hormone receptor that lives in the lining of the intestines. When this hormone receptor is suppressed the lining weakens, allowing inflammation and cancer-causing agents to travel into the body, resulting in damaged DNA and cancer formation outside the intestine. I believe this hormone receptor is only one of many reasons why leaky gut could be setting the stage for cancer to take shape in your body. Digestion is critical to health. Even Hippocrates (the father of medicine) said “All disease begins in the gut”. When digestion is optimal we receive improved nourishment, a more balanced immune system, and stronger protection against pathogens that can cause inflammation and increase the risk of many chronic diseases. When the gut is compromised, this barrier weakens, and over time starts to allow pathogens to cross over from the gut and into your bloodstream. This is what is known as a “Leaky Gut”.
What is Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut has been the subject of more than 11,000 medical and scientific studies addressing a variety of ailments. Leaky Gut is also known as Intestinal Permeability. It’s a condition where the tight junctions between your colon cells become “leaky” and allow substances to pass through the lining of the wall and into your bloodstream. These substances could include undigested food particles, toxins, bacteria, yeast, or parasites, which will then circulate throughout the body resulting in a chronic inflammatory immune reaction. Once the inflammation spreads from your gut into the rest of your body a host of symptoms can appear. From my experience how it represents itself is different for every person. It could be in the form of chronic achiness or pain, skin issues, headaches, allergies, food sensitivities, IBS, or even autoimmune challenges. Eventually though this condition of chronic imbalance and stress can lead to cancer growth and spread.
Causes of Leaky Gut
There are many things that can contribute to a leaky gut. Essentially anything that irritates the intestinal lining and/or disrupts the balance of microbes in your gut. Poor Diet: Eating processed foods containing additives, colorings, preservatives, and other chemicals that have been shown to damage the lining as well as kill off the good bacteria in your gut. Furthermore when you add in high quantities of sugar, refined flour, and fried foods you will cause even more damage. Pesticides & GMOs: Research suggests that the chemicals found in pesticides and herbicides, as well as GMOs, can also disrupt the microbiome, damage the intestinal lining, and increase the incidence of leaky gut. Medications: History of antibiotic use is a very common cause of leaky gut. The antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad and thoroughly disrupt the microbiome. On top of this, other medications like pain killers, birth control pills, antacids, and others will also disrupt the microbiome leading to a situation where harmful microbes can begin to dominate and the mucosal barrier along the lining of the gut begins to weaken. Food Allergies: Undiagnosed Celiac Disease is another culprit of leaky gut as the gluten gradually breaks down the gut lining and increases inflammation. Infections: An overgrowth of yeast, parasites,or bacteria in the gut cause a disruption in the microbiome and secrete chemical by-products that also weaken the mucosal layer of the lining. Chronic Stress: We can’t overlook the effect stress has on changing the microbiome and contributing to a systemic wide condition of chronic inflammation.
In addition to the common lifestyle factors listed above, another big influencer on the gut are cancer therapies; chemotherapy and radiation specifically. If you are currently undergoing treatment with one of these therapies or have recently completed treatment, then you know very well the toll it takes on your gut. One of the reasons digestive side effects are so common during treatment is because of the impact these therapies have on the microbiome and intestinal lining of the gut. Several studies (study, study) have shown chemotherapy’s ability to alter the microbiome and increase permeability. Radiation directed to the abdominal area (study) is also going to cause irritation, inflammation, and weakening of the intestinal lining of the gut. Taking steps to both minimize damage to your gut during treatment as well as repairing your gut following treatment are essential pieces to a cancer recovery protocol. It is also a critical piece to reducing your risk for recurrence.
Leaky Gut & The Immune System
Your immune system is constantly on guard protecting you from all sorts of intruders and pathogens. It also has an incredibly important role to find and eliminate cells which have become mutated and cancerous. When the gut is “leaky” two things happen. First, the immune system is now continually being triggered to react to the array of pathogens and toxins entering the bloodstream; possibly being distracted away from the clump of cancerous cells that are beginning to grow and multiply in another area of your body. Also, the toxins that make their way through the body could be entering cells, causing mutations, and ultimately contributing to the development of cancer. You see the problem! The immune system becomes stressed and overworked. Although your body can handle this extra load from time to time, when it’s a constant state of affairs, systems begin to break down. Over time the immune system becomes less effective, the body becomes more toxic and inflamed, and the stage is set for cancer to thrive.
4 Steps To Heal A Leaky Gut
The first step in any healing, immune boosting protocol is to resolve leaky gut and balance the microbiome. This will allow the immune system to re-balance and better seek out and remove cancer cells when they pop up. Here are the steps you can take to begin the process of healing:
Remove foods and substances that harm the gut (refer to the list above).
Repair the lining of the gut with specific nutrients, herbs, & supplements. This usually requires a personalized protocol but one herbal product you can start adding now that supports the lining of the gut is Throat Coat Tea from Traditional Medicinals.
Rebalance the microbiome with probiotics and naturally fermented foods.
Take Home Message
The health of your gut directly impacts your risk for disease. When the lining of the gut becomes damaged and leaky, all sorts of pathogenic products make their way into the bloodstream. This sets the stage for chronic inflammation, an overburdened immune system, and ultimately cancer. You can take steps right now to remove the causes of leaky gut and begin the process of repair. Start by taking an inventory of what factors may be causing your gut to “leak”. With this awareness you are then able to make a change for the better. Reach out to me directly if you’re concerned that a leaky gut may be impacting your health. If you’re currently going through cancer treatment, or recently finished, then let’s connect and map out how a leaky gut protocol will enhance your cancer recovery plan. For more articles and inspiration like this one, delivered straight to your Inbox every week, Join The Tribe.