Introduction to Leaky Gut


gut lining

Most people are aware that cuts, burns and scratches in our external skin can be a port of entry for new infections. What many do not realize is that the mucous membranes form our "inner skin," and are designed to protect us from infections in the same way. They line the nose, sinuses, lungs and the entire gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, as well as the vagina in women.

Mucous membranes are vulnerable to invasion by opportunistic parasites, viruses, fungus, bacteria and other foreign antigens, when immune defenses are weak or out of balance. However, the most vulnerable of these are the mucous membranes of the digestive system. The gastrointestinal tract is the largest immune organ in the human body. 80% of our immune cells are along the GI tract during the digestive process to defend the body against invasion by pathogens and harmful substances. During digestion, CD4 helper cells and other white blood cells line the GI tract to survey the byproducts of digestion. It is an intelligent system that processes foreign matter, extracts what is useful, neutralizes toxins and expels waste.

Intestinal epithelium


The intestinal lining is selectively permeable, allowing into the body the nutrients it needs, while keeping out what is toxic. If the byproducts are not the size and shape that the body can use, the immune cells try to block their entry into the blood stream. Maintaining the integrity of these critical functions is vital for health and a long life.

A healthy gut is populated with many strains of beneficial bacteria. They live on the villus that cover the intestinal wall. Friendly bacteria have many job. They convert what you eat into something that your bloodstream can absorb, make substances we can't and maintain intestinal wall integrity. The beneficial bacteria have many enemies and their environment in the intestines is fragile.

Enemies to mucosal immunity

Mucosal immunity is compromised by the use of antibiotics, birth control pills and steroids, and by consuming large doses or quantities of aspirin, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. Other contributing factors are stress, a poor diet, processed foods, MSG, liquor, sugar, corn syrup, alcohol, preservatives, refined carbohydrates, mold inhibitors and the absence of soluble dietary fiber. Few studies have been done on the effects of single chemical compounds, like those included in pesticides and herbicides, or preservatives, mold inhibitors, artificial colors & flavors, and other food additives. NO studies have been done on the cumulative synergistic effects of the combination of these chemicals on the human body, but the results can be clearly seen in all the human guinea pigs who are consuming these chemical soups, which are GI tract irritants. Your immune system is too weak to do its job because low mucosal immunity is further assaulted by poor diet, and living a survival based, chronically stressful lifestyle and unhealthy habits.

Consuming preservatives daily is like taking antibiotics daily; both of which kill friendly flora in the intestines and disturb the delicate micro-biome balance. It is the job of these beneficial bacteria to convert the byproducts of digestion into nutrients that can be assimilated by the body. They also produce short chain fatty acids like lactic, acetic, butyric and others that are required for intestinal wall integrity and that also create an internal environment that is hostile to the bad wee-beasts that cause illness. You see, 90% of the cells in your body are not you. They are the micro-biome in your gut. Only 10% of the cells in your body are you, so that you are merely a "shell". You want to make sure that the majority of the microbes in you are of the beneficial type.

Once the population of friendly flora is out of balance or have died out, Candida Albicans (yeast) takes over and the walls of the intestines become permeable. This is the beginning of chronic disease and a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome, which is what happened to me.

When the human microbiota become deranged, with normally dominating beneficial species underrepresented and normally controlled harmful species increasing to fill the void in the gastrointestinal tract. This sequence of events is also known as Dysbiosis, Dysbacteriosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and/or small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO). The intestinal epithelium suffers malabsorption because the beneficial bacteria that are responsible for maintaining intestinal wall integrity are absent and malnutrition ensues. Atrophic changes in the intestinal epithelium occur due to a continued lack of nutrients to the intestinal wall and invasion by pathogens that penetrate the mucosa. Atrophy of the intestinal epithelium makes absorption of nutrients virtually impossible, which further aggravate malabsorption by the intestinal cells, and results in worsening of intestinal atrophy. This becomes a self-perpetuating condition known as Leaky gut syndrome.


Leaky Gut image of intestinal permiability

Leaky gut occurs when spaces develop between the epithelial cells of the intestine, allowing human waste, pathogens, heavy metals, and other toxic substances to pass through into the blood stream and general circulation. This very common problem occurs in a wide variety of clinical situations, because Leaky Gut is the beginning of disease. Hippocrates said, "Health and disease begins in the gut." This is what he meant. The importance of Leaky gut in the diagnosis of disease should not be taken lightly or dismissed, but the medical profession has been very slow to acknowledge its existence and doctors are ill-equipped to treat it. Leaky gut is always associated with chronic symptoms, breakdowns in the body, digestive problems, mental illness, a weak immune system, chronic illness and numerous disease conditions.

The liver is the major detoxifying organ of the human body. All products absorbed across the intestinal barrier must pass through the liver before entering the general circulation.
  • The first phase of liver detoxification converts some of the toxic load into substances that have free radical activity as well as carcinogenic properties.
  • The second phase of liver detoxification should then quickly metabolize this load of free radicals and carcinogens into inert conjugated products that are secreted into the bile, which then pass into the stool, and are excreted from the body.
When the reserve capacity of this system is exhausted, the toxic load presented to the liver exceeds its ability to metabolize free radicals and carcinogens before they overflow into the general circulation, where they cause damage to other organs. The body literally becomes a toxic waste dump.

The passage of many pathogens and harmful substances across the epithelial barrier into the internal environment triggers an immune response to this invasion by producing specific antibodies that are designed to neutralize foreign substances. This exhausts immune system nutrient supplies and sets the stage for possible autoimmune complications. If a pathogen or harmful substances has the same antigen molecule as a tissue in the body, the resulting antibody produced and directed against the foreign substance will not be able to distinguish between them, and will attack and destroy both. When the total antigenic load to the body is substantially increased for a prolonged period, it progresses into a “hyperimmune state”. Additionally, the antigen-antibody reaction occurring within the gut wall itself can create an inflammatory response that further aggravate Leaky gut, creating a vicious cycle that is self-perpetuating.

Dysbiosis further worsens Leaky gut when bacteria continually pass through the intestinal lining and induce an antigen-antibody reaction, which can further aggravates intestinal permeability, creating a vicious cycle.

Leaky gut is self-perpetuating when the lectins in biochemically incompatible foods and allergic foods stimulate an allergic reaction in the gut lining that produces inflammation and increased permeability.

Leaky gut is self-perpetuating when medications, preservatives, food additives, mold inhibitors and herbicides in the food supply, toxic heavy metals, a period of intense stress or chronic stress, excess sugar in the diet and/or eating nutritionally bankrupt foods damage or kill beneficial bacteria populations and challenge the immune system.

Leaky gut is self-perpetuating when an overflow of free radicals and carcinogens into the bile, forming “toxic bile,” which kills beneficial bacteria, causes further direct injury to the intestinal epithelium and increases intestinal permeability.

It is obvious that the presence of a Leaky gut, with its liver and immune repercussions, always creates chronic symptoms that are a warning from the body that there is something very, very wrong. The absence of clinical symptoms is an indication that the immune system is putting up a strong fight, but it can only resist for so long. Meanwhile, the body’s nutritional reserves are being depleted and eventually serious health consequences will surface later. If Leaky gut is not healed, the process will self sustain and continue to exhaust the hepatic, immune and gastrointestinal system’s nutritional reserves and clinical functions. It will not go away by itself.

To break this self-perpetuating, vicious cycle and reverse the process of disease, it is important to correct all of the underlying problems that caused the Leaky gut in first place, at the same time.

I believe
if a “healing strategy” doesn’t activate the life-force that is present in every cell in your body and
actually help the body heal, so it can do what it was designed to do,
then its not a healing strategy.
The goal is homeostasis, not symptom or disease management.
My approach awakens the body’s innate ability to regulate, balance and protect itself.


Once homeostasis is restored, it is critical not to resume the practices that caused Leaky gut and maintain healthy lifestyle and nutritional practices for the rest of your life. Otherwise, you will go back to where you were, in a hurry.

Leaky gut syndrome has been ignored or highly underrated in clinical medical practice. It is associated with chronic symptoms and a wide range of acute and chronic diseases.

Many in the healing profession create clients for life.
I want to restore the LIFE in my clients.
I want my clients to get to a place where they don’t need me anymore,
so I can help more people and not just the same people.


In my private practice, all the people who come to me are in one of the five stages of Leaky gut syndrome, regardless of their other symptoms or previous diagnosis. Because of the incredibly high incidence of chronic diseases today and the high frequency of Leaky gut syndrome in chronic diseases, it seems reasonable to assume that intestinal permeability is a common problem in all patients who visit any doctor, no matter what their specialty.

This is my specialty. Email
Johnna@wholefamilyhealthandnutrition.com to schedule your free introductory consultation. Lets talk about how I can help you.

Read "Leaky Gut Syndrome Is A Serious Condition", which explains the symptoms associated with the five stages of Leaky Gut.