Last month I explained how an overgrowth of harmful gut flora can lead to allergies. Healthy gut flora maintains the integrity of the gut wall by protecting and nourishing the intestinal cells. But when pathogenic gut microbes take over, the intestinal barrier degenerates resulting in a “leaky” gut.
The integrity of the gut wall deteriorates because, if left unchecked, harmful intestinal microbes attack the intestinal barrier. In a recent article for the Weston A. Price Foundation, Dr. Campbell-McBride wrote that, “Microbiologists have observed how common opportunistic gut bacteria from the Spirochaetaceae and Spirillaceae families have an ability to push apart intestinal cells with their spiral shape, breaking down the integrity of the intestinal wall and allowing substances to pass through which normally should not get through.” Candida albicans, many worms and parasites can cause damage to the gut in the same way.
Depending on the extent of the damage to the intestinal lining, incompletely digested food particles, disease-causing bacteria, and potentially toxic molecules “leak” out of the intestine into the bloodstream, whereby they travel throughout the body. The body treats “leaked” undigested food particles as if they were a foreign invader and makes antibodies against them. This is how food allergies can develop. A vicious cycle then ensues. The next time you eat the particular “offending” food your immune system is triggered, and so on. This creates further irritation and inflammation in the body. People with leaky gut syndrome often develop sensitivities to more and more foods and “normal” things found in the environment such a trees and animals. In addition, when “leaked” bacteria travel throughout the body via the bloodstream, pathogenic intestinal bacteria may colonize in other parts of the body causing joint pain and autoimmunity conditions.
According to research noted in the book Hidden Food Allergies: The Essential Guide to Uncovering Hidden Food Allergies-and Achieving Permanent Relief, people with food allergies tend to have leaky gut barriers. The biggest difference between a food-allergic person and non-allergic person appears to be the amount of partially digested food that reaches their bloodstream and how efficiently their immune system clears the allergens from circulation.
Next month I’ll explain the best way to nourish your beneficial gut flora to prevent or reverse food allergies. Until then, make every bite count!