It’s not surprising when one sees nutritional deficiencies among those who cannot manage a square meal, but it surely is when one finds severe malnutrition among those who are well fed. Malnutrition with deficiencies of iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B12 seems to be a grave concern among those who eat adequately—even overweight and obese people.
The issue is certainly not the intake but the body’s inability to absorb or pick up these nutrients, also called mal-absorption. This is often associated with a condition called the leaky gut.
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Leaky gut is caused by intestinal inflammation, which leads to increased permeability of the intestinal lining. At times, the intestines can be so badly damaged that nutrient uptake slows down and mal-digestion of nutrients, including carbohydrates and proteins, leads to malnutrition and ill-health. Leaky gut is associated with chronic fatigue, foggy brain, neurological disorders, migraines, food intolerances, food allergies, lowered immunity and auto-immunity, skin problems like eczema, psoriasis and hyper-pigmentation, fibromyalgia (muscle pains, joint pains) and inflammatory bowel disease. Certain serious health maladies like celiac disease are also associated with increased gut permeability.
Some of the common causes are excessive alcohol, prolonged use of certain medicines especially non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antibiotics, chronic stress and chronic intestinal infections due to viruses, parasites, yeast or bacteria, mal-digestion or nutritional deficiencies. Depletion of beneficial bacteria and growth of potentially harmful bacteria, a situation termed as dysbiosis, increases the likelihood of leaky gut. Bacterial toxins (endo-toxins) and ingested toxic material can also injure the intestine, making it more porous.
Toxins may also find their way into the body and burden the immune system, compromising the immunity and increasing inflammation. Circulating immune complexes and toxic residues may trigger auto-immune reactions leading to auto-immune health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, vitiligo and lupus.
Treatment involves eliminating the underlying causes, improving diet, reducing alcohol consumption, limiting intake of sugar, processed food and trans-fatty acids and consuming antioxidant rich food, good fats (omega-3 fatty acids), prebiotics and pro-biotics. Supplements with specific nutrients is important to heal the leaky gut.
So, ensure you take good care of your gut as it can spell the difference between heath and disease.