This post is a review of an article that examines the role of zonulin on leaky gut.
Leaky gut is a common issue and is seen in those with GI disorders of all kinds and is also a common denominator in countless other disease conditions. It is called “leaky gut” because the lining of the intestines that should be tightly woven (like a screen door) and are meant to have super tiny holes have larger holes instead. The tiny holes allow pre-digested nutrients to enter but not large particles of undigested food or pathogens. In a leaky gut condition, you end up with holes in the “screen door,” making it easier for intruders to enter into areas that they shouldn’t.
Referenced here is an article that talks about the role zonulin plays in intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability (often referred to as leaky gut), has been associated with many chronic inflammatory disease conditions including not only digestive related ones such as IBD (irritable bowel disease) but also a myriad of other conditions such as diabetes type 1, autism, metabolic disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and many others. Zonulin is a protein that appears to be a main cause of the holes created in the tight junctions of the intestines.
Zonulin is released from harmful bacteria in the gut as well as from gliadin. Gut pathogens are a common result of a poor-quality diet, high stress and many other environmental factors. Gliadin is a group of proteins found in wheat and some other grains. When zonulin comes in contact with the surface of the epithelial wall (the “screen”), gaps or holes and inflammation are the result.
This article spends much of its content describing the problem and how it impacts so many disease conditions rather than lots of information on what to do about it… However, there are a couple of important implications that are referenced. Improving the microbiome (see previous blog) and reducing gliadin (gluten) containing foods (see previous blog) will both prove helpful.
The most interesting part of this article is that fact that leaky gut is at the core of countless diseases. Due to the fact that the digestion and assimilation of nutrients is needed for proper health and that gut health implicates so many other issues, even conditions that don’t appear to have direct digestive links actually do have much to do with proper gut health.
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- Sturgeon C, Fasano A. Zonulin, a regulator of epithelial and endothelial barrier functions, and its involvement in chronic inflammatory diseases. Tissue Barriers. 2016. doi:10.1080/21688370.2016.1251384
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.