I’ve explained what happens in a healthy gut . Now it’s time to discuss what happens when our microbial gut lining is damaged. The microbial lining of our gut performs so many important functions that when it is damaged there is a lot that can go wrong.
- Without protection from the microbial lining the walls of the gut are open to attack from anything that comes along e.g viruses, funguses, bacteria, parasites, toxins.
- These “invaders” can then enter gut cells and cause inflammation of the gut wall, leading to diarrhoea or constipation.
- The gut wall becomes malnourished because the “good” bacteria are no longer present to digest food for the gut lining.
- The gut cell renewal process becomes slower, the new cells that are produced tend to be less healthy and without protection from the bacterial lining they become abnormal.
- The gut becomes unable to digest and absorb food properly, leading to mal-absorption, nutritional deficiencies and food intolerances.
- Fibre (which in a healthy gut is beneficial) is not broken down by the good bacteria and provides a habitat for pathogenic bacteria and aggravates inflammation in the gut wall.
- The immune system is compromised. In people with damaged gut flora there are less lymphocytes (immune system cells).
- Our gut becomes “leaky” and unscreened molecules can enter the bloodstream, travel around our body and cause damage and symptoms in other organs. There is a good explanation of leaky gut and how it affects us here, I especially like the diagrams. In a nutshell it can affect the liver, the immune system, cause inflammation (leading to pain), brain fog, lowered immune system and more.
In summary the damaged gut lining does not just affect our digestion, but can cause lots of other problems all round the body. Once again thank you to Dr Natasha Campbell-Mcbride for her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which helped me to understand what happens in our gut.