The Moat Around Your Castle

Photo from user ukgardenphotos under Creative Commons licensing

Photo from user ukgardenphotos under Creative Commons licensing

Your one cell thick gut barrier is the wall, or moat, protecting your inside world from the outside world.  Consider that the inside of you is the castle, your territory, the you that moves and is in the world. This protective one cell layer acts as a gatekeeper.

The barrier is semi-permeable, meaning it selectively allows certain substances to come in like the nutrients, electrolytes and water, while maintaining an effective defense against toxins, antigens (foreign substances your body wants to attack) and microorganisms.  A healthy gut barrier consists of numerous villi, or fingerlike projections, in the small intestines which absorb nutrients for the body to function and maintains tight junctions, which act as a tight barrier between cells.  If this layer becomes compromised you can get into trouble fast.

When the barrier between you and the outside world becomes compromised, it is unable to break down food and allow nutrients to cross the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. This can lead to serious health consequences, like premature aging.

The immune protection that resides on the gut barrier is like a paint called “secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA),” an antibody which I did my doctoral studies on. This defensive antibody is the first line of protection for the gut barrier to thwart entrance into the body by any foreign bacteria, virus, parasite or fungus. It also protects against toxins such as heavy metals (mercury, lead, etc.) and unwanted chemicals like pesticides and herbicides.  Again, it is necessary for you to live a healthy life.

If the paint on your gut barrier is not present you will not absorb nutrients from your food that you need to survive.  The problem with not absorbing is suddenly you can feel old, haggard, worn out without any energy or drive.  It’s like you have wilted as an overexposed piece of lettuce—not too good! I don’t know about you, but I like my lettuce crisp.

My point in telling you all of this is that this common problem is absolutely preventable. For the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you three reasonable ways in which you can prevent your gut from coming under attack. Next week, we’ll discuss the first: a simple saliva test that will tell any doctor if your “paint” is all there.

To your health,

Dr. Dana


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