There is another amazing biological reality in your body to ensure you are safe and secure and your health can prosper. Tight junctions between the cells that line the small intestines are a necessary protection against the outside world becoming a part of your inside world. I call the protein that holds the cells together a type of glue because when the cells do not adhere to one another the gut lining can become permeable or open. The glue that binds cells to cells at the gut barrier is called Zonulin.
Zonulin is a protein in your body when over produced signals channels to open at the gut barrier allowing large molecules to pass directly into the blood stream. On some level it is like the Panama Channel in your gut but in multiple locations which should never occur.
When the gut barrier becomes “leaky” allergies can develop to foods and autoimmune conditions can develop over time like celiac disease, insulin dependent diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The long term results are inflammation that can occur at the gut lining and/or at a distant site. Both neurological disorders and cancer are also a result of high Zonulin levels.
The top reasons why high levels of Zonulin can occur are:
- Overgrowth of unwanted organisms, for example parasites in the intestine
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) so an imbalance of good/bad bacteria
- Fungal over growth or Candidia overgrowth
- Allergic reaction to gluten containing foods (Gliadin in the diet)
Repairing the damage and refurbishing the gut barrier is the job of a clinician in tandem with you the patient. The actions your clinician will take will be based on your test results, your history, lifestyle and dietary habits and how your current state of health is today.
Identifying the offending organisms will be of great value. If there is an unwanted parasite a remedy will be put in place to treat that critter. If bacterial overgrowth is present a probiotic/prebiotic will be used to repopulate your gut with good flora. If an overgrowth of fungus is present an antifungal will be given whether pharmaceutical or herbal. Lastly, if you have a food sensitivity or allergy to gluten containing foods elimination of this food will be highly recommended.
Zonulin is a simple serum or blood test. This will have to be drawn and submitted to a unique lab that specializes in this gut marker. Your clinician needs an account with the lab as well. Traditional doctors routinely do not know about this marker and do not have an account with this specialized lab unless they do functional or integrative medicine.
You may have to educate him or her about this marker and its value to understanding your health challenges more comprehensively. I will continue to encourage you to become your own health advocate and at some level your own doctor.
To your health,
Remnant Health Center