What is a “Leaky Gut” ?

All disease begins in the gut. 
— Hippocrates

Anyone with an interest in nutrition and/or holistic medicine will come across the term “leaky gut”. But what is it and why is it important?

The gastrointestinal tract (MDK) is important to receive and digest food. But it is also the largest immune organ in our body and it has the largest surface area exposed to the outside world.

We want the gastrointestinal tract to absorb nutrients from the food that our we and our pets eat, but we also want it to keep toxins, pathogenic bacteria and antigens out. Does the MDK know what it can let in and what it has to keep out?

The answer lies in the protection of the gastrointestinal tract. It consists of four layers:

1. The first layer is the “glycocalyx”. This is a layer of mucus (mucus) that is produced by the goblet cells in the mucosa of the intestine.

2. The second layer is the good bacteria. These prevent an invasion of the pathogenic bacteria and in addition they produce useful enzymes and molecules.

3. The third layer is the “tight junctions”. These are located between the cells of the gastrointestinal tract so that no unwanted substances can pass through them.

4. The last layer is the immune system. Through a complex system, the immune system recognizes antigens, pathogens and toxins and prevents them from entering the body.

Leaky gut is the condition in which this barrier function of the MDK no longer works properly. If this barrier function does not work properly, antigens, pathogens and toxins can enter the body. This can lead to complaints of food intolerance or food allergy. But the substances that enter the body that should not normally be there also cause all kinds of inflammation. These inflammations are at the root of a lot of diseases. Some of them are: chronic intestinal inflammation, asthma, arthritis, skin inflammation, chronic fatigue, pancreatic inflammation, cancer, epilepsy, liver inflammation, autoimmune disorders etc.

What can cause a “leaky gut”?

There are many causes/factors that can cause a leaky gut. In most cases, damage to the tight junctions occurs.

A number of known causes are:


A number of foods are known to cause leaky gut. Among other things, ultra-processed food (such as kibble), sugars, foods with a lot of omega 6 acids and fried foods.

• Exposure to toxins

We and our pets are exposed to a lot of toxins every day. In the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, cleaning products and cosmetics we use. The more we can limit the amount of toxins, the better.

• Diseases and infections.


• Medications

There are many drugs that affect the gastrointestinal tract. To name two. Antacids can lead to colonization of pathogenic bacteria due to the change of acidity in the gastrointestinal tract. The increase in acidity in the stomach also makes it easier for pathogenic bacteria to survive and affects the digestion process.

Corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) result in reduced mucus production and thus cause reduced protection of the intestinal wall.

Holistische dierenarts. Acupunctuur, voedingsadvies en voedingstherapie voor honden en katten.

Hi, I am Anneke

On this blog I share information about acupuncture and nutrition for dogs and cats. New research, tips and recipes will also come along regularly. Have fun reading!
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