Leaky gut can be a major issue for kids with autism. In fact, it may be the root cause for many of your child’s troublesome symptoms. I know from personal and professional experience how problematic leaky gut can be to our children’s health. It’s often one of the first things I look at with my patients because it can affect so many pieces of their overall health.
How Does Leaky Gut Affect Our Bodies?
- Our Immune System: About 80% of the immune system’s function originates in the gut. If the gut isn’t healthy as a result of a leaky gut then the immune system won’t react appropriately. Leaky gut can cause a person’s immune systems to go haywire and over or under react.
- Nutrient Absorption: The gut is responsible for a lot of nutrient and fluid absorption. The large intestine absorbs fluids and the small intestine absorbs nutrients. Leaky gut can affect both of these processes and if we’re not absorbing fluids and nutrients properly then your child’s body won’t function as intended.
What Does it Mean to Have a Leaky Gut?
There’s a mucosal layer in our gut that’s one cell thick. In a healthy gut, these cells are held together very tightly which forms a barrier. When there’s inflammation in the gut, this mucosal layer begins to separate and things that shouldn’t pass through do.
This separation of the mucosal layer can occur for a variety of reasons:
- Yeast or bacterial overgrowth
- Inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, gluten, leagues, processed foods, alcohol, sugar
- Food sensitivities
- Stress (including the lack of quality sleep)
- Low vitamin D levels
- Additives and chemicals in our foods
- Chemicals and toxins in our environment
A leaky gut can cause a variety of different issues:
- An autoimmune reaction: When our immune system isn’t working correctly autoimmunity can occur. This is when the body attacks itself.
- Food sensitivities: When food particles get into other parts of the body as a result of a leaky gut our immune system recognizes them as forgein and creates an immune response which can lead to food sensitivities and perpetuate the cycle.
- GI complaints: Leaky gut can cause GI or gut complaints like pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.
- A yeast overgrowth and bacteria imbalance: Without the mucosal layer serving as a barrier, our gut’s environment is not balanced for the proper organisms to grow. The result can be too much or too little yeast and bacteria.
Want to learn more about this complex topic? Check back for my comprehensive course coming in the next couple of months. And next week I’ll dive deep into what you can do to heal a leaky gut in your child.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as part of creating Your Autism Game Plan.
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