The gut is lined with what are called Intestinal Epithelial Cells. The tube that forms our intestinal tract is not smooth walled but has millions of tiny “fingers” that reach out into it called “Villi”. Here’s what that looks like.
The cells that cover these fingers are connected to each other by protein groups that are kind of like ropes that hold the cells close to each other to prevent big chemicals like non human proteins in the food we eat or bacteria from getting through the barrier to where they could come into contact with the immune system. These ropes are called “tight junctions”. Unfortunately several things can cause the ropes to become “stretchy” loosening the junctions between the cells. When this happens big chemicals in the food we have eaten can sneak through the gap and contact our immune system. Here are some of the things that can trigger the gut to become leaky: Chemicals found in many plants called zonulins (especially high in wheat), bad gut bacteria, viral infections, high blood glucose and the use of anti-inflammatory medicines like Aspirin, Ibuprofen or
Our immune system becomes very angry when these foreign proteins make it past this barrier because they might be invading germs or poisons. It begins a strong defense which involves high levels of what we call inflammation. Inflammation is characterized by swelling, pain, redness, warmth and the production of pus which is simply the large accumulation of white blood cells called to fight the invader.
Another thing the immune system does when it comes into contact with foreign proteins and chemicals that get through a leaky gut is is to form antibodies against them. That means when you eat them again if any leak through the gut tight junctions the immune system becomes activated and cause inflammation of the gut and many of the inflammation causing substances produced by the immune system get into the bloodstream and circulate around the body setting off echoing inflammation throughout the body which can worsen inflammatory conditions like the inflammation from high blood sugar levels that leads to heart disease or the inflammation in joints that lead to arthritis.
But the biggest danger comes from the fact that many of the plant proteins that get through are similar enough to human proteins that the antibodies that get formed not only attack the protein that they were made against but also a person’s own proteins leading to diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Lupus, Psoriasis and many others.
The good news is that the Intestinal epithelial cells that form the gut lining can quickly heal sealing this barrier. In fact the entire epithelial cell lining of our gut is replaced every 4-5 days by new cells that grow up from the base of the villi just like the top layer of our skin is completely replaced every 3 weeks. Another piece of good news is that an all meat diet contains none of the Zonulins that cause the tight junctions to loosen up and become leaky, generates very little inflammation and also prevents the blood sugar from going high which is another source of leaky gut. In fact in Hungary researcher, Dr. Zsofia Clemens has been reversing autoimmune conditions with an all meat diet for over 5 years including Type 1 diabetes if caught early enough. Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Clemens about this work.
Autoimmune diseases cannot be completely cured but they can be put into remission. Here’s how that works. The disease started when the body first encountered the foreign protein that triggered it to make the antibody that also reacts against some protein normal and necessary to the human body. Once the body makes an antibody to a foreign body it never forgets how to make it. However as the concentration of the triggering protein drops, the amount of antibodies against it also drop dramatically and can reach very low levels that do very little damage to human protein in question. Most autoimmune diseases follow a typical course with flares which are often followed by periods with decreased symptoms as levels of the offending antibody increase and decrease. The way eating a diet devoid of plants can prevent leaky gut and thus the symptoms of the autoimmune disease is that the immune system stops encountering the stimulating plant protein and the symptoms go away and stay away. I know if someone I loved developed an autoimmune condition I would try my best to convince them to follow and all meat diet.