The latest research shows that “leaky gut syndrome” has been associated with many disorders and may be the focus from which autoimmune disorders originate. Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the intestinal mucosa is damaged and large food molecules, bacteria, and microorganisms pass across the intestinal wall to circulate through the body. Antibodies are made against these molecules. If the molecules look like normal body components, the antibody cannot distinguish between the two and may attack that body component (autoimmune reaction). This phenomenon can also occur with bacteria and certain drugs. Bacterial antigens have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, as well as parasites, can be harmful to the digestive system. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses can cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the digestive system often referred to as the stomach flu. They can also release toxins into the system, which result in leaky gut syndrome and cause autoimmune reactions if they enter the circulation. Viruses and bacteria such as Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, Pseudomonas, Chlamydia, and Yersinia enterocolitica have all been associated with Crohn’s disease. Parasites also liberate toxins and rob the body of essential nutrients.
An abnormal growth of organisms in the gut is known as dysbiosis. It occurs when pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms in the gut cause the normal flora to be imbalanced. Dysbiosis is a major factor in malabsorption, inflammatory bowel disease, and leaky gut syndrome.