One of the most commonly asked questions among IBS, Crohn’s & Colitis patients is “Why can’t I eat anything without feeling sick?” Typically when people are intolerant to may foods they will direct their attention to the “what” question. “What can I eat? What will calm down the reaction? What do I take to settle my stomach?” Answering the “what” question will lead to many “solutions” but will not uncover the underlying cause. “What” solutions are many: restrict your diet, take pills and acid blockers, get tested for food allergies. Or, you can start asking Why you can’t eat anything without feeling sick.
By asking why you can’t eat anything without feeling sick , you are seeking the root cause of your condition, not just a resolution to the effects or symptoms from your condition. Although there are other possible reasons you may be reacting to everything you eat, one of the most common causes is a condition called Intestinal Permeability, or Leaky Gut. Your digestive tract begins with your mouth and ends with, well, your other end. Each part of the system has a specific job, from ingesting food to excreting it, the system is finely tuned to keep your body functioning properly. The job of the small intestine, where Leaky Gut can occur is to breakdown the proteins, fats and carbohydrates from the foods you eat before they enter your blood stream to nourish all the cells of your body. A healthy small intestine is lined with densely packed cells that act as a filter for the broken down particles. The space between these cells are referred to as junctions. A healthy intestine will have tight junctions or a very fine filter. Like the screens in your house, the junctions create a barrier that are meant to let the good stuff in while keeping the bad stuff out. Large undigested particles of food, parasites, and bacteria are all able to pass through the weakened junctions of a leaky gut which alerts the body to a foreign invader causing an inflammatory reaction.
Systemic inflammatory reactions related to Intestinal Permeability:
Nonspecific joint pain
Without fixing this barrier, you will develop more food intolerances and more systemic inflammatory reactions.
Going back to the most important question-Why? Why would you have Intestinal Permeability? This question has many answers. Foods sensitivities, low Vitamin D, intestinal parasites, medications, stress, and hyperthyroid or hypothyroid are all known culprits. From these culprits your barrier system will be affected in stages, starting with localized inflammation of the intestinal lining. As the lining continues to degrade your whole immune system will join the battle and, even though the damage is confined to the gut, the whole body immune/inflammatory reaction may cause symptoms anywhere in the body. Brain fog, skin conditions like acne or eczema, headaches, joint pain, and of course food sensitivities are all inflammatory reactions to Leaky Gut. As leaky gut progresses even further you will develop an accumulation of lipopolysaccharides locally in the gut, which is basically an overgrowth of bad bacteria or sludge on the intestinal wall which further affects the inflammatory process and inhibits digestion, creating a state of malnutrition.
By allowing the condition to persist you are seriously hindering any chance of regaining health. There are tests available to determine if you have Intestinal Permeability and what type you may have. Uncovering this roadblock will help to answer the question “Why can’t I eat anything without feeling sick?”
Dr. Kirshner holds Free Workshops where you can learn more about your condition and how to control it without medication.