Eliminate the threat of a “leaky gut” with the help of vitamin D3
(NaturalHealth365) Integrative healthcare experts have long sounded the alarm about a “leaky gut” – and this digestive health issue to a variety of problems including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.
And, while Western medicine has been slow to accept leaky gut as a medical syndrome, this is (finally!) beginning to change. Now, a particularly exciting study conducted with Crohn’s disease patients shows that a hormone (vitamin D) can substantially improve leaky gut.
Of course, vitamin D is already receiving kudos from researchers for its potential to prevent various cancers, heart disease and serious respiratory conditions such as pneumonia. Let’s take a closer look.
Warning: Why compromised gut health is the foundation of future health problems
Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a digestive condition in which harmful substances can escape from the gut and enter the bloodstream.
Normally, epithelial cells in the intestines are preserved and protected by a barrier of tight-junction proteins. When this process is compromised, intestinal permeability increases, causing toxins, bacteria and even bits of undigested protein to escape through the gut lining and into the bloodstream.
These fugitive particles set off an inflammatory immune response, which in turn can trigger the development of autoimmune diseases – including inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and thyroid disease.
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Signs that can indicate leaky gut include allergies and food sensitivities, as well as inflammatory skin problems (such as eczema), headache and fatigue. Digestive difficulties – such as chronic diarrhea, bloating or constipation – may also be symptoms of leaky gut.
Contributors to leaky gut can include poor nutrition (such as a diet high in allergens and inflammatory foods), exposure to environmental toxins (including pesticides and synthetic cleaning chemicals), high consumption of drugs and/or alcohol, disturbances in the gut microbiome and chronic stress.
Among other consequences, leaky gut can lead to clinical relapse in Crohn’s disease. Now, a relatively recent study highlights vitamin D’s potential to improve leaky gut and ward off relapse.
Vitamin D offers hope for Crohn’s disease patients
In a double-blind placebo-controlled study published in United European Gastroenterology Journal, researchers gave 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day to participants with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease, by its very nature, involves leaky gut – making this a significant test of vitamin D’s therapeutic properties.
The team noted that past studies had shown that vitamin D supplementation both reduced inflammation and prolonged remission in patients with Crohn’s disease – but were unsure of the degree of improvement, and of the mechanism involved.
At the conclusion of the three-month study, the researchers found that the vitamin D group had more intact gut linings – translating to less intestinal permeability and better epithelial barrier function than in participants given the placebo.
The vitamin D group also displayed less inflammation, as measured by levels of an inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein. This encouraging study is not the only research to showcase the potential of vitamin D for promoting intestinal health.
A new study published in Frontiers in Microbiology showed that appropriate, vitamin D-boosting amounts of UV radiation can improve the diversity of beneficial bacteria in the gut – an important prerequisite for gut health.
Clearly, vitamin D has a role to play in the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal conditions.
Vitamin D3 greatly helps the immune system to function at a high level
Vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol, is produced in the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight. It is also found in select animal-based foods. This is the kind of vitamin D we’re talking about today.
Vitamin D’s primary responsibility is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, while aiding in the absorption of calcium in order to form and maintain bones and teeth. But, vitamin D’s repertoire of accomplishments doesn’t end at the skeleton.
Researchers have found that it combats heart disease by increasing desirable arterial flexibility.
In addition, it gives the immune system a powerful boost, promoting the activity of natural killer cells and strengthening the immune response. This gives vitamin D the ability to help prevent a variety of diseases, including influenza, pneumonia and even certain cancers.
For example, one study showed that 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day improved outcomes and survival rates for those battling advanced colorectal cancer.
Increase vitamin D levels and help to heal your leaky gut
If you feel you may be low in vitamin D, your levels can be easily measured with a simple blood test.
While conventional physicians characterize concentrations of 20 to 50 nanograms per milliliter as “adequate,” natural health experts insist that higher levels – from 50 ng/mL to 80 ng/mL – are needed to protect against disease.
The Office of Dietary Supplements advises 600 IU as the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. However, many integrative physicians reject this as way too low – and may advise amounts between 5,000 to 8,000 IU a day.
Keep in mind, vitamin D requirements vary depending on age, weight, gender, climate, and state of health. So, please, consult with your doctor before supplementing with vitamin D.
If you decide to supplement, opt for vitamin D3 over vitamin D2. You can also boost your production of vitamin D3 with sun exposure. Most experts recommend 20 minutes of exposure to full sunlight two or three times a week.
Naturally, use common sense and avoid the risk of a sunburn.
In terms of dietary tips: eating wild-caught salmon, sardines, and organic cage-free egg yolks can mildly help you to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D3. But, the main way is through proper sun exposure or, if needed, supplementation to correct deficiencies.
To address leaky gut, experts advise avoiding inflammatory foods, such as GMOs, refined sugars and preservatives. Seek out healing foods, including fresh organic vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, and beneficial spices and herbs such as turmeric and ginger. Probiotic and fermented foods, such as miso, can help maintain healthy bacterial balance and diversity in the gut.
When it comes to triggering leaky gut, gluten – which can activate zonulin, a protein that can disrupt pathways that regulate junctions – can be a major culprit as well. Go gluten-free with healthy alternatives like buckwheat, brown rice and gluten-free oats.
Vitamin D has already been shown to be of premier importance for warding off disease. The latest study shows that, for those affected by leaky gut, the “sunshine vitamin (hormone)” offers a definite ray of hope.
Sources for this article include: