Interviewer: What is leaky gut and why is it an issue for athletes that are training hard?
Dr. Stern: We digest food. Food is broken down in our stomach to small little pieces and then it goes into our small intestines. And the body then absorbs these small, small, tiny molecules into our blood stream, and then it takes those nutrients and brings it our muscles, or tendons, or ligaments, or liver, or wherever it needs to go to. Here's the thing.
This is what leaky gut is. If those small holes which allows these little molecules to come through our intestinal tract into our blood stream, if those start widening, they become bigger. That's called a leaky gut.
So when we eat certain foods that create inflammation such as lectins, which are sticky proteins such as gluten. If that goes into our intestinal tract and irritates the lining of the intestinal tract walls, these tiny holes become bigger, and now bigger molecules can get into the blood stream.
As these bigger molecules get into the blood stream, it creates inflammation in our system. As it creates inflammation, we might have digestive inflammation like gas, and bloating, and stomach pain, at which point you're looking at what foods you’ve eaten, but that might not have been your problem. You might have inflammation that goes and travels far in your body. So you might have knee pain. You might have thyroid issues.
So an athlete who's trying to be the best they can be, whatever sport they're participating in, they need to be as healthy as possible. If they are eating certain foods that are creating inflammation in their intestinal tract, stimulating this leaky gut, that's going to have ramifications throughout their whole system.