When it comes to NAFLD, obesity, and diabetes, physicians look signs of oxidative stress and inflammation. Often, the first place that they look is the digestive system.9
This makes sense. The liver receives about 70% of its blood supply from the intestine. Because of this, the liver is the first line of defense against food, environmental toxins, and disease-causing bugs.
When the gut becomes permeable, or “leaky,” a lot of foreign material can make its way deeper into the body, where it doesn’t belong.10 Oftentimes, the first stop is the liver.
One hallmark of leaky gut is the presence of bacterial endotoxin, which irritates and inflames the lining of the intestinal wall. In those who have an inflamed and irritated gut lining, we often see endotoxin and other traces of gut bacteria in the liver.11
Bacterial endotoxin, or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), is a component of the cell wall of some bacteria. Endotoxin is widely understood as a pro-inflammatory agent in the body. This means that wherever you find endotoxin, you will most likely find oxidative damage, inflammation, and disease.12, 13
Another hallmark of leaky gut is something called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
SIBO is exactly as it sounds. It is a situation where bacteria have grown to such proportions that they generate digestive discomfort like heartburn and, in some cases, have a hand in the development of more chronic forms of disease.
It turns out that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth occurs in a large percentage of people with chronic liver disease.14, 15, 16, 17
Currently, scientists are investigating which strains of bacteria do what. Once they determine which beneficial bugs are best suited for certain diseases, a probiotic drug can be developed.18
Until then, researchers are coming to the same conclusions over and over again: diet matters.
What we eat influences which bacteria populate the gut.
What we eat can also influence intestinal permeability. In fact, those with celiac disease have a notoriously permeable gut. They also are more likely to develop NAFLD.19
When we eat fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages, such as coconut water kefir, we receive a complete spectrum of good bacteria that have many health benefits. This includes helping to seal the lining of a leaky gut and combating oxidative stress.
As interest in our inner ecology grows in the medical field, researchers are finding that gut bacteria have huge therapeutic potential.
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