The gut includes both the small and large intestine, which are essential for nutrient absorption and production, housing the immune system and microbiome, detoxification and hydration, neurotransmitter production, and interaction with the central nervous system.
If the gut is in an optimal state of health, the lining will be intact, able to prevent large particles or irritants from entering the bloodstream, provide space for good bacteria to thrive, and enhance nutrient absorption.
When the gut is in a stressed state with leaky gut or damage to the delicate internal lining, you are at risk for nutrient deficiency and increased food and chemical sensitivity, as the damaged barrier allows large compounds into the bloodstream, creating an overactive inflammatory response.
In addition, when the gut lining is damaged, many of the large particles that enter the bloodstream are more disruptive to brain and mental health as they now may cross the blood-brain barrier and interfere with the way your neurotransmitters function.
Adding insult to injury, stress alone—from mental or emotional stressors—can directly drive damage to gut tissue by depleting glutamine and sending signals of panic through the enteric nervous system, the second brain in your gut regulated by your microbiome. During the continued high stress climate of unknowns with the pandemic, it would be highly advised to be proactive in your gut support.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that serves as both a fuel source and a building block for your gut cells. When stressed, cortisol depletes glutamine from the body causing muscle aches, fatigue, and gut tissue weakening or damage.
Furthermore, when under stress, the body produces immunological signals of survival including secretory IgA, an antibody that protects mucosal membranes. Secretory IgA plays a significant role in leaky gut after chronic stimulation drives chronically low levels and gut permeability.