Is your gut sabotaging your progress?

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Is your gut sabotaging your progress?

Hello Fellow Athletes,

Today I am writing about Leaky Gut syndrome, Gluten sensitivity, and recovery.  The 3 are intricately connected.  Long story very short, if you can’t absorb what you eat, rebuilding tissues in the body becomes much more difficult and recovery and healing are hindered.

What is Gluten?  It is actually made up of 2 components:  Gliadin and Glutenin.   What is so bad about it?  Zonulin.  It sounds like something out of a Star Trek movie; but this incorporated into the makeup of gliadin.  In 85% of people, there is also a Zonulin component to chromosome 16.  Without getting too technical, it means that 85% of people have a genetic disposition to reacting to Zonulin; and therefore gluten. Fasano et al at the University of Maryland School of Medicine discovered Zonulin as the mammalian analogue of Zonula–a toxin secreted by the Cholera pathogen.  Zonulin is also being considered as a cause for Coeliac and type I diabetes.

Your intestinal wall is made up of a single cell layer where nutrients are absorbed.  Each cell is connected on either side to the adjacent cells with “tight junctions”.  These prevent contents in the intestine from passing between the cells and into the blood.  If undigested proteins pass through between the cells, it triggers an immune and inflammatory response as the body sees the proteins as “foreign invaders”; and then attacks them.  If this occurs constantly over a long period of times, the immune system gets tired and compromised.  At this point, people become allergic to almost everything and the start catching colds on a regular basis.  Children who have many allergies are likely to have a huge gut problem that is constantly whipping the tired horse that is their immune system.

If you are in the 85% of people who have the Zonulin gene, there is a receptor site on the intestinal wall cell that react when in contact with gliaden (gluten).  It releases Zonulin inside the cell and the Zonulin opens up the tight junctions which hold the cells together and prevent too much leakage of proteins into the blood.  When this happens, proteins from meat, grains (gluten), dairy, or vegetables can slip through the cracks and trigger an immune response.  If the protein is similar in structure to your thyroid or joint cartilage, your immune system will attack the protein and make antibodies that will then attack your own tissues—creating an autoimmune condition.


As if this wasn’t bad enough, bread and pasta products made from wheat often contain heavy metals from the pesticides used.  These heavy metals have been found to interfere with HEME production.  What is HEME?  It is the component of your red blood cells that carries OXYGEN.  If you are low in heme, your oxygen carrying capacity goes way down and your endurance and coordination suffers greatly.  The cerebellum uses the most oxygen of any organ in the body.  It controls coordination.  If it becomes oxygen starved, coordination and balance can be affected.  Think of what happens in a WOD with Olympic lifts or a football player late in the second half.  As fatigue sets in and oxygen is being consumed at a fast rate over an extended period of time, form starts to fail.  As a result, it is at this point where risk for injury is at its highest.  For the footballer, the best striker with great skills can shoot the ball into the 2nd tier; when normally he keeps it down and on target.

What can I do?  Good news is that it isn’t complicated.  It may be a bit difficult for some, but it is not some crazy new plan.  It is basically a diet similar to that of Paleo:

  1. Stop eating gluten
  2. Start taking probiotics
  3. Do a heavy metal detox (details in another blog post)


More good news is that when we have good gut flora balance, the good bacteria improve the health of the gut lining.  Once we stop attacking it, the gut lining starts to close up the holes immediately.  After a few weeks, the gut health will improve to the point where you will start to notice some significant changes in how you feel, your digestion, and your athletic performance.

Any questions?  Contact me at my facebook page:


Keep thinking outside the Box,

Jeffrey S. Kurtz, DC, CCSP, DIBAK
Box Doc



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