The gastrointestinal (GI) tract has been called the “inner tube” of life. Running from your mouth to down south, this tube spans up to 30 feet in length with a surface area nearing that of a tennis court! This large surface area allows for the primary function of the GI tract: to absorb nutrients from food while preventing toxins and microbes from entering your bloodstream.
The lining of the GI tract is very thin. It’s only one single cell layer thick. This allows the intestinal wall to act as a selective barrier, permitting certain substances to enter the body (e.g. digested food particles) while excluding others (e.g. harmful bacteria). This single layer of cells constitutes the most critical physical barrier that separates your bloodstream from the milieu of toxins constantly traveling through your digestive system.
The cells constituting the gut wall are arranged side-by-side and connected by microscopic gates called tight junctions. If the gut wall’s barrier function breaks down, the tight junctions can become damaged, and the intestinal lining can become leaky. This condition is known as increased intestinal permeability (hyperpermeability) or leaky gut syndrome.
Many factors can compromise the integrity of the gut lining.
- Poor diet
- Unhealthy gut flora (disproportionate ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria)
- Lack of fermented foods and probiotics in the diet
- Autoimmune diseases
- Gluten consumption
- Food sensitivities
A leaky gut allows for undigested foods, toxins, and pathogens to leak into your bloodstream. Left unchecked, it can trigger the ongoing production of inflammation. This is because the majority of your immune system (over 60%) resides within your gut wall. A primary function of your immune system is to produce inflammatory chemicals in response to anything it deems foreign. Most diseases of modern society are characterized by excess inflammation. This is why many healthcare experts claim that both health and disease begin in the gut.
When we eat sharp foods like chips or anchovy bones, our intestinal cells can become damaged. As a result, our bodies expend tremendous energy replacing and repairing the gut lining every few days. Some estimate that up to 20 percent of the energy from the food we eat goes toward this process!
Thankfully, our intestinal cells produce mucus as a layer of protection. This mucosal lining is critical for overall gut health.
The ability of your intestinal lining to produce the protective mucus layer is dependent on the food you eat, and in particular, fiber. Unfortunately, many people struggle to make enough mucus in their intestines due to modern diets and lifestyles. Inadequate mucus production can impair your ability to protect your intestines from harmful microbes, parasites, and toxins.
Optimal GI contains traditional herbs and targeted nutrients that support gut lining health and function. It includes the following gut-supportive ingredients:†
- Gut lining support: Zinc supports the rapid cell turnover which occurs during gut lining repair. It also supports normal protection of the gut lining and natural defenses against gut bacteria. N-Acetyl-D-Glucosamine supports healthy GI barrier function and the body’s normal defense responses against pathogenic bacteria.†
- Demulcent herbs: Mucus-producing herbs stimulate natural mucosal production in the GI tract. They also soothe the intestinal tract and support its natural protective mechanisms. These include aloe vera, deglycyrrhizinated licorice root extract (DGL), marshmallow root, and slippery elm.†
- Fiber: A lack of dietary fiber has been shown to decrease the production of mucins from mucosal cells. Citrus fiber is included to support bowel regularity and normal detoxification pathways by binding to toxins.†
- Healthy inflammation & immune support: Cat’s claw, MSM, aloe vera, and turmeric support healthy inflammatory and immune responses in the GI tract.†
- Histamine support: The intestinal lining is responsible for secreting DAO. Diamine Oxidase (DAO) is the primary enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in your gut. An unhealthy intestinal lining can lead to low levels of DAO and subsequent struggles with histamine intolerance. Optimal GI also includes herbs that help support a healthy histamine response, including stinging nettle and quercetin.†
- Antioxidant support: Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), turmeric, and glucoraphanin support antioxidant activity and oxidative stress levels by promoting normal detoxification pathways.†
- GI barrier support: Nutrients that support gut lining integrity include N-Acetyl D-Glucosamine and MSM.†
Optimal GI is free from L-glutamine for those who do not tolerate it. Consider our Optimal GI Plus if you’re looking for stronger formula, a powder form, or the same great formula with added L-glutamine.†