Let’s discuss how to build a healthy mucosal barrier.
What is the Mucosal Barrier?
First, what the heck is the mucosal barrier?
The Journal of Cell Science has my favorite, succinct, definition of it:
Mucosal barriers separate self from non-self and are essential for life. These barriers, which are the first line of defense against external pathogens, are formed by epithelial cells and the substances they secrete.
The barriers prohibit passage of bacteria and toxins while permitting flux of water, ions and solutes, including nutrients.
You’ll see it written as mucosal or intestinal barrier.
If we break mucosal barrier down, it looks as such:
- Mucosa: The mucosa is the inner layer (stomach lining). It contains glands that produce enzymes and acid, which help digest food. (Remember: we have already had stomach lining discussions. I’ve alluded to it below.)
- Barrier: obstacle that prevents movement or access
It’s clear to see, then, why keeping the mucosal barrier is critical for your gut healing and gut health. It is, in fact, the unsung hero of your immune system.
The goal is to make sure it’s healthy and strong.
If not, at the very least, a leaky gut is the likely result of an unhealthy mucosal barrier.
How to Build a Healthy Mucosal Barrier
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Duh! This is the first, and also most obvious way to build a healthy mucosal barrier. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Here are ways we “break” it in the first place:
- Excess alcohol. The normal microbial balances in the gut were shown to be affected by chronic alcohol abuse with an increase in Gram negative bacteria, which can further aggravate barrier function and endotoxemia.
- NSAID’s (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- PPI’s (Proton Pump Inhibitors)
- Stress. See number 6 below.
- Processed and sugary foods; a SAD (Standard American Diet) in general
- Well…..and THESE 10 things in general
Coat and Soothe
Now, your strategy is going to be different if the damage has been done. In that case, you need to coat and soothe it.
And, in fact, I have already shared 15 Supplements for Stomach Lining Support HERE.
From that article, I want to call out #5 – Curcumin. The reason is because sometimes there is so much inflammation that many diet changes and supplements won’t work. Your strategy in that case is cool, cool, and then cool some more.
According to the NIH,
While there appears to be countless therapeutic benefits to curcumin supplementation, most of these benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The goal of all these supplements is really to reduce inflammation, which helps the stomach lining flourish. Click HERE for more immune boosting gut health support options.
Get rid of excess toxins and irritants
Dr. Axel Rinehart gives the following ways for “binding” up these toxins, assisting in their removal, and opening a time-window for mucosal healing.
One of the earliest signs of leaky gut and gastrointestinal dysfunction is a deficiency of secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA).
I take a boost of immunoglobulins daily. And, in fact, because I believe in them so much for building a healthy mucosal barrier, even have my own immunoglobulin supplement, Tummy Soothe.
Yes! I need Tummy Soothe.
A great short-term option, but should be used with caution (and a lot of water!)
I have written all about Activated Charcoal HERE.
Not a day goes by when I don’t take my digestive enzymes, Break Down.
In order for the gut to absorb nutrients, they need to first be properly broken down.
And therefore, so many in the Gutsy community start to thrive once they take a high-quality digestive enzyme.
Could a high-quality digestive enzyme my missing link?!
Bacterial overgrowths, yeasts, infections, and virus’, oh my!
If I had to start my journey all over again, this is the place I would have sought answers to first.
There is no way you’ll ever get a healthy mucosal barrier if a bacterial overgrowth, yeasts, infections, and/or virus lingers.
One thing I say time-and-time again is this, “Just because you fix one thing, doesn’t mean the problem is gone if you haven’t addressed the root cause.”
So often, this is at the root of many problems.
- SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
- EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus)
- H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori)
- Candida and Fungal Overgrowth (can also include SIFO, Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth)
- E. coli (Escherichia coli)
Rebuild the good guys
In other words, build a powerhouse microbiome.
If you already have one, then make it even stronger.
The more “good” we have, the less room there is for “bad.” Here are 3 simple ways to rebuild:
Dr. Rinehart states,
Be careful of Lactobacilli spp. early in recovery as these probiotic strains can be overly immune-stimulating and be contraindicated in overgrowth profiles (at least in the short-term).
I choose and recommend Just Thrive probiotics. Learn all about them HERE.
Our probiotics are only as good as how we feed them. The way they are fed is with prebiotics.
What do our beneficial bugs do with this fiber?
They ferment it into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate that provide energy and fuel for the cells that line our colon and facilitate tight junction assembly so our gut barrier can stand strong in the face of invaders.
Butyrate also discourages temporary inflammation, letting our immune system know when it should and shouldn’t mount an attack. (source)
By the way, check out probiotic vs prebiotics HERE.
Keep a very diverse diet
Did you know that the, “lack of diet diversity leads to a lack of microbial diversity in the gut?
It also increases the chances of developing sensitivities and intolerances to foods.”
Reason 8,234 why uber-restrictive diets for long periods of time are not optimal.
This is also my secret for building the most robust microbiome.
Maybe the question is, How to Reduce Stress?
How to reduce it….and why that’s so critical?
Irritation or altered nerve firing patterns are related to GI dysfunction. And these nerves also regulate the gut mucosa.
Remember, this is a reason why IBS is oftentimes referred to as the gut-brain miscommunication.
Your stress-reducing approach could be one of thousands of ways. Literally.
Consume more flavanoids
Flavanoids are an example of plant-derived components with proven beneficial effects on the epithelial barrier.
I chose to give flavanoids their own spot on this list because I have not covered them in detail yet on this website.
Here are some examples of places they are abundant:
- most vegetables
- green and black tea
Note: Red wine and coffee are also sources, but they are not optimal for the mucosal lining, so I don’t include them in this example.
Boost these three things: Vitamin D and A plus zinc
Deficiencies of vitamin D, vitamin A and zinc have been found to compromise the epithelial barrier with an increased risk to infection and inflammation.
But you’re already ahead of this game because I have written about all three, separately, in detail.
In case you need a refresh:
And last, but not least, get yourself a supplement that specifically aims to build a healthy mucosal barrier.
My love for Just Thrive Health and the products they birth into the world just keeps growing.
The Gut 4-tify is one of the brand new ones that I couldn’t wait to share about.
And that’s obviously because I just shared how important the mucosal barrier is.
Here is some information about the product directly from Just Thrive to add to the Gutsy knowledge bank you’re building:
- Mucus – specifically the mucus in your gut – plays a critically important role in your health and survival.
- Your intestinal mucosal barrier may be the single most important and protective component of your entire immune system!
- When it’s functioning properly, it keeps you safe from pathogens, allergens, and toxins.
Are you interested in trying a bottle of the Gut 4-tify? Click HERE then use my code AGUTSTYGIRL at checkout to save 15%.
The First Supplement of its Kind
Gut 4-tify is formulated to build a protective mucosal barrier that provides crucial digestive and immune support.
- Completes your total gut first aid kit:
- Probiotic and Antioxidant
- Drives the optimal balance and health of your gut bacteria while neutralizing harmful pathogens
- Precision PREbiotic
- More than doubles the population of healthy gut bacteria
- Gut 4-tify
- Seals and protects the mucosal barrier
- Probiotic and Antioxidant
With Gut 4-tify, you get targeted mucosal support that:
- Encourages a strong immune response
- Helps keep your gut mucosa nourished and happy to drive optimal digestive health
- Calms your digestive tract and fortifies your most important immune barriers
- Neutralizes free radicals before they can cause damage to the mucosal barrier
- Delivers a patented citrus polyphenol extract that strengthens your gut barrier and maintains a balanced gut microbiome
What are the Ingredients and How Should I Take Gut 4-tify?
This is exactly what the Just Thrive Health website states. However, as with any supplement, if you have questions or concerns, be sure to consult with your medical practitioner.
- Serving Size: 3 capsules
- Servings Per Container: 30
- L-Proline 500 mg
- MicrobiomeX 400 mg
- Oxxynea Polyphenol Blend 400 mg
- L-Serine 350 mg
- L-Threonine 300 mg
- L-Cysteine 40 mg
- Other ingredients: Cellulose, vegetable capsule (cellulose and water)
Does NOT Contain: Wheat, gluten, dairy, nuts, or soy.
Ages 8+. Take 3 capsules daily with or without a meal, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. There are 90 capsules in each bottle of Gut 4-tify.
Grab your bottle HERE.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- What is the Difference Between IBS and IBD?
- 12 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Immune System
- Start Here
You will heal. I will help.