Zonulin is a very interesting protein that was discovered in 2000. Dr. Alessio Fasado, a scientist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was studying cholera and the bacteria (Vibrio cholerae) responsible for this disease. It turns out that the cholera bacteria produce a protein that is very similar to one made by intestinal cells. The protein produced by the gut is called zonulin.
- Candida Case Studies: Meet Jean
- Always Disconnected & Dizzy: Is It Candida?
- How Ginger Can Help against Candida?
- Benefits of Biofilms
- Can Cranberry Help Against Yeast Infections?
Symptoms of cholera include profuse, watery diarrhea, and cramping. Increased gut permeability is one of the mechanisms behind the diarrhea seen in cholera. In the human gut, gluten triggers the production of zonulin. Try and think of the wall of the bowel as a type of cheesecloth; only very tiny particles get through. Zonulin makes the holes in the cloth bigger, allowing more to go through. The result is a “leaky” or permeable gut. It is now thought that increased gut permeability contributes to many diseases, particularly autoimmune conditions.
One of the hopes is that by addressing factors that increase zonulin levels, we can reduce leaky gut and associated health conditions. As an example, my clients with leaky gut are encouraged to try a gluten-free diet to see if it reduces their levels of zonulin.