Zinc: Encouraging Sustained Health...At The Roots 🌱

Our Gut & The Roots of Health

The intestinal track is often referred to as the "gut". While the word "gut" isn't necessarily a pretty word the role it plays in sustained, ongoing wellness--especially for those with chronic illness or autoimmune disease--cannot be over-stated. Our health depends on a strong and healthy intestinal lining! Amazing how such a delicate, elegant and intricate thing could be so pivotal in our daily well being. It is the barrier between sterile and trillions of microbes. Between self and our microbial partners. Between a vital milieu of proteins, chemical signals and toxins.

Our intestinal lining is only one cell thick and when healthy it would be the size of a tennis court if it were spread out to be completely flat! How does all of that fit in the small confines of our abdomen? Because it is intricately folded. The more it’s folded the more surface area and absorption power it has. We want it as big as possible because we need all the nutrients we can get! 

The Role Of Zinc In Intestinal Health

What does zinc have to do with this? Everything!

Our intestinal lining may be one cell thick, but it is not basic! This is a highly trafficked area and is designed to only allow specific nutrients and chemicals to pass through. For example, structures called tight junctions act as rivets to seal the small spaces between cells. They are made of more than 46 proteins that loosen or tighten depending on specific circumstances in the environment. Their proper functioning is essential to your health. When we are Zinc deficient these tight junctions malfunction allowing harmful chemicals and anti nutrients through the barrier. Adequate Zinc levels are critical for the tight junctions to perform optimally. It also does the same for your blood brain barrier!

Our delicate intestinal lining can be damaged by many things including NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc), excessive alcohol, microbes and their toxins, and heavy metals. Zinc has been shown to protect and even prevent the damage and resulting consequences of these toxins. 

Damage to the intestinal wall can take on different forms but often results in a loss of intestinal folding which leads to decreased absorption meaning inability to absorb nutrients into your body. One study showed those with the least intestinal surface area are the most likely to have low Zinc levels.

Our intestines are also home to trillions of microbes. They basically live on our doorstep! We used to think these microbes had a negative or at best neutral effect on our health. In recent years however it’s been shown we can’t be healthy without them- or rather without the right mixture of microbes. Zinc has been shown to favor different bacteria at different concentrations. Higher levels of Zinc favor Akkermansia muciniphila, Bacteroides, and other helpful bacteria that produce important chemicals essential for good health called short chain fatty acids (we’ll talk about these later). 

Things To Consider

Before we get too carried away with taking a ton of zinc, there are a few caveats to consider. Similar to zinc deficiency, excessive zinc can also be harmful. Zinc stores in the body are tied to Copper. When zinc levels go up, copper levels go down and visa versa. While a certain level of both is essential for your health Zinc is anti-inflammatory and Copper is pro inflammatory.  Zinc is also crucial for your immune system, DNA  repair, programmed cell death and other important bodily functions. 

The Take Away

Sadly Zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. Deficiency is influenced by eating a poor diet like the Standard American Diet (SAD), taking proton pump inhibitors (protonix, nexium, etc) and phytates (an anti nutrient found in some foods). Foods high in Zinc are: meat, shell fish, nuts, eggs, sweet potatoes, and kale. We typically take in about 10 mg of Zinc in our regular diet, but need closer to 50 mg for optimal performance at the boarder (intestinal lining). 

If you want to tighten up your boarder, keep out toxins and bad microbial invaders, and grow the right mix of microbes to optimize your health click the button below to buy the best, highest quality zinc on the market today!

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