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'Allergic Shiners' - a sign of leaky gut?

Posted Aug 22 2011 12:46am

The outside of your body can offer you valuable clues about what’s happening deep inside. You might have noticed occasional dark circles under your eyes after a night on the tiles, or when you aren’t getting enough sleep. But if you’re wearing dark circles frequently, it could be from something you ate, or a sign of ‘leaky gut’ from your digestion. Naturopaths sometimes call these dark circles ‘allergic shiners’ – here’s why

Stationed at several places along your intestines are ‘Peyers Patches’ – they’re actually the home of many types of immune cells, and they group together to work together and assess the safety of food particles passing by. I call them the patrol guys of your digestion. They ask for identification (all food molecules have a distinct shape). They alert the rest of your immune system if they don’t recognise the food, or worse, if they believe that this food is dangerous.

When your immune patrol encounters unfriendly molecules, it quickly alerts all other cells in the area to become vigilant. The sensitive cells lining your intestines are likely to react severely if there’s enough of this problem substance. They respond by becoming inflamed: Blood flow increases, cells swell, and the normally tight junctions between cells loosens a little, enabling the food and immune cell battle to move into your bloodstream. That’s where the term ‘leaky gut’ comes from.

The results can be a drop in your energy levels, or skin reactions, or dark circles under your eyes. Usually your bowels will be upset too.

Children seem to be particularly vulnerable to food reactions, perhaps because of their smaller body size and underdeveloped immune system.

Some common food intolerance reactions that can prompt the formation of dark circles under your eyes include reactions to gliadin, the gluten protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye; and casein, the protein found in dairy like milk, yoghurt, cheese, and ice cream. But there are many other foods that can cause a problem.

The important thing to remember is that if you’re often seeing dark circles under your eyes, and feeling low in energy, you should check with your health practitioner that all is well with your immune system and your digestion.

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