When it comes to healing the gut lining and achieving “Belly Bliss” zinc is my mineral super hero. Below are my four key reasons why:
1. Zinc and intestinal integrity: Zinc is a critical mineral in maintaining intestinal wall integrity. Specifically zinc works to bind the tight junctions of the cell of the gut wall, preventing intestinal permeability. Zinc works particularly well at reducing the impact of inflammation on the gut. Zinc levels deplete rapidly when we are under stress, drinking excessively, taking the oral contraceptive pill or eating a highly processed diet- so it makes sense that our intestinal health would become compromised during these times implying an increased need for zinc. A leaky gut means we are not absorbing adequate levels of zinc, hence creating a vicious cycle of chronic zinc deficiency.
2. Zinc and digestion: Zinc is one of the key minerals used in the creation of Hydrochloric Acid. Hydrhochloric acid is responsible for the critical first stage of the digestive process. Insufficient levels of zinc and hence Hydrochloric acid can result in problems all through the digestive tract. When Hydrochloric acid is limited pepsinogen is not converted into pepsin, hence the breakdown of proteins is compromised. The stomach environment may also become alkaline resulting in an increase in unwanted bacteria.
3. Zinc and serotonin: The synthesis of serotonin involves zinc. Since serotonin is also necessary for melatonin synthesis, a zinc deficiency may result in low levels of both of these compounds, causing problems with the sleep cycle, increasing anxiety and promoting inflammation which all spell disaster for the gut.
4. Zinc and immunity: Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system. Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of cells mediating nonspecific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells. Lowered immunity results in an increased susceptibility to gut microbes, worms and parasites which promote a “leaky” and unhappy gut.
When it comes to improving zinc levels, food sources tend to be poorly absorbed. Supplementation for a short period under a practitioner’s supervision is recommended.