The Hygiene Hypothesis & Its Link to a Leaky Gut

The Hygiene Hypothesis

Hi everyone!

Dr. Erin here. I wanted to let you know that I have a new podcast posted on The Hygiene Hypothesis and its link to the microbiome, a leaky gut and chronic inflammatory diseases. That’s a lot…so let’s break it down.

First, what is the Hygiene Hypothesis? It’s a proposed explanation that states that improved hygiene in an industrialized world and less exposure to infectious agents ( bacteria & viruses) has led to an increase in chronic inflammatory conditions. This is why some supporters of the Hygiene Hypothesis will advise you to take your kids to a farm or to frequently play in dirt. My mom was a believer in the Hygiene Hypothesis, so one can assume that living adjacent to a dairy farm had its benefits. I also was exposed to a wide variety of animals since my dad is a veterinarian, the most interesting of which might have been a pet raven, Nevermore. Nevermore was shot by a hunter and discovered in the woods by a hiker. The hiker brought him into my dad, and though my dad performed surgery on Nevermore’s wing, he would never fly again. Instead, he moved into a large flying pen in our backyard. Nevermore, like all scavenger birds, ate roadkill. For much of my childhood, I’d hop out of my parents’ van, pick up roadkill and bring it home to Nevermore. Though such events impacted my social life in awkward ways, I think they must have affect my immune system in positive ones. ;)

Anyhow, the microbiome, simply put, is our “in-house” bacteria: the ones who live and hang out in our gut. Our diets, genetics, stress and environment all impact our microbiome, alterations of which are increasingly linked to chronic inflammatory conditions. And, though we often hear the words “leaky gut” especially in the world of wellness, what does that actually mean? Well, luckily my expert podcast guest is going to explain.

In this episode of Causes or Cures,  I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Alessio Fasano. We discuss how the Hygiene Hypothesis links to a leaky gut and how our modern way of life may affect our microbiome in a way that puts us at risk of developing  chronic inflammatory conditions. This includes chronic inflammatory conditions outside the gut as well as inside. He will discuss the 5 pillars that he believes need to be in place for this to happen, how probiotics, cleaning products and gluten relate to this, and ways we can improve our leaky guts. (Pay attention to his 5 pillars, because this idea of a “leaky gut” is not as simple or straight-forward as many “Wellness Gurus” claim it to be. That’s the key part. ;) )

Who is Dr. Fasano?

Dr. Fasano is a pediatric gastroenterologist and researcher. He is a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. He is the director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Mass General for children and co-director of the Harvard Medical School Celiac Research Program. He’s the director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center, where he oversees over 50 researchers and staff. Dr. Fasano is credited with discovering Zonulin, a protein responsible for regulating intestinal tight junctions ( and he explains this in the podcast) and he is the author of over 300 peer-reviewed publications. He is considered a world expert on Celiac disease and is in the top 1% of scientists cited worldwide.


Looking forward to you guys listening to this one!  Also, please check out some of the other episodes, share & subscribe if so inclined. If you have any requests for topics, email me. I’ll see if I can swing it. ;)

Take care, everyone! This pandemic is really testing our ability to cope with uncertainty. I plan on doing a topic about this, because my first book was “really” all about embracing uncertainty. Stay tuned for that one. Until then, feel free to check out:

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