Second Nature Care Blog

ZONULIN and Degenerative Disease

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 19, 2021 6:26:21 PM / by Dr. Isadora Guggenheim

Plagues and infectious diseases that were previously the leading causes of death were largely eliminated with medical advances like vaccines and improvements in living conditions. Now, instead, we are plagued by chronic degenerative diseases. Several changes have occurred since the end of World War II that have contributed to the decline of our microbiomes and, from that, dysbiosis and the development of disease.

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Changes in agricultural practices (e.g., mono-cropping artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotic use, etc.) have simultaneously reduced the nutritional/mineral value of our food supply, caused a loss of environmental biodiversity, damaged the human microbiome, and have made both humans and plants more vulnerable to disease.

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The “Fiber Gap” is another major contributor to dysbiosis. Ninety percent of American children and adults do not consume enough daily dietary fiber. This is partly because the Standard American Diet is low in fiber content, and highly processed foods do not contain a lot of fiber. Additionally, many people don’t know how to feed their probiotic bacteria, which require a diverse, fiber-rich diet to support a diverse microbiome.


Zonulin is a protein expressed during inflammation that regulates the permeability of parts of the intestinal tract. Harmful bacteria and gluten trigger the expression of this and gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation. This allows harmful things to cross over the gut barrier where they can trigger immune responses that cause disease development. Zonulin is also currently the only human protein that can “reversibly regulate intestinal permeability.” Dr. Fasano, who discovered zonulin, believes disease processes can be stopped and even reversed by downregulating zonulin, reducing inflammation, and healing the gut.

To reduce gut inflammation, gluten should be avoided and any bacterial imbalances or dysbiosis should be corrected. Postbiotic metabolites, such as antimicrobial peptides, organic acids, and others, should be taken to improve issues with dysbiosis. To maintain a healthy and diverse microbiome, you can also grow your own food or join a Community Supported Agriculture group.


Pelton, R. (Jan 2020). The Perfect Storm: Explaining the Loss of Microbiome Diversity and the Epidemic of Chronic Degenerative Diseases. Townsend Letter, (438). 92-96.

Topics: Child and Teen Health, Men's Health, Detoxification, Autoimmune Disease, Gut Repair, Chronic Illness and Disease, Women's Health, Weight Loss and Obesity

Isadora Guggenheim, ND, FNP, RN, MS, CNS, LMT, owner of Second Nature Naturopathic Care, LLC
For all appointments: Tel: 845 358-8385 Fax: 845 358-2963