Leaky Gut Syndrome Isn’t Only Scary, But Extremely Dangerous to Your Health – This is More Than a Poop Issue!

by Jordan Reasoner

dude-your-gut-is-leaking

Although this picture is a cartoon, this article applies to a dangerous condition inside the bodies of both men and women… and this discussion also applies even if you don’t have any digestive problems at all.

Did you know that the vast majority of people in this day and age are at risk for something called “increased intestinal permeability” A.K.A. leaky gut?  

It’s true — as much as 60 Million people in some “westernized” countries such as the US and Canada are now struggling with digestive problems like IBS, Crohn’s, and Ulcerative Colitis.  

The first thing that most people think of is that leaky gut is only a problem for people with digestive disease…

However, what most people don’t realize is that leaky gut is not only a stomach issue, but is also a dangerous risk factor to your health.

It can masquerade as fatigue, anxiety, depression, digestive symptoms, weight problems, and other serious conditions…

It’s been found in association with chronic diseases, including asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel, kidney disease, psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heart failure…

And even with all the latest technology and over 10,000+ research papers on it, this hidden epidemic is still often referred to as the “Disease Your Doctor Can’t Diagnose…”

If you or loved ones are struggling with chronic illness, like my family and I did, this might be the most important thing you’ll ever read.

What Is Leaky Gut?

 

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What it does to you is this: it allows TOXIC food particles, environmental chemicals, and bacterial waste to leak through your digestive tract and into your body – once inside, these foreign particles travel to different areas of your body and trigger an immune response, promoting inflammation and jump-starting the development of chronic disease.

Instead of keeping the bad stuff out, the delicate lining of your intestine is letting all the bad stuff in, and your body is breaking down from the inside out. The real name of this hidden epidemic is: Increased Intestinal Permeability, or “Leaky Gut.”

So yes, in some REALLY general ways you can think about it like your poop is leaking into your body…

But that’s not the scariest thing about it.

Untreated Leaky Gut Is Making People Sick

Here’s a short list of conditions associated with “Leaky Gut:”

  • Infertility
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Vitiligo
  • Narcolepsy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Huntington’s
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Porphyria

In fact, now you can put just about any condition into Google along with “Intestinal Permeability” and find hours of research papers associating the two.

Here’s a few examples for those of you who are nerds like me (the link will open a Google search in a new window):

Then there’s Dr. Alessio Fasano’s groundbreaking “Leaky Gut Theory of Autoimmunity” – which suggests that the 100+ Autoimmune Diseases begin with leaky gut. With over 10,000+ published research papers on intestinal permeability, you’d think modern medicine would be talking about it more, but they’re not. If you ask the average doctor, very few have heard about it and those that have still think it’s “quackery.”

Is Leaky Gut Making You Sick?

Leaky gut is a tricky condition. It can show up in every human being in a different way…

It’s not obvious. In fact, only 70% of people with leaky gut have digestive problems. You can even find it in people that “look” healthy.

To put it simply: if you’re struggling with chronic health complaints, you’re at risk for leaky gut.

As you can see in the research above, gut health is important for just about every system in the body, and in turn it can create symptoms and problems in just about every system in the body. So, how do you know if you have it?

There are two common ways to test for Leaky Gut:

  1. The Lactulose-mannitol intestinal permeability test
  2. Cyrex Labs “Array #2”

Both tests have their benefits. For example, the Lactulose-mannitol test is commonly used as the gold standard in research settings. The Cyrex panel is possibly a better option to measure the immune response from leaky gut, but both of these tests have inherent unreliability.

It’s like Chris Kresser always says, “Will the test result change the outcome of the treatment?”

In the case of testing for leaky gut, not necessarily. Personally, I think you can save money by instead focusing on your risk factors for leaky gut, which is why we put together a leaky gut risk analysis in this free leaky gut quiz.

Of course, an interactive quiz like this can’t diagnose anything, but it can help you screen for the most important leaky gut risk factors in your life. Education is the best prevention and with this quiz, instead of knowing whether or not you have leaky gut, knowing WHAT risk factors are damaging your gut can help you take the next steps to start fixing it.

How to Stop Your Guts From Leaking

There are three really common leaky gut triggers I’ve seen over the years, when people are still struggling with chronic health problems. The first step in preventing your gut from leaking is to start turning off some of these common triggers.

I’m talking to those “tough cases,” like me, struggling with chronic conditions like: autoimmunity, asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel, kidney disease, psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heart failure…

If that’s you, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with leaky gut and these three mistakes could be making things worse for you.

Leaky Gut Trigger 1: Eating Holes in Your Gut

If you have leaky gut and you’re still struggling with chronic illness, the 80/20 rule doesn’t fly. Eat gluten on the weekends? Stop it. Occasional beer on a hot day? Stop it. The research is very clear that gluten contributes to leaky gut and when it comes to dealing with serious health problems, there’s no room for a “Cheat Day.”

I get it. I understand it has its place… for healthy people. One day you too might be able to live a happy healthy life with 80/20 healthy eating. But not today.

With leaky gut, there are undigested food particles sneaking right into your bloodstream, which causes the immune system to attack them as foreign invaders. That starts a cascade of inflammation. The autoimmune protocol removes many of the most problematic foods for people with leaky gut, things like eggs, tomatoes & eggplants, peppers including bell peppers and hot peppers, spices such as curries, paprika, and chili powder, and nuts and seeds.

For the majority of us, if we just remove certain classes of foods that are harder to digest, we can begin to reverse leaky gut and hopefully get some relief in the process.

Leaky Gut Trigger 2: Poking Holes in Your Gut with Pills

Who hasn’t reached for an Advil or Motrin in times of pain? I used to get 2-3 headaches a week and carried them around in my wallet. Then, there’s all those aches and pains that follow you home from sports and the gym – those mornings when you wake up and your body is locked up and screaming at you.

The inconvenient truth is: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) cause your gut to leak.

The worst part is MANY doctors prescribe these meds and NEVER tell people what it’s doing to their gut.

Research shows that 50-70% of long-term NSAID users have increased leaky gut and 5 days of prescription use can cause 3x increase in permeability.

If you take NSAIDS, especially the stronger kind that are used to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, you’ll be putting your gut barrier at risk. Immediately talk with your primary care doctor to explore other solutions.

Leaky Gut Trigger 3: Cortisol Rips Your Gut Apart

If we discovered that sleeping more and reducing our stress would make us live forever, I think we’d all still die. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing from Robb and everyone else telling you that you need to get 8 hours of sleep and take a breath, so let’s not beat a dead horse. But here’s the problem: not many people ACTUALLY do it. I’ve struggled with it too and it’s still a focus of mine.

But when you’re sick, it’s the same as the 80/20 diet rule… there’s no room for stress and sleep deprivation if you want to keep your poop where it belongs.

Studies like this are very clear that stress wrecks your gut and makes it leaky. You WILL NOT heal your gut if it’s experiencing chronic stress. Think about it like having a broken bone… we put it in a cast for a reason, so it stays protected and can heal.

But here’s the rub: sometimes stress isn’t what you think. Sure, stress can be emotional, like a crappy job or a bad relationship. But it can also be physical stress, like overtraining. Working out too hard can be extremely stressful on your body if you’re struggling with chronic illness.

If you’re still sick and training for that half marathon, stop for a while.

There’s another hidden stressor we’ve seen in about 80% of our consulting clients: gut infections. Those parasite and bacterial infections are a constant stressor on your body, sometimes just as powerful as guzzling gluten flavored shakes every day.

So, if you’re still sick and haven’t had a stool test yet, do it. I know, pooping in a plastic tube doesn’t sound like a party, but trust me it’s way better than letting a nasty infection live on in your body.

How to Fix Leaky Gut

Rome wasn’t built in a day… and it wasn’t destroyed in a day either.

Your gut isn’t going to heal in a day. If you’re already on a ‘real food diet,’ avoiding NSAIDs, and reducing your stress… but still suspect your poop isn’t staying where it belongs, there’s more work to do.

Like I said, many of us are “tough cases” and we need more than just a healthy diet to heal. Complex problems rarely ever have simple answers. But as humans we like simple ideas, single causes, magic pills and smoking guns. When it comes to leaky gut, there are at least 19 common triggers in the research that can be contributing to your problems.

We cover these triggers and how to fix leaky gut in a free webcast about how to solve leaky gut and reverse chronic illness.

If you need more help healing your gut, click here to register: http://solvingleakygut.com/webinar/live/

Hope to see you there,

– Jordan

Is Your Body Secretly Suffering from a Leaky Gut?

Take this 3-minute quiz to find out if you have the #1 problem missed by modern medicine... Take the Quiz NOW
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About the author

Jordan Reasoner Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz August 14, 2015 at 7:53 am

I am glad that you specifically named elevated cortisol levels and NSAIDs as things that damage the gut. From what I know, it is also worth mentioning that the hormones in birth control pills could play a major role in the leaky gut syndrome for many women. Women probably know that these pills have hormones in them, but they may be (consciously or unconsciously) ignoring the possibility that “The Pill” might make them sick.

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Mariel Heiss August 14, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Hi Liz, thanks for your comment! You might be interested in this podcast if you have questions about female hormones and gut health: http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/05/pcos-pms-and-feeling-like-a-woman-again/

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Sarah August 17, 2015 at 6:56 am

Hi, I’m finding all the information that you are sharing to be very interesting. I have lupus, aps and have had 2 episodes of cerebral vasculitis. Along with cutting out gluten would you advise aloe Vera gel to drink? I’ve read mixed reviews

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Mariel Heiss August 17, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Hi Sarah – thanks for commenting. We don’t recommend aloe vera gel. We do have a ton of recommendations for diet, lifestyle, and supplements to help heal your gut. The best way to learn more is to register for a free Solving Leaky Gut webinar – http://solvingleakygut.com/webinar/internal-autoimmune/

In this webinar we’ll discuss the leaky gut-autoimmune connection and how you can achieve better health overall by healing your gut – and exactly how to do it.

I hope this helps!

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MaryAnn August 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

Sorry to double post but I don’t see my comment.

Does anyone have any suggestion for recovering from 1 cup of chia seeds. I did not know they were illegal, nor that they inflate 27 times. I ate 1 cup in 1 cup coconut milk, and still feel full and sluggish 1 month later. I was in perfect SCD balance and such benefits after doing the diet (no dairy however) for two years. The first three days were horrendous, and though every day is getting a little better, I am so afraid to have caused a blockage because I have pencil stools and would like to do something to make sure I get the chia all out.

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Mariel Heiss August 25, 2015 at 11:58 am

Hi MaryAnn, it’s okay to comment twice 🙂 Then we can offer you double the support! We’re so sorry you’re struggling right now. The best advice we can offer is to get plenty of rest and stick to your safe zone foods. If you start struggling with constipation you can use some of the tips here: http://scdlifestyle.com/category/constipation/

If you need more support, you can always email us too: [email protected]

Hope you’re feeling much better soon!

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MaryAnn August 30, 2015 at 8:02 pm

I am better! It took a month of sticking to the diet but I am back to more balance. Watch out for Chia !!

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Mariel Heiss August 31, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Woohoo! So glad you’re feeling better MaryAnn 🙂

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Peter March 1, 2016 at 3:10 am

I would like to be ref to scientific papers that establish “leaky gut” as a real disease and also the evidence establishing your suggestions for diet to heal this condition
Thanks
Peter

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Mariel Heiss March 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Hi Peter – please see our site here for resources (bottom of page) solvingleakygut.com

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James October 30, 2016 at 11:46 am

There are no scientific papers that establish leaky gut as a real disease. Leaky gut means increased intestinal permeability which we know does exist and leaky gut syndrome is something that we believe to exist and that we believe could be a cause of many conditions, including allergies, atopic conditions, autoimmune conditions, and increased susceptibility to infections. So far there is no “proof” simply because doctors and medical professionals refuse to admit that leaky gut exists, but tests must say otherwise as there are tests, such as the lactulose test, that can show positive in those with a permeable intestine and negative in those who don’t, and that to me says that there must be an existence somewhere. However, as for proof or evidence, you won’t find much as it is a “suspected” syndrome due to the refusal of specialists to believe in it. But, like I said, the fact that there are tests that have proven to work and diagnose a permeable intestine is enough proof to me that there is an existence of leaky gut somewhere. Also, specific diets, including the SCD diet, have improved symptoms in many people, suggesting another link.
I hope I helped. Have a good week.

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Mariel Heiss October 31, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Hi James – sorry but this is NOT correct.

There are plenty of reputable papers, doctors, and western medical experts who understand and accept leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability).

Some of the best research comes from Dr. Alessio Fassano. Here is just one paper you might be interested in checking out: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16265432

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James October 31, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Okay, I have clearly misunderstood research. This is just what my gastroenterologist said to me, and also many of my doctors have told me “leaky gut syndrome is a fantasy illness”, which I disbelieve as I believe it exists. Because of this, I assumed there was no proof of the syndrome and presumed that was the reason they were telling me this, and I assumed it then turned into a “does it, or doesn’t it?” type of thing, atleast in the UK.
Please accept my deepest apologies. Have a good day.

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Mariel Heiss November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

No need to apologize!! Up until fairly recently, many people did not accept leaky gut as a real issue. (Just like MANY other diseases were not accepted as genuine issues for years and years). Luckily science is catching up to what people have been experiencing 🙂 Glad to have you here James!

Chrissy August 14, 2016 at 9:56 am

Im unable to attend webinar and would like to know about the SCD
From reading the article I’m having a severe case of leaky gut how can you help

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Mariel Heiss August 15, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Hi Chrissy –

You read more here: http://justforyou.solvingleakygut.com

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James August 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

I found this very interesting. Not long ago today I spoke to Mariel about the low stomach acid and autoimmunity/allergies link, and she gave me some good advice. After reading her reply, I decided to view some of the posts about leaky gut syndrome. Cortisol is a big one for ripping your gut to shreds, and I have adrenal insufficiency so I have to take oral steroids to replace the cortisol that my adrenal glands do not produce – I’m not sure if that would also contribute to a leaky gut? Thankfully, I avoid NSAIDs as I am asthmatic. I also think medications – such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, proton pump inhibitors, beta-blockers, corticosteroids, dopamine antagonists, and many others – can contribute to leaky gut because they can have devastating effects on the digestive system, not to mention leaky gut then being the possible primary cause of other illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease, asthma, Graves disease, and Hashimoto’s disease, as you mentioned. The scary thing is, we think these illnesses are a primary thing, but little do we know that they could be a secondary thing, with leaky gut syndrome being the primary cause, and hopefully this article will bring awareness to many people. Thankyou, Jordan, for doing this. You’re a great inspiration, my friend.

Take care! 🙂

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Mariel Heiss August 22, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Thanks for your kind and insightful comment James 🙂

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Sherri September 15, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Hi! My name is Sherri. I have read this site, taken the quiz, which rated me in the high risk range. I was diagnosed with IBS and diverticulitis at age 27. In my 40’s I was diagnosed with multiple mental health issues including ADHD. I now suffer with horrible carpal tunnel, horrible systemic inflammation, terrible muscle spasms, multiple heart conditions, 13 different back diagnosis, severe sleep apnea and it seems like an endless list of other things including testing for MS(no results yet). I take on average of 25 meds before bed! Some for pain, some for panic disorder, most for mental health, etc. what can I do?! Sometimes I don’t go to the bathroom for up to 15 days! I’ve gone as long as 6 weeks! I feel like I’m falling apart. I’m convinced it’s leaky gut and I signed up for the webinar. Where else can I get information while I’m waiting?

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Mariel Heiss September 16, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Hi Sherri – we’re so glad you signed up for the webinar!

In the meantime you can learn more here: solvingleakygut.com

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James October 29, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Hi Sherri, I hope you are doing okay. I just feel the need to reply to your comment about constipation as I, too, suffer with it. I have IBS so can swing from one to the other but tend to get constipation more often, and it could also be my medication (I have many illnesses (22 to be exact) and medications too). It might be worth taking one sachet of Movicol per day, or you could take more if it doesn’t work but start conservatively. Taking one Senokot at night along-side may also help. Unfortunately, this does mean adding more medication to the list, but if it restores and maintains regularity then it may be worth trying it. Leaky gut is a possible cause, I also wouldn’t be surprised if alot of my problems are related to intestinal permeability, particularly my asthma, eczema, dermatitis, acne, fibromyalgia, GORD/GERD, IBS, and possibly my mood disorders. Together these illnesses cause me symptoms of pain, sometimes excruciating pains; fatigue (extreme tiredness); headaches and migraines; brainfog; nausea and vomiting; constipation and diarrhoea; excessive thirst; frequent urinating; belching; flatulence; hair loss; weight gain; tearfulness; anxiety; irritability; emotional oversensitivity. This list is by no means complete, but if I listed all my symptoms it would crash the system LOL 😀 – However, I try to keep happy and have a good sense of humour, or am told I do anyway, as I believe in staying happy. I hope I helped!
I wish you well and hope you have a great week, and the same for the SCDLifestyle team. Take care everyone 🙂

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James October 29, 2016 at 6:35 pm

It’s quite unfortunate and sad to know that leaky gut has the potential to ruin peoples life by causing severe and disabling illnesses, some of which even having the potential to be fatal. I know I commented on this article in August, but I feel it necessary to comment again as I came across it. I’m not sure if leaky gut is the cause of my problems, but I am sadly disabled by a set of illnesses that affect my daily life. I am unable to wash myself, unable to walk more than 50 meters or so, etc. I have many problems, including severe asthma, atopic eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis, fibromyalgia, adrenal insufficiency, OCD, and about 17 more. These illnesses actually suddenly got worse in 2012 as that is when I became disabled by them. One thing admired about me is that I stay happy and always make people laugh despite always having debilitating symptoms; you’d never think it to look at me (unless times when they are too severe for me to hide them, ofcourse, but I stay happy even then!).
The thing is, we think of these illnesses that I just said I have as “primary” or idiopathic, but they may not be. If leaky gut syndrome is responsible, that would make them secondary to leaky gut, giving people the false belief that there illness is primary or idiopathic, so articles like this are needed to raise awareness and prevent it tricking people. It’s just sad to think that it can ruin lives in the form of causing illnesses that can cause symptoms of severe pain, fatigue, disability, and even death, and my heart goes out to anyone suffering in these ways, and if anyone happens to be reading this that suffers in this way, I would just like to say: my heart goes out to you, and I know how you feel in terms of suffering, but do your best to stay happy and do the things you love, as someone does love you, even if you feel nobody loves you, someone does, more people than you may think. Stay strong.

To the SCDLifestyle team (Jordan, Steve, Mariel, Lori, and everyone/anyone else), I hope you have a wonderful week 🙂

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Mariel Heiss October 31, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment, James. Your perseverance and positive attitude will take you far on your healing journey! We are rooting for you.

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Bill November 4, 2016 at 12:28 am

Are there rules about posting here that I don’t know about? Are external links not allowed? Trying to post information that might help people here and I can’t do it!

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Lori Jo Berg November 4, 2016 at 1:57 pm

HI Bill – posting links about pertinent or helpful information is allowed. Not sure why you’re having trouble with this but you may want to switch browsers and see if that makes a difference.

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Irma November 26, 2016 at 8:01 am

I have painful arthritis in my feet an aching back and joints especially my hips. I’m sure I have leaky gut because I have been taking NSAIDs twice daily for last 7 years. I have cut out all gluten, dairy and nightshade veg. I eat fish, beef or chicken with loads of veg and some fruit. I use coconut and olive oils. I make my own fermented cabbage and carrots which I eat twice daily. I supplement with Omega 3, vitamin d, msm, glucosamine/chondroitin, curcumin and have just started taking glutamine and digestive enzymes prior to breakfast and supper. Unfortunately I am unable to give up the NSAIDs at this stage due to the pain, but I have reduced the dosage and try to skip a day or two. Will my gut begin to heal even although I’m still using the NSAIDs? I know that they have a huge role in causing the problem but I don’t know what else to do to manage the pain. Mr doctor has prescribed marijuana oil for pain, but do not get any any relief from it, although I am sleeping better. ( it is produced locally in someone’s back yard)

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Lori Jo Berg November 28, 2016 at 10:21 am

Hi Irma – great questions. Changing your diet is going to play a huge role in allowing the gut to heal so you’re off to a good start there. I’d recommend taking it a step further and following the Leaky Gut diet as well as registering for one of our webinars here: http://solvingleakygut.com/webinar/live/ As for continuing the NSaids – I’d recommend taking them as little as possible. It’s hard to say exactly how much the gut will be allowed to heal while still on them, but your chances are much better if the diet is dialed in.

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