Leaky Gut Syndrome
An increasing number of Americans are being affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic exposures, and bacterial imbalance, leading to an increased prevalence of leaky gut syndrome.
Why should leaky gut syndrome concern you?
Leaky gut syndrome, also known as increased intestinal permeability, has been referred to as a “warning sign” for the development of autoimmune disease. It is very common for people on a Standard American Diet to struggle with poor gut function and high levels of inflammation.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The intestines are protected by a single layer of specialized epithelial cells that are linked together by tight junctions (TJ) proteins. Leaky gut symptoms are a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction. The tight junctions are the passageway between the intestines and your bloodstream. TJ proteins control what is allowed to pass into the bloodstream from your digestive system. Your GI tract, from mouth to anus, is a long tube that directly interfaces with the environment. No part of the external environment should get beyond this tube. TJ proteins have a very precise job; they have to maintain the delicate balance between allowing vital nutrients to enter your bloodstream, while remaining small enough to prevent xenobiotics (disease causing compounds from your diet and lifestyle) from passing into the bloodstream and travelling to the rest of your body. The result of this is a disruption causing acute inflammation and sometimes autoimmune reactions.
Underlying Causes of Leaky Gut
- Genetic predisposition: certain people may be sensitive to environmental factors that “trigger” their bodies to develop an autoimmune response
- Poor diet: especially a diet that includes inflammatory foods such as added sugars, GMO’s, refined oils, synthetic food additives and conventional dairy products.
- Chronic stress
- Toxic overload: includes high drug and alcohol consumption. We come into contact with over 80,000 chemical and toxins each year, but some of the biggest offenders to triggering leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin, and NSAIDS.
- Bacterial imbalance: called dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between the beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut. Recent evidence now shows that the gut microbiota is important in supporting the epithelial barrier and preventing autoimmunity.
What are the symptoms of Leaky Gut?
Below are seven leaky gut symptoms and early occurring conditions that may point to an issue with your gut health:
- Food sensitivities
Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are mass producing various antibodies, which make their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy). Allergies are believed to be one of the most common leaky gut symptoms.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Intestinal hyperpermeability is often seen in people suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
- Autoimmune Disease
The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through the research done on a protein called “zonulin”. Zonulin modulates the TJ proteins involved in trafficking of molecules across the epithelial barrier into the blood stream. When this zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory and neoplastic disorders can occur.
- Thyroid Problems
One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease, which is a disorder that causes hypothyroidism, impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, and weight gain.
- Nutrient Malabsorption
Various nutritional deficiencies can result from leaky gut, including vitamin B12, magnesium, and digestive enzymes.
- Inflammatory Skin Conditions
Intestinal hyperpermeability can cause an array of skin conditions, including acne and psoriasis.
- Mood Issues and Autism
Leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders.
How Do You Test For Leaky Gut?
Several Functional Tests are available that can help confirm a diagnosis and initiate treatment:
- Zonulin or Lactulose Tests
- IgG Food Intolerance Test
- Stool Tests
- Organic Acid Tests
- Lactulose and Mannitol Tests
How Do You Treat Leaky Gut?
The basic steps to healing leaky gut are as follows:
- REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut.
- REPLACE these with healing foods as you follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
- REPAIR the gut with specific supplements, such as butyric acid.
- REBALANCE your microbiome population with probiotics. This is key because bacteria in your gut are a major component of the intestinal barrier. They help promote resistance to pathogenic bacteria by competing for nutrients. Gut microbiota also regulate the digestion and absorption of nutrients and help supply epithelial cells with energy.
If you suffer from any leaky gut symptoms, please schedule a FREE Discovery call.