Do you suspect you may be suffering from Leaky Gut, or have you been diagnosed with this syndrome? If the answer to either question is yes, then you likely do. In fact, if you feel unwell often, then the chances are, you have an overly permeable intestinal tract. After all, the gut is the “gateway to good health”.
It’s all over the internet, health channels, shows “how to heal your leaky gut”. The reason why? It’s one of the leading causes to feeling unwell. In fact, if you feel unwell often, then the chances are, you have an overly permeable intestinal tract. After all, the gut is the “gateway to good health”. More on that in a bit.
So, what are the most commons signs of leaky gut?
Signs You May Have Leaky Gut:
- Allergies or asthma
- Digestive disturbances like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, IBS, IBD, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis
- Food allergies or food sensitivities
- Skin problems like acne or eczema
- Depression, anxiety, brain fog, poor mental clarity or ADD and ADHD
- Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue
- Nutritional deficiencies
I thought so..I bet you can name several family and friends that have one or more of these symptoms, including yourself.
Now, let’s get down to understanding what exactly is leaky gut?
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut is a diagnostic term in order to label an ailment. Really, what it means is that you have an overly permeable intestinal tract. In a perfectly healthy individual, the mucosal surface of the stomach and intestines contain tight junctions, which are small, microscopic openings that allow only fully digested dietary components like single amino acids and individual vitamin and mineral molecules to pass through into the blood stream.
When those tight junctions become less tight, due to a number of causal factors, some of which are listed below, instead of single amino acids from the digested food passing through the mucosal surface, undigested food particles are able to pass through into general circulation. Basically, rather than a single amino acid passing through, a strand of amino acids may sneak through the barrier.
So what’s that mean? You see, when the immune system sees these undigested food particles, knowing they’re not supposed to be there, it sends out its troops, or immunoglobulins, to attack the invaders. This causes an inflammatory response, leading to any or all of the symptoms above.
That’s just the first item of business of how leaky gut can affect your system. The second is toxins. Not only are the undigested food particles able to pass through, but so are toxins and other byproducts. When this happens the liver then has to metabolize and clear, causing additional stress on an already over-stressed and congested organ.
You can easily see how “leaky gut” causes major health symptoms for humans all over the world, especially here in America with our lifestyle today.
Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome
There are many factors that lead to the erosion of the intestinal mucosa, some of which are spoken about regularly, others that tend to be overlooked. Some of those causes are:
- Gluten or gluten-containing foods like wheat, rye, spelt, oat, barley & hops.
- Allergenic foods like dairy, corn & soy
- NSAID medications like Advil, Motrin and even aspirin
- Antibiotics and other medications
- Intestinal infections like parasites, bacteria, fungus and candida
- Pancreatic insufficiency preventing proper digestion
- Environmental toxins like pesticides/insecticides, heavy metals like mercury and lead, EMF’s, BPA’s, as well as household cleaning products and toxic body products
- Ingested toxins from GMO’s and pesticide ridden foods
- All forms of stress, including mental/emotional, as well as environmental & biochemical as mentioned above
Lab Tests to Diagnose Leaky Gut
There are several lab tests that can be performed by your practitioner in order to detect leaky gut.
The Mannitol/Lactulose test is probably the most common test. To perform this test, you’ll consume a liquid containing both mannitol and lactulose, then fast for 8 hours before collecting a urine sample. If both mannitol and lactulose are elevated, it’s an indication of increased intestinal permeability. If mannitol is low, there is likely a malabsorption issue.
Another common lab test is the Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen, which measures intestinal permeability to large molecules that inflame the immune system. The lab will analyze a blood sample, and measure antibodies against bacterial endotoxins, tight junction proteins and cell cytoskeleton, and identifies intestinal barrier penetration.
In my opinion, both of these tests are generally unnecessary. If you suffer from a few of, or many of the symptoms mentioned earlier, chances are, you have intestinal permeability issues. If you have multiple food sensitivities or intestinal infections, leaky gut is likely present.
So the continued and popular question is how do you fix this?
How To Restore a Leaky Gut Naturally
Leaky gut is generally not something that is quick to restore, it can take many months to several years in many cases. Here are a few tips on how to restore your GI function.
- Reduce your stress. This, in my experience, is one of the most vital pieces that is often overlooked. If you’re one of those people that lives in a constant fight or flight mode, or sympathetic dominance, (if you’re reading this, my assumption is you are), it’s going to be very difficult to heal anything.When you’re stressed, your body prepares you for either fight, or flight. Your vitals enhance, like increased breathing and blood flow to the extremities, awareness increases, stored glycogen is converted to glucose for immediate energy demands, etc. At the same time, your non-vitals slow or halt, such as digestion and detoxification, immune system regulation, and mucosal regeneration.Try removing yourself from the stressful situation, practice meditation, or even try supplements to help push you from that sympathetic state to the parasympathetic state. Some supplements that may be helpful are 5HTP, GABA, low dose lithium orotate or tyrosine. I do not recommend any of these supplements without supervision by a qualified practitioner.
- Remove all things that negatively affect the integrity of the mucosal barrier of the GI tract. Such things include all gluten containing foods and foods that you’re sensitive to, which can be detected by a food sensitivities test. Avoid processed or refined foods. Also, remove as many toxins from your environment as possible, switching to natural household and personal products.
- Eradicate any intestinal infections you may have. Those infections like parasites, candida, yeast, fungus and bacteria emit endotoxin byproducts that further erode that mucosal lining.
- Add in digestive aids like enzymes, HCL and bile acids in order to assist with the digestion process. Also a high potency mixed strain probiotic can be helpful to replenish the good bacteria that protects that mucosal integrity.
- Add in nutrients to restore that mucosal integrity, helping to make those tight junctions tight again. L-glutamine, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, aloe and glucosamine can be helpful.
As previously mentioned, restoring gut integrity could take quite a bit of time, but as it does restore, so will many of your other health complaints.
If you feel you need professional support, or lab testing, please feel free to reach out to us for a Functional Health Assessment.
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