9 out of 10 people I know have digestion problems – whether it be a mild functional disorder or a more severe chronic disease.
The worst part is, some may not even recognize that these problems exist and live on years with compromised digestion, not knowing how it feels to have good gut health.
A number of digestive symptoms manifest in other parts of your body that can be mistaken as conditions unrelated to digestion. For example, eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition is linked to inflammation in the GI tract.
What happens when your digestive ‘machine’ (source of assimilation and energy production) breaks down and leaks unwanted substances into our sterile bloodstream? All sorts of unpleasant things start to happen.
But first, what do I mean when I say it ‘breaks down’?’
Our intestinal walls have incredible filtering capabilities to filter out unwanted substances from entering our bloodstream. Leaky gut is due to a compromised filtering system.
What happens when this filter is compromised?
It’s like the bouncer at your favorite club came to work drunk and started letting all sorts of crazies in.
That’s exactly what happens when your gut lining is compromised and damaged! It loses its ability to filter the good from the bad. Letting in foreign substances into the bloodstream that causes havoc to our immune system because it doesn’t know what to do with these unrecognizable invaders.
What’s worst, the symptoms of leaky gut take years to develop. So you can be enjoying a piece of whole wheat toast (with gluten) and a cup of milk alongside your favorite yogurt granola for years and years, until one day you start noticing stomach cramps and diarrhea – the onset of lactose intolerance. (This is very common in those who are lactose intolerant).
What Is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut syndrome is a digestive syndrome where damage to the gut lining increases permeability of the intestinal walls. When the gut is more permeable, toxins and foreign substances leak into your bloodstream that leads to a host of problems in the skin, digestive system and nervous system. Usually due to the use of over-the-counter drugs like antibiotic, Advil, Motrin, oral contraceptives, poor diet choices, stress and environmental factors.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
– oral contraceptives
– medications: antibiotics, advil, motrin,
How To Know If You Have Leaky Gut? Leaky Gut Syndrome Tests.
You drink a solution containing a pre-measured amount of mannitol and lactulose, two indigestible sugars. You collect your urine over the next 6 hours and measure the amount of excreted mannitol and lactulose to determine how much permeated through your gut.
I found this self-administered leaky gut lab testing online.
A reliable marker of intestinal permeability. (Ask your naturopath to check for this in your next blood test).
Leaky Gut Symptoms
You might be surprised at how many illnesses are linked to leaky gut.
Gliadin, a protein found in gluten triggers the release of serum zonulin, a human protein, that increases gut permeability. The release of zonulin “trigger[s] the gluten-specific adaptive immune response causing the autoimmune insult of the intestinal mucosa seen in patients with” Celiac Disease.
In other words, those with celiac disease respond more vigorously to zonulin, thus are more susceptible to intestinal damage that may lead to autoimmune disease. An interesting part of the study found that “once gluten is removed from the diet, serum zonulin levels decrease, the intestine resumes its baseline barrier function”…” the autoimmune process shuts off and, consequently, the intestinal damage (that represents the biological outcome of the autoimmune process) heals completely.”
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
The onset of diseases triggered by inflammation in the gut such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis have shown “there is a chronically leaky intestine, defects in the immune system need to be present for the development of IBD”.
“Breakdown of the intestinal barrier can occur as a result of intestinal infections or stress. The normal response involves several components of the immune system that help to heal the injury while controlling invading bacteria. When this normal response is defective and there is a leaky barrier, the risk of developing IBD is increased.”
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Sufferers of IBS often show increased gut permeability. Studies suggest that leaky gut leads to long term, low-level inflammation and impaired gastrointestinal movement and sensitivity.
Studies have shown a high prevalence of leaky gut in people with moderate to severe asthma, although it has yet to be confirmed whether it is a cause or consequence of asthma.
Food allergies and intolerances
A study has found food allergens transported across the intestinal cell wall appears to be a necessary step in the onset of a food allergy.
A 2010 study found that children with autism and first-degree relatives tend to have abnormal gut permeability. This suggests the use of intestinal permeability testing to determine individuals with autism that could benefit from an anti-inflammatory, ‘leaky gut diet’.7
Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
The imbalance of gut microbiome resulting in leaky gut was found to induce autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. This link may hold true for other autoimmune diseases, too.
Obesity and insulin resistance
Improving gut flora and gut permeability is found to help treat obesity and insulin resistance.
Studies have found that 35% of patients with depression also have leaky gut.
Studies as far back as 1986 has found a leaky gut connection in eczema patients.
How To Heal a Leaky Gut
The 4 pillars of restoring digestive health are:
Remove food allergens and toxic substances from your diet
Restore the gut with essential elements of a well functioning digestive system: hydrochloric acid, bile, digestive enzymes
Reinoculate the digestive system with healthy bacteria that nourishes the microbiome
Repair with essential vitamins vital to a healthy GI (Vitamin A, C, E, Zinc, and Selenium), also amino acids like L-Glutamine and DGL for the mucosal lining, Vitamins B6 and B12 to aid the digestive processes, and essential fatty oils (Omega 3 and Omega 6) for cellular function, repair and reducing inflammation.
Find out how to restore your leaky gut here.