Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut (often referred to as increased intestinal permeability) is classified as malfunction in the intestinal tight junctions in the digestive tract, allowing larger-than-usual particles to pass from the digestive system into the bloodstream. Think of the lining of your digestive tract like a net with extremely small holes in it that only allow specific substances to pass through. Your gut lining works as a barrier keeping out bigger particles that can damage your body’s systems.

When someone has leaky gut, the “net” in your digestive tract gets damaged, which causes even bigger holes to develop in your net, so things that normally can’t get through, are now be able to pass. These include proteins such as gluten, bad bacteria and undigested foods particles. Toxic waste can also leak from the inside of your intestinal wall into your bloodstream causing an immune reaction.

When this happens, the balance of inflammatory immune responses is interrupted, leading to chronic inflammation and diminished immunity. Although no causal relationships have yet been officially established, leaky gut is correlated with a large number of issues and diseases, including digestive disorders, depression, autism, celiac disease, autoimmune disease and more.

Common leaky gut symptoms include food sensitivities, digestive issues, autoimmune disease, thyroid dysfunction, nutrient malabsorption, inflammatory skin conditions and brain-related issues such as depression and autism.

Leaky gut syndrome is not a recognised diagnosis in the medical community yet – but I’m confident it will be recognised in the near future, due to the vast body of research that has already been conducted.

Leaky Gut Symptoms

  • Bloating

  • Food sensitivities

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Fatigue

  • Joint pain

  • IBD

  • Headaches

  • Skin issues like rosacea and acne

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Weight gain

  • Metabolic Syndrome

  • Mood issues and autism

 

One of the biggest warning signs that you may have leaky gut can be that you’re experiencing multiple food sensitivities. Partially digested protein and fat can seep through your intestinal lining, making their way into your bloodstream and causing an allergic response.

This allergic response doesn’t mean you’ll break out in a rash all over your body, but it can lead to one of the symptoms I’ve mentioned above. If left un-repaired, it can lead to more severe health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, IBS, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, muscle pain and chronic fatigue.  I recommend that you take a leaky gut test.

According to the Journal of Diabetes, there is a strong body of evidence pointing to leaky gut syndrome as a major cause of autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 Diabetes.

Another problem with leaky gut is that it can cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients including zinc, iron and vitamin B12.

 

The Main Causes for Leaky Gut

  • Poor diet

  • Chronic stress

  • Toxin overload

  • Bacterial imbalance
    The most common components of food that can damage your intestinal lining are the proteins found in un-sprouted grains, sugar, GMO’s and conventional dairy. The problem with un-sprouted grains is that they contain large amounts of antinutrients or nutrient blockers called phytates and lectins. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that act as a natural defence system for plants that protect them from outside invaders such as mould and parasites. This is good news for plants but bad news for your body. Your digestive lining is covered with sugar-containing cells that help break down your food. Lectins gravitate toward this area and when they attach to the digestive lining, it damages the gut and causes inflammation.

 

Lectins are found in many foods, not just grains, and consumed in smaller amounts, the body will do just fine with them. But foods that have large amounts of lectins are more problematic. Some of the lectins and foods that cause leaky gut include wheat, rice, spelt and soy.

Therefore, while you are working to heal leaky gut and cure autoimmune disease, stay away from all grains, especially ones that contain gluten such as wheat. Once your gut is healthy again, you can occasionally consume grains that have been fermented and sprouted.

Conventional cow’s milk is another food that can cause leaky gut. The component of dairy that will harm your gut is the protein A1 casein. In addition, the pasteurisation process will destroy vital enzymes, making sugars like lactose very difficult to digest. For this reason, I only recommend buying dairy that is raw and from A2 cows, goats, sheep, or buffalo.

Sugar is another substance that will harm your digestive system. Sugar will feed the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria, which will further damage your gut. Bad bacteria actually create toxins called exotoxins that damage healthy cells and can pierce a hole through your intestinal wall.

Other Causes for Leaky Gut

Chronic stress: It weakens your immune system over time, which cripples your ability to fight off foreign invaders such as bad bacteria and viruses, leading to inflammation and leaky gut. To reduce stress, I recommend getting more sleep, schedule exercise into your week, rest one day a week, try Heartmath for building resilience, and stay away from negative people.

Toxins: We come into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin and NSAIDS. I recommend installing at your home a high-quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and look to natural plant-based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.

Dysbiosis: Finally, one of the leading causes of leaky gut is a condition called dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut. For many, this imbalance can begin at birth because of a C-section or because the mother didn’t have a healthy gut herself. The overuse of prescription antibiotic drugs, tap water with chlorine and fluoride, and the lack of probiotic-rich foods (or not taking probiotic supplements) contribute to this imbalance of good and bad bacteria.

Leaky Gut Can Also Affect the Brain

If you’ve ever seen a child with autism or ADHD experience a mood swing, this can be caused by intestinal permeability. Gluten-free and casein-free diets have proven effective for many children with autism and ADHD because these proteins can leak through the gut and then recirculate and act on the brain similarly to an opioid drug.

This is also why leaky gut syndrome has been linked to other psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Therefore, very often, if you can heal the gut, you can heal the brain.

In a 2017 study, researchers studied 44 adults with irritable bowel syndrome and mild to moderate anxiety or depression. Half of the group took a probiotic and the other was given a placebo. Researchers found that twice as many patients saw improvements from depression when they took a probiotic as compared to the other patients who took a placebo. 

The Best Plan to Repair Leaky Gut

  • REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut

  • REPLACE with healing foods

    • Bone Broth

    • Fermented Vegetables

    • Raw Cultured Dairy (such as kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter and raw cheese)

    • Coconut products

    • Sprouted seeds (such as chia, flaxseeds and hemp seeds)

  • REPAIR with specific supplements (such as digestive enzymes, L-Glutamine, DGL, quercetin,

  • REBALANCE with probiotics

 

If you suffer from any leaky gut symptoms, I encourage you to consult with your healthcare professional about options for treatment. Many of my patients have seen improvements when adjusting to a healing, rather than disease and inflammation-causing diet together with suitable supplements and some other tweaks.  For more information please contact me

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