Leaky Gut Syndrome is one of the most misunderstood concepts in medicine today. Leaky Gut is not a single disease or syndrome; it is a pathological condition that occurs as part of many different diseases and syndromes.
Leaky gut syndrome, or increased intestinal permeability, is a proposed condition of an altered or damaged bowel lining. It is associated with inflammatory and infectious bowel diseases, several types of arthritis,acne, psoriasis, AIDS, chronic liver disease, pancreatic disease as well as numerous conditions triggered by food allergy, including eczema, hives, and irritable bowel syndrome .
The small intestine is the largest organ in our body and two-thirds of our immune system lies within its walls. The small intestine continuously activates itself by sampling the molecules that pass through the intestinal lining. This condition happens as a result of damage to the intestinal lining from toxins, poor diet, parasites, infection, or medications, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. The leaky gut then allows some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity.
The cause of this syndrome may be chronic inflammation, food sensitivity, damage from taking large amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), cytotoxic drugs and radiation or certain antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, or compromised immunity.
Crohn’s disease is a serious chronic intestinal disorder that affects almost a million people in the United States. People who develop Crohn’s disease may have a genetically induced increase in intestinal permeability that creates the inflammation in the bowel. This predisposing leakiness can be found in close relatives of patients with Crohn’s diseases, suggesting that it precedes the development of inflammation.
Celiac disease is an inherited intolerance to gluten(a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye)affects about one person in a hundred in North America. The inflammation caused by active celiac disease causes the leaky gut, which in turn causes some of the complications associated with celiac disease.
In rheumatoid arthritis,the drugs used to relieve pain and inflammation can damage the intestinal lining, leading to Leaky Gut Syndrome within two weeks. Leaky Gut Syndrome, in turn, is associated with aggravation of arthritis.
Allergic reactions to food,cause a transient increase in intestinal permeability. If this happens frequently, it may increase the number or severity of food allergies.
In chronic fatigue syndrome and major depressive disorder, Leaky Gut Syndrome activates the intestinal immune system to produce chemicals called cytokines that spread inflammation through your body.
Inflammation is an important trigger for symptoms like fatigue, malaise, pain, and depression.
Transient gut pain
A chronic skin condition
Pain in multiple joints
A sense of inability to absorb nutrients
If you use aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs on a regular basis
If you are a heavy drinker of alcohol
There are only a few laboratories that test for Leaky Gut Syndrome. High levels of antibodies to common food proteins or to normal intestinal bacteria may indicate increased intestinal permeability.Many research studies have used a challenge test involving a special solution consisting of two sugars, and seeing how much of each appears in the urine. A blood test for celiac disease is essential.
Few Steps to Help Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome
Stop drinking alcohol for at least a month. Alcohol consumption induces a state of “leaky gut” increasing plasma and liver endotoxin levels, leading to liver diseases.
Avoid any foods that you are allergic to. Make sure you are eating plenty of fiber.
Stop using aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
Have a stool test for intestinal parasites.
Adopt an anti-inflammatory dietary pattern including essential fatty acids like fish oil and GLA. Avoid foods with added sugar and refined starches, made from white flour. Decrease the consumption of saturated fat and most vegetable oils. Eat at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and at least 4 servings of fish per week.
There are dietary supplements that help the small intestine heal and restore its functional integrity. The most important of these are the amino acid L-glutamine and the amino sugar N-acetyl- glucosamine, which are readily available in health food stores. Glutamine, an amino acid that helps maintain intestinal metabolism and function and seems to benefit patients who have had the intestinal injury from chemotherapy and radiation.
Take Culturelle or another probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus GG.
Berberine is a constituent of several herbs. According to a 2010 study, berberine ameliorated damage to the tight junctions of intestinal epithelial cells. It is induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines (in vitro). Berberine may thus serve as a targeted therapeutic agent for restoring barrier function in intestinal disease states.