Leaky Gut Syndrome: Science, Symptoms & Solutions
Naturopathic Physicians have been diagnosing Leaky Gut Syndrome for decades, in their quest for treating the cause(s) in patients suffering from indigestion, allergies, hormonal imbalance, brain, skin & autoimmune diseases. Only recently has this condition become more mainstream as scientists are investigating the profound link between Leaky Gut Syndrome and various chronic diseases. Much of our North American population unknowingly struggles with leaky gut given our society’s poor diet, toxic exposures and chronic stress. Although a century of documentation exists, Medical Doctors are finally acknowledging the validity of this affliction.
You would think that Leaky Gut Syndrome would target digestive function only. In fact, Leaky Gut Syndrome is the cause for many severe & chronic health conditions, as bowel health determines overall health. This has been since Hippocrates, who stated “All Disease Begins In The Gut”. We review the science, symptoms, causes and solutions for Leaky Gut Syndrome, so you can take charge of your health.
Science of Leaky Gut Syndrome
The intestines are a site for digestion and absorption of nutrients, to an acceptably small size. Imagine straining vegetable broth to keep out the large spices and chunks of vegetables. Your intestines have “tight junctions” that, like the size of the mesh in the sieve, allows only liquid or very small molecules to go through (permeability). The intestines have this protective barrier, which is the first line of defense in your immune system, to prevent bacteria, toxins and undigested food from attacking through the bowel.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is scientifically termed as “increased intestinal permeability” or intestinal barrier dysfunction. This means that there are holes in the sieve or damage to the intestines (tight junctions). This allows larger, undigested food particles, toxins and unwanted microbes to enter your system and break down your immunity.
Proper immunity towards food relies on the intestinal permeability of the gut to regulate passage of nutrients and restrict larger molecules. This regulation relies on complex physical, chemical & immune mechanisms. In predisposed individuals, when food allergies develop they cause allergic reaction & inflammation damaging the gut lining, increasing intestinal permeability. This intestinal barrier dysfunction means more allergens enter through the leaky gut, triggering more inflammation, which perpetuates the vicious cycle including the development of more food allergies, per Perrier 2011.
Gut bacterial balance (microbiome) plays a critical role in regulating intestinal permeability per Kelly 2015. Negative microbiome changes can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome, and leads to overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast & fungi which can enter the body through the leaky gut causing systemic yeast infection (Candidiasis) which itself can lead to the symptoms below.
Conditions Associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Autism, ADD, ADHD
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Diabetes Type I
- Food Allergies
- Hashimoto’s Thyroid
- Irritable Bowel
- Kidney Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ulcerative Colitis
Symptoms from Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome may also present with vague symptoms, such as:
- Anxiety, Depression
- Constipation, Diarrhea
- Candida / Fungal Infections
- Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia
- Cravings for Sweets / Carbs
- Food Allergies / Sensitivities
- Gas, Bloating
- Heartburn / Reflux
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Joint Pain
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Recurrent Infections
- Skin Diseases
- Thyroid Issues
- Weight Gain
Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome may be triggered by improper diet, toxins, bacterial imbalance & chronic stress.
Dietary Factors That Cause Leaky Gut Syndrome
Food Allergies associated with increased intestinal permeability in studies since Barau 1990
Sugar feeds yeast (Candida), bad bacteria & parasites that can overpower your good bacteria causing an unhealthy bowel environment (dysbiosis). The toxins produced from dysbiosis triggers inflammation which leads to changes in intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut Syndrome) & autoimmune diseases per Brown 2012.
Alcohol adds yeast into your system leading to dysbiosis & leaky gut. Leclercq 2014 confirmed that “gut microbiota could alter the gut-barrier function and influence behavior in alcohol dependence”.
Other than overstimulating acidity in the stomach, caffeine looks similar to gluten so your body may also react to coffee proteins if you are allergic to gluten.
Gluten is a protein in grains that degrades your gut lining. Arrieta 2006 discusses the damaging role of gluten in leaky gut syndrome.
Cow’s milk & products contain the protein casein which inflames your gut as pasteurization destroys enzymes, making the lactose sugar hard to digest
Genetically Modified Foods
Scientifically altered to resist bugs and this process concentrates the lectins in these foods, making them more damaging to your gut
High in phytates & lectin proteins which damage intestinal lining through inflammation, causing Leaky Gut Syndrome & autoimmune disease in some
We are exposed to thousands of chemicals & toxins through Pesticides, Antibiotics, Tap Water, NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) like Ibuprofen (Advil), Chemotherapy, Radiation. These toxins act like fire to scorch your intestinal lining leading to Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Dysbiosis is an unhealthy bowel environment which occurs with an imbalance of bad guys versus good guys. Certain factors cause this negative microbiome, as increased yeast, bad bacteria & parasites overpower your good bacteria. The toxins produced from dysbiosis triggers inflammation which leads to changes in intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut Syndrome) & autoimmune diseases in those genetically predisposed.
Elements That Provoke Bowel Dysbiosis Include:
- Psychological Stress
- High Sugar / Carb Diet
- Sulfates (Preservatives, Dried Fruits, Dehydrated Vegetables, Shellfish, Fruit Juices, Baked Goods, White Bread, Alcohol)
- Overgrowth of Yeast, Fungi, Parasites & Toxic Bacteria
Stress has a dramatic effect on your overall system by weakening immunity and increasing vulnerability to infection from bacteria, yeast (fungi), viruses & parasites. The profound impact on the gut is evident by changes in movements, secretions & intestinal permeability, reducing it’s healing ability, dysbiosis and causing chronic inflammation leading to Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Solutions to Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome
The key to addressing your leaky gut is a combination of treating the cause(s) and healing the existing damage. It is critical to understand that just popping pills will not rectify possibly decades of damage. It is just as important to change your diet as it is to supplement for optimal restoration of your intestinal permeability.
Address Dietary Issues
- Avoid Your Food Allergies
- Increase Good Fats: Avocado, Coconut Oil, Nuts, Seeds, Hemp Oil, Flax Oil
- Avoid Trans “Bad” Fats: Fried Foods, Margarine, Vegetable Oils
- Focus on Organic & NON-GMO Foods
- Drink Filtered Water
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol & Artificial Sweeteners
- Avoid Sugar & Excess Carbs: Use Healthier Sweeteners & Recipes: Coconut Sugar, Stevia, Xylitol
- Balance Carbs with Protein to Stabilize Blood Sugar
- Focus on Healthful Foods Specific to You
Balance Bowel Environment for Optimal Health
Probiotics are various forms of good bacteria, necessary to rebalance the bowel environment, by overpowering the bad guys (bad bacteria, yeast, parasites). Probiotics are essential for treating Leaky Gut Syndrome, as research has shown its prominent role in gut, brain and bowel health, and many conditions as above.
Supplements to Restore Healthy Gut Function
Quercitin improves gut barrier, minimizes histamine release (allergic reactions)
N-Acetyl-D-Glucosamine (NADG) protects and restores a healthy mucosal layer, healthy immune modulation
Acacia senegal FibregumTM supports the growth of good bacteria & intestinal cell function
Vitamin A (All trans Beta-Carotene) maintain mucous membranes & healthy immune function
Digestive Enzymes minimizes large, undigested particles of food escaping into the blood stream, causing food allergies & the resulting inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining
Probiotics research has shown its prominent role in gut, brain and bowel health, good bacteria rebalances bowel environment by overpowering the bad guys – bad bacteria, yeast, parasites. Rosenfeldt 2004, Hulston 2015
Yeast Killer promotes good bacteria balance in those with unhealthy diets, history of chronic antibiotic use, or overgrowth of disease-causing microbes including Clostridium difficile, Helicobacter pylori or Candida albicans, anti-fungal effect for systemic yeast infections (candidiasis), 2000% stronger than common anti-fungal agent (caprylic acid)
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