Leaky Gut Syndrome: What It Looks Like and What To Do About It
“Leaky gut syndrome” has some symptoms including cramps, gas, bloating, aches and pains, and food sensitivities – but it’s more of a medical mystery than hard science, at this point. Dr. Donal Kirby at the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic says, “It’s a very gray area. Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”
“Leaky gut” isn’t something taught in medical school, rather it means that there’s a diagnosis out there that hasn’t been made. Sometimes, it can be very difficult to pin-down the causality for symptoms, so they treat those rather than the cause simply because they don’t know what the cause is!
Even though it’s not a conventional diagnosis, and typically not recognized by conventional physicians, that doesn’t mean it’s not an actual thing. The current theory is that leaky gut syndrome (also referred to as “increased intestinal permeability”) is the result of intestinal lining damage, which makes it less able to protect the internal environment and filter out nutrients. Consequently, some waste that isn’t normally absorbed, incompletely digested proteins and fats, along with bacterium and their toxins, “leak” out of the intestines and into the bloodstream. This leakage triggers an autoimmune reaction, which leads to gastrointestinal problems (which we mentioned before) as well as skin rashes, joint pain, and autoimmunity.
What causes this to happen or triggers this syndrome is up for debate, however here are some commonalities:
Diet: Consuming a high amount of refined sugars, preservatives, processed foods, refined flours, and artificial flavors introduces a massive amount of chemicals into the body that can be seen as toxic.
Inflammation: Any type of inflammation in the gut can lead to leaky gut. This can happen when there’s low stomach acid, which then passes undigested food into the small intestine, which then irritates everything while it goes by, yeast and bacterial overgrowth, infection, excessive environmental toxins, (see “Diet”) and even parasites.
Medications: Most prescriptions, or even over the counter, pain relievers with acetaminophen or aspirin can irritate the intestinal lining and decrease mucus, which is imperative to digestion. This can start, or help, an inflammation cycle and increase chances of permeability.
Zinc Deficiency: Zinc is crucial to maintaining a strong intestinal lining. Deficiency in this vitamin can lead to a loss of mucosal lining. Studies show that supplementing Zinc when it’s deficient can dramatically improve a person’s health.
Yeast: Yeast is normal gut flora, but if it gets out of hand it mutates into a fungus that grows tentacles that quickly latch onto the intestinal wall and stay there, causing holes in the lining.
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So, what now? Well, outside of seeing a physician and getting a comprehensive stool test, here’s what you can do on your own.
The 4 R’s
• Remove the bad. Get rid of things that have a negative effect on the GI tract like toxic foods and medications, as well as ones that inflame the system, and rid yourself of any intestinal infection.
• Replace with good. Get moving with some essential ingredients for digestion and absorption such as hydrochloric acid, bile acids, and digestive enzymes.
• Restore beneficial bacteria to your system to reestablish a healthy balance of bacteria.
• Repair by providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself. L-glutamine, for example, is an amino acid that helps rejuvenate the lining of the intestinal wall.