Leaky Gut Syndrome
The gut is naturally permeable so that very small molecules can be absorbed for vital nutrients. Regulating intestinal permeability is a basic function of cells that line the colon wall. When toxins enter our body, they are able to break apart the fibers that hold together the intestinal lining. One example of this is people intolerant to gluten. Gluten causes the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining.
The main culprits are foods, infections, and toxins. Gluten is the number one cause of leaky gut. Other inflammatory foods like dairy or toxic foods, such sugar and excessive alcohol. There are also infectious causes such as candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Toxins also may come in the form of medications, like Motrin, Advil, steroids, antibiotics, and acid-reducing drugs, and environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides and BPA from plastics. Stress and age also contribute to a leaky gut.
Once these fibers become loosely connected or broken apart, you have a leaky gut. Its basically what the name sounds like, your gut wall is no longer holding in all the toxins that can get into your blood stream. Toxins, microbes, undigested food particles, and more can leave from your intestines and travel throughout your body in your bloodstream.
Your immune system will then attack these “foreign invaders”. The immune response to these invaders is what you experience as symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.
Symptoms of leaky gut
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Seasonal allergies or asthma.
- Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS.
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD.
- Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema.
- Diagnosis of candida overgrowth.
- Food allergies or food intolerances.
Healing Leaky Gut
There are many supplements that support your digestive health. Restoring your gut health is vital to healing leaky gut and may be all you need to do. In some cases where the condition has been long-term, working with a naturopath or doctor would be a good idea. Some supplements that will help you with Leaky Gut include:
- Pro and Pre-biotics are an important supplement to take as they replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria.
- Digestive enzymes assist in breaking down foods you may be intolerant to.
- L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine acts as a protector and coats your cell walls which will repel irritants.
- Licorice Root is an adaptogenic herb which helps balance cortisol levels and will improve acid production in the stomach. Licorice root supports the maintenance of the mucosa lining within the stomach and duodenum.
- Quercetin improves the barrier function by sealing the gut because it supports the proteins that hold the fibers of the colon wall. It reduces the release of histamine which is common in food intolerance.
Debates are ongoing whether there is a relationship between leaky gut and migraines, as well as leaky gut and autism..