What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Why You Should Know About it
This is a buzz word lately along with gut health and the microbiome. Why is this such as big deal? Should you even be concerned, especially if you do not have any stomach digestive issues?
The answer is yes, you should know how your gut health impacts many aspects of your health, not just physical but your mental health as well. It is a very common health issue today yet many people are unaware of it and traditional medical professionals do not address it typically, most likely because they have never been taught about it in medical school
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? (LGS)
Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) and intestinal permeability mean the same thing. When you have LGS, food particles that should normally be broken down into their parts (usually these are proteins) are instead passed through the gut lining in their unbroken down state. They then travel through the blood stream and can wreak havoc in your body. While there they trigger an over stimulation of the immune system and allergic reactions.
In a healthy gut, you would have tight junctions along the gut wall so that food gets digested and absorbed via the normal digestion process. This gut lining can become inflamed (for many reasons-see list below) and these tight junctions can separate creating holes in this protective barrier. The toxins are now passing through these tears in the intestinal wall. Once they enter the blood stream they can trigger an immune response which is protective rather than a healing response.
Think of LGS as intruders invading your home. If the door stays open (LGS) the intruders will constantly enter with nothing to stop them. Thus, if your root causes for LGS are not addressed, that door will continue to stay open and more damage will be done to your home. Over time then the issue become chronic.
Once the issue becomes chronic, it places stress upon the liver. The liver attempts to clean up this toxic overload but the liver may now be overburdened and cannot keep up. This burden will lead to even more consequences over time.
Over time this leads to low grade infections within the body and can affect your gut health but can also affect your brain and your liver. It can contribute to autoimmune disease, autism and allergies. It has been linked to MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and IBS to name a few.
- Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Poor immune functioning (get every cold that comes around or take a long time to recover form illness)
- Brain fog, memory loss
- Excessive fatigue
- Nutritional deficiencies (not absorbing your nutrients)
- Skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, acne)
- Other autoimmune conditions such as Hashimotos, celiac disease, fibromyalgia
- Arthritis, inflamed joints, chronic pain
- Changes in mood, weight, and appetite
What to Do if Have a Leaky Gut
The first thing to do if you know you have leaky gut is to identify what is causing it.
Some causes of leaky gut include (not an exhaustible list):
- Old age
- Alcohol abuse
- Chemo and radiation
- Parasitic infection
- GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, glyphosate
- Antibiotic use
- Food allergies/food sensitivities
- Standard American Diet
- Diet high in refined sugar and processed, refined carbs
- Gluten (today’s gluten is sprayed)
- Pasteurized dairy
- Meats from CAFO (confined animal factory operations)
- Chronic elevated cortisol levels
When you Have Identified your Causes (often there is more than one) Then Follow a Step by Step Protocol:
- Remove the identifying causes from your diet (if you need to, work with a nutritional professional who can help you identify your root causes and possibly order testing such as IgG food allergy testing, Stool testing, Organic Acid tests, zonulin or lactulose tests ).
- Add in supportive foods for your body, such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, quality fats and proteins. Eat whole foods as much as possible. Hydrate with filtered water and organic herbal teas.
- Add in herbs and supportive supplements to promote gut healing and liver detox (it is best to work under the guidance of a professional at this point as some herbs and supplements can interact with meds or may not be suitable for some health conditions)
- Add in prebiotic and probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kimchi, fermented vegetables, miso and tempeh, raw onions and garlic, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke.
How to Avoid LGS
The best way to avoid LGS is to avoid the list of roots causes above. In addition to that, supporting your gut health and your immune health is key with prebiotic and probiotic rich foods daily and stick to a whole foods diet as much as you can (I like an 80/20 plan).
Uses herbs and supplements as needed on an individualized basis. I don’t recommend specifics here because everyone has different needs and a different constitution and thus each plan should be targeted for your health needs instead of generalized.
- Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutics in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
- Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts Press.