Leaky Gut Syndrome is one of many diseases that results from chronic inflammation. Poor gut health and inflammatory bowel diseases can be significant causes. Identified by naturopaths more than 25 years ago, leaky gut syndrome has now been recognised by the medical profession as Gut Permeability.
Gut Health is Connected to All Aspects of Your Health
Gastrointestinal issues may be as simple as gas and bloating, or as severe as food sensitivity and constipation, yet these conditions are not a natural part of daily health or the process of ageing. Gut health serves as a direct indicator of overall health; thus, digestive issues can be symptoms of more serious conditions.
The Gut Responds to Diet and Lifestyle
The gut is very responsive to your diet and lifestyle. Many conditions, such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, are both reversible and curable. This article is designed to address basic queries including:
- What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- What causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- What are the signs and symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- Are there diagnostic tests for Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- How to reverse and heal Leaky Gut Syndrome – Reset, Replenish, Resist
Being more informed about your health, and Leaky Gut Syndrome can support you to ask appropriate questions with a qualified natural medicine practitioner.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome involves the lining of the gastrointestinal tract becoming leaky or more permeable, like small holes in a boat, allowing wastes, toxins, and pathogens to escape the gut and enter the bloodstream.
It is estimated that the gut contains as many as 500 different species of microbes which make up around 1.5 to 3 kilograms of an individual’s total body weight! Most of these microbes are good for you and essential for adequate immunity, digestion, and survival while others can lead to infection and disease.
Substances within the gut are usually destined to remain in the gut. Alternatively, they are excreted from the body—not circulated throughout the body. So, those circulating substances can cause a host of painful symptoms and co-morbidities.
What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
To understand what causes Leaky Gut Syndrome, it is important to first appreciate the role of the gut lining in overall health. The gut lining can be thought of as a chain-linked fence that allows nutrients to cross and holds water and electrolytes in but prevents substances such as allergens, bacteria, fungi, and parasites from crossing (leaking).
The gut lining comprises a surface area of approximately 400 square meters and requires twice as much energy as the brain to function effectively. The condition of the gut lining directly influences overall health.
Conditions like Leaky Gut Syndrome can damage that fence, enlarge its holes, and ultimately allow harmful substances to cross. Despite its challenging symptoms, Leaky Gut Syndrome does not occur all at once.
Inflammation can Trigger Leaky Gut
There are varying degrees of the severity of Leaky Gut Syndrome which are induced by several inflammatory triggers including:
- Blood sugar imbalance
- Food allergies
- Low stomach acid
- Sleep deprivation
- Environmental toxins
- Too little or too much physical activity
Any of these factors can put the immune system into overdrive thereby damaging the gut lining. A damaged gut lining allows bacteria, large food particles, and debris to enter the bloodstream and be mistaken for potentially harmful microbes. Thus, the immune system launches an even greater attack generating a buildup of inflammation within the gut that can ultimately spread to the joints, skin, thyroid, and even the brain.
This spreading inflammation is commonly referred to as chronic inflammation.
Genetic / Hereditary Connections to Leaky Gut Syndrome
Ongoing research is seeking to confirm a genetic or hereditary component that predisposes individuals to develop Leaky Gut Syndrome. For instance, one study found that 70 percent of people who were related to someone with celiac disease but did not currently have any symptoms of the disease, had greater intestinal permeability than people not related to someone with celiac disease.
This may be a genetic issue and/or possibly a hereditary one connected to the inherited microbiome via the mother’s birth canal as well as contact with all family members.
Also, a specific hormone called melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) regulates gut lining permeability. So, deficiency in MSH could also contribute to the development of Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Perhaps more important to the genes we inherit, is the lifestyles we lead. Bad habits are often ‘inherited’ from our parents and families. Remembering the role that epigenetics (lifestyle factors) plays on our genes, what we do often outweighs what we were born with.
Signs and Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome manifests itself in different ways depending on the status of the immune system, as well as your degree of chronic inflammation and exposure to inflammatory triggers. For these reasons, signs and symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome vary and may include one or more of the following:
- Abdominal bloating
- Acid reflux
- Acne or eczema
- Adrenal fatigue
- Anxiety, depression, or mood swings
- Bad breath
- Changes in cognition
- Chronic fatigue
- Crohn’s Disease
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Difficulty losing weight
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Hormonal dysfunction
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Joint pain and swelling
- Liver or gallbladder issues
- Nutritional malabsorption
- Rashes or hives
- Seasonal allergies
- Skin fungus
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Ulcers in the small intestine
Leaky Gut Syndrome can also increase the risk for underlying conditions such as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Candida Overgrowth, or Parasite Infection as a result of bacterial imbalance.
How to Reverse and Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome
These following suggestions should be discussed with an qualified natural medicine practitioner/naturopath.
Avoid Inflammatory Triggers
After assessing and treating the gut, it is essential to RESIST as many of the inflammatory triggers as possible. Some triggers such as pregnancy, menopause, and even environmental toxins are unavoidable; yet, maintaining the REPLENISH phase of the treatment plan should help to overcome those triggers’ effects.
Try using natural means to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Ginger is sometimes considered as effective as aspirin and ibuprofen in fighting inflammation, ginger promotes digestion as well as motility within the gut. Ginger has been used for ages to relieve symptoms related to heartburn, nausea, migraines, menstruation, and morning or motion sickness. However, ginger also has an antimicrobial ability which resists bacteria commonly involved in leaky-gut or gastrointestinal infection.
It can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months to fully heal the gut. After all, since Leaky Gut Syndrome does not develop overnight, curing this condition may take some time.
Follow a consistent treatment plan to recover from Leaky Gut Syndrome
- “Plugging up” the leaks in the gut lining
- Replenish the gut with essential nutrients
- Resist inflammatory triggers
With this approach, gut health will improve and the body will be well on its way to recovery.
Get the Right Support
Always consult a qualified natural medicine practitioner or Naturopath who is trained in healing the digestive tract and able to provide ongoing support and assistance. If you would like a personalised consultation, contact True Medicine on 07-55301863.
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Kresser, C. (2016, September). RHR: How to tell if you have a leaky gut. Retrieved from https://chriskresser.com/how-to-tell-if-you-have-a-leaky-gut/
Romm, A. (2014, May). 10 Signs that you have a leaky gut + how to heal it. Retrieved from https://avivaromm.com/10-signs-leaky-gut/
Article courtesy of Mindd Foundation – www.mondd.org