Leaky Gut Syndrome
Experiencing gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, as well as other symptoms such as allergies, eczema, acne, and even depression can all be related to the syndrome known as “Leaky Gut”.
The theory is that leaky gut syndrome also called “increased intestinal permeability”, is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to filter and digest nutrients. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins as well as incompletely digested proteins and fats, may “leak” out of the intestines into the bloodstream.
This medical mystery is a very gray area for many physicians who can’t seem to put a finger on the exact cause of the condition. Although the diagnosis of the leaky gut syndrome is controversial, there are hundreds of research articles in traditional medical literature connecting leaky gut syndrome to many diseases because the intestinal lining is the first mechanism of defense for our immune system. (1)
Symptoms of Leaky Gut can vary from person to person depending on the level of damage and the tissues being affected. Multiple food sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, and skin rashes are all signs that your immune system is becoming overburdened by the foreign invaders entering the bloodstream.
There could be several contributing factors to this issue…
Many of the grains consumed in the western diet contain gliadin which gives bread the ability to rise properly during baking. Gliadin is one of the main components of the gluten fraction of the wheat seed and is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Research published by the Center of Celiac Research of the University of Maryland found gliadin plays a role leading to increased intestinal permeability in both those with and without, celiac disease.(2) These grains are actually interfering with the absorption of minerals and digestive enzymes.
Research has shown that lectins have damaging effects on cells lining the intestinal cavity where digested food passes through and from which nutrients are absorbed.(3)
Lectins may alter your gut flora which allows harmful bacteria to grow and have even been associated with leptin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition.(4)
Foods with high concentrations of lectins, such as beans, cereals, soy, nuts, and potatoes, may be harmful if consumed in excess, in uncooked or improperly cooked forms. Most lectins are destroyed by cooking or through digestion and rarely cause serious problems, but they can cause chronic digestive issues. For example, eating raw nuts and seeds may allow lectins to be absorbed into the bloodstream more effectively than roasted or other prepared varieties.(5)
Beyond a poor diet, our gut is also vulnerable to chronic stress. Stress-induced changes affect gastric secretions, gut motility and function, and blood flow.(6) The hormones responsible for the body’s response to stress (like cortisol) have an effect on the gut through modulation of inflammation, hypersensitivity, increased perception to pain, and regulation of gut motility.(6)
Reducing inflammation and providing a healthier gastrointestinal environment can make a big difference in your gut’s susceptibility to the negative effects of stress.
Restoring your gut’s health
- Eat a healthy diet: Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, packaged foods, junk foods, processed foods, sodas, white flour, and preservatives.
A basic healthy diet would include:
- daily intake of fresh vegetables and fruits
- high-quality protein from organic (if possible) sources of fresh fish, chicken, and eggs
- healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocados, and olive oil.
- Fish Oil: omega-3 fatty acids boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
- L-Glutamine has been shown to feed the cells that line the intestinal tract, increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut and help heal and restore the gut’s functional integrity.
- Exercise can reduce stress levels and contribute to lower levels of inflammation.
- try to get 20-30 minutes of physical activity 4-5 times a week
- be sure to include a weight routine for at least 2 of those days
- see one of our past newsletters for an Aerobic Exercise Guide
Leaky Gut syndrome is associated with many symptoms that may be leading you towards further disease. Nutrient deficiency is common in many individuals who express these symptoms related to Leaky Gut. It is vital to optimizing your vitamin and mineral levels before it’s too late. Testing methods including a comprehensive blood test and tissue mineral analysis can tell you exactly what you need and how much. Take the guesswork out and get tested today!
- Dr. Massey, Patrick. M.D. Ph.D. Conditions – Gastrointestinal – Leaky gut syndrome. ALT-MED Medical and Physical Therapy. 2013. http://www.alt-med.org/conditions-gastrointestinal-leaky-gut-syndrome.php. Acessed on April 28, 2013
- Drago, Sandro, Asmar, Ramzi El, Di Pierro, Mariarosaria, et. al. Gliadin, zonulin and gut permeability: Effects on celiac and non-celiac intestinal mucosa and intestinal cell lines. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006 Apr;41(4):408-19. PMID: 16635908
- Ovelgönne JH, Koninkx JF, Pusztai A, et. al. Decreased levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells after exposure to plant lectins. Gut. 2000 May;46(5):679-87.
- Jönsson, Tommy. Olsson, Stefan. Ahrén, Bo. Agrarian diet and diseases of affluence – Do evolutionary novel dietary lectins cause leptin resistance? BMC Endocrine Disorders 2005, 5:10
- Power, Laura. Dietary Lectins: Blood Types & Food Allergies. http://www.laurapower.com/page5.html. Accessed on April 29, 2013
- Konturek, T., Brzozowski, S.J., Konturek. Stress and the gut: Pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach, and treatment options. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 2011, 62, 6, 591-599.