Leaky Gut Syndrome
Dr. Sherry A. Rogers, M.D., explains leaky gut syndrome. “The leaky gut syndrome is a poorly recognized but extremely common problem that is seldom tested for. It represents a hyperpermeable intestinal linging. In other words, large spaces develop between the cell of the gut wall and bacteria, toxins and food leak in.”If the lining of the intestinal tract becomes more permeable than normal, it can lead to serious health concerns. The large spaces that develop between the cells of the gut wall allow toxic material to enter the bloodstream. Under normal conditions these toxic substances would be eliminated, but when leaky gut syndrome occurs, parasites, bacteria, fungi, toxins, fats and other foreign matter not normally absorbed enter the bloodstream. These microbes can put an enormous strain on the liver and lessen its ability to detoxify.
The enlarged spaces in the gut wall also allow for the entrance of larger-than-normal protein molecules. These proteins are not completely broken down so the immune system recognizes them as foreign matter and makes antibodies to fight them. When these antibodies are produced, the body begins to recognize relatively common foods or other substances as detrimental and this leads to allergic reactions. An inflammatory response may occur when the food or substance is next consumed. If the inflammation occurs in a joint, rheumatoid arthritis may result. If the antibodies attack the gut lining, various gastrointestinal problems can develop, such as CROHN’S DISEASE or COLITIS. Some cases of ASTHMA are thought to be related to leaky gut syndrome because the inflammatory condition that arises after ingesting a certain food triggers the ASTHMA. Other associated problems include MIGRAINES, ECZEMA, and immune problems. It is easy to see how this antibody response can produce symptoms in just about any organ or area of the body.
The leaky gut syndrome is a common health condition primarily due to today’s lifestyle and eating habits, but many times the problem is overlooked by medical professionals. Leaky gut symptoms may be masked by consuming drugs for a time but the underlying cause remains.
CAUSES OF LEAKY GUT SYNDROME
The overuse and misuse of antibiotics is considered a major cause of leaky gut syndrome. Broad spectrum antibiotics can kill all the friendly as well as the bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. This can lower the capacity to fight fungus such as CANDIDA ALBICANS and CLOSTRIDIA DIFFICLE that are often associated with colitis. Antibiotics can also kill the bacteria that break down complex foods and synthesize essential vitamins. (See Primal Defense A “Pro” biotic, not “Anti.”) The friendly bacteria help to fight infection and defend the body to keep parasites and fungi under control.
A poor diet high in carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and caffeine can irritate the lining of the gut. This can cause inflammation leading to hyperpermeability (leaky gut syndrome.)
A deficiency in enzymes can also lead to leaky gut syndrome. Enzymes help to break down, digest, and assimilate nutrients. Cooked and processed foods are depleted of essential enzymes. Raw foods such as fruits and vegetables contain enzymes. A poor diet lacking of enzymes can impair digestion and cause inflammation of the gut lining. If adequate amounts of enzymes are not available in the body, leaky gut syndrome may develop.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) also contribute to leaky gut syndrome. Some NSAIDS include inbuprofen, ASA, indomethiacin, aspirin, and naproxen sodium. Problems occur as these drugs cause irritation and inflammation in the intestinal lining which in turn causes hyperpermeability between the cells.
Other contributors to the syndrome are chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides and other toxins that can damage the digestive tract. These foreign materials can cause inflammation and hyperpermeability between cells in the gut lining. Organisms such as GIARDIA LAMBLIA or KLEBSIELLA CTROBACTER can also compromise the gut linging and contribute to leaky gut syndrome.
SYMPTOMS OF LEAKY GUT SYNDROME
- aches and pains
- nausea after eating
- abdominal pain
- skin rashes
- difficulty exercising
- low-grade fever
- frequent colds, infections
- fungal disease
- food intolerances / allergies
- chemical sensitivities
- abdominal distention
- toxic feelings
- cognitive memory deficits
- shortness of breath
DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH LEAKY GUT SYNDROME
- cystic fibrosis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- celiac disease
- food sensitivities
- liver disease
- chronic fatigue syndrome
LEAKY GUT DIETARY GUIDELINES
The intestinal tract can be healed by adding more raw food to the diet, especially fresh vegetable juices. Fasting on vegetable juices will help to repair and provide enzymes necessary for health and digestion. A diet consisting of 60-70 percent raw food will help to reverse the degeneration that has occurred in the gut lining, as well as improve energy and vitality.
Cleansing the digestive tract and the colon will help assure that the body is digesting and assimilating essential nutrients for healing and restoring health. Avoid low-fiber foods, cooked foods, white flour products, sugar, fried foods and processed foods. Eat a diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables, fiber formulas.