What is Leaky Gut?
This is a condition where partially digested foods, toxins or bacteria pass through the normally tight knit wall of the small intestine into the bloodstream. The body then scans the larger than normal particles of food, bacteria or toxin and creates an autoimmune response to what it deems as foreign matter.
What is the body’s reaction to a Leaky Gut?
The intestinal wall has a series of microvilli that have tiny hairs on them that sense the food and will absorb nutrients and move them through intracellular epithelial cells of the small intestine. That is the normal healthy route. When there is a leaky gut, there is disruption of the tight junctions between epithelial cells or transcellular entry through the epithelial cells themselves. The body then has a release of Lipopolysaccharides (damage of the epithelial membrane), actomyosin (epithelial cell damage tissue), Occludin/Zonulin (tight junctions between cells) each of these go through to the blood stream which looks at them with your immune system called the T-Cells. They are not supposed to be in the blood stream so the T-Cells send out anti-bodies against your own cellular tissue.
The antibodies cause your own body to respond with inflammation, allergic reactions and a whole host of unpleasant symptoms.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Some experts will state that the most common cause of leaky gut is ingesting foods that a person is allergic to. So what comes first the leaky gut or allergies? We just don’t know yet!
What are the symptoms of Leaky Gut?
The list is vast and we are now seeing even more correlations to immunological issues. Many of the conditions we deem as auto-immune may have a huge impact on how well our gut or intestines function. For example, some brain diseases like Alzheimer’s are found to have a high association with Leaky gut, in which one’s own body starts attacking the brain leading to degeneration. This can occur throughout the body systems.
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Anxiety and Depression
- Impaired Immune Function
- Recurrent Candida infections
- Impaired memory
- Moodiness or irritability
- Bloating or Flatulence
- Fuzzy cognition and poor concentration/fatiguing easily while doing brain related tasks
- Skin rashes
- Constipation or diarrhea
How do you determine if a person has a Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Testing is done to determine if a patient has leaky gut, by a blood serum test through a lab company that specializes in immunologic testing. The test is a basic screen for leaky gut and will test for the following:
- Actomyosin IgA – Epithelial cell damage (intestinal wall cells)
- Occludin/Zonulin IgG/IgA/IgM – Tight junction damage to the walls of the intestine
- Lippopolysaccharides IgG/IgA/ IgM – Permeability and dysbiosis or bacteria leaking into the blood stream through the intestine wall
If further testing is needed to determine if certain foods like gluten or nuts are the immune reactors, then these can be tested as well to see if the brain is also being affected.
How do you Treat Leaky Gut?
Treatment depends on what the doctor determines is the main cause of the leaky gut. Here are all the possibilities and the most likely treatment actions.
- Micro-Flora – this will need to be replaced and boosted to enhance immunity and heal the gut. Lactobacilli are mostly in the upper small intestine and bifidobacteria live in the lower small and large intestine.
Treatment will be a specific Probiotic that has a large number of organisms and is very diverse to see the whole intestinal tract.
- Detoxification – this will be a treatment to kill the unhealthy flora in the intestine and can be tested by a stool sample or just treat to make sure that you are cleaned out.
The Treatment will be herbs that kill candida, bacteria and other negative microflora but will not kill beneficial microflora so that you have a restored balance to your gut.
- Enzymes – This will be something to make sure you are breaking down food completely so that while the gut is healing large particles are not being transported into the blood stream causing immune reactions.
Treatment is Digestive Enzymes usually taken at meals to help break down foods and your doctor will help you select the correct one for your system.
- Gut Healing – This is also similar to amino acids that are especially made for the gut, so that healing will occur and won’t leak – causing autoimmune type reactions.
Treatment is usually a Glutamine powder that may contain some other herbs to help you. Your doctor will help you select the correct type so that you can gain the most benefit.
Diet Changes – Your doctor will want the end goal to be using your food as medicine and this may mean doing an Elimination diet and then slowly re-introducing foods. The purpose is so you can see what causes a reaction in your body and what doesn’t. If you are unable to do this with diet, your doctor may order a comprehensive food allergy panel that tests 190 foods to determine what causes you to have an immune reaction.
This is a basic treatment outline and there are many variations based on history and test results. Make sure your doctor is qualified and ready to handle your specific case, and you can help this process by giving a detailed intake form and history when you meet with your doctor.