Leaky gut syndrome is a condition you may well have heard in your passings, but you may not fully understand what it is, and if it’s real.
It’s definitely real, folks! And in lots of the current literature and research, it’s proving to be a real risk factor to as many as 200 autoimmune diseases. Scary isn’t it!
Yes, it’s all in the name, leaky gut! It starts as a problem with the intestines but the consequences can be felt in nearly every organ or tissue in the body.
Check this out: Did you know that “leaky gut” has been linked to all of the conditions below (and the list below is just the tip of the iceberg)?
- Hay fever or sinusitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Depression or anxiety
- Thyroid disease
What is leaky gut syndrome?
It’s not a very funky name but “leaky gut” just really means the intestinal lining has an increased permeability than it should . The lining of your intestines is only one cell thick. The gut lining enables you to absorb nutrients from the food you’ve eaten and digested, and it keeps bacteria, wastes and undigested food out of your bloodstream and in your intestines where they belong. If you have a “leaky gut”, not only do the wastes and toxins gain entry into your bloodstream; you also have a reduced ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from your food. And this is when we have created the perfect environment for disease to manifest!
How can having a leaky gut harm your immune system?
Substances that get absorbed from your intestines head straight to the liver via the hepatic portal vein. That means if you have a leaky gut, you will flood your liver with toxins all day every day. It is no wonder leaky gut syndrome can eventually lead to some pretty serious health problems, some even fatal! Again, very scary!
The detoxification capabilities of your liver quickly become overwhelmed and toxins will spill out into your bloodstream. This places an additional strain on your immune system and will leave it less capable of fighting off infections. It will also make your immune system hyper stimulated and more likely to develop allergic reactions. If the problem continues, the risk of developing an autoimmune disease rises significantly. In hindsight what occurs is this, the immune system simply becomes exhausted, and therefore loses the capacity to decipher what is “self” and what is “foreign”. Therefore the mighty immune system which is simply designed to protect us from invaders and nasties, has lost the ability to select with authority “friend from foe” and unfortunately that means “we attack self”. And yes, this does indeed mean, disease!
How would you know if you have a leaky gut?
There is a couple of test that doctors, naturopaths, and other natural health practitioners like myself can perform called a urinary indicans test or a test where you drink a solution containing the carbohydrate called lactulose. Your gut is not supposed to be able to absorb lactulose, but if it is leaky, lactulose gets absorbed and ends up in your urine.
The test can supply the practitioner with some useful data in regards to diagnosing leaky gut, but many other factors are useful in the proposed diagnosis! “Leaky gut” is such a common health problem and there are very clear signs and symptoms that can confirm leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is a forerunner to autoimmune disease, so anyone with a diagnosed autoimmune disease has surely got some degree of leaky gut syndrome.
What causes leaky gut syndrome?
Looking at this list, it’s a wonder that leaky gut isn’t more common. You would expect almost everyone living in Western society to have the condition, or building a lifestyle that leads to the formation of the condition!
The following factors raise your risk of having a leaky gut:
- refined sugar consumption
- Antibiotics over use
- Chronic stress that isnt managed
- The oral contraceptive pill
- Food poisoning and gastroenteritis
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Food allergy and intolerance such as gluten (gliadin)
- Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- SIBO – overgrowth in the intestines
- PPI (proton pump inhibitors) used to treat heartburn just to name a few!
So what I will do next is look at how you can look at using food and botanicals (herbs), and other nutraceuticals to heal and strengthen your GUT wall, and look at kicking disease to the kerb.
Are you interested in that exciting news?
Nutritionist /Environmental Lifestyle Practitioner