The GI condition is commonly known as “leaky gut syndrome” has been gaining a lot of attention lately for several reasons:
A growing body of research has linked leaky gut to a number of “seemingly unrelated” health concerns and chronic diseases.
As more Americans are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance it appears that the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions.
The medical profession is just now agreeing this condition even exists!
This last point is especially shocking to me because “intestinal permeability” has been discussed in the medical literature for over 100 years!
Leaky Gut Symptoms List
You would be surprised at how many health conditions are a result of having leaky gut. The father of modern medicine Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the Gut” and research is now proven he was absolutely right.
Essentially, leaky gut syndrome (“intestinal hyperpermeability”) is a condition that happens as a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction.
These “tight junctions” are the gateway between your intestines and what is allowed to pass into the blood stream. Your tight junctions keep things out like toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles.
But having leaky gut is essentially like having the gates broken from your intestines to your blood stream so many of these particles that should never have been able to enter have now gotten through. When this happens it causes inflammation throughout your body leading to a variety of diseases.
According to a study published in a Norwegian medical journal this process “is implicated in the onset of the disease include several acute and chronic pediatric conditions that are likely to have their origin during infancy” and has been linked to:
- Autoimmune disease
- Eczema and psoriasis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)
- Type 1 diabetes
So how do you know if you have a leaky gut? Keep a watch out for these 7 leaky gut symptoms.
The 7 Signs You Have Leaky Gut
1. Food Sensitivities
People affected by food sensitivities oftentimes find that leaky gut is to blame. Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are on overdrive mass-producing various antibodies, which makes their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy).
2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Researchers from Hungary have recently uncovered that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localized to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Another study suggests that, for Crohn’s disease patients, leaky gut is prevalent in a majority of cases and even up to 10% – 20% of their “clinically healthy relatives,” which suggests a potential genetic component. Zinc supplementation has been found to be quite effective at tightening up the intestinal tight junctions in these cases.
3. Autoimmune Disease
The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through the research done on a protein known as “zonulin.” According to a 2011 article published in the journal Physiologic Reviews. Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, intolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders can occur.” Eating gluten can oftentimes trigger this dangerous cascade. The University of Maryland, School of Medicine researchers have uncovered that gluten “activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.”
4. Thyroid Problems
One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease. Also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” this disorder can lead to hypothyroidism, impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain, and a host of other concerns.
Various nutritional deficiencies result from leaky gut include vitamin B12, magnesium and key enzymes that help digest food. It is recommended that people with leaky gut supplement with whole foods based multi-vitamin and live probiotic to not only help digest the food that they eat but to make sure that they get the vital nutrition that they need.
6. Inflammatory Skin Conditions
First described over 70 years ago, the gut-skin connection theory has described how intestinal hyperpermeability can cause a slew of skin conditions; particularly acne and psoriasis. Generally, dangerous creams and drugs are prescribed for these skin disorders, yet they can oftentimes be fixed by healing the gut!
7. Mood Issues and Autism
According to a study published in the journal Neuro Endocrinology Letters, leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders. For example, the inflammatory response characteristic of intestinal hyperpermeability triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals that induce depression. Regarding autism, a study was just published this past January in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience describing the “vicious circle between immune system impairment and increasing dysbiosis that leads to leaky gut and neurochemical compounds and/or neurotoxic xenobiotics production and absorption.” The idea is that the “metabolic pathways impaired in autistic children can be affected by genetic alterations or by environment-xenobiotics interference.”
A damaged gut responds well to select herbs and supplements, a clean diet and healthy lifestyle choices. Below are a few recommendations.
A pure diet is crucial for repairing the gut. A standard anti-candida protocol is beneficial — eliminating sugar (in any form), gluten, processed foods, dairy, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and caffeine while focusing on high-fiber, nutrient-dense fare. Since pesticides and GMOs antagonize the situation, consume only organic food. Essential fatty acids from fish, flax, chia or borage are also vital to healing the bowel and reducing inflammation. Drinking plenty of purified water is crucial as well to avoid gut-destroying contaminants.
Oftentimes, those suffering from leaky gut syndrome have low stomach acid. This creates poor digestion, causing toxins to leach into the body. Digestive enzyme supplements are helpful along with lemon or raw apple cider vinegar water.
Fiber protects the gut while sweeping fungus, harmful bacteria, and other pathogens quickly out of the system. Good options include organic psyllium powder, ground flax and chia seeds.
Several herbs are known to calm inflammation and the subsequent damage that occurs in the gut. Marshmallow root along with slippery elm are excellent choices. Both soothe and coat the intestinal tract, minimizing the absorption of toxins. These herbs also help to heal damage, further reducing excessive permeability. Kudzu, licorice root, goldenseal, sheep sorrel, fennel seed and ginger root are beneficial as well. To eliminate parasites that frequently accompany a suppressed digestive system, try echinacea, garlic, colloidal silver, cloves, wormwood, black walnut, caprylic acid or grapefruit seed extract.
Since leaky gut syndrome contributes to malabsorption of many nutrients, it’s important to supplement the diet. A, B, C and E vitamins are essential as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and coenzyme Q10. Colostrum helps to heal the intestinal lining and reduces inflammation. To rebuild gut wall integrity, L-glutamine is exceptional. And don’t forget a daily, high-quality probiotic.
Maintaining a balanced lifestyle is valuable for encouraging a healthy digestive system. Minimizing stress, gentle exercise, adequate sleep and slowing down during mealtime supports healing.
As we have seen, the disease is substantially influenced by the health of the gut. In light of this, the words of Dr. Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, ring true:
“A well-functioning gut with healthy gut flora holds the roots of our health. And, just as a tree with sick roots is not going to thrive, the rest of the body cannot thrive without a well-functioning digestive system.”
“Altered Immunity & The Leaky Gut Syndrome” Zoltan P Rona, MD, MSc. Retrieved on November 21, 2012 from: http://www.mold-survivor.com/leaky_gut_syndrome.html
“Leaky Gut Syndrome: What Is It?” Brenda Watson. Retrieved on November 21, 2012 from: http://www.brendawatson.com/digestive-conditions/leaky-gut/
“Heal leaky gut syndrome by restoring stomach acid levels” Elizabeth Walling, Natural News, July 31, 2011. Retrieved on November 21, 2012 from: http://www.naturalnews.com/033181_leaky_gut_syndrome_stomach_acid.html
“Healing a Leaky Gut Naturally” Retrieved on November 21, 2012 from: http://www.stopleakygut.com/healing
“Leaky gut syndrome — how healing your digestive tract promotes total wellness” Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP. Retrieved on November 21, 2012 from: http://www.womentowomen.com
“GAPS part 2: Gut Health” Gapalicious, February 11, 2011. Retrieved on November 21, 2012 from: http://www.gapalicious.com/2011/02/11/gaps-part-2-gut-health/
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Source: Dr. Axe website
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Mezzelani A, et al. Environment, dysbiosis, immunity and sex-specific susceptibility: A translational hypothesis for regressive autism pathogenesis. Nutr Neurosci. 2014 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print]
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