Leaky Gut Syndrome How to Fix it
All Disease Begins in The Gut. Hippocrates Seems like Hippocrates was quite ahead of his time when he made this statement as it is now, 2000 years later, that we have started to understand and accept this concept in modern medicine.
Do you frequently experience symptoms like bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, fatigue and ignore it because it is not that severe? More often than not, the reason behind it are issues related to your GUT - The biggest immune system organ
The intestinal tract (gut) lining is composed of a single layer of cells, sealed by Tight Junctions, forming the mucosal barrier. They are responsible for performing various functions including selective absorption of essential nutrients, ions, and other compounds required by the body. Tight Junctions also control what enters the bloodstream to be transported to the organs by preventing the entry of harmful, toxic substances.
The development and proper functioning of the intestinal barrier is also dependent on the gut microbiota (microorganisms in gut). There exists a balance between the commensal microbiota and the intestinal mucosa layers, and together, they maintain the gut homeostasis (internal stability).
Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is a phenomenon which is often described as the inflammation (swelling) in the mucosal cells, that leads to the loosening of Tight Junctions. This alteration further increases the permeability of intestinal mucosal barrier and facilitates the entry (leakage) of bacteria and its toxins, undigested food particles, etc., into the bloodstream. This may trigger an autoimmune response causing persistent inflammation throughout the body and allergic reactions such irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, etc. As a consequence of leaky gut, the damaged cells of the intestine are unable to produce the enzymes required for efficient digestion. This causes an inefficiency in absorption of essential nutrients, further leading to hormone imbalances and a compromised immune system. Therefore, Leaky Gut Syndrome is thought to trigger, contribute to or worsen a wide range of chronic disorders and is often linked to the pathophysiology of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) like Crohn's disease and in autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease.
The only known regulator of intestinal permeability is a protein known as "Zonulin" and its release is controlled by two regulators - bacteria present in the gut and gluten (a protein found in cereal grains like wheat). Therefore, the bacteria present in the gut has a direct effect on the intestinal permeability. Zonulin secretion increases in the presence of certain irritants that disturb the mucosal barrier or the gut microflora, and thus, results in a leaky gut. This condition is more common in genetically susceptible people.
What are the Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Poor gut flora balance
Excessive alcohol intake
fatigue, food allergies, rheumatoid
Poor diet (rich in refined carbs or sugar)
Overuse of Non-steroidal Anti
Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Nutrient deficiencies (Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin A)
Chronic inflammation throughout the body
Yeast (candida) overgrowth
Environmental contaminants (pesticides, toxins from air pollution)
What are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Food or seasonal allergies
Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
Depression, anxiety, mood swings
Autoimmune diseases (celiac disease,rheumatoid arthritis, etc.)
Skin problems (acne, eczema,etc.)
Chronic headache, brain fog, memory loss
Arthritis or joint pain
What disease is associated with leaky gut?
Several chronic disorders are thought to be associated with leaky gut. Few such disorders are as follows
A chronic digestive condition with constant inflammation of the intestinal tract and increased
intestinal permeability in patients and their relatives, suggesting a genetic link to the disease.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) A digestive disorder presenting both diarrhea and constipation. There is increased intestinal permeability, particularly prevalent in individuals with diarrhea.
Celiac Disease An autoimmune disease presenting severe gluten sensitivity and high intestinal permeability
Type-1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) An autoimmune reaction that causes destruction of pancreatic beta cells (responsible for producing insulin). T1DM significantly elevates zonulin levels resulting in increased intestinal permeability.
Food Allergies An immune response to a food protein, which is known as an antigen. People with food allergies often have impaired intestinal barrier function or Leaky Gut Syndrome which allows food proteins to cross the intestinal barrier, stimulating an abnormal immune response.
What tests can be used for Leaky Gut Syndrome detection?
Zonulin Test Elevated levels of Zonulin in blood indicate increased intestinal permeability
Mannitol/Lactulose Test Detects both increased intestinal permeability and reduced absorption by assessing the levels of two indigestible sugars - mannitol and lactulose, in the urine
Food Intolerance Test Identifies the food items to which the body is intolerant and trigger inflammatory response
Food Sensitivity Test Detects and quantifies chemicals like histamine, serotonin, prostaglandins, cytokines, interleukins, and IgE in the blood, indicating an allergic reaction to the specific food item being tested
Stool Test Identifies the presence of any infectious pathogens in the gut, such as fungi, bacteria, and parasites
How to improve your gut health?
A few strategies to maintain a healthy gut are as follows
Consuming probiotic supplements or yoghurt
Consuming high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes
Limiting sugar intake
Limiting NSAIDs usage
Avoiding Intolerant food items
Avoiding excessive stress
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a common yet misunderstood condition which has become an epidemic in modern times, presented as allergies and chronic diseases. Therefore, it is beneficial to prevent and decrease the risk of leaky gut syndrome by focusing on improving the gut health by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet which aids in maintaining the gut flora balance, and minimizing the overuse and abuse of painkillers and antibiotics.
Our gut system is complicated, but taking care of it doesn't have to be