Could Leaky Gut be the Root of Your Health Problems?
You’ve probably heard the term, maybe even googled “leaky gut” and was overwhelmed by the abundance of information that popped up.
This post is dedicated to unraveling what leaky gut is, the signs and symptoms, and what to do if you think you may be suffering from it. We will do our best to answer any and all of your questions on this topic.
What exactly does “leaky gut” mean?
Leaky gut is defined as an “increase in intestinal permeability”. Simply meaning that the delicate lining of the intestines, which normally acts as a protectant barrier, has become damaged. When this occurs the cells are not able to work properly thus proteins and microorganisms are able to move into the bloodstream. When this happens, the immune system thinks they are foreign invaders and will create an immune response leading to food sensitivities. One may experience symptoms such as:
- Brain fog
- Joint pain and/or muscle aches
What causes leaky gut?
Top causes of leaky gut development:
- Overgrowth of harmful bacteria or yeast in the intestines
- SIBO = small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- Candida overgrowth
- Parasite infection
- Gluten containing foods – Gluten can lead to increased Zonulin production which increases intestinal permeability (more about this below). This is most common in people with Celiac Disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This reaction is different in everybody and can only be determined by testing. Those who are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or leaky gut could benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Is there a test to diagnose if I have leaky gut?
Unfortunately there are no clinically proven tests for diagnosing leaky gut.
However there are tests that involve the protein Zonulin – which, according to research, regulates intestinal permeability. Zonulin levels are detectable through a simple blood test. Elevated Zonulin levels can tell us if there is increased permeability which indicates you could be suffering from leaky gut or other health problems.
If you and your health care provider agree that leaky gut may be the culprit to your health problems, there are steps you can take to relieve or even eliminate these symptoms.
What is the treatment for leaky gut?
We work with patients who have leaky gut syndrome by removing the underlying root cause of the problem. Treatment includes simple blood tests and an elimination diet to pinpoint these trigger foods, we take this individualized approach because not one person is the same.
We may recommend supplements such as probiotics, enzymes, and L-glutamine (an amino acid) to help restore the gut function and normalize intestinal permeability.
Stress management techniques may be recommended, as stress has been shown to increased intestinal permeability.
What are the consequences of not seeking treatment?
If damage is to continue, the microvilli that line the intestines and absorb nutrients become damaged, leading to serious nutrient deficiencies and the inability to digest certain foods.
Elevated zonulin levels and leaky gut is also associated with the following:
- Crohn’s disease
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Gastrointestinal Infections