Testing To Find The Root Cause
First of all, we reviewed all her prior blood work for clues and then tested a few things that either had not been checked in a while or had never been tested. We tested:
- Her blood count to see if she had anemia or a nutrient deficiency;
- Her metabolism to see how well her body was using nutrients for energy;
- Her thyroid function including testing for thyroid auto-antibodies to see if a low functioning thyroid was contributing to the weight gain and pain;
- Her nutrient levels to see whether she was lacking in anything important such as iron , vitamin D, magnesium, folate, vitamin B12 , zinc, copper, or manganese;
- Indicators of her blood sugar levels and her ability to use carbohydrates ;
- For inflammation to see if an inflamed immune system was involved in the weight gain and pain;
- Her immune responses to common viruses and to tick-related diseases to see if she had been exposed to any of these infections;
- For signs of oxidative stress from exposure to toxins ;
- For IgG and IgA food sensitivities, both as a way to find out which foods were currently triggering an inflammatory response in her body, but also as a way to estimate the degree of Leaky Gut;
- Her salivary cortisol levels throughout the day as well as her urinary adrenaline and neurotransmitter levels , to see how well her body was coping with stress;
- Her stool, to understand how well she was digesting her food and the balance of healthy versus unhealthy bacteria in her colon.
Five Strategies To Fix A Leaky Gut
A combination of strategic supplementation and lifestyles changes can be used to help seal and heal the damaged intestinal lining. ;
Your functional medicine provider will craft an individualized treatment plan for your specific needs.;Generally speaking, you’ll need to remove the bad, replace the good, restore helpful bacteria, repair the gut lining and reset your life.
Find out more about these five steps to addressing leaky gut below.
Obesity Caused By A Leaky Brain
One more potential issue is the possibility that systemic inflammation can actually cause leakiness in the blood-brain barrier as well.
Furthermore, LPS toxins, released into the blood by a leaky gut, can rapidly increase blood leptin concentrations; this increase is enhanced by the presence of CRP, which could explain why chronic inflammation is associated with a rise in both CRP and leptin in humans. In this way, a leaky gut and a leaky brain, both caused by systemic inflammation and exacerbated by gut dysbiosis, can increase the risk of developing obesity due to the disruption in CNS and leptin function.
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Leaky Gut Syndrome Symptoms
Leaky gut symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Not everyone with leaky gut has gastrointestinal symptoms. They can be neurological, gastrointestinal, autoimmune, mood and behavior, weight gain/loss, insomnia, skin problems, joint pain and in the worst case scenario, someone can have all of these.
Can Food Allergies Cause Weight Gain
Food allergies can cause weight gain as a result of immune system activation. The immune system creates inflammation, which in turn leads to chronic cortisol production and insulin resistance. When insulin levels are consistently raised it becomes difficult to lost weight.
Food sensitivities can develop as a result of a leaky gut that lets undigested food through the intestinal lining. The body does not recognize the undigested food as a nutrient. Instead, the body thinks the undigested food is a foreign invader and mounts an immune response to that particular food.;
Food allergies can develop when the bodys immune system creates antibodies to a protein component found in commone allergenic foods such as the protein gluten in wheat or the protein casein found in dairy.
When the immune system is activated, it creates antibodies such as an IgG antibody against a particular food. Whenever a food that has antibodies created against it is eaten, the immune system is activated. When the immune system is activated, it creates inflammation as it attacks the offending food.
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How To Find Out For Sure If You Have Leaky Gut
There are several tests that have been developed, and more on the way, that can tell you if you have some degree of leaky gut.
1. There is a urine test that involves first swallowing a carbohydrate that will only make it across your intestinal lining and into your blood and urine if your gut is leaky.
2. It is also possible to identify leaky gut by checking for IgG and IgA antibodies to food in a blood test; and this test is often preferable because it gives us two pieces of information:
You can order a food sensitivity test here;and complete it at home.
3. A blood test that measures zonulin as well as a substance called actomyosin which is released when intestinal cells are damaged.
4. A breath test which, like the lactulose-mannitol test, involves first swallowing sugar mixed in water, and then breathing into tubes which will identify a gas that is only produced if your gut is healthy.
I can help you with determining which test is best for you: please;make an appointment! But if you want more information about how testing for leaky gut, please see Part 2 of my Leaky Gut series.
Note: Leaky gut cannot be found with an endoscopy or colonoscopy, and does not show on standard bloodwork, so it is missed by most practitioners.
How Could Leaky Gut Be Making You Fat
Although it isnt clear whether leaky gut is the cause or consequence, studies have shown that theres a direct link between leaky gut and weight gain. ;One theory states that metabolic activity of gut microbiota causes increased calorie intake from food passing through the gut.
SIBO also plays a part by causing constipation, reducing gastric acid activity and disrupting the immune system relationship between host and microbiota all of which can increase intestinal permeability.
Youve likely heard you are what you eat many times before, but have you ever stopped to consider what this really means? ;Diets high in fructose and fat can aggravate gut permeability. ;Fructose increases blood levels of LPS toxins, causing inflammation, fatty liver and hepatic insulin resistance. ;While tipping in at the other end of the terrible scale, fat transports harmful LPS toxins to the liver much more efficiently than carbohydrates can.
A deficiency in minerals such as magnesium, zinc, Vitamin A and D and calcium can impair intestine junction functionality, meaning the joining walls become more permeable. ;CRP elevated in obesity can cause a leak in the brain barrier as well, impairing the CNS functioning and production of leptin, which in turn leads to stronger hunger signals and poorer control of food intake.
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Surprising Symptoms Of Leaky Gut
Have you been super forgetful lately, losing your keys all the time? Does your brain feel foggy? Do your joints hurt? Have you been struggling with losing weight, no matter how little you eat and how much you exercise?
These symptoms may seem unrelated, but actually indicate a compromised digestive system. The health of your digestive tract impacts your overall well-being, from how well your brain functions, to your weight, hormone regulation, mood, and how often you get sick. Having a damaged gut, commonly referred to as leaky gut syndrome, causes more than just problems with digestion. It affects your entire body . So, how do you know if your symptoms are caused by a leaky gut?
Signs You May Have A Leaky Gut
The gut issue were going to explore today is often called leaky gut syndrome and its becoming more and more common across the globe as populations the world over begin to adopt a Western diet and lifestyle. While leaky gut syndrome is a fairly modern phrase, it has another name thats been documented for years intestinal permeability.
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, is famous for having said, all disease begins in the gut. Even ancient Ayurvedic practitioners have long believed gut permeability was at the root cause of all disease processes, and healthy functioning of the gastrointestinal system is paramount to a healthy body and mind.
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How Does Leaky Gut Happen
The intestinal barrier is made up of cells linked together by tight junctions. These junctions control what is allowed to pass through into the bloodstream this is how vitamins and nutrients are absorbed by the small intestine. Normally, these tight junctions remain small enough to prevent the passage of any harmful compounds that may cause disease.
But when the intestinal barrier becomes damaged often as a result of a diet high in inflammatory foods such as sugar, dairy, and processed foods these joints can become compromised. Tiny particles that would normally be blocked are allowed to leak into the bloodstream, allowing them to cause damage throughout the body.
Is Leaky Gut Real
Your gut, also known as the gastrointestinal tract, includes over 4,000 square feet of intestinal epithelial lining that controls what gets into your bloodstream.
If unhealthy, this lining may be leaky with holes or cracks that allow bacteria, toxins, antigens, and partially digested food to penetrate the tissues beneath it.
That can trigger inflammation and changes in the gut flora , which could lead to problems within your digestive tract and beyond.
Although leaky gut is not recognized by mainstream medical professionals as a condition, its generally recognized as a symptom.
According to a
currently available specifically for leaky gut. The treatment recommendations youre likely to receive from your doctor will be focused on the underlying condition theyve diagnosed, which might include leaky gut as a symptom. For example:
- If youve been diagnosed withceliac disease, following a gluten-free diet may help heal your gut.
- If youve been diagnosed with IBD, anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, pain relievers, and supplements such as iron, calcium, and vitamin D may help the lining of your gut to recover.
- If youve been diagnosed with IBS, anticholinergic medications, tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, antidepressants, antibiotics, pain relievers, or medications specifically for IBS may help reduce your symptoms.
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The Link Between Chronic Inflammation And Weight Gain
Theres a secret weight-loss saboteur lurking within your body you might not be aware of. Stress can cause it. So can environmental toxins. Eating a poor diet also leads to it. Its called chronic inflammation, and its rampant and widespread these days. Its up to you to take preventive measures to stop inflammation in its tracks and keep it from disrupting your well-intentioned weight-loss regimen.
How Can Inflammation Be Treated
You may be able to treat inflammation on your own by adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors and staying consistent with those behaviors.
Exercising regularly will help you lose excess weight and naturally fights inflammation. Getting plenty of quality sleep will help you feel more energetic and balance your hormones so you can stay active and reduce inflammation. Eating a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods will also go a long way toward helping you fight inflammation.
Sometimes, medical interventions are needed to help you reduce inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe medications that fight inflammation, such as NSAIDs or corticosteroids. However, long-term use of NSAIDs may actually worsen or trigger inflammation and serious health conditions including asthma, kidney damage, heart attack, and stroke. Talk to your doctor about all potential side effects and risks of using these medications to treat inflammation.
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Food Sensitivities And Weight Gain Understanding How Inflammation Causes Weight Gain
When the body is chronically inflamed from eating these common foods sensitivities daily, this puts stress on the adrenals. The adrenals are responsible for the production of cortisol, which is an anti-inflammatory that your body uses to counter the effects of an overreactive immune system that is challenged by common food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar.
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, but cortisol is not all bad. Cortisol is a natural anti-inflammatory produced by the body to combat inflammation. The more important question to ask is what is causing excess cortisol production? Which, by the way, can lead to adrenal burnout and;hormonal imbalances.
A contributing factor to chronic cortisol production is food sensitivities! The body produces cortisol to combat the inflammation created by the immune system. The immune system creates inflammation in response to fighting food sensitivities or allergies.;
Foods allergies and sensitivities that are stimulating the immune system, must be removed from the diet to allow the immune system to cool off and stop creating inflammation.;
Leaky Gut Syndrome Diet Plan
You may have seen leaky gut diets that tell you to avoid specific foods like dairy, eggs, gluten, etc. Yes, these foods are often big players involved in leaky gut but usually they are not the only foods that need to be avoided. If you dont identify all the foods that are involved, you wont experience a full recovery. Food sensitivity testing is crucial in identifying all of the foods that are contributing to your symptoms.;
If you do an online search you will see pages of companies offering food sensitivity testing. Most of them are not backed by science and they are not a valid type if testing. So be very careful before spending your money and getting your hopes up.;
A successful leaky gut diet will require the guidance of a trained professional. You need someone with a trained eye to interpret the results correctly. It is very complex. Functional medicine practitioners are all trained in these matters. It is at the core of their training.;
To find out if you have leaky gut or if you have a concerning gut issue that is impacting your life sign up for my next new patient workshop and take the first step to a healthier you!
Karen Graham, RDN
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How Does Leaky Gut Lead To Weight Gain
Intestinal permeability can lead to low grade inflammation and has been cited as an important preventable risk factor in obesity prevention.;;In addition, doctors associate leaky gut with increased insulin resistance.
When your cells are unable to take up the sugar they need due to a poor insulin response, the result is an increase in fat deposits, especially in the liver. Insulin resistance is heightened when there is an imbalance in gut flora.
The gut is a less friendly place for good bacteria when there is inflammation present. Disruption of your microbiome along with leaky gut lends itself to poor carbohydrate metabolism resulting in weight gain.
Fat Cells Increase Leptin
Additionally, the increased number of fat cells release a hormone called leptin. When your leptin levels are high your brain receives a message that you are full and do not need to eat anymore. Over time, the body can become resistant to consistently high levels of leptin, known as leptin resistance. This leaves you feeling hungry, even if you just ate.
So you’re left with an increased appetite, which alone would cause you to want to eat more. But leptin also plays a role in the perception of food as a reward. When you reach for that second serving you feel rewarded.
You continue to eat, which builds more fats cells and creates more leptin. But your brain can’t get the signal leptin is sending so you continue to eat and gain weight.
What To Do Next
Leaky gut can contribute to many symptoms, including weight gain. If you believe that leaky gut may be contributing to your inability to lose weight or other symptoms, contact our clinic;to have a thorough evaluation of your health.
During our chat, we can discuss what a customized treatment approach might look like for you and what important lab testing you should consider.
With time and a customized treatment plan, you can heal your leaky gut!
Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a womens hormone expert and prominent leader in womens medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on womens health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News.Read more about me here.
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Common Causes Of Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Genes: Many of us are simply predisposed to developing leaky gut syndrome because were overly sensitive to environmental conditions that bring about an autoimmune response.
- Stress: Chronic stress disrupts gut balance, and leads to a wide variety of digestive health issues.
- Standard Western/American Diet: This way of eating is no good for your gut health. Too many chemicals, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, refined oils all these toxins take a major toll on digestive health.
- Imbalances in gut bacteria. Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the gut between good and bad bacteria.
- Too many toxins. Toxins add up, and some of us have far too many lurking in our bodies. Exposure to chemicals from over-the-counter drugs, medications, conventionally grown foods, personal care products, air pollution, plastic food containers all of these add up and can result in a high internal toxic load.
- Gluten. Some people can eat gluten, but many cannot. And for those with gluten intolerance, it can cause leaky gut syndrome.