Is It Worth Formal Testing For A Leaky Gut
In my opinion, not always. Lets start with a detailed timeline to better understand the events and circumstances that contributed to why you got sick in the first place, and then identify the things that are keeping you on the illness trajectory. By gaining more insight in to what makes you YOU, my team and I can put together a comprehensive, personalized plan that includes but goes beyond, the simple first step of healing your gut. At Sharlin Health and Neurology I want to shift my patients mindsets and lay a healthy foundation for healing the gut that functions on both a physical and philosophical level to transform your life, not just provide a quick fix. I bring in a highly skilled multi-disciplinary team that empowers my patients to do so much more than improve their diets. Together, we give them the tools they need to completely redirect the trajectory of their well-being. I do all of this through my Brain Tune Up! Protocol.
Whether or not you have increased gut permeability, if you would like to find out more about my Brain Tune Up! Protocol, please contact my friendly staff today. We offer a free 15-minute pre-enrollment consultation.
Why To Not Skip Leaky Gut Testing
Testing for leaky gut is something I have actually changed my mind about over the years. Initially, I was like many other practitioners who just assumed everyone with autoimmunity of digestive issues had leaky gut, so we never tested for it.
But its not always that simple. Many digestive issues have symptoms that overlap. If you diagnose yourself based on symptoms alone, you may be treating a problem you dont have while allowing one you do to worsen.
Ive since realized that testing is essential because it not only confirms if intestinal permeability is a problem and it gives us insight into WHY it is occurring so that we can best treat it.
Development And Validation Of Test For Leaky Gut Small Intestinal And Colonic Permeability Using Sugars In Healthy Adults
- Katayoun KhoshbinAffiliations
- Lehar KhannaAffiliations
- Daniel MaselliAffiliations
- Jessica AtiehAffiliations
- Kayla ArndtAffiliations
- Deborah RhotenAffiliations
- Irene BusciglioAffiliations
- Michael CamilleriCorrespondenceCorrespondence Address correspondence to: Michael Camilleri, MD, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Charlton Building, Room 8-110, Rochester, Minnesota 55905.
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Leaky Gut: Foods To Avoid
Be prepared to personalize your list of foods to avoid. Different particles will enter the bloodstream with intestinal permeability, and so the immune system has unique codes that attack dangerous intruders. I was diagnosed with an allergy to corn, which comes with all kinds of hidden names and ingredient derivatives: Ascorbic acid, maltodextrin, mannitol, modified food starch, natural flavoring polenta, and much, much more. If you have food allergies, be sure to look into their hidden names as well, and keep a list if shopping for snacks, bars, or any sort of prepackaged foods.
What to Test Out:
The first step in healing leaky gut and determining your personal okay to eat and avoid list is to remove ingredients individually for two weeks, and add them back into the diet to see how your body responds. Start with the most common allergens by removing them individually, adding them back in, and then removing the next one.
Sugar is to be avoided in general, with the exception of natural sugars found in fruits and other wholesome products. If you find that you can tolerate dairy, or even gluten, eat them sparingly in your diet, and be aware of portion sizes.
Other Foods to Avoid Initially:
Caffeine adds stress to the body, while alcohol prevents proper nutrient absorption, and can feed candida. Chocolate and soda are two products often overlooked for caffeine, however they should initially be avoided as well.
What to Constantly Avoid:
Leaky Gut Tests: How To Determine If You Have A Leaky Gut
There is no standardized test that is foolproof for determining the presence of leaky gut, however many options are available to establish the likelihood of intestinal permeability. One speculation for the absence of direct testing and analysis is that leaky gut syndrome is not recognized as a real condition in the medical field, however, it is gaining traction as a recognized condition. Intestinal permeability, the medical term for leaky gut, uses the same tests for identifying the likelihood in the body.
The main reason that no one test is accurate is that leaky gut has many culprits, and each person will have different symptoms and levels of permeability in the gut. The best anyone can hope for with results is to determine the likelihood that they have leaky gut through lab results for their most common symptoms. Each test has different guidelines: some may not want you to avoid foods normally eaten when evaluating the presence of allergies, while others require fasting or avoidance of certain ingredients.
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What Is The Fastest Way To Heal Leaky Gut
To date, there are no FDA-approved treatments available at this time for leaky gut, especially because it is not officially a diagnosable condition. Instead, the treatment recommendations a person is likely to receive from their doctor will instead be focused on the underlying condition theyve diagnosed, which may include leaky gut as a symptom. For example, if youve been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, the treatment will likely be anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, pain relievers, and supplements to help the lining of your gut recover. If the diagnosis is irritable bowel syndrome, then anticholinergic medications, tricyclic antidepressants, antibiotics, or medications specifically for IBS may help reduce the symptoms.
When Should You Be Tested For Leaky Gut
Certain symptoms and conditions can give you clues that its worth testing for leaky gut.
Leaky gut is a symptom rather than a condition. But, confusingly, its a symptom that can contribute to other conditions. These can be within the digestive system, including:
· Type-1 diabetes23
Just to be clear: we dont know whether leaky gut is driving these conditions or if its the other way aroundbut research suggests theyre connected. If you experience any of the above, its worth testing to see if leaky gut is related to your symptoms.
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Zonulin Or Lactulose Tests
Why Its Important:
Zonulin controls the size of the openings between your gut lining and your bloodstream. Even in healthy people, small openings are needed between the two to transport nutrients back and forth, but abnormally high levels of zonulin can cause these openings to become too large.
What triggers zonulin levels to rise? Most often, gluten, parasites, candida yeast and harmful bacteria do. A leaky gut test can reveal how high zonulin levels are, which gives you a good idea of your gut permeability. Its important to correct zonulin levels right away because over time, even more damage occurs in the guts microvilli, the tiny cellular membranes that line the intestines and absorb nutrients from food.
How This Leaky Gut Test is Done:
Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test , serum levels of zonulin can be tested to serve as a biomarker of how much intestinal permeability there is. More information on ELISA tests can be found here.
An intestinal permeability assessment can also measure the ability of two sugar molecules to permeate the gut lining lactulose and mannitol. This leaky gut test checks for levels of the two sugars present in the urine from a sample collected over the six hours after ingesting them.
Ill Run Through How I Have Done This In The Past
First, I compared my personal health history against all the signs of leaky gut.
After seeing I had several signs of digestive problems , and previously suffered from other signs that indicated leaky gut 10, I decided that there was more probability of leaky gut than not.
Given I had not been able to find any other reasoned diagnosis for my collection of symptoms, I was more than happy to finally have a working hypothesis.
I figured that if after 90 days the 7 signs I had of leaky gut were gone or severely diminished it was because my gut had healed .
Within the first month of this protocol I already experienced a decrease or elimination of the majority of symptoms.
Stomach pains gone. Heartburn non-existent. Asthma 80% reduced. It was amazing!
And after the full 3 months I was in amazing health.
For example, I no longer carried antacids with me, rarely reached for my inhaler, woke up in the morning full of energy, worked all day with intense focus , and I even noticed how much easier it was to gain lean muscle . Talk about a big difference!
Whilst I could not be 100% certain I had leaky gut, I can be certain that the leaky gut recovery protocol, which you can find in my free guide here, worked to fix my health problems. And for me that is all the proof I need.
Of course n=1.
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What Exactly Is Leaky Gut
Inside our bellies, we have an extensive intestinal lining covering more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When working properly, it forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. An unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the tissues beneath it. This may trigger inflammation and changes in the gut flora that could lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond. The research world is booming today with studies showing that modifications in the intestinal bacteria and inflammation may play a role in the development of several common chronic diseases.
What The Medical Community Has To Say About Leaky Gut Syndrome
Do most conventional doctors support the idea that leaky gut is real?
WebMD refers to leaky gut as something of a medical mystery. This isnt surprising, since its not a diagnosis that most doctors have been taught in medical school. From an MDs standpoint, its a very gray area, says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. In his opinion, Physicians dont know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.
To make matters worse, government agencies have also contributed to the confusion. According to the United Kingdoms National Health Service , There is currently little evidence to support the theory that a porous bowel is the direct cause of any significant, widespread problems.
Yet, not everyone agrees. A roundtable review quotes the researchers at seven different European universities in 2014 agreeing upon the following:
Alteration of the gut barrier seems to have multiple consequences facilitating the onset of a variety of diseases depending on other hits and on genetic or epigenetic constellations, respectively. The growing significance of the gut barrier and bacterial translocation raises the questions of how we can improve gut barrier functions and gut microbiota.
So while its encouraging that science is coming around to leaky gut syndrome being a real problem, we are by no means at a point where there are standard diagnostic tools for testing and treating leaky gut.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Leaky Gut
While experts do not yet definitely know what causes leaky gut syndrome, there are various risk factors that can disrupt the gut microbiota and contribute to increased intestinal permeability. Some examples are:
With autoimmune disorders being a risk factor, the question of whether or not LGS is a cause or symptom of a disease like inflammatory bowel disease once again becomes relevant, since IBD is an autoimmune disorder.
Organic Acid Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies Tests
Why Its Important:
One of the common warning signs of leaky gut is nutrient malabsorption or vitamin/mineral deficiencies. This occurs because of damage to the guts microvilli. When microvilli stop working properly, its possible for large particles to pass through the gut lining that shouldnt and for some small molecules to be blocked that are actually meant to pass through and provide nutrients.
Another downside of blocked or malabsorbed nutrients is that they cant help with detoxification of antigens that the immune system produces at high levels in response to leaky gut.
An organic acid test looks for vitamin and mineral deficiencies amino acid deficiencies information in regard to protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and antioxidant and bacteria levels.
How does it work? Organic acids are produced during central energy production, detoxification, neurotransmitter breakdown or intestinal microbial activity. When they accumulate to high levels, they can be detected in urine and signal a nutrient deficiency, problem producing digestive enzymes, yeast growth or toxic buildup.
How This Leaky Gut Test is Done:
This leaky gut test is a simple kit that you can perform at home, so a doctor visit isnt necessary. Youre mailed a kit to collect your urine sample and then mail it back to a lab where tests are performed. More information on organic acid tests can be found here.
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So Why On Earth Do I Like Putting Stools In Tubes So Much
Well, just like we get blood tests to see if there is something wrong with us, I like to get stool tests to see if there is something wrong with my gut health8.
You see, the poor scientists analyzing my stool sample will perform microbiome testing to determine whats going on inside the jungle of my gut.
Stool contains a lot of bacteria, and it provides a great reflection of whats going on in the gut.
So, scientists can use my stool to look for bacteria , viruses, bacteriophages, fungi, yeast, parasites and all sorts of other goodies that may be contributing to or associated with my intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut, with a particular focus on finding what potentially harmful organisms are present or otherwise out of balance9.
And just as importantly, they will analyze what nutrients and toxins these organisms are producing from the foods I eat.
This is the sort of information my doctor and I can then use to take action to fix my gut health or otherwise optimize it.
What Is Leaky Gut
The proper scientific term for leaky gut is increased intestinal permeability or intestinal hyperpermeability .
When the gut is leaky, it allows molecules that are normally kept out to pass through the lining of the intestines and into the bloodstream.
To understand why this might happen, first, we need to explore a little bit about the anatomy and physiology of the small intestine. Weve broken it down into simple terms below.
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The Best Lab Test For Leaky Gut Is
I believe that the best lab test for leaky gut is a white blood cell count, which is usually performed with a common CBC test for less than $20. Yes, even more valuable than a stool test, SIBO test, candida test, etc., the white blood cell count can not only give us more information, but the price point is so wonderful that we can test and re-test without breaking the bank.
What if you wanted to run a stool test 4 times per year to make sure you had eradicated a parasite? The costs could quickly add up to over $1,500. As you know, then you still have to buy supplements, pay for doctor visits, etc. The costs add up quickly. With the CBC with white blood cells, you can take a close look at your health more often.
How To Use A Common Lab Test For Leaky Gut
So, as a final note, please go look at your last white blood cell lab test. Take a close look at the numbers on your report and compare them to the optimal lab ranges I have provided. If you find that your lab ranges are outside of the optimal ranges, then you likely have leaky gut due to infection or inflammation, but you most definitely have an altered immune system that needs attention. With chronic disease plaguing millions today, both direct and indirect optimization of the immune system is critical to maintain long-term health.
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The Anatomy Of The Small Intestinal Barrier
Cells that make up the lining of the small intestine are called enterocytes.
They form a barrier between the lumen of the intestines and the rest of the body .
Their purpose is to regulate the absorption of vital nutrients and prevent anything dangerous from being absorbed into the bloodstream .
In a healthy gut, most molecules are absorbed THROUGH the enterocytes, processed as needed, and then passed on into the bloodstream .
This is called the transcellular pathway and is tightly regulated to keep out anything harmful .
However, some molecules, especially small polar molecules like water, can also pass between the intestinal cells directly into the bloodstream .
This is known as the paracellular pathway.
Downside #: It Doesnt Get To The Root Cause
Sure, testing for leaky gut can tell you whether or not you have increased intestinal permeability, but many practitioners believe that leaky gut is more of a symptom than a root cause.
Ultimately, we need to know what actually triggered the leaky gut so that we can address that directly.
Thats why many practitioners prefer to evaluate or test for things that are likely to trigger leaky gut, like infections, stress, nutrient deficiencies, or alcohol and medication use.