What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome Is It Even Real
Leaky gut syndrome is used to describe several symptoms including stomach pain, chronic fatigue, irregular bowel movements, skin disorders, and more when a clear-cut cause of these symptoms cant be found. Put simply, medical experts often identify leaky gut as the cause of gastrointestinal issues and other bodily symptoms when they cant pinpoint a more specific cause within the incredibly complex large intestine.
So what is a leaky gut? A leaky gut is the damaged or extra-permeable intestinal lining. It is thought that a leaky gut allows food allergens and other toxins to be are carried by the blood to the liver and eventually affect systems throughout the body. Thus, many medical professionals believe that leaky gut can cause a number of bodily issues, including joint aggravation, skin disorders, bowel issues, and even brain fog or hyperactivity.
Using The Wrong Diagnostic Tests
There is a test available that shows whether an individual has intestinal permeability. It works by measuring levels of two indigestible sugars, mannitol and lactulose, in the urine. Most physicians do not use this test and research shows that it is not very reliable. As we mentioned earlier, there is no evidence that intestinal permeability causes any disease be wary of anyone who claims that it does. Some unscrupulous individuals are even selling these tests to consumers online. Using this test to diagnose leaky gut syndrome would be like ordering a test to look for blood in the stool of someone with IBD and using a positive test result to prove that the bloody stools caused some other mysterious disease that in turn caused the IBD. We already know that bloody stools are a symptom of Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis, just as we know that intestinal permeability is a symptom of some diseases such as Crohns disease and celiac disease.
Proponents of leaky gut syndrome might also misuse tests that look for bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, or tests that measure immune function, to diagnose the disorder, when there is no evidence that the results are in any way related to this baseless syndrome.
Leaky Gut Syndrome Isnt An Official Diagnosis But The Symptoms Are Real
Leaky gut syndrome doesn’t sound like the kind of thing anyone wants to have, yet we’re hearing about it a lot lately. If you look across the vast plains of the Internet, you’ll find all kinds of blogs and alternative health sites warning about leaky gut syndrome, which is often described as a condition in which the lining of the intestines has become more permeable or porous. Some places even suggest it could be associated with everything from food allergies and nutritional deficiencies to autoimmune conditions, fatigue, and joint pain.
Most recently you may have heard about it on Twitter, which is where Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel that she was “diagnosed today with ‘leaky gut syndrome.'”
But what actually are we talking about here? Here’s what we know .
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Gut Microbiota And The Intestinal Barrier
Microbiota can be sensed by the host through pattern recognition receptors , such as toll-like receptors and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain -like receptors . In the gut, the bacteriahost communications are largely dependent on the recognition of microbe-associated molecular patterns by PRRs expressed on immune and non-immune cells. Certain microbiota, bacterial products, and metabolites affect the intestinal barrier function and are responsible for the subsequent breakdown of tissue homeostasis. When there is a leaky gut, commensal bacteria in gut lumen, together with their products, are able to escape the lumen of the gut, which may induce inflammation and cause systemic tissue damages if translocated into peripheral circulation .1). This process of translocation is called microbial translocation .
Telltale Signs You Have A Leaky Gut And How To Heal It
The leaky gut syndrome doesnt only cause symptoms in the digestive system. Instead, it can cause uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes harmful symptoms to appear throughout the body. Leaky gut can result from chronic stress, unhealthy dietary choices, toxic overload, and bacterial imbalance.
This syndrome is recognized by holistic practitioners and nutritionists worldwide. However, many doctors still dont recognize leaky gut as a real medical condition because it isnt diagnosable. A healthy gut indicates good overall health, but leaky gut syndrome disrupts it and causes many problems.
Leaky gut is a digestive condition affecting the intestines lining, causing gaps in the intestinal walls. These gaps allow bacteria and toxins to get into the bloodstream, causing issues for your entire body. With bacteria and toxins flowing throughout your body, its easy to see why the leaky gut symptoms vary in location and severity.
Understanding the symptoms of a leaky gut can help you make lifestyle and dietary changes to overcome the issue. When you know what you are dealing with, you can limit and prevent the causes. Treatment options vary based on the underlying cause, but you can overcome the syndrome.
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Supplements For Leaky Gut
Glutamine is very often recommended to heal leaky gut. While its most likely safe, studies on how it alleviates or protects from gut permeability are mixed.
Probiotics may help heal the gut, but we arent exactly sure which strains are most effective for this. S. Boulardii is sometimes prescribed as a probiotic for intestinal permeability, but
Zinc may enhance the intestinal barrier, according to some studies.
Can You Treat Leaky Gut
You can, but the approach is similar to diagnosing a broken car, says Dr. Fasano. You dont know the exact problem until the mechanic lifts the hood, looks around, and tries different things there is not a simple, direct approach to fixing the problem, he says. Its the same with leaky gut. We have to try different strategies to see what helps.
Your first step is to share your symptoms with your doctor. If leaky gut is a possibility, he or she can try several strategies to help relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation. The most common is to review your diet and eliminate known dietary causes of inflammation, such as excessive consumption of alcohol and processed foods, and to explore whether you have any food sensitivities for instance, to gluten or dairy. In theory, reducing inflammation from your diet like this also may rebuild the gut lining and stop further leakage, says Dr. Fasano.
The best way to protect yourself from leaky gut is to invest more in your overall digestive health, he adds. This means being more attentive about following a gut-healthy diet that limits processed foods and high-fat and high-sugar foods, and includes enough fiber. Sticking to a regular exercise program also can strengthen your digestive system. For example, studies have suggested that taking a 15-to 20-minute walk after a meal can aid in digestion. Your gastrointestinal system is complex, but caring for it doesnt have to be, says Dr. Fasano.
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Intestinal Permeability And Autism
, researchers confirmed an association between gut microbiota imbalances and autism.
A 2010 study observed increased IP in autistic people and their first-degree relatives. However, reported no significant differences in the IP of autistic children.
Scientists must carry out more research to establish whether IP plays a role in autism.
Since many doctors do not consider leaky gut to be a legitimate medical condition, there is no standard treatment.
However, certain dietary and lifestyle changes may help people to improve their gut health. This, in turn, may alleviate leaky gut symptoms.
The following dietary tips may help to improve gut health:
- eating more probiotics to boost beneficial gut bacteria
- eating foods rich in prebiotic fiber, such as vegetables and whole grains
- eating less meat, dairy, and eggs
- avoiding added sugar and artificial sweeteners
The following lifestyle changes can improve digestion and support a healthy gut:
- exercising regularly
A Hint Of Truth Intestinal Permeability
In some individuals, for a variety of reasons, the physical structure of their intestines is compromised. The tight junctions, which control what materials the intestine absorbs, dont work properly, allowing larger substances to cross over into the bloodstream. This is known as intestinal permeability.
Physicians sometimes find increased intestinal permeability in those who have Crohns disease, celiac disease, in individuals receiving chemotherapy, and those who have a high intake of bowel-damaging substances such as aspirin and alcohol. However, intestinal permeability is a symptom of these ailments, not a cause it does not lead to anything more than inflammation of the bowel walls, and it is not leaky gut syndrome. Furthermore, research shows that increased intestinal permeability sometimes has beneficial effects, such as improving water and nutrient absorption as well as activating the immune system.1
The Myth: According to the proponents of leaky gut syndrome, bacteria and toxins enter the bloodstream through these defective tight junctions and wreak havoc throughout the body, causing bloating, gas, cramps, inflammatory bowel disease , as well as fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, moodiness, irritability, sleeplessness, autism, and skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.
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What Are Some Signs Of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut can manifest itself through a number of symptoms, including indigestion and heartburn, chronic fatigue, food sensitivity, persistent brain fog, changes in skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis, or acne, seasonal allergies, and more. If you believe you may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome, we recommend scheduling an appointment at for a detailed examination from our medical experts.
A lot of people have heard about leaky gut syndrome but are not sure what it means or if it is even a real medical condition. Board-certified immunologist Dr. Dean Mitchell M.D. who practices holistic medicine in NYC discusses what it means to have leaky gut and the common causes of it.
Many people think of a leaky faucet when they think of leaky gut syndrome but its not quite the case. Leaky gut has to do with a few different medical disorders where the bodys immune system goes out of balance.
The classic and most common cause of leaky gut has to do with gluten. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are well-known causes of leaky gut syndrome.
It was discovered when patients with celiac disease ate wheat and Dr. Alessio Fasano noticed that the proteins from the wheat caused the gut to open up allowing proteins to leak out which caused digestive symptoms as well as other issues like rashes, respiratory problems, and arthritis.
What Causes Leaky Gut
The broad cause of intestinal damage is thought to be :
- Genetics: Genetically susceptible individuals have an exaggerated immune response to foreign particles. This response is thought to activate several pathways involved in intestinal permeability.
- Lifestyle Triggers: Stress and diet over the long-term are key factors, too. In particular, food intolerance, excessive alcohol consumption, certain toxic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , certain antibiotics and radiation.
We can see that the Western lifestyle is a major contributor to intestinal issues, which means its largely preventable.
Summary: The main triggers of intestinal permeability appear to be genetics and lifestyle. This includes stress and diet.
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Is Leaky Gut A Real Condition
Leaky gut syndrome is a proposed contributor to the symptoms of neurobehavioral disorders such as autism, sensory processing disorder, learning disorders and ADHD. For decades, leaky gut syndrome was not accepted as a medical diagnosis. But research now shows it is indeed real.
In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics released a supplement in their November issue of Pediatrics, Gastrointestinal Conditions in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Developing a Research Agenda revealing that clinical practice and research to date indicate the important role of GI conditions in ASDs and their impact on children as well as their parents and clinicians and that the current evidence warrants further research into this area. In this supplement, the AAP makes mention of intestinal permeability and shows support for the importance of proper nutrition in children with neurobehavioral disorders like autism, stating that, nutritional status and nutrient intake are inextricably related in children with autism.
Avoid Inflammatory And Toxic Foods
Because gluten is linked to the release of zonulin, it tops most doctors lists of leaky-gut-causing foods. Common sources of gluten include pastas, noodles, breads, pastries, cereal and beer.
Research shows sugar feeds bad gut bacteria. Avoid refined sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, as well as healthy sweeteners like maple syrup and coconut sugar. Alcoholic beverages also break down as sugars so best to avoid them.
There are two proteins in dairy that many people struggle to digest casein and whey. Many people dont have enough lactase to properly break down the lactose in milk. This causes gastrointestinal distress and potential gut damage.
Soy and its derivatives can trigger gut flora imbalances. Many experts recommend avoiding all generically-modified foods if you have a leaky gut.
The effects of corn sensitivity are similar to those of gluten sensitivity. Like gluten and soy, corn is present in many packaged foods, so its important to read labels carefully.
Lectins and phytates
These compounds are found in all gluten-containing grains, beans, corn, and nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes. Lectins bind to the cells lining your intestines, disrupting the tight junctions between the intestinal cells. This contributes to leaky gut, while phytates interfere with the absorption of important minerals.
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What Is The Leaky Gut Syndrome
The leaky gut syndrome is a rapidly growing condition that people from the world over are experiencing of late. Although problems begin with your digestive system if you have the leaky gut syndrome, it affects other aspects of your health as well.
Your gut is lined by a wall, which is similar to a net with small holes in them. These small holes act as filters and enable the passage of certain substances only. It acts as a shield to keep out the bigger, harmful substances from entering your body.
When someone has a leaky gut, it means that the gut lining is damaged and cannot optimally function as a barrier any longer. The smaller holes become larger and allow harmful substances like gluten, bad bacteria, and undigested food particles to enter your system and cause considerable damage to health.
The Dangers Of Alternative Treatments For Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is generally touted by alternative health and medical sites with equally alternative solutions ranging from fad diets to costly supplements that have not been adequately researched.
The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research warns that products that claim to help alleviate leaky gut are not medically verified and may actually be dangerous. Further, dietary advice given by unqualified institutions or personalities may lead to malnutrition or a poorer diet overall.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Leaky Gut
As mentioned, leaky gut, or increased permeability is not fully recognized by the medical community at large, which makes finding symptoms a tough task. Many of the symptoms are shared with other health conditions, making the disorder difficult for doctors to identify. Leaky gut may cause or contribute to the following possible symptoms:
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, or bloating
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Skin problems, such as acne, rashes, or eczema
- Joint pain
- Widespread inflammation
These symptoms overlap with many other health conditions, leading experts to believe that leaky gut may actually contribute to their manifestation. While it is not clear if LGS is a cause or a symptom, it has been linked to irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease, celiac disease, diabetes, and food allergies, among others. A peer-reviewed study suggested that increased intestinal permeability may actually contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease . However, more peer-reviewed studies need to be conducted before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
Furthermore, scientists have closely looked at the gut-brain axis, which is the relationship between the GI tract and the brain. Some research has shown that leaky gut may be a factor for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression
Leaky Gut Syndrome/intestinal Permeability Symptoms
In alternative medicine, symptoms are said to include: abdominal pain, asthma, chronic joint pain, chronic muscle pain, confusion, gas, indigestion, mood swings, nervousness, frequent colds, recurrent vaginal infections, skin rashes, diarrhea, recurrent bladder infections, poor memory, shortness of breath, constipation, bloating, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue.
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What Is Leaky Gut Can Dietary Changes Help
Although the science is still up in the air, the expression “leaky gut syndrome” is getting a lot of attention on blogs and alternative health sites. This unpleasant-sounding proposed digestive condition is also known as “increased intestinal permeability,” in which the lining of the intestines has become more porous.
Myth #: Gluten Sensitivity Does Not Cause Intestinal Permeability
Intestinal permeability refers to the function of the intestinal walls to control passage and absorption of nutrients and electrolytes from the gastro intestinal tract and into the rest of the body. It is regulated by a protein known as Zonulin which controls the tight junctions within the small intestine. On the other hand, gluten is a mixture of active proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley.
Studies have shown that gluten activates Zonulin, causing the tight junctions to loosen thereby allowing large particles to pass through. Even though these studies were carried out among a wide range of participants, the results were more conclusive for people with Celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome .
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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.