What is it?
Imagine making a cup of filtered coffee with a filter full of holes so you end up with a cup of coffee laced with coffee grinds. In the same way Leaky Gut Syndrome involves a porous gut wall which no longer keeps out harmful microbes and toxins; rather, it lets them enter the body along with your food. And as time goes on, the ‘holes’ in the digestive tract wall get bigger; letting through more intruders and undigested food. This causes a host of problems.
What causes it?
Leaky Gut Syndrome develops when toxins and substances released by bad bacteria damage the intestinal cells (microvilli and desmosomes) and the protective mucus layer of the intestinal wall. These cells and wall normally act together as a selective filter to determine what can enter the circulation; much like the adjudicators of Masterchef. With leaky gut, it’s like they’ve had one too many glasses of bubbly and their judgement is a bit off. Toxins, microbes, bits of undigested food and other large molecules don’t need to try too hard to look fancy on the plate: they can slip easily past the radar and into the blood stream. The trusty immune system puts up a good fight; creating antibodies to fight the foreign intruders. This can create inflammation and oxidants that damage healthy tissue. The over-zealous immune system gets confused at the best of times, and can also attack healthy cells in the body due to their close resemblence to some of these intruders leading to the development of autoimmune conditions. Factors contributing to the development of Leaky Gut Syndrome include:
- low levels of digestive acid
- unbalanced intestinal flora & candida overgrowth
(Check out the link at the bottom of the page – all about Candida)
- overconsumption of alcohol & caffeine
- existing allergies
- poor diet
- pharmaceutical medications and
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
Other conditions which may also be linked to Leaky Gut Syndrome include chronic fatigue, Autism, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and liver disease. I don’t know about you, but that stressful list has me running for comfort foods.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms for Leaky Gut Syndrome include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, bowel irregularities, multiple food sensitivities, skin rashes such as eczema and dermatitis, poor concentration and memory, headaches, impaired immune function, fatigue, candidiasis, malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies. Think: Sunday morning.
What you can do about it?
Healing a Leaky Gut involves several stages:
- Elimination of harmful microbes, such as candida, parasites and bad bacteria
- Replacement of beneficial bacteria with a broad spectrum probiotic: out with the old, in with the new
- Avoiding allergy foods and processed foods, such as sugars and carbohydrates, which candida cells feed on. Also, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will help, as the fibre cleans the bowels on its way through
- Taking supportive nutrients to rebuild the gut lining, such as L-glutamine – an important component of the digestive tract wall; prebiotic fibre such as inulin to feed and support the probiotic bacteria; green barley, which is high in easy-to-absorb minerals; slippery elm and Aloe Vera to soothe the gut wall; and herbal teas to aid and soothe the digestion.