Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs when large particles of food or bacteria leak into the bloodstream through cell membranes that have become permeable over time due to stress, dietary or hormonal imbalance, medicinal side effects, or exposure to infection.
Many patients experience a near-allergic response to these irritants, resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, food sensitivity, gas, abnormal bowel movements and systemic inflammation. However, eczema, muscle aches, joint pain, depression, brain fog and fatigue can also be symptomatic of a Leaky Gut when gastrointestinal symptoms are not present.
If left unmanaged, a Leaky Gut can lead to autoimmune diseases like Type 1 Diabetes* and Hashimoto’s Disease.
WHAT CAUSES A LEAKY GUT?
If you think you have a Leaky Gut, evaluate your exposure to the following potential culprits:
- Dietary: Alcohol, gluten, sugar, processed food and casein
- Infections: Bacterial overgrowth, yeast overgrowth, parasites and H. pylori
- Medications: Antibiotics, antacids, corticosteroids
- Stress: Increased cortisol
- Hormonal: Decreased thyroid hormones and sex hormones such as estrodial, progesterone and testosterone
- Autoimmune disease and intestinal inflammation are also known contributors.
Diagnosis can be difficult and must include testing from an experienced functional medicine practitioner.
Due to the variety of symptoms that result from lifestyle and physiological factors, this condition, its severity and course of treatment vary from individual to individual. A skilled clinician can evaluate and identify what is going on in your gut and put you on a specific protocol to heal your body.
Regiments may include removing grains, sugar, GMO’s, non grass-fed meat and dairy from your diet. Replace them with foods with healing properties such as bone broths, fermented vegetables and coconut products. Supplements like glutamine, digestive enzymes and probiotics can also aid in the repair of this condition.
For best results, it is important to try to identify all possible irritants for your Leaky Gut individually. Once a course of treatment is in place, many patients see improvement in four to six months. For those with Leaky Gut caused by autoimmune deficiencies, long-term lifestyle changes may be in order.
*Vaarala O, Atkinson MA, Neu J (2008) ‘The “Perfect Storm” for Type 1 Diabetes The Complex Interplay Between Intestinal Microbiota, Gut Permeability, and Mucosal Immunity’, Diabetes Journal, (57)10(2555-2562).
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