Leaky Gut An Invisible threat to health
An important, but often ignored, aspect of our body’s defense systems are physical barriers. Acting as gatekeepers, these barriers, such as our skin and intestines, protect us from being compromised by organisms that could impact our health and immune system.
Ask any traumatic burn sufferer and they will tell you how vulnerable they are to serious infections that could put their health in jeopardy.
It stands to reason that the same is true for our intestines. If our intestinal tract was breached and began letting things by that it shouldn’t, we would be at risk in a number of ways. But, unlike the skin, this breach would be invisible
The medical term for this breech is “increased intestinal permeability”. Most people refer to it as “leaky gut” syndrome. Either way it can lead to serious health problems.
Signs and symptoms of a leaky gut
As yet there are no direct diagnostic tests for Leaky Gut Syndrome, however most sufferers experience one or more of these signs or symptoms.
- Digestive symptoms: bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or gas
- Food intolerances
- Hormonal imbalances
- Inflammation, both acute and chronic
- Mood and cognitive issues
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Parasitic fungal (Candida) overgrowth
- Skin issues, such as acne and rosacea, hives, eczema
Until there is a direct diagnostic testing for increased intestinal permeability, care givers need to rely on several options to determine if their patients are being affected.
IgG food sensitivity test: Identifies a wide variety of food sensitivities. While this blood test is not conclusive, it can provide some insights. For instance, if the tests reveals many food sensitivities, it can be assumed that the gut is leaky.
Nutrient blood panel: Tests for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Not absorbing vitamins and minerals appropriately can be the result of leaky gut syndrome.
Lactulose/mannitol urine test: Assesses the degree to which two sugars cross the gut lining. Mannitol is a simple sugar, easily absorbed through the intestinal wall. Lactulose, a larger sugar molecule, doesn’t easily pass through healthy junctions in the intestinal mucosa. Therefore, if there is an elevated lactulose to mannitol ratio in the urine, it can indicate leaky gut.
There are a number of factors that can influence the balance of our gut microbiota and inflammation.
- Processed foods
- Chronic stress
- Drug and alcohol use
- Food sensitivities
- Overuse medications like antibiotics and NSAIDs
- Toxins from food, air, water, home, clothing, etc.
The 3 R strategy for gut repair
Remove: Eliminate the foods and products that can disrupt gut health.
Repair: Eat foods and supplement with key healing nutrients.
Replace: Restore good bacteria with probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods.