Our intestinal lining is made up of a layer of cells that helps us absorb nutrients, but it also acting as a barrier to things that have the potential of being harmful to our digestive system – like toxins, pathogens, or other microorganisms. When the gut is exposed to certain environmental triggers, it can lead to a condition known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome.
This is something I suffered from for many years. I had severe gastrointestinal symptoms from the time I was a child all the way through adulthood. Diarrhea, constipation, stomach aches, constant nausea, gas, bloating, pain, irritable bowel… You name it, and I had it.
I was overweight, underweight, had a gallbladder that was barely functioning, I would go weeks without having a bowel movement and then all the sudden the bottom would fall out. I hope you don’t know what I mean. But if you who do, you know it’s no fun.
I want to give you overview of what leaky gut syndrome looks like, the signs and symptoms, causes and risk factors, associated health conditions, as well as an overview of the four R’s, which is a therapeutic approach to Healing your leaky gut.
What is leaky gut syndrome?
The intestinal barrier is made up of a single layer of epithelial cells which are separated by tight junctions that act as a physical barrier. If the gut is healthy, tight junctions in the intestinal lining are selectively permeable, which means they will do their job to absorb of certain nutrients, water, and electrolytes. But these tight junctions also provide a protective barrier, preventing the absorption of the harmful molecules such as the toxins, pathogens, and other antigens mentioned previously.
How does leaky gut happen?
There is a protein called Zonulin that is secreted by the intestinal tract that is associated with leaky gut syndrome. Environmental factors may stimulate the release of zonulin, which has been shown to down-regulate these tight junctions. When the gut becomes imbalanced in its microbes, this is known as dysbiosis, and it plays a role in the development of leaky gut. This can be reversed by removing environmental triggers and cleaning up the gut.
What are the causes and risk factors?
- Antibiotic use
- Environmental toxins
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Poor gut health
- Gluten consumption
- Certain medications like NSAIDs, immunosuppressants
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
- Chronic or excessive stress
Related health conditions
The latest research tells us that increased intestinal permeability may be associated with a number of health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, and type 1 diabetes.
What can you do about it?
This is where the 4 R’s come in.
- Remove the pathogens and inflammatory triggers. This can be done with elimination diets, that remove inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, alcohol, peanuts. Food sensitivity tests can also be helpful in determining foods that are causing inflammation in individuals. Stool testing helps determine pathogens present and is another way to look at zonulin markers.
- Replace essential nutrients that are supportive for healthy microbiome like fiber rich foods, prebiotics, and anti-inflammatory foods.
- Reinoculate with probiotics and introduce fermented foods when the timing is appropriate.
- Repair with certain nutrients that promote health of the gut lining, like immunoglobulins, L-glutamine, zinc, and Ganoderma.
There is a systematic approach that promotes healing of the gut when intestinal permeability creeps in. This Protocol can take as little as 60 to 90 days when the appropriate steps are taken to correct it. I encourage you to work with your functional wellness practitioner who can recommend specific testing and provide you with a personalized treatment plan.
In the event that you are looking for a qualified professional to assist you, please take a peak at my services, and I’d love to offer direction.
My mission is to give you the tools you need to get to the root of your nagging symptoms so you can live your best life!