Leaky Gut or Leaky Gut Syndrome refers to a condition whereby the small intestine becomes more permeable than normal, allowing incompletely digested food molecules to enter the bloodstream. The body recognizes these molecules as foreign, which may stimulate an allergic or immune response in the body.
Nutrients passing through the intestinal wall is a very specific process. When the small intestine loses its filtration abilities, Vitamin B12 and the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) often do not pass through, which can leave the individual deficient in these vital nutrients.
Leaky gut may be caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alcohol, intestinal parasites, candidiasis, or by continually overloading a sluggish digestive system with far more food than it can handle. This can cause a vicious cycle allowing more parasites, bacteria, viruses, and/or candida to become systemic, which can create a whole host of other problems.
Symptoms of a leaky gut can include any combination of the following:
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and/or bloating
- Indigestion or flatulence
- Mucus or blood in stools
- Chronic joint or muscle pains
- Frequent fatigue, tiredness
- Fuzzy thinking
- Confusion, poor memory
- Mood swings aggravated by sensitivities/intolerances
- Poor exercise tolerance
- Weak immunity
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rashes, hives, eczema
- Asthma, bronchitis, respiratory infections
- Sinus or nasal congestion
- Food/alcohol allergies/intolerances
- Alcohol consumption makes one feel sick
Healing the Intestinal Wall:
The microvilli in the small intestine are highly regenerative. If given a total rest from everything that irritates them, individual microvilli can repair themselves within 4 -5 days. If the damage is extensive, there will be deep tears in the intestinal wall, and healing will take a much longer time. Healing needs to be complete for the body’s overall health to be restored.
A leaky gut cannot process large protein molecules, so these need to be avoided. Starches and disaccharide sugars (sucrose, lactose) also need to be avoided because a damaged intestinal wall is unable to produce the final enzymes needed to break them down. Undigested starches and sugars remain in the gut, ferment and feed pathogenic bacteria, candida and other microbes that continue to attack the intestinal wall. It is also necessary to avoid foods to which a person has unique sensitivities to. BioScanMSA (Meridian Stress Assessment) testing can help determine this without having to go through the process of an elimination diet. Continuing to eat these irritating items would be the same as continuing to scratch a cut and expecting it to heal. It will not.
The form of sugar most compatible with healing a leaky gut is fructose (fruit sugar). It is a simple sugar readily available for absorption because it requires no digestive enzymes to break it down.
If you think you are a victim of leaky gut syndrome, visit your natural health care practitioner.
By Janice Buckler, BSc, RHN and Owner of Natural Legends Nutritional Consulting