What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky-Gut-Syndrome, more technically known as a ‘hyper-permeable gut’, is a condition where the cells of our intestine begin to ‘unstick’ from one another. These cells in our intestine are a part of a protective lining which protects us from food waste and bacteria within our intestines. When these cells begin to ‘unstick’ from one another, this waste slowly make its way into our body, causing our body to defend itself.
When waste pushes its way between the cells of our intestine (known as ‘tight junctions’) our immune system reacts and sets off an inflammatory response to try and protect our body. Research shows that conditions such autoimmunity and chronic fatigue may be influenced by this process. In fact, researcher Alessio Fasano believes autoimmunity cannot exist without some level of leaky gut.
Because of this, It is important to look at the state of our gut when experiencing the following symptoms and conditions.
What Symptoms Does Leaky Gut Syndrome Cause?
- Food intolerance
- Thyroid disorders
- Weight gain
- Insulin resistance
- Malabsorption/nutritional deficiencies
- Autoimmune disease
Other related symptoms:
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight gain
- Digestive issues
- Joint pain
The Immune System Begins to React!
When our immune system notices there is something foreign in our body, it reacts by revving-up and destroying foreign objects. Part of the way it does this is by producing cytokines (a type of signalling molecule) which produces inflammation. When a leaky gut is present, the immune system gets to work trying to destroy the waste making its way into our body. Although our immune system tries its best, over time it becomes overloaded. It seems that no matter how much ‘destroying’ it does, this waste still pushes through. Insult, after insult, our immune system begins to somewhat malfunction. This causes our body to become more susceptible to viruses and illness. It may also get ‘mixed up’ between which cells are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – leading to autoimmunity.
What Causes of Leaky Gut?
Causes of Leaky Gut lie in 3 main areas, your history, lifestyle and diet:
1) Your History:
- Chronic Antibiotic or NSAID (anti-inflammatory) use
- Mercury Dental Fillings or Heavy Metal Exposure
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Chemo or Radiation Treatments
- Cesarean Birth and Limited Bread Feeding
- Gut Dysbiosis or bacterial imbalance
- Hormone Imbalance
- Chronic Inflammation
- Vitamin/Nutrient Deficiencies
2) Your Lifestyle:
- Environmental Toxins
- Sleep deprivation
- Chronic Stress
- Liver Toxicity
3) Your Diet:
- Inflammatory Omega 6/ Omega 3 ratio
- Industrial seed oils
More often then not, it is usually a collection of these risk factors that lead to a leaky gut.
How Do I Heal A Leaky Gut?
In order to improve a leaky gut, we first need to consider all potential causes. This can be done through pathology testing and looking at your symptoms and history. Some of the tests we can use include parasite and bacterial testing along with other blood markers which paint a picture of your current health.
Making dietary and lifestyle changes is the key to allowing your gut and body to heal. The most effective place to start is by eating a diet rich in seasonal wholefoods foods while limiting foods that may be reactive to our gut (such as grains, dairy, sugars, alcohol and caffeine). Lifestyle factors and reducing stress is also important. Some helpful tips include spending time with your friends, optimizing sleep quality, managing your stress levels, walk in the park, meditation or yoga. These are all improvements we can help you work toward in clinic.
Foods & Supplements to Heal your Gut
- Water – make sure you’re drinking enough!
- Avoid the most likely irritating foods such as gluten grains and dairy
- Bone broth – the super food for gut healing
- Fermented foods – kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’, natural yoghurt
- Fresh whole nutrient dense foods
- Optimal protein & collagen
- Vitamin D & Zinc – helps the intestinal lining heal and return to normal
- Essential fish oils – improve the condition of the intestinal mucosal lining by reducing inflammation among other benefits – cod liver oil
- Probiotics – prevent and even displace bad bacteria from taking over your gut
- Digestive enzymes – supports complete food breakdown
- Vitamin A
There is a lot of information out there on how to heal a leaky gut – it can be quite overwhelming! We believe the best way to improve your gut health is by taking a strategic and personalised approach. It is important to have a plan which is not only specific to you but also put together in a way which is achievable for YOU.
Do you need help with your leaky gut? Let us guide you toward feeling better. Contact us here or call our reception on (08) 8332 2271.
Mack DR, Michail S, Wei S, McDougall L, et al. (1999) Probiotics inhibit enteropathogenic E. coli adherence in vitro by inducing intestinal mucin gene expression. Am J Physiol. 1999;276:G941–G950 146.
Fasano A. (2011) Zonulin and its regulation of intestinal barrier function: the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer. Physiol Rev. 2011 Jan;91(1):151-75
Chan YK, Estaki M, Gibson DL. (2013) Clinical consequences of diet-induced dysbiosis.Ann Nutr Metab. 2013;63 Suppl 2:28-40
Flint HJ, Duncan SH, Scott KP, Louis P. (2015) Links between diet, gut microbiota composition and gut metabolism. Proc Nutr Soc. 2015 Feb;74(1):13-22
Engen, P.A. et al (2015) Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):223-36