Thursday, February 12, 2015

Do You Have A Leaky Gut?

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a very direct way of diagnosing someone with a permeable intestinal wall that let's food leak through into our bloodstream. Our bodies then have to create an immune response to these food particles which can then lead to all sorts of health problems, including food allergies, mood disorders, chronic health challenges and autoimmune conditions. Digestive symptoms include bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, but often presents itself as more complex symptoms like food allergies, eczema and rashes, migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, weight gain, blood sugar issues including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroid syndrome, mood issues including depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia, infertility and a whole range of autoimmune conditions.

Dietary intervention is extremely helpful in healing leaky gut and there are several gut healing protocols like the GAPS Diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Body Ecology Diet (BED) and the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. What all of these diets have in common is the removal of problematic foods, like gluten, hard-to-digest grains, legumes, sugars and starches, and the inclusion of healing foods that decrease inflammation like bone broths, pasture-raised meats, organically grown vegetables, healing fats and naturally cultured or fermented foods. The goal is to provide a healing environment for the small intestine.

Besides irritated food, heavy metals or chemicals, leaky gut also occurs under stress, and is found after radiation treatments for cancer, after some chemotherapy, with diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, and with bacterial infections, which can result in bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.


Eliminating foods to which you are intolerant or allergic can help provide a healing environment in the small intestine. Also, carotenoids, (a precursor to vitamin A), may be particularly important since vitamin A supports the maturation of epithelial cells, which are the type of cell that line the intestinal tract, and it is the mature epithelial cells that form the strongest barrier in the intestinal tract. Carotenoids are found at high levels in vegetables, especially the orange- and red-colored vegetables.

Glutathione, a small peptide found in the highest concentrations in fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean meats is also beneficial to the small intestine, since it can directly act as an antioxidant in the intestinal tract and help decrease damaging molecules that may be produced during inflammation. Vitamin C, from citrus fruits, and vitamin E, found in whole grain cereals and nut oils, are important antioxidants for the small intestine and work with glutathione to support intestinal healing.

The cells that line the intestinal tract need fuel to continue their process of nutrient uptake. The preferred fuel for these cells is the amino acid glutamine, which can be obtained from proteins. Some studies have shown that short-chain fatty acids may also support the small intestinal tract barrier because they can serve as an alternate fuel for the cells that make up the intestinal lining. The small intestinal tract cells also require energy to maintain integrity of the cell wall, and production of energy requires healthy levels of vitamin B5. Mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, corn, broccoli, and beet greens are concentrated sources of pantothenic acid. The intestinal tract cells also require a number of vitamins, so adequate overall nutrition is necessary and with Nutrition Response Testing that is what I help my patients do.