The term Leaky Gut Syndrome is used to describe the condition of “Hyperpermeable Intestines,” which is a fancy medical term that means the intestinal lining has became more porous, with more holes developing that are larger in size and the screening out process is no longer functioning properly. The fallout results in larger, undigested food molecules and other “bad stuff” such as yeast and toxins that your body normally doesn’t allow through, to flow freely into your bloodstream. Leaky Gut can be very confusing, but it’s becoming more and more of an epidemic. Many of the causes and cures of Leaky Gut are widely debated, but doctors are becoming more aware of the condition and ways to treat it. Here is more on how to treat Leaky Gut Syndrome and what exactly it is.
What causes leaky gut?
In many cases, leaky gut is caused by your diet. Leaky gut can also be caused by medications including antibiotics, steroids or pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen, which can irritate the intestinal lining and damage protective mucus layers. This irritation can start or continue the inflammation cycle that leads to intestinal permeability.
Signs that you have a leaky gut
The following symptoms might be signs of leaky gut:
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Poor immune system
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
- Cravings for sugar or carbs
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
Who gets a leaky gut?
We all have some degree of leaky gut, as this barrier is not completely impenetrable. Some of us may have a genetic predisposition and may be more sensitive to changes in the digestive system, but our DNA is not the only one to blame. Modern life may actually be the main driver of gut inflammation. There is emerging evidence that the standard American diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fats, may initiate this process. Heavy alcohol use and stress also seem to disrupt this balance.
We already know that increased intestinal permeability plays a role in certain gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. The biggest question is whether or not a leaky gut may cause problems elsewhere in the body. Some studies show that leaky gut may be associated with other autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity, and even mental illness. However, we do not yet have clinical studies in humans showing such a cause and effect.
Treatment without Research
Conventional medicine is combined with evidenced-based complementary therapies. But with leaky gut, the evidence -- about what causes it and how to treat it -- has yet to fully accumulate. This is something that is essential for patients to understand.
Doctors are in the infancy of understanding what to do. People who are making claims about what to do are doing so without evidence. For example, many web sites offering information on leaky gut, recommend taking L-glutamine supplements to strengthen the lining of the small intestine. Theoretically, that makes sense, given glutamine’s role in intestinal function -- but there is no research to back up such claims. There’s no evidence that if you take a pile of glutamine pills, that you will improve.
Lifestyle modifications, such as those that reduce stress and improve the diet, may be among the best ways to treat leaky gut, particularly when no underlying condition is identified.