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So What is Leaky Gut?

So What is Leaky Gut?

Thursday, December 21st 2006

So what actually is Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS)?

The official definition of Leaky Gut Syndrome is an increase in permeability of the intestinal mucosa. Quite simply, large spaces develop between the cells of the gut wall allowing bacteria, toxins and undigested foods to leak into the bloodstream. These "foreign" substances create an immune response which can lead to chronic inflammation, allergies and food intolerances.

According to "Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) affects millions of people worldwide. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a chronic debilitating condition that often goes undiagnosed by the mainstream medical profession, as many doctors do not provide testing for leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) or acknowledge that the condition exists. Many people are not even aware that they are suffering from a "leaky gut'.

Further, Dr James A Ferrel MD claims that "Leaky Gut Syndrome may be the cause of many 'etiology (cause) unknown' illnesses. LGS may also explain many of the symptoms patients have that confound and confuse many doctors. In my opinion Leaky Gut Syndrome is grossly under-considered as a 'mainstream' medical diagnosis.

Leaky gut, while not being a visible condition, has long been recognised by holistic practitioners as something that can be linked with many varied symptoms that can include: abdominal pain, heartburn, insomnia, bloating, anxiety, food allergies, gluten intolerance, malnutrition, muscle cramps and pains and poor exercise tolerance.

LGS is now being recognised as a prevalent factor in many conditions including: celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, dermatitis and ulcerative colitis. When these conditions have been diagnosed it is important to consider the possibility of LGS.

In the intestinal tract you have small finger-like protrusions called villi, which in turn have hair-like protrusions called microvilli that are the primary site of nutrient absorption. They are also responsible for the production of specific enzymes and secretions essential for healthy digestion. When LGS occurs, the ability to produce these enzymes and secretions becomes impaired, digestion becomes compromised and the gut can no longer efficiently regulate what gets absorbed into the bloodstream and what gets turned away for excretion.

So what causes LGS?

There are many contributing factors that may lead to leaky gut syndrome. They include:

Low Stomach Acid - When there is insufficient stomach acid to begin important digestive processes, food arrives in the intestines insufficiently prepared for the advanced stages of digestion. This can result in carbohydrates fermenting and protein putrefying in the intestine, leading to an unhealthy bowel and LGS.

Candida - The yeast Candida albicans occurs naturally within our intestines in small quantities. However, when there is a disturbance in the healthy ecology of our gut, candida, being an opportunistic organism, rapidly multiplies and changes into a detrimental fungus causing candidiasis. In fungal form Candida develops hooks which literally latch onto the lining of the gut wall causing damage that if left untreated, can lead to LGS.

Dysbiosis - Dysbiosis occurs when the healthy balance of good bacteria is overrun with too many detrimental bacteria. The most common cause for this is antibiotic use without the necessary probiotics to offset the side effects. It is now well understood that antibiotics, although sometimes necessary to defeat serious bacterial infection, are not terribly selective about which bacteria they harm. Therefore, good as well as bad bacteria are affected. If left unresolved the toxins and chemicals produced by the pathogenic microbes can lead to LGS.

Celiac Disease - Undiagnosed celiac disease can be a factor leading to LGS due to the chronic irritation and inflammation produced by constant exposure to gluten in the diet.

Parasites - Unthinkable as it is that we may be affected by parasites, we are surrounded by them and parasitic infection is becoming increasingly common. Parasites often inhabit the bowel where they cause damage and ultimately LGS.

Pharmaceuticals - The main perpetuators are the Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which work on specific pathways that help to reduce inflammation but also result in inhibiting certain pathways that work at protecting the gut lining. With this protective layer gone, damage occurs and LGS can result with long-term use. Also, ongoing steroid use suppresses the immune system and kills off 'friendly' bacteria eventually leading to LGS.

Lifestyle and diet - Long-term stress, excessive alcohol consumption and poor food choices can all contribute to LGS due to both compromising the immune system and having a detrimental impact on all organs of the body including the digestive system.

So there are many factors involved in the formation of LGS, but most have two things in common. There is either inflammation present or there is some compromise to the immune system. Remember that over 70% of the immune system is located in and around the digestive system and the 'friendly bacteria' play a large role in this. So if you have a situation where these bacteria are severely reduced this is a serious prerequisite to LGS. Also in the case of uncontrolled inflammation, regardless of what the cause is, it will eventually do damage to the lining of the gut resulting in LGS.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Restore, Repair and Rejuvenate

1. Probiotics - Restore
One of the most important treatment strategies if you suspect you may have LGS is to restore a healthy balance of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract. This will not only help to naturally support your immune system but help to reduce the number of pathogenic microbes present in the bowel. Certain strains of friendly bacteria found in Nature's Way Primadophilus range have been shown to help strengthen and repair the lining of the GI tract reversing LGS. Use the appropriate age-specific Nature's Way Primadophilus product that contains a three way promise to you: True potency, True Release and True identity. Remember, there are more friendly bacteria in 1 Primadophilus capsule than you will find in eight tubs of acidophilus containing yoghurt.

2. Colostrum Capsules - Repair
Colostrum is a key supportive nutraceutical for LGS. Colostrum has been shown in studies to be effective in promoting repair of the gut lining and the re-growth of the intestinal villi, while at the same time reducing pathogens from over-proliferating in the gut. Radiance Nature's Start Colostrum is 100% A grade, New Zealand sourced, high lgG colostrum that comes from healthy pasture fed cows that are guaranteed to be free from chemicals and antibiotics.

3. Anti-inflammatory control
Why risk worsening the problem with NSAID's. Control inflammation and pain naturally, using Radiance D-Flam. A 100% natural herbal formula gaining notoriety for its effectiveness without the side effects associated with steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Reproduced unabridged from the January - March 2007 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for intestinal health and balance:

Colostrum Capsules
Colostrum Chewable
Digest Spectrum
Inner Health Plus Dairy Free Capsules
Inner Health Plus
Inner Health IBS Support
Inner Health Gastro Relief
Inner Health Candex
Inner Health for Kids
Immune Booster for Kids
Primadophilus Bifidus
Primadophilus Child
Primadophilus for Kids
Primadophilus Optima

Related health information can be found here:

Antibiotic Use
Bad Breath
Food Poisoning
Fungal Infections
Tired and lacking energy?
Weak immune system?

Related articles can be found here:

Colostrum Benefits Sports People
The Benefits of Primadophilus Reuteri
Winning the Battle With Candida
Why take Primadophilus?

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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