What is Leaky Gut?
The lining of our gut is like a finely woven net with tiny holes that selectively allows transfer of molecules into the blood and body tissues. It is paper thin and acts as a critical barrier preventing toxins from entering inside our tissues.
Leaky gut (also referred to as increased Intestinal permeability) occurs when the “net” in your gut is damaged. The holes become bigger and less discerning about what they let through. Tight junctions occur when two cells membranes join and form a barrier virtually impermeable to fluid, acting like a fortress guarding what gets through. When the gut is leaky these tight junctions slacken and allow unsuitable molecules through which trigger inflammation and other symptoms.
A leaky gut allows potential toxins to pass through the gut wall including gluten, harmful bacteria and undigested food particles. Toxic wastes, also known as endotoxins, can leak from the gut lining into the bloodstream causing inflammation and auto immune conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.
How does this altered permeability affect our health?
According to many experts, leaky gut can be a constant and early feature of many autoimmune diseases and may result in numerous and widespread health problems including:
Eczema and psoriasis
Inflammatory bowel disease
Type 1 diabetes
The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through a protein called Zonulin. Zonulin naturally controls the size of the openings of your gut‘s tight junctions. Abnormally high levels of Zonulin can cause these openings to enlarge resulting in leaky gut.
What is the cause of leaky gut
The causes of leaky gut include poor diet, chronic stress, toxin overload, bacterial imbalance, smoking, and some medications.
The gut brain access is especially vulnerable to the presence of stress. Stress can cause changes in gut permeability, bacteria and barrier function. Toxins are a factor as we meet over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, aspirin and NSAIDs.
How is leaky gut diagnosed?
No test can definitively diagnose leaky gut, however, the following two tests will highlight if your gut is more permeable than it should be for optimal wellness.
The intestinal permeability urine test measures the ability of two sugar molecules, lactulose and mannitol, to permeate the intestinal epithelial barrier. Ordinarily, mannitol is efficiently absorbed but lactulose, a larger molecule, is not. This test can help to identify malabsorption and “leaky gut” syndrome. Zonulin testing is available as a blood test and can identify leaky gut if the levels are raised.
Remember a healthy gut is a tightly sealed one. We need to support our body to maintain gut integrity with appropriate diet, lifestyle and stress reduction. Naturopathic remedies used to support optimal gut health include:
Glutamine powder – Glutamine is the preferred fuel for the small intestine and vital for maintenance of mucosal growth structure and function.
Probiotics – Probiotics will protect intestinal mucosa, increase the beneficial bacteria and crowd out the less helpful ones.
Quercetin and Green tea – Contain polyphenols which help seal the gut lining by enhancing expression of tight junction proteins.
Turmeric – Improves intestinal barrier function. Bacteria in the gut continually release LPS (lipopolysaccharide) toxins into the gut. A healthy intestine will prevent these from entering circulation. Turmeric decreases transport of gut toxins across the gut layer. It also reduces gut inflammation.
Liquorice – Helps the body maintain the mucous lining of the gut.
Bone broth – Rich in proline and glycine, both vital amino acids essential for the damaged gut lining.
Dandelion root and liver teas – Help stimulate bile secretion which keeps bacterial overgrowth in the gut in check.
Come in and talk to our fully qualified staff today and find out how to keep your gut healthy and fully functional
Anita Roy Chaudhuri can offer Zonulin and Intestinal Permeability testing as part of her Clinic Consultations.
Anita is a senior Naturopathic consultant and practitioner with over 20 year’s clinical experience. She is a qualified Medical Herbalist, Nutritionist with over 12 years experience as a natural fertility consultant.