“Leaky Gut Syndrome” OR Intestinal Hyper-Permeability

“Leaky Gut” is the casual term to describe the loss of a functional barrier of the intestinal tract. When the single-cell mucosal lining the intestine is irritated, it acts more like a sieve than a barrier. This breakdown of the mucosal surface of the small intestine (hyper-permeability) allows the inappropriate flow of microbes, partially undigested food, allergens and toxins to pass into the bloodstream, often triggering immune reactions.

Conditions that occur as a result of this hyper-permeability are diverse. Once the immune response has been triggered, it can create symptoms across different organ systems, like:

    •    Digestive distress
    •    Allergies
    •    Eczema
    •    Joint pain
    •    Depression
    •    Chronic fatigue
    •    Autoimmune conditions

Common causes of intestinal hyper-permeability include overuse of:
    •    NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Motrin, Alleve)
    •    Antacids (PPIs and H2 blockers)
    •    Antibiotics
    •    Alcohol
    •    Steroids
    •    Chemotherapy and radiation
    •    Parasitic Infections and dysbiosis (imbalanced gut flora)
    •    Surgery
    •    Trauma

Several new tests have become available to test for increased intestinal permeability, including antibodies to the proteins that hold the tight junctions between the intestinal cells together, secretory IgA antibody, and the absorption of two common synthetic sugars: the lactulose to mannitol ratio.  But it may also be observed by the presence of high levels of antibodies to many foods. So, if your food antibody panel shows moderate to high levels of antibodies to multiple foods, then a temporary elimination diet, coupled with a specific protocol to heal the intestinal lining is needed.

The temporary elimination of the foods to which you make antibodies and key nutrients that speed healing, allows the immune system and gut lining to heal. After a period of 30-60 days, a new food is introduced every 4 days and a diet diary can be used to record any potential reaction.

Once the inflammation has resolved and healing has occurred, many foods can be tolerated, and can be consumed again. Other foods may still provoke a response and must be eaten only on occasion, while other foods may need to be strictly avoided for life. An experienced naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner can guide you through this assessment and design and effective treatment protocol.

Copyright 2016: Sally LaMont, ND, LAc