In the past few years I have seen a definite increase in leaky gut in my clients. Also known as hyperpermeability, leaky gut is a syndrome where food travels through the intestinal wall into the abdominal cavity, causing hyperstimulation of the immune system.
Leaky gut happens when there is inflammation in the body due to chronic stress, allergies to wheat or dairy, or other causes outlined below. The inflammation causes the spaces between the cells of the gut wall to become larger than usual. The larger spaces allow protein molecules to become absorbed into the bloodstream before they have a chance to be completely broken down. The immune system views these proteins as foreign substances and creates antibodies as a result.
The antibodies then travel to various areas of the body, triggering chronic inflammation. It the inflammation occurs in the joints, rheumatoid arthritis develops, if in the blood vessels, vasculitis develops, in the brain, chronic fatigue etc… When the antibodies actually attack the lining of the gut itself, the result can be either colitis or Crohn’s disease. There really is no organ or body tissue that is safe from potentially being affected by leaky gut. Leaky gut also allows microbes in the gut to cross over into the bloodstream, decreasing the liver’s ability to detoxify. This can lead to brain fog and poor focus and concentration.
There Are Many Potential Causes of Leaky Gut
- Infections – fungal overgrowth like candida, parasites
- Excessive and Prolonged Stress
- NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like aspirin, Celebrex, ibuprofen, naproxen, Toradol, Lodine, Indocin etc…)
- Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis
- Celiac disease
- Long term exposure to dairy and or wheat
- Strenuous exercise
- Food allergies
Leaky gut also causes nutritional deficiencies due to the malabsorption of nutrients. These deficiencies commonly include deficiencies of iron, B12, magnesium, zinc and copper deficiency. Ultimately, these deficiencies can cause fatigue, neuropathy, muscle pain, hair loss, baldness, high blood cholesterol, and bone issues as a result of malabsorption of calcium, boron, silicon and manganese.
Signs That You May Have Leaky Gut
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Poor immune system
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Excessive fatigue
- Skin rashes and problems such as acne and eczema
- Cravings for sugar or refined carbohydrates (cakes, cookies, pies etc…)
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac or Crohns
Holistic Approach to Leaky Gut
I highly recommend you work with a holistic nutritionist who is well versed in the issues affecting the gut and autoimmune disorders, including the practitioners on the HMI Directory, specifically those who have studied the advanced course in Autoimmune disorders. I have had many clients who have suffered for years with undetected leaky gut, being told they have everything from mononucleosis to Lyme disease, to “mental exhaustion”, after many diagnostic tests that showed nothing.
The good news is that once on a powerful leaky gut protocol, dramatic changes occur within 30 days in most cases. Nutrition plays a huge part, as it is necessary to remove allergic foods for 30 days to determine which are contributing to the problem. Supplements that include certain minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, homeopathics, herbal tinctures and cell salts are ALL critical in a true healing protocol. Many people do well with grapeseed extract at 200 mg a day for tissue strength, and black currant oil at 1000 mg a day to promote tissue health.