What the heck is LEAKY GUT SYNDROME?
Including feedback from experts:
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, certified doctor of natural medicine
Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, pioneer and teacher of integrative medicine
According to Dr. Josh Axe, conventional medicine physicians failed to recognize leaky gut syndrome as a legitimate gastrointestinal condition for a long, long time. But lately, it’s been gaining a LOT of attention! Today, leaky gut syndrome is now believed to be a real condition that affects the lining of the small intestine.
The term “leaky gut” sounds pretty agonizing. So, what exactly does it mean?
Let’s start here: The small intestine is the primary digestive organ in the body where practically all absorption occurs. A single layer of epithelial cells forms the walls of the small intestine. The space between each cell is sealed together by tight junctions. Tight junctions are impermeable junctions that bind cells together into leak-proof sheets — kinda like a zipper. This fusing of adjacent plasma membranes is EXTREMELY important because it prevents substances from passing through the intestine into the bloodstream.
When tight junctions become damaged, the intestinal lining is incapable of regulating what passes between its internal and external environment. As a result, essential nutrients are not properly absorbed AND bacteria, toxins and incompletely digested proteins and fats “leak” into the bloodstream. NOT GOOD.
This broken barrier can result in a number of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including:
- Allergies & food sensitivities
- Autism (mainly in children)
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Inflammatory bowel disease (abdominal bloating and excessive gas & cramps)
- Rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain
- Skin conditions (eczema & psoriasis)
I know what you’re probably wondering: WHAT COULD BE THE CAUSE?
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, there are a number of causes, including chronic inflammation, food sensitivity, excessive alcohol consumption, compromised immunity and damage from taking large amounts of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Because leaky gut syndrome remains a bit of a medical mystery, options for treatment vary between clinicians. Some of the most popular recommendations include:
- Avoiding alcoholic beverages of any kind
- Incorporating a high quality probiotic and multi-vitamin into the diet
- Avoiding foods that contain gluten or dairy
- Incorporating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, hemp or flax seeds and a high-quality fish oil supplement.
If you think you could be suffering from leaky gut syndrome, try one of these recommendations or reach out to me for additional help!