WHAT IS LEAKY GUT SYNDROME?
Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) is a condition which results in increased intestinal permeability in which the walls of the gut get damaged allowing bacteria, toxins and undigested particles to pass through those damaged (leaky) walls and get into the blood stream poisoning the body and leading to systemic inflammation.
It is believed that if leaky gut is left untreated it usually develops into IBS and over time it significantly contributes to ulcerative colitis, which is an autoimmune condition.
Leaky gut syndrome leads to inflammation and can cause or contribute to the following symptoms: fatigue, bloating, digestive problems, allergic responses and food sensitivities, headaches, joint pain, thyroid problems, gas, diarrhoea, skin rashes, excessive wind (flatulence), etc.
If the leaky gut syndrome is left untreated, it can lead to more serious health issues such as IBS, arthritis, depression, anxiety, and finally it may contribute to autoimmune problems such as eczema, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
There is also some evidence pointing to leaky gut syndrome as a contributor to other autoimmune conditions, including type 1 diabetes.
Leaky gut leads also to malabsorption of vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients contributing to the deficiency of vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, iron, and other nutrients.
There following factors are believed to contribute to LGS: Lack of probiotic bacteria and overgrowth of harmful bacteria and candida (yeasts) in the gut, refined diet and lack of dietary fibre, chronic constipation, use of antibiotics, gluten sensitivity, nutritional deficiencies (especially magnesium and zinc), chronic stress, toxin overload, stimulants, etc.
Also A1 casein protein found in milk and dairy has been known to harm the colon. In fact, A1 casein may be 26 times more inflammatory than gluten! Dairy also contributes to LGS through lactose intolerance, which is a very common problem. Lactose intolerance is made worse by pasteurization process as it destroys enzymes, making lactose in dairy very even more difficult to digest thus leading to intolerance and allergic reactions which also contribute to the damage of the gut and autoimmune responses.
Sugar feeds the growth of Candida and bad bacteria, which damage the gut. Bad bacteria actually create toxins known as exotoxins that damage healthy cells in intestinal wall.
BENEFICIAL HERBAL & NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
- Take good quality Probiotic formulas as gut health greatly depends on a healthy ratio between good and bad bacteria. In 2017 scientists studied adults with IBS and anxiety. Half of the group took a probiotic (Bifidobacterium longum) and the other was given a placebo. It was found that twice as many patients experienced improvements when they took a probiotic.
- Magnesium citrate, or another well absorbed form of magnesium, is regarded as one of the most beneficial nutritional supplements for people with LGS as it relaxes nervous system and muscles including colon. If it causes loose stools (because colon is inflamed and sensitive), start from small doses such as 50 mg two times a day and gradually increase the dose. You can also change the type of magnesium to avoid diarrhoea
- Use activated Charcoal (especially in case of diarrhoea) to detoxify colon and reduce inflammation.
- Aloe vera is very beneficial to the lining of the colon.
- Take Vitamin D3 supplements as deficiency of this vitamin may turn LGS to much worse problem including ulcerative colitis which is an autoimmune condition. Deficiency of vitamin D is also highly prevalent in people with IBS and IBD. While using vitamin D3 supplements always remember to take well absorbed magnesium (such as citrate) as vitamin D requires magnesium for its conversion and also leads to magnesium deficiency over time. Taking vitamin D you need also vitamin K2 MK-7 (derived from natural Natto) to prevent vitamin D from leading to calcification.
- Good quality Multivitamin-mineral formula such as Healthy Mega (HealthAid) as apart from all vitamins and minerals it is fortified with 19 additional ingredients including herbs, alfalfa powder, rutin, citrus bioflavonoids, bromelain, digestive enzymes and many other super nutrients.
- Boost Glutathione levels as it is the most powerful of all antioxidants and strengthens the immune system. It is also important to provide body with the following ingredients that increase glutathione production in the liver: turmeric, milk thistle, L- cysteine, alpha lipoic acid, and vitamin C.
- Zinc (citrate as it doesn’t cause nausea) – 5-20 mg a day after breakfast.
- L-glutamine powder (5 grams 2x daily) Glutamine is an amino acid that helps repair the digestive tract, especially important for people with chronic diarrhoea.
- Quercetin has also been shown to improve gut barrier function by sealing the gut. It also reduces the release of histamine and inflammation. New studies have also demonstrated its effectiveness in treating ulcerative colitis.
NUTRITIONAL AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Avoid refined sugar, high glucose / high fructose syrup Splenda, aspartame, and other artificial sweeteners. Use raw organic honey, xylitol or stevia instead.
- Avoid gluten (wheat products, etc.) as it may cause the immune system start sending antibodies not only against gluten proteins but also against proteins found in different organs causing autoimmune diseases such as IBD that usually follows IBS. Many people with autoimmune diseases have an autoimmune reaction to gluten, and it usually goes unrecognized. Gluten can cause gastrointestinal system to malfunction, so foods aren’t completely digested. These food particles can then be absorbed into bloodstream where body misidentifies them as antigens and then produces antibodies against them.
- Avoid or significantly reduce consumption of dairy products as heated dairy protein (especially A1 casein) often irritates the immune system stimulating it to produce antibodies against different internal organs including colon. The most common allergies and food intolerances today are from wheat and dairy products because of the hybridized proteins of gluten and a1 casein. These proteins can contribute to Leaky Gut Syndrome and inflammation.
- Eliminate or reduce stimulants (alcohol, smoking, anything with caffeine or other similar harmful alkaloids: coffee, tea, green tea, mate, yerba mate, cola, chocolate, etc.)
- Eat plenty of raw vegetables salads and raw vegetable juices.
- Eliminate all junk food, processed food, trans fats, refined pro-inflammatory plant oils and margarines, and anything with harmful preservatives and chemicals.
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods, and choose as many organics as possible.
- Increase intake of healthy fats such as raw coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, chia seeds (soaked for at least 30 minutes or overnight), ground flaxseeds, and hemp seeds as they will help reduce gut inflammation and balance hormones. Coconut oil is very stable (shelf life of three to five years at room temperature), so body is much less burdened with oxidative stress than it is from many other vegetable oils.
- You need more fibre but increase it gradually. Start from vegetable juices as they are deprived of fibre and will heal colon. You can try steamed and cooked vegetables and slowly add more raw vegetables.
- Drink 2-3 glasses of soft water 3 times a day between meals.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
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