What causes a gut to become permeable? How do I know if I have a leaky gut? What can I do to help heal a leaky gut?
I want to highlight the impact of gastrointestinal complaints and the connection with chronic disease. The majority of clients visiting my clinic have symptoms related to gastrointestinal health; for example, chronic diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, wind and general feelings of poor digestive function.
What many people do not realise is that gastrointestinal dysfunction can underlie many unrelated conditions for example, leaky gut otherwise known as ‘Intestinal Permeability.’
What is a leaky gut?
The mucosal layer of the GI provides a protective barrier between the inside of the body and the external world. This mucosal layer is responsible for absorbing nutrients. When this layer has been damaged by pathogens, bacteria, yeast overgrowth, medications, alcohol and other ingested toxins, the barrier becomes permeable and allows molecules of all types to ‘leak’ into the circulation.
Intestinal Permeability is commonly seen in clients with inflammatory conditions, food allergies or intolerances and coeliac disease. Many patients suffer a leaky gut following chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
What causes a gut to become permeable?
Factors associated with Development of Intestinal Permeability
|Cancer radiation therapy||Excessive stress|
|Excessive simple sugar consumption||Whole food exposure prior to 4-6months of age|
How do I know if my gut is leaky?
Nutritional Therapy looks at the complete symptom picture, a full health history and current medication protocol to assess the likelihood of leaky gut.
Symptoms of a leaky gut include, severe abdominal bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, pain and flatulence. Other associated symptoms include, fatigue, allergy, autoimmune conditions, depression, irritability and muscle pain.
Research shows that Intestinal Permeability extends beyond GI symptoms and associations have been made with diseases such as Fibromyalgia, Autism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Autoimmune diseases, Asthma and Urticaria.
Tests performed on stool analysis will help to determine whether or not there is intestinal permeability please discuss this with your NT.
What can I do to help a leaky gut?
Once a leaky gut has been identified, then nutritional intervention is required.
The 5 R’s programme Remove, Replace, Repair, Reinoculate and Re-establish is a well-documented treatment protocol using a dietary and nutritional approach to supporting the gastrointestinal system.
For example, it may be essential to remove a food group from your diet such a s gluten or dairy in order to remove toxins that are damaging the gut wall. Providing enzymes, Hydrochloric Acid supplements, friendly bacteria all help to replace those that are missing or require replacement.
The use of healing nutrients such as Aloe Vera or L-Glutamine are often needed to repair the lining of the GI tract and plug the leaks.
And finally a reinoculation of healthy bacteria to support the mucosal barrier and provide protection from potential pathogens will be required.
Re-establishing gut health using diet and lifestyle factors is an essential part of the 5R’s programme.