Best article I have personally read in a long time about 'Leaky Gut'. Leaky Gut is 'all the talk' in the wellness circles right now. So much so that it's actually trending on social media outlets such as Twitter. And I have personally gotten a bit lost on what is factual and what path is an appropriate one for healing leaky gut if I even have it.
Dr. David Edleberg of Whole Health Chicago in Lincoln Park provides a concise education below along w/ steps to diagnosis & heal.
Before you read below, I genuinely believe it is worth repeating that everyone should consider adding an 'Integrative Physician' to your team of doctors or as your Primary Care Physician. Integrative Physicians practice both Western & Eastern medicine & their holistic angle will 'catch' what your 'Western' physician's labs, tests, etc. might just miss.
Understanding Leaky Gut
If you read much about health, you know about controversial diagnoses. The list might start with candida overgrowth, food sensitivities, and toxic mold syndrome and end with adrenal fatigue, heavy metal toxicity, chronic Lyme, and multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome.
Because controversial conditions aren’t routinely covered in medical textbooks, they can easily fly under the radar of your doctor’s medical education. Worse yet, these diagnoses often aren’t accepted as “real” by a majority of conventionally trained physicians. Even today, far too many doctors disbelieve the very existence of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, is a disorder that never appeared in any medical textbook I ever encountered, and I’ve not seen articles about it in JAMA or the New England Journal of Medicine. I first learned of its existence at an integrative medicine meeting many years ago, and since then I’ve encountered it numerous times in patients with previously undiagnosed chronic conditions. But when I mention leaky gut to gastroenterologists I know professionally, they always respond with a variation of “I read about it somewhere” and end it at that, sort of a last gasp of intellectual curiosity.
Leaky gut was first described in a South African medical journal in the 1980s by a physician dealing with the consequences of intestinal parasites and chronic diarrhea. To this day, most new research on it emerges from medical journals outside the US. Now, decades later, because Stephen Barrett, MD, America’s self-appointed quackbuster, wrote the Wikipedia entry on leaky gut, it’s listed among his other fad diagnoses and referred to as a “dishonest ploy to make money” even as perfectly respectable medical and scientific journals overseas are publishing scholarly reviews of it.
Here’s what happens with leaky gut
In leaky gut disorder, any of several triggers damages the lining of the small intestine, where most food is absorbed. The single most common of these triggering agents is an irritating food. This isn’t necessarily a food allergy, but rather a food sensitivity. Let’s say you’re sensitive to the gluten in wheat. Every time you eat a wheat product it irritates and inflames the lining of your intestine. Ultimately, this constant inflammation damages the protective barrier between the lining of your intestine and your bloodstream.
After weeks or months of this low-level inflammation, the intestinal lining becomes increasingly porous, and large molecules that were once kept away from your bloodstream now leak through. Depending on your individual intestinal lining susceptibility, other irritating triggers include dairy, egg, corn, citrus, soy, and various chemicals, additives, and preservatives. Non-food triggers include NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, alcohol, intestinal parasites, and candida. Chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s also often have a leaky gut component.
When your immune system, ever on the alert for foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria, IDs the large molecules (called “macromolecules”) as the enemy it generates antibodies to clear them out of your body. These antibodies attach themselves to the macromolecules, just as they would to a virus or bacteria, creating what’s called an antigen-antibody complex (an antigen is a foreign body that can trigger an immune response).
Now the trouble begins
This antigen-antibody complex circulates through your body, becoming trapped in certain susceptible areas and immediately causing trouble by triggering local inflammation. For example, if caught within the microscopically small blood vessels in your skin, you can get a rash like eczema or psoriasis. Trapped in your lungs, you might develop symptoms of asthma. In your nasal passages, chronic sinusitis; in your joints–especially the small joints in your hands and wrists–joint pain, swelling, and stiffness; in your nervous system, brain fog and symptoms not unlike multiple sclerosis.
On the other hand, in place of localized symptoms you might feel a constellation of symptoms like vague fatigue, brain fog, indigestion, and weight gain from fluid retention. The False Fat Diet, by Elson M Haas, MD, blames much of America’s obesity on undetected leaky gut syndrome, since all this newly generated inflammation causes a lot of fluid retention (hence “false fat”).
Leaky gut diagnosis
Diagnosing leaky gut isn’t difficult, but can only occur if your doctor is willing to recognize and suspect the possibility. Patients who have virtually any chronic symptom to which a doctor has responded “We can’t find anything wrong with you–your tests are normal,” should be on the lookout for leaky gut, even if their docs aren’t.
Find an integrative physician to help you with this protocol:
These two tests are usually covered in part by health insurance, but a third very useful test isn’t covered by any policy I’m aware of, though its out-of-pocket price has dropped considerably. Also, if you have a health savings account, you can cover it from there.
Healing leaky gut
Once you’ve located your leaky gut triggers and clear them, your intestine will start to heal itself. However, you can also take several steps to speed the process. Our nutritionists at WholeHealth Chicago have created a highly effective nutritional program to quickly heal leaky gut. I’ve seen many patients with undiagnosed chronic ill health simply blossom under this program.
In addition to avoiding trigger foods and clearing parasites or candida, a typical regimen for leaky gut also includes:
David Edelberg, MD
Share this:Weight Loss Class the Qigong Way Tagged with: hyperpermeability, immune response, inflammation, intestinal permeability, leaky gut
Posted in Blog, Knowledge Base, L 4 comments on “Understanding Leaky Gut”
Created and curated by Kelly, Snapshots of Wellness encourages all of you to cultivate your 'joie de vivre': Compassion for Animals via food, style & lifestyle.