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Leaky gut Syndrome

What is it?

The small intestine acts like a selective sieve allowing through only the breakdown products of digestion such as the building blocks of proteins called peptides and amino-acids, “small-chain” fatty acids from fats, small carbohydrates and sugars and all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Larger undigested proteins, carbohydrates and fats should be kept out otherwise the immune system may think it is under attack and trigger a response including inflammation.

The bowel wall is also responsible for keeping the 100 trillion bacteria in the gut out of the blood stream and body tissues.

A leaky gut, medically termed ‘increased intestinal permeability’ occurs when the bowel wall integrity breaks down. The Leaky Gut Syndrome is when health issues arise because of that.

Problems associated with a leaky gut, what it can lead to and what symptoms it causes:

Although more theoretical than established in conventional thinking, Functional medicine considers the following may have associations:

  • Digestive issues : flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea or abdominal pains. IBS – irritable bowel syndrome – can include all or any of these.
  • Food allergies or food intolerances.
  • Allergies reactions, including eczema, asthma and hay fever.
  • Neurological and hormonal dysfunction due to blocking of cell receptors by absorbed proteins. This might lead to mood swings, emotional instability, depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD, Pre Menstrual Syndrome/Tension and muscular issues.
  • Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism( Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) lupus, or inflammatory bowel disease (Coeliac’s disease, ulcerative colitis , Crohn’s) may cause or may have an association with LGS.
  • Chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia.
  • Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis or eczema.

Diagnosing Leaky Gut

There are laboratories in the United States and one in the UK that offer a straightforward test for leaky gut. A solution of inert (indigestible and unusable) molecules too large to go through an intact bowel membrane is drunk and you are asked to collect your urine for 6 hours after. The urine is then analysed for the presence of these large molecules. If present you have a leaky gut.

Anything that inflames the bowel may cause a leaky gut, including infections or over growth of yeast(candida), other fungii, bacteria or viral infections. Food allergy or intolerance is also a cause. Antibiotics, additives and preservatives, poor diet and even increased acid production from stress all reduce the levels of good bacteria that, very importantly, line the bowel wall and give a protective layer. Lose these and the bowel wall is exposed and liable to damage.

Tests available

The test for a leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) is very simple to perform. You are sent a solution of inert (indigestible and unusable) molecules which you drink after emptying your bladder. You are sent a suitable container in which you collect all urine that you pass over the next 6 hours. After this time you give the urine a gentle swill in the container to ensure a good mix and then pour a portion of the collected urine into a supplied specimen pot. This you then return in the SAE to the lab. There it is analysed for the presence of two non-metabolized sugars, lactulose and mannitol or an indigestible plastic, PEG. If any is found over and above an expected amount this is indicative of a leaky gut.

A leaky gut test kit can be sent to you.

If positive then consider a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis.

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