Leaky gut syndrome can be very individual yet, it’s important we get to terms with the basics…
What is leaky gut?
Leaky gut is when the lining of the gut isn’t functioning properly due to small holes in the gut lining. As a result large molecules of undigested food and other toxins are passed from the gut into the blood stream.
How can this affect digestion?
Tight junctions form part of the intestinal wall which normally prevent unwanted molecules from passing through the lining. However, if the intestinal lining and tight junctions are damaged unwanted molecules may pass into the blood. This can cause inflammation of tissues as the liver is unable to keep up with the removal of these unwanted bodies. Inflammation can promote further stress on the immune system and may inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients and impair effective digestion. Over a prolonged period of time the gut’s ability to release digestive enzymes can become impaired and as a result your food becomes partially undigested. Consequently this can cause nutrient deficiencies, gastrointestinal symptoms and constant lethargy and fatigue (due to un-absorbed nutrients).
What are the symptoms of leaky gut?
This is where the syndrome becomes very individual as the symptoms can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include:
- Gastrointestinal changes: bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation.
- Headaches/ blurred cognitive function
- Poor immune function
- Skin rashes and conditions
What causes leaky gut?
Leaky gut can be caused by a variety of factors including: alcohol, pain-killers, diseases such as IBD, coeliac disease, some cancer treatments, diabetes and surgery. Furthermore, research has suggested that stress may increase the permeability of the gut lining consequently increasing the risk of leaky gut. Some research has suggested that leaky gut plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, depression and mood. With this in mind it is essential to seek help as soon as symptoms occur.
How can you treat leaky gut?
Leaky gut treatment should always take place under a health-care professional. Treatments will vary between individuals and it’s essential that a nutritionist or dietitian prescribes the treatment. Certain supplements may be of benefit, probiotics can play a role in certain cases as can diet alternations.
There you have a quick low down on what leaky gut is, how it occurs and some of the symptoms. Should you be concerned that you may have leaky gut I recommend speaking to a nutritionist or health care professional for further advice.
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Fukui, H. (2016). Endotoxin and other microbial translocation markers in the blood: A clue to understand leaky gut syndrome. Cellular & Molecular Medicine: Open access, 2(3).
A Kohler, C., Maes, M., Slyepchenko, A., Berk, M., Solmi, M., L Lanctôt, K., & F Carvalho, A. (2016). The gut-brain axis, including the microbiome, leaky gut and bacterial translocation: mechanisms and pathophysiological role in Alzheimer’s disease. Current pharmaceutical design, 22(40), 6152-6166.