Leaky Gut Syndrome, also known as Intestinal Permeability, is a condition that affects millions of people. However, it is not fully recognized by traditional physicians and is often attributed to other conditions within the gut. Leaky gut refers to the micro-holes and tears that can occur in the intestinal lining, allowing food particles to “leak” out of the gut and into the bloodstream. Increased attention is currently given to the condition of leaky gut as more and more patients are being treated for food intolerances and abdominal discomfort.
Leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability is considered a dysfunction of the digestive system. The intestinal wall lining normally does not allow any food particles to escape from the intestine. However, if the digestive tract becomes inflamed or damaged, small holes can appear in the intestinal lining. This allows small particles of undigested food, proteins, fats and toxins to escape and become absorbed into the body. The body sees these substances as invaders or antigens. The body then responds to these foreign invaders by triggering the body’s antibodies to the defense. Inflammation can begin to appear throughout the body, allergic reactions can occur and numerous other symptoms appear.
Some of the symptoms that you may experience with leaky gut syndrome are abdominal pain and bloating. Many suffers of the syndrome experience diarrhea and excessive flatulence. Food allergies or sensitivities, especially to gluten, can occur. Irritable bowel syndrome is common. Muscle pain, joint pain, and arthritis can all be symptoms of leaky gut. Sluggishness, depression, memory loss and mood swings can be associated with intestinal permeability.
There are several factors that may cause leaky gut. Alcohol and caffeine are strong irritants to the gut wall and can cause micro-holes to appear. Excessive use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can contribute to leaky gut. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Many people are allergic or highly sensitive to the protein found in gluten. The gluten proteins attack the intestinal wall, again creating micro-tears. Stress can cause excess acid in the system that further weakens the intestinal lining.
Fortunately, with some lifestyle and nutritional changes, leaky gut syndrome can be reversed. Avoid alcohol and excess sugar to help curb the possibility of Candida. Taking a full spectrum probiotic can help restore the gut’s natural bacterial balance. Go on a gluten-free diet. There are many gluten-free products available today, so that you don’t feel like you have to miss out on pasta and bread. Avoid non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests taking a supplement of L-Glutamine, an amino acid that helps maintain and repair the intestinal lining. Take natural digestive enzymes that contain papain and bromelain before a meal to help break down food particles.
One of the main causes is contributed to an overgrowth of Candida. Our intestinal tract normally has a balance of candida thriving with other beneficial bacteria. However, when Candida becomes overgrown, due to excessive sugars in the diet, overuse of antibiotics and other lifestyle factors, Candida becomes a serious problem in the gut. Candida is a fungus that puts out root-like structures called rhizoids. These rhizoids attach to the intestinal wall and can actually push through the lining, producing small holes.
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