Do you have leaky gut?

Our gut is a place where the outside world and the interior of our body meet. What happens in the gut is a delicate balance between allowing certain things in (like nutrients) and keeping other things out (like bacteria).

But what happens when this doesn't work? What happens when thing get in that shouldn't? What happens when our gut leaks?

This is called leaky gut syndrome aka intestinal permeability. It is when the lining of our gut has gaps where bacteria, viruses, yeast, and undigested food particles can enter your body. These are things that should not be entering your body, so they trigger a massive immune response. This leads to a variety of symptoms:

  • bloating

  • abdominal pain, especially after eating

  • diarrhea or constipation

  • fatigue

  • brain fog

  • joint pain

  • headaches

  • skin rashes

  • and more

The worst part of leaky gut is that it can lead to more serious conditions. It can lead to autoimmune diseases, multiple food sensitivities, fibromyalgia, neurological issues, and chronic fatigue.

What causes leaky gut?

Leaky gut can be triggered by many different things. For most of us, it starts with the stress of our everyday lives. Stress slows down our digestive function. This can lead to bad bacteria flourishing and these bacteria will produce inflammatory molecules that damage our gut. Other factors that can cause or contribute to leaky gut are:

  • inflammation from imbalances in gut bacteria

  • low stomach acid

  • dietary toxins & irritants from processed foods

  • high sugar diet

  • alcohol

  • certain medications

  • nutritional deficiencies that weaken the lining of the gut

Testing for leaky gut

There are several different methods to assess for leaky gut.

Lactulose-Mannitol Testing

This is a direct assessment of intestinal permeability. You drink a solution of lactulose and mannitol, sugars that should be able to get through your gut lining. You then collect your urine for several hours and the lab measures how much lactulose and mannitol are in your urine, which indicates how permeable your gut is.

Blood test

Another way to assess for leaky gut is through a number of blood tests: 

  • Actomyosin IgA

  • Occludin/Zonulin IgG

  • Occludin/Zonulin IgA

  • Occludin/Zonulin IgM

  • Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) IgG

  • Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) IgA

  • Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) IgM

This test measures antibodies against bacterial proteins (LPS) and proteins that are involved in your gut lining. The idea is that your immune system would only produce antibodies against these proteins if your gut lining was somehow impaired. With this test, you could also identify if gut cells are damage or if the damage is only to the junctions between gut cells. 

How do I heal leaky gut?

Remove irritants

The basic approach to healing leaky gut involves removing irritating agents. This involves identifying foods, toxins, medications and other substances that are irritating the gut lining and modifying the diet accordingly. Typically, people have to follow a somewhat restrictive diet for a short period of time.

balance gut bacteria

Imbalances in gut bacteria are most often the primary cause of leaky gut. If you have too many species that produce an inflammatory toxin called LPS, then you will most likely have leaky gut. Now, simply taking probiotics won't really fix this. You need to assess your gut bacteria using a DNA based stool test. Depending on what you find, you may need to take antimicrobial agents to eradicate some of the bacteria and you also need to support the growth of healthy bacteria.

Gut healing

The next phase involves providing the necessary nutrients to heal. This may involve further dietary modifications and supplementation with vitamins & herbs or other natural products.

Addressing lifestyle

The last phase is to modify certain lifestyle factors to prevent a recurrence of leaky gut. This typically focuses on stress management and balancing the nervous system to optimize digestive function. To keep your gut bacteria healthy, you need plenty of stomach acid, bile, and digestive enzymes. Stress and subsequent imbalances in the nervous system can really impair digestion. To prevent recurrence, it is also important to avoid antibiotics, preservatives, chemicals, and pesticides in food. So eat whole foods that are organic and a wide variety of plant foods to keep your gut bacteria healthy.

Hi!

I'm Dr. Carly and my mission is to create a health revolution. I believe that another prescription is not the answer. I believe in using natural therapies that go beyond the symptoms. And I believe that doctors should spend way more than 7 minutes with a patient