In a previous article we gave a basic answer to the question, "What is leaky gut syndrome?" This is a medical condition that healthcare practitioners are just now beginning to consistently recognize and treat.
In short, leaky gut syndrome is exactly what it sounds like: the
lining of the gut becomes more permeable (or "leaky") than it
should be, allowing leaks from the gut into the bloodstream. What
leaks into the bloodstream? Parasites, bacteria, fungi, toxins,
plus undigested proteins, fats, starches, and waste.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome are widespread and varied, since
the health of the gut affects many areas and functions of the
body. According to Bruce Gordon, MD, chief of otolaryngology at
Cape Cod Hospital and clinical instructor at the Massachusetts
Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, symptoms of this condition can
include (but are not limited to):
But don't be surprised if your doctor doesn't immediately
consider leaky gut syndrome as a cause of your symptoms. Gordon
adds, "There are plenty of people doing work on leaky gut
syndrome, but almost nobody wants to talk about it for fear of
being considered a quack. Leaky gut symptoms are widely
recognized in the ear, nose, and throat allergy community, but we
don't talk about it because we want to be considered mainstream."
- Joint and muscle aches
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Food allergies
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Skin rashes
- Confusion and memory loss
Pretty amazing, right?
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Immunity
According to gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the
Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic, "Physicians
don't know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune
Whether or not physicians know enough about the gut, and its
connection to immunity, your body's immune system is nevertheless
compromised when you have leaky gut syndrome. In fact, leaky gut
syndrome actually causes the body to attack itself, a condition
also known as autoimmune disease, by creating antibodies that
attack the body's own tissues.
Says Dr. Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc, "The leaky gut syndrome is
almost always associated with autoimmune disease and reversing
autoimmune disease depends on healing the lining of the
gastrointestinal tract. Any other treatment is just symptom
suppression." She adds that autoimmune conditions associated with
a leaky gut include "lupus, alopecia, rheumatoid arthritis,
polymyalgia rheumatica, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic
fatigue syndrome, Sjogren's Syndrome, vitiligo, thyroiditis,
vasculitis, Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, urticaria;hives,
diabetes and Raynaud's disease."
How does the autoimmune process really work? In short, having a
leaky gut causes the body to produce antibodies that attack its
own tissues. When the antibodies encounter a particular type of
tissue, inflammation occurs. Over time, this inflammation becomes
the chronic conditions listed above. For instance, if the
inflammation occurs in a joint, the result may be a form of
autoimmune arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis. If inflammation
happens in the brain, the person may end up with chronic fatigue
syndrome. Inflamed lungs can lead to asthma, while an inflamed
gut can result in colitis or Crohn's disease. As you can see, the
inflammation caused by these leaky gut-created antibodies can
wreak havoc just about anywhere in the body!
Next Up: Healing the Gut
As the above statements from physicians make clear, healing the
gut is one clear way to support the body in recovering from a
number of chronic autoimmune conditions resulting from leaky gut
syndrome. In upcoming articles, we will discuss the lifestyle
habits that can lead to this condition, as well as natural
solutions for supporting gut health and restoring gut
integrity... so stay tuned!
Iliades, C, MD, "What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?" http://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/what-is-leaky-gut-syndrome.aspx?source=dlp-pdr(accessed 6/12/13)
McMillen, M., MD, Chang, L., M.D. (reviewer). "Leaky Gut Syndrome: What Is It?" http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/leaky-gut-syndrome (accessed 6/12/13)
Rona, Z, MD. "Altered Immunity and The Leaky Gut Syndrome."
http://www.mold-survivor.com/leaky_gut_syndrome.html (accessed 6/12/13)