Leaky gut is an often overlooked condition, especially if you have been diagnosed with another disease. This is unfortunate because it may be a root cause of many other health problems.
Some 2,500 years ago, the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, said, “All disease begins in the gut," and now modern medical research has proven he was largely correct.
Leaky gut syndrome is essentially caused by gaps in the "tight junctions" of the intestinal lining (intestinal hyperpermeability). These “tight junctions” act as a kind of gateway between your intestines and blood stream, where nutrition is absorbed and where toxins, microbes and undigested food particles are ideally kept from entering the blood stream. Problems can occur when the tight junctions widen and become too permeable, due to inflammation in the gut, letting too much through.
Leaky gut can be caused by many factors, such as:
Consuming high amounts of refined sugars, processed foods, preservatives, refined flours, and genetically modified food (GMO's) put a burden on the body and tend to increase inflammation in the gut.
Chronic stress tends to create a suppressed immune function. A weakened immune system is more easily overrun with pathogens. This increases overall gut inflammation, leading to increased permeability of the intestines.
Any medication prescriptions or even over-the-counter pain relievers with Aspirin or Acetaminophen irritate the intestinal lining and decrease mucosal levels, the protective barrier in the intestines. This can cause inflammation cycle (more bacteria, yeast, and digestion issues) and promotes an increase in permeability.
Yeast, or Candida, is found in normal gut flora but can proliferate with high consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates and antibiotic use. Candida can coat the intestines and may cause its own holes in the lining.
Zinc is involved in maintaining a strong intestinal lining. A deficiency of zinc can lead to the mucosal lining losing strength and becoming more permeable. Just supplementing with zinc when it is deficient can dramatically improve intestinal lining integrity.
The following digestive symptoms are associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome:
- Candida overgrowth
- Ongoing diarrhea
Leaky Gut Syndrome may include some generalized symptoms:
- Chronic fatigue
- Food allergies
- General/seasonal allergies
- Joint pain
- Skin rashes (related to inflammation)
- Nutritional deficiencies (improper absorption)
The integrative physicians at NIHA believe that the gut and its microbial ecology are essential components to overall wellness. We have found that many illnesses find their origin in an unhealthy digestive tract and can be successfully addressed by restoring the health of the gut ecology.
National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, is a leading integrative medical and dental center serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, although we have patients from all over the United States. Physicians offer primary care with a holistic approach for optimum wellness, not just freedom from disease, or treat specific health issues to improve the overall health of the patient. Michael Taylor is a holistic practitioner and contributed to this article.