While browsing the magazine aisle, picking up misplaced magazines in the long line at Walmart, or flipping on Dr. Oz, one of the most highlighted, ever so fascinating, slightly gross new trend, Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome, ignorantly sounds easy to define, but not quite. The word ‘syndrome’ itself means that there is not a definite reason why someone experiences the signs or symptoms they are having. Multiple factors play into it. Now, what is Leaky Gut Syndrome? Think of your intestinal tract as a patio screened tube, similar to the one surrounding a porch keeping out mosquitos. In the gut, everyone has “good guys”, “bad guys”, and “bystanders”, each playing a vital role in absorption. In a healthy individual, all the nutrients that need to be absorbed are and all that need to be discarded are swiftly discarded. But what happens when the screen of your GI tract gets worn out from toxins like bad diets, medications, and even stress? The toxins (“bad guys”) begin to overtake the “good guys”, causing our immune system to weaken, eventually changing or “rebuilding” our “patio screen.” Now the GI tract resembles the old worn out patio screens that are on a 50-year-old house. Since there are holes in the intestinal wall, every time food or a drink is consumed, it does not go through the GI tract properly. It gets leaked out (hence the name) into the blood steam. The blood system has undigested food particles, toxins, and microbes, directly passing into it and weakening the immune system. In short, the body’s immune response starts to go into a panic, attacking everything that it encounters.
Everyone in the world experiences Leaky Gut Syndrome on some level, but what is making it so prevalent in today’s society? There are a couple factors that are increasing this syndrome, one of which is processed foods being in surplus. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that aids in keeping the shape of foods. The two proteins that combine to make gluten cause an inflammatory response that releases another protein that loosen the “patio screen” by forcing the holes to stay open, for however long gluten is present. Along with that, there is an overload of stress in the 21st century. Everyone is trying to outshine one another in everything they are involved in. Stress causes a weakening in the immune system which increases the amount of “bad guys” in the body. The more “bad guys” in your system, the more medicated people are with synthetic medications to try to counter balance what their body is lacking. NSAIDs and other pain relieving medications being given by doctors are more prevalent than ever before. The medications imitate the mucus barrier that lines the intestinal wall, making the body’s naturally weaker.
Bloating, gas, depression, cravings for sweets and breads, joint pain, autoimmune disease(s), etc. are some signs and symptoms that occur. Leaky Gut is not just a “one fits all,” kind of syndrome. There are different types because the external and/or internal causes are different. Someone can even have a combination of them.
There are five different types:
- Candida Gut- which is yeast overgrowth that develops from the use of: birth control pills, high sugared diet, and foods such as bananas, cow’s milk, and wheat.
- Stress Gut- emotional stress, excessive sugars, and carbohydrates enhance this type.
- Immune Gut- prescription antibiotics, medications, a high amount of inflammatory foods, depression and grievance. All of which weaken the immune response, inflammatory bowel diseases, and food sensitivities.
- Gastric Gut- poor digestion, lack of absorption, antacids. This type builds up bacteria over growth, bloating or gas.
- Toxic Gut- when a consumption of high amounts of bad fats and toxins start to overwork the liver gallbladder.1
How are these treated and what can someone do to make their gut work properly again? The simple solution is to change the diet. Sounds simple, but each type has a different “prescription” to heal itself. Some preventative measures that can be taken for each are listed in Table 1.
With each type of Leaky Gut there are certain foods that need to be consumed and eliminated from a daily diet and certain steps that need to take place. The first being that in each type there should an elimination of trigger foods, consumption of therapeutic foods, supplemental treatment, and a lifestyle change.2 Each type has different steps that need to be taken in each because they are caused by different factors. A few foods that should be consumed and not consumed in each diet are listed in Table 2.
When cooking meals, the vegetables should be cooked fully and very soft. This is because it is easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients.3
Leaky Gut Syndrome, affects not only your body, but every aspect of you. The body is under a lot of stress and if the person experiencing these symptoms is naturally stressed, it makes the symptoms become elevated even more.4 This affects your psyche and everything stemming from that. Having a good doctor and support system makes this syndrome bearable. If someone experiences any of the signs and symptoms of Leaky Gut, there are actual lab tests that can be done to clarify it: Lactose Breath Test, Organic Acid Test, IgG (immunoglobulin G) Test, and the common stool test.4 While waiting for the lab results, do not hesitate to be proactive and start to take control of your diet.
Table 1 (above) & Table 2 (below)
- H. (2016). What’s your gut type (and how is it affecting your health)? Retrieved September 15, 2016.
- Axe, J. (n.d.). Eat dirt: Why leaky gut may be the root cause of your health problems and surprising steps to cure it.
- University, F. M. (2013). Leaky Gut: Can This Be Destroying Your Health? Retrieved September 14, 2016
- H. (2015). Should You Get Tested for Leaky Gut? Retrieved September 15, 2016