Leaky Gut Syndrome
You probably know that the purpose of the gastro-intestinal tract, or gut, is multi-fold. Basically, it:
i) Digests foods,
ii) Absorbs small food particles to be converted into energy.
But did you know that 70% of our immune system is located in our Gastro-intestinal tract...the small and large intestines? This is why it is so important to have a Healthy Gut...like a Healthy Shrek's Swamp that I (Dr Pletcher) live next to. A healthy swamp/natural wetlands attracts the birds we all love to see like Great Blue Herons, White Egrets, Cormirants, Swans and many species of ducks and a few Canadian Geese. We want a healthy swamp/natural wetlands in our intestines so we have a healthy happy digestive tract and immune system. A Leaky Gut is like a Sick Shreks Swamp and only bad creatures/critters live there and in us that means Candida Yeast overgrowth, Bad Pathogenic Bacteria like Strep, Staph, Bad E coli etc.
iii) Carries nutrients like vitamins and minerals attached to carrier proteins across the gut lining into the bloodstream.
iv) Contains a major part of the chemical detoxification system of the body, and
v) Contains immunoglobulins or antibodies that act as the first line of defence against infection.
The leaky gut (or LGS) is a poorly recognised but extremely common problem. It is rarely tested for. Essentially, it represents a hyperpermeable intestinal lining. In other words, large spaces develop between the cells of the gut wall, and bacteria, toxins and food leak in.
The official definition is an increase in permeability of the intestinal mucosa to luminal macromolecules, antigens and toxins associated with inflammatory degenerative and/or atrophic mucosal damage.
If the gut is not healthy, neither is the rest of the body. It is the point of fuel and nutrient entry. If healing is at a standstill look at the gut to see if this is the block. Chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia and escalating food allergies are among the many problems caused by the leaky gut.
If gas, bloating, abdominal pain, indigestion, alternating constipation and diarrhoea are symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome may not be all that's going on.
The Mucosal Barrier
The barrier posed by the intestinal mucosa is, even in normal subjects, an incomplete one. Small quantities of molecules of different sizes and characteristics cross the intact epithelium by both active and passive mechanisms. The route by which such transfer occurs is, at least in part, dependent on molecular size. Molecules up to about 5000 Daltons in size cross the epithelial membrane of the microvilli. Larger molecules may utilise an intercellular pathway or depend on being taken up by endocytosis entering the cell at the base of the microvilli.
How Does The Gut Become Leaky and like a Sick Shrek's Swamp?
Once the gut lining becomes inflamed or damaged, this disrupts the functioning of the system. The spaces open up and allow large food antigens, for example, to be absorbed into the body. Normally the body sees only tiny food antigens. When it sees these new, larger ones, they are foreign to the body's defence system. So the attack results in the production of antibodies against once harmless, innocuous foods.
Isn't Leakier Better?
It might sound good that the gut can become leaky, because it would seem that the body would be better able to absorb more amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. For the body to absorb a mineral it does not just slowly diffuse across the gut membrane it must be attached to a carrier protein. This protein hooks onto the mineral and actually carries it across the gut wall into the bloodstream. However, when the intestinal lining is damaged through inflammation these carrier proteins get damaged as well, so now the victim is vulnerable to developing mineral and vitamin deficiencies. We also develop food allergies and food sensitivies due to this leaky gut issue. The food particles are getting across the barrier into our immune system cells in the intestines and then into the blood stream and the body classifies these partially digested food particles as terrorists...aka now milk proteins are considered dangerous and we have allergy/sensitivity immune symptoms.
The 7 stages of the 'inflamed’ gut.
1 . When the gut is inflamed, it does not absorb nutrients and foods properly and so fatigue and bloating can occur.
2. As mentioned previously, when large food particles are absorbed there is the creation of food allergies and new symptoms with target organs, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
3. When the gut is inflamed the carrier proteins are damaged so nutrient deficiencies occur which can also cause any symptom, like magnesium deficiency induced muscle spasm or copper deficiency induced high cholesterol.
4. Likewise when the detox pathways that line the gut are compromised, chemical sensitivity can arise. Furthermore the leakage of toxins overburdens the liver so that the body is less able to handle everyday chemicals.
5. When the gut lining is inflamed the protective coating of lgA (immunoglobulin A) is adversely affected and the body is not able to ward off protozoa, bacteria, viruses and yeast’s like candida.
6. When the intestinal lining is inflamed, bacteria and yeast’s are able to translocate. This means that they are able to pass from the gut lumen or cavity, into the bloodstream and set up infection anywhere else in the body.
7. The worst symptom is the formation of antibodies. Sometimes these leak across and look similar to antigens on our own tissues. Consequently, when an antibody is made to attack it, it also attacks our tissue. This is probably how autoimmune disease s tart. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis and many others are members of this ever-growing category of ‘incurable’ diseases.
Treatment of Leaky Gut
According to Wikipedia… Researchers propose intake of natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative substances (NAIDS's), such as glutamine, N-acetyl cysteine and zinc, in conjunction with a leaky gut diet, and the use of probiotics.
Now the question is…where do I get the best forms of these nutrients and how do I go about healing my GI tract? In our 25 plus years of experience in treating leaky gut we have found the most effective nutraceuticals and food plans. Here in Libertyville at our HealthQuest Longevity Center Dr. Jeff Watkin and myself Dr. Dana Pletcher follow the 4 R program…
- Remove the most suspected offenders as far as foods from your diet. These entail all possible allergenic foods beginning with gluten containing foods like wheat, rye and barley. Also excluded from your food list is dairy. For a complete list of our recommended foods click on this link. We have our patients eat from this accepted list of foods only for at least 30 days and then reintroduce food groups one at a time with a 3 day interval between any new foods. This step also includes removing any unfriendly or pathogenic bacteria which involves using a sachhormyces yeast formula like HealthEBiotic and the good probiotic bacteria also contained in HealthEBiotic. If candida is a problem then we add a comprehensive natural anti-fungal/yeast formula like NFA-Candida.
- Replace includes the addition or replacement of missing or deficient stomach hydrochloric acid and also the pancreatic digestive enzymes which includes the formulas Digestzyme for both acid and enzymes or DigestQuest/TymeZyme for just the enzymes without additional hydrochloric acid. These are taken with each meal to insure complete breakdown and digestion of all of the foods we eat so they do not cause a food allergy reaction and overload the liver with partially digested food remants.
- Reinoculate with probiotics like HealthEBiotic to limit proliferation of pathogenic bacteria, candida, and microbes, as well as balance GI function. Altered colonic microflora has a direct impact on all GI mechanisms as it Impacts gut-associated lymphoid tissue function and influences cytokine production and Impairs digestion of food and synthesis of essential nutrients Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth may lead to significant dysbiosis and myriad of conditions.
- Regenerate which includes adding the nutrients to repair the gastric and mucosal linings of the stomach and small and large intestines. Here is where the glutamine and N-acetyl cysteine etc come into play. For this stage we use the patented medical foods of UltraInflamX and HealthEGut for the first 30 days and then follow up with HealthESustain for the next 30 to 60 days.