Have you been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, eczema, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, asthma, arthritis, allergies or other immune related conditions? Do you suffer from hives or other unexplained skin rashes? Do you have multiple food sensitivities?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, you may be suffering from a condition known as leaky gut. Leaky gut, also called intestinal permeability, is a common medical condition that affects the lining of the intestines. Our gut lining is meant to protect against the entrance of toxic and infectious molecules in our blood stream. When this lining is damaged, our blood stream (and by extension, our immune system) is exposed to food proteins, bacteria, and other toxins.
This not only results in gut disorders like IBS, but also many immune and inflammatory conditions like allergies, eczema, arthritis and autoimmune conditions. Recent research has also uncovered a link between intestinal health and many neurological and mood disorders1. In fact, our intestines are commonly referred to as our “second brain.” Given 95% of the serotonin in our body is found in the gut, it makes sense that leaky gut also contributes to common conditions like depression and anxiety.
What Are The Common Causes of Leaky Gut?
• Poor diet: A diet high in refined sugars/flours, processed foods, chemical additives, alcohol, caffeine and sodas can result in intestinal inflammation.
• Medications: Some common medications such as antibiotics, NSAIDs (i.e.: Ibuprofen) and antacids can be very hard on your gut. Antibiotics can disrupt the balance of your good/protective intestinal bacteria. Other medications called proton pump inhibitors (i.e: Prevacid, Tecta, Nexium) work by lowering the amount of acid in the stomach. When acid levels are too low, we are less able to properly digest our food, allowing larger food proteins to enter the gut where they can cause damage.
• Stress: Stress has a direct physiological impact on our gut function. Chronic stress can impact gastric-secretions, gut motility, mucosal permeability and barrier function, and has also been shown to cause changes in the intestinal bacteria and neurotransmitter levels.
How Do You Treat Leaky Gut?
I like to talk to my patients about the 4 “R”s of gut healing: Remove, Replace, Re-inoculate and Repair.
1. Remove: First we must remove any potential triggers for inflammation. This means identifying and removing all food sensitivities, unhealthy dietary habits, bad bacteria, parasites and yeast.
2. Replace: Step two involves replacing digestive enzymes, ensuring proper secretion of gastrointestinal secretions, and providing support for the liver.
3. Re-inoculate: This critical stage is all about making sure you have replenished your population of friendly, beneficial bacteria. This usually means taking a high quality probiotic supplement along with proper fibre-rich foods to establish a healthy balance.
4. Repair: Finally, we repair and restore the integrity of the intestinal cells. This can be accomplished using a combination of anti-inflammatory and soothing herbs along with neutraceutical prescriptions like L-glutamine and fish oil.
Do you think you or someone you know might be affected by leaky gut? Call me (604-949-0077) to discuss your specific situation and to learn more about how we can help you on your way to better health!Leave a reply