Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome and tips to Heal Your Gut

Susanna Sisson's picture
Leaky Gut Syndrome

Do you have gas, bloating and frequent infections? you may have leaky gut syndrome. Here are the symptoms and how to heal your gut and feel better.

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Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) has become a huge problem globally, and affects millions of people who may not even know they have a problem. LGS is a constellation of symptoms such as gas, bloating, food sensitivities or allergies, frequent infections, and skin problems like acne and rosacea. These issues occur because of damage to the lining of the gut which causes inflammation and increases permeability allowing proteins, toxins, metals, and waste to leak into the bloodstream. Malnutrition (eating a highly processed and sugary diet) is a leading cause of LGS which leads to worsening malnutrition because the gut can’t absorb essential nutrients, which leads to essentially every other disease state. Doctors now know gut health is a major factor in overall health but it is often not treated, rather symptoms are merely suppressed with drug therapy.

What causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky Gut Syndrome is basically caused by inflammation of the gut lining and is usually brought about by the following:

• Overuse of antibiotics can lead to overgrowth of abnormal flora such as bacteria, parasites, candida and fungi, and can kill healthy normal flora.
• Highly refined carbohydrate diet (e.g. candy bars, cookies, cake, soft drinks, white bread)
• Food that product the most allergies - dairy, eggs, gluten grains (wheat, oats, rye), corn, beans (especially soy), and nuts.
• Processed foods that contain chemicals such as food dyes, preservatives and peroxidized fats.
• Ingestion of animal products that contain hormones and antibiotics.
• Enzyme deficiencies (e.g. celiac disease, lactase deficiency causing lactose intolerance)
• Gluten and other proteins from wheat are a problem, especially in someone who has Crohn’s or Celiac disease can lead to LGS.
• Prescription or over the counter NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Vicodin, and other prescription pain medications
• Alcohol and caffeine (strong gut irritants)
• Mold and fungal mycotoxins in stored grains, fruit, and refined carbohydrates
• Foods and beverages contaminated by parasites like giardia lamblia, cryptosporidium, blastocystis hominis or bacteria such as helicobacter pylori, klebsiella, citrobacter, pseudomonas and others. Always wash foods before eating.
• Genetically modified foods (GMOs)
• Prescription corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone)
• Prescription hormones such as birth control pills
• Radiation therapy

Health problems associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome:
• Allergies and auto-immune disease – When the bowel is leaky it triggers antigenic sites that cause an inflammatory response and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, lupus, alopecia areata, polymyalgia rheumatica, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, vitiligo, thyroiditis, vasculitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, urticaria (hives), Alzheimer’s and Reynaud’s disease and many others.
• Deficiencies of Nutrients – Everything from hair loss to heart disease, diabetes and cancer can occur if one is not getting the correct nutrients. Vitamin, minerals are important for every reaction in the body to take place.
• Heart Disease – It is now known that cardiovascular disease is due to inflammation which typically begins in the gut.
• Diabetes – It is now commonly accepted that leaky gut may precede a diagnosis of diabetes.
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – IBS encompasses a wide variety of symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea and pain which may overlap or be part of other gastrointestinal disorders such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, and others.
• Cancer – It is now recognized that most cancers are brought about by inflammation and immune issues.
• Neurological and psychiatric disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder – new studies have linked diet to these disorders. [4]

Solving the problem of LGS must begin with healing the gut - not suppressing symptoms with drugs such as corticosteroids, pain medications, and antibiotics. Indeed those drugs actually cause or exacerbate LGS rather than heal. The treatment must begin with diet, not chemotherapy.

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Dr. Robynne Chutkan, Integrative Gastroenterologist and author of “Gut Bliss” recommends making changes in diet, an idea she credits to her patients who made dietary changes to correct their gastrointestinal disease. Laughingly she says, “I saw improvements in some patients and when I asked them what they were doing and heard they were changing diet I was shocked. This was such a novel idea because never in medical school, or my training, or in 23 years of practice did it occur to me. We are taught to prescribe drugs and treat symptoms not consider nutrition.” [1]

After reading the work of researchers at Harvard [2] who took a small group of patients and gave them a plant based diet versus a processed and animal based diet, much like the work of T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, who found by choosing a plant based diet over primarily animal they were able to turn disease causing genes on and off, and the work of Dr. Paolo Lionetti, of the University of Florence in Italy [3] she did her own study.

Dr. Chutkan chose 13 patients – 9 with Crohn’s disease and 4 with ulcerative colitis and changed their diet to plant based and low sugar. The results showed the 12 of those 13 patients went into remission. “The changes were remarkable and could be seen not only in general appearance but in lab work and on a colonoscopy.”

Dr. Chutkan recommends a mostly plant based diet and limited animal protein. “Green leafy vegetables and phytonutrients encourage growth of good bacteria which help heal the microbiome of the gut,” says Chutkan, “and we see fewer overall problems including gallbladder attacks and even ovarian cancer.”

Chutkan uses the anacronym SADGAS to help her patients remember what foods to avoid:

S – Soy can lead to estrogen dominance as well as inflammation.
A – Artificial Sweeteners
D – Dairy - 50% of the world is lactose intolerant
G – Gluten
A – Alcohol metabolized to acetaldehyde which is close to formaldehyde. Drink fewer than 7 drinks a week if you must drink.
S – Sugar encourages the growth of the wrong kind of bacteria.

Resources:
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDBI9txA-W0
2. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/01/your-guts-what-you-eat-too/
3. http://www.economist.com/node/16740669
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
5. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/leaky-gut-syndrome

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