Leaky gut is a term that is commonly used to describe the condition where the lining of the digestive tract becomes permeable to toxins, which means it allows these liquids and/or gases to pass through and causes severe inflammation, as well as a host of other symptoms. It prevents food from passing through safely, without getting “stuck” in the tract. These toxins then leak into the bloodstream, triggering autoimmune reactions, which then trigger pain.
NSAID’s, antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines, alcohol, caffeine and many other medications, both prescription and nonprescription, can cause intestinal permeability.
While intestinal permeability is associated with a number of illnesses, recent studies have found that most patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are plagued with this disease. In one particular study, there was an 81.2% reduction in symptoms in CFS patients who were eating less allergenic foods and increased their liver detoxification through the use of natural supplements. Thankfully, there are ways to treat this condition that are both safe and cost-efficient.
There are functional medicine tests that can be done to determine if leaky gut is a problem. The main culprits of this condition are infections, toxins, and foods, with gluten being a major player. There are also 9 primary signs that could help you determine if you have leaky gut. These include:
- Digestive problems like bloating, gas, diarrhea and IBS
- Asthma and seasonal allergies
- Having a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease, or psoriasis.
- Having a diagnosis of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety.
- Severe skin conditions like excessive acne, rosacea, or eczema.
- Candida overgrowth.
- Food intolerances and allergies.
The following steps can help you treat and reverse intestinal permeability. They are outlined in greater detail in my book, Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia.
- Supplement with digestive enzymes, as well as HCl if stomach acid levels are a problem for you.
- Take a good, quality probiotic to help build healthy bacteria in the gut, which will make the tissues stronger. Take three a day on an empty stomach.
- Start the elimination diet. This is explained in detail in another post. It’s used to help pinpoint any possible food allergies. It pays particular attention to gluten, the protein that is found in wheat and most grains. Gluten can be highly irritating to the intestinal lining.
- Make sure you are taking the right supplements at the right dosage. It is my professional recommendation (as well as most of my Functional Fibro Medicine associates’) that you take a special powdered multivitamin. Make sure that one of your supplements includes 1000 to 2000 mg of fish oil daily. The omega-3 fatty acids in these fish oils help to repair the tissue lining and reduce inflammation. In addition to this, one study showed that 2.7 grams (2700 mg) of fish oil daily would put Crohn’s disease into remission status.
- For optimal results, take high-dose L-glutamine (an amino acid) and additional herbs. Glutamine is the primary fuel for intestinal cell function, so a high dose of up to 6000 mg would need to be used to meet the demands of a leaky gut and ensure proper liver functioning. It also helps boost the immune system and rest of the GI tract during times of psychological distress like periods of depression or grief. Chronic use of NSAID’s and antibiotics can deplete proper chemicals and create toxic levels of ammonia. This high dose of glutamine will help restore your stores and transport the ammonia concentrations to the kidneys to be excreted.
Acacia is a non-bulk forming, soluble fiber that is readily fermentable for growth of the healthy bacteria, Lactobacillus. It helps with water absorption and supports cell function in the colon as well.
Nutra-Flora FOS will further encourage growth of healthy and beneficial microorganisms by supplying nondigestable fructoligosaccharides.
And finally, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine is a mouthful to say, but highly beneficial for the protection of the intestinal tissues. It is used as a structural component of mucus secretions in the intestines and helps with the passage of food through the digestive tract.
All of the above can be found in your local whole foods market or grocery store and done in the comfort of your own home. Even the elimination diet is easily done at home without much guidance; aside from a detailed journal you would keep yourself. If you have any difficulties finding the supplements or enzymes, then do not hesitate to call my office for a consultation.
Intestinal permeability is an incredibly uncomfortable and very treatable condition. It will take time and dedication to figure out what your body needs to heal the intestinal wall lining since every human body has a different chemical make-up, but you’ll find these protocols work far better than any prescription medication, which is probably making it worse! Take the time to understand your condition and make the appropriate steps to feel better.