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Did You Say My Gut Is “Leaking?” What You Need to Know About Leaky Gut Syndrome

Are you one of the many people plagued with digestive issues? If so, the constant gas, bloating or diarrhea may leave you wondering if something is seriously wrong with your gut:

“Do I have digestion problems?"

"Food sensitivities?"

"Why am I itchy and irritable all the time?”

If these questions sound familiar, then there may be one culprit: your gut barrier.

What Your Gut Barrier Does for You

Your gut barrier is a gateway to your body that controls and permits the absorption of helpful substances. A healthy gut barrier is tightly regulated, allowing only important nutrients to pass through and protecting the body from potentially unhelpful or harmful substances (e.g., toxins, food particles or unwanted organisms). The gastrointestinal (GI) tract must continuously defend against such substances that, if allowed entry into the body, can lead to inflammation of your gut walls. Constant exposure to these substances and the resulting inflammation can cause the walls of the intestines to become vulnerable to deterioration and increased permeability. This is called leaky gut syndrome.

How Does the Gut Actually “Leak”?

With leaky gut syndrome, the tight junctions that hold your intestinal wall together become loose. While it is naturally semi-permeable, certain factors make the spaces between the gut cells larger, allowing unwanted substances to escape into your bloodstream. Factors that may contribute to a leaky gut include:

• Poor nutrition from overconsumption of processed, high-fat or high-sugar foods

• Not enough fiber or too much gluten, grains, dairy, soy, alcohol, or other “pro-inflammatory” foods

• Gut microbial imbalances from an overabundance of unwanted bacteria

• Yeast or parasite infections

• Ingestion of toxins, including certain medications, heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins or plastic-derived toxins, like bisphenol A (BPA)

Leaky Gut and Autoimmunity

When your gut remains leaky, more and more unwanted substances may escape into your bloodstream. Your immune system reacts with inflammation to attack the foreign invaders. However, over time, your immune system may become overstressed, overworked and function less accurately to a point where your own tissues get caught in the crossfire, leading to a condition called autoimmunity.

So, in essence, your immune system fights off the substances that have escaped into your bloodstream, but it may also attack your body’s own cells by mistake. When left untreated, the condition can worsen and lead to further complications.

Healing Your Gut

Healing leaky gut starts with healthy nutrition and lifestyle factors. Some types of targeted nutrient support we may discuss include the following:

• Glutamine, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or aloe vera to help strengthen intestinal cells and create a protective mucous layer

• Probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii to help fend off any unwanted organisms and maintain normal microbial balance surrounding the gut barrier

• Serum-derived bovine immunoglobulins (SBIs) to help bind and remove harmful toxins from the gut barrier and boost your immune function

• Phytonutrients, such as turmeric, propolis and quercetin, to help calm inflammation in the gut lining and maintain normal immune balance (e.g., in the form of a functional food)

• Digestive enzymes to help break down food particles and prevent triggering sensitivities

or immune responses.

Besides dietary supplementation, we may discuss lifestyle recommendations, including the following:

• Remove gluten, dairy or soy from your diet to help eliminate negative food reactions

• Eat more whole, unprocessed foods, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and improve fiber intake

• Limit sugar intake to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels

• Reduce the use of antibiotics when possible

• Reduce stress levels with regular exercise and improved sleep quality

Once you are on the road to healing leaky gut, you may experience a positive resolution of symptoms. For example, you may experience a reduction in digestive issues, food sensitivities and or skin issues, and you may have greater energy and mental clarity than you have experienced in a long time. By repairing your gut first and taking a more natural healing approach with functional medicine principles, our goal is to help you feel like your optimal self and regain your health.

Final Thoughts

Leaky gut syndrome is a complex topic that requires careful consideration during treatment. I have helped many patients at my clinic successfully heal their leaky gut, and I would be happy to talk to you more about how my expertise and experience may improve your health.

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