Posted tagged ‘nutrition’

Beware Leaky Gut Syndrome

February 28, 2010

Most people do not know that illnesses such as colds, flu, respiratory disorders and the like, gain entrance into our system by way of the gut.

How, you might ask.

Leaky gut syndrome is the name given to a very common health disorder in which the intestinal lining is more permeable than it should be. This increased permeability of the gut allows entry to all manner of disease, like viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, toxic metals, candida, and toxic materials. All of which can impact your general health and your skin.

With a healthy gut, toxic materials, undigested food and fats are repelled and eliminated; with an unhealthy gut which has become compromised, toxins, undigested protein and fat will pass through the “leaky” intestinal wall, and instead of being utilized by the body, are then a health risk for the individual.

Leaky gut syndrome has become as common an occurrence as the common cold, and it is caused by an inflamed and irritated bowel lining. This inflammation can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Any and all prescriptive corticosteroids.
  • Alcohol and caffeine, which irritate the gut wall, this includes cokes (diet and regular), chocolate, coffee and cocoa.
  • Contaminated foods, E. coli and other bacteria can develop due to poor food handling.
  • Chemicals found in processed and fermented foods (dyes and preservatives), wine, vinegar, soy sauce, tofu, etc.
  • A diet high in refined sugars and other carbohydrates (e.g. candy, cookies, sodas, processed foods and white bread).
  • Foods contaminated by parasites (pork, chicken, fresh water and hatchery fish).
  • Antibiotic use – this causes an overgrowth of bacteria (yeast) in the gut due to the immune suppression that occurs.
  • Ingestion of animal products that have been given hormonal and antibiotic treatments.

Think of the impact on your skin!

Inflammation in the gut causes the normal permeability of the wall to increase, which then allows the absorption of larger molecules, which are normally broken down to smaller pieces, before passing into the body. Once inside, these microbes are then able to invade the bloodstream and colonize just about anywhere in body tissue or organs causing inflammation, pain and disease processes to occur.  This inflammation also damages the protective coating of the antibodies of the IgA family (immunoglobulins) normally present in a healthy gut. The IgA’s help our body to ward off infections, however, a leaky gut causes considerable damage to the immune system IgA’s and makes us less resistant to viruses, bacteria’s, parasites, toxic materials, metals and candida.

Another problem a leaky gut creates is a mineral deficiency, because the damage that happens to the carrier proteins which are needed for transport of specific minerals, are damaged by the inflammatory processes. Loss of carrier proteins can cause a variety of problems and deficiencies – a zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and some eye disorders (macular degeneration). Copper deficiency can lead to Osteoarthritis or even elevated blood cholesterol in some cases.

The inflammation in the gut causes swelling and, along with the noxious chemicals that are present, there will be blocked absorption of vitamins and essential amino acids. Eventually, nutritional deficiencies can lead to other complaints such as fatigue, headaches, memory loss, lack or concentration and irritability. Lower bowel gas, bloating and cramping are also among the symptoms that are associated with a leaky gut. Even unexplained weight gain is another symptom, which can be due to the deficiencies that are created by the leaky gut.

Another problem with leaky gut syndrome is that the toxins that accumulate in the gut put an incredible burden on the liver. Healing a leaky gut reduces the toxic load to the liver and will greatly improve nutritional uptake. Eating a good, nutrient-rich (organic) diet that has a good amount of fibre is a good start. A good detoxification programme is nearly always recommended, but it is important to understand that side effects can occur:

  • Headaches, severe to mild which can last for days if the detox is not done according to   your specific needs.
  • Flu-like reactions, from mild to severe, which can be minimized with the right detoxification program.
  • Lack of energy, this can be eliminated through proper supplementation.
  • Changes in bowel function

Detoxing slowly will help to minimise side effects.

Bridger, J.C.: Brown, J.F. “Development of Immunity to Porcine Rotavirus in Piglets Protected From Disease by Bovine Colostrum” Infectious Immunity 31(3):906-910. 1981. The Journal of the American Nutraceutical Assoc., Cellular Detoxification, Kratz, Allen M., PharmD, Human and Experimental Toxicity, vol. 13, 1994. Walker, Allan, MD, “Antigen Absorption from the Small Intestine and Gastrointestinal Ds.”, Pediatric Clinics of North America. 22(4):731-746, 1975. Doe, W.F., “An Overview of Intestinal Immunity and Malabsorption”, American Journal of Medicine 67(6):1077-1084, 1979. Galland, L.; “Leaky Gut Syndrome: Breaking the Vicious Cycle”, Townsend Letter for Doctors 145(6) 63-68, 1995.