Categorized | Digestion, News

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Posted on 09 August 2010 by admin

By Howard Liebowitz, M.D.

Leaky Gut Syndrome refers to a process where the lining of the intestinal wall becomes “leaky,” or permeable. This allows large protein molecules that would normally require further breakdown in the digestion process before being absorbed to leak out of the digestive tract into the blood stream. The lining of the intestines is also known as the epithelial layer. Epithelial layers are very thin, one cell thick membranes that line all body structures and serve as the primary protective barrier. It also serves to secrete antibodies, activate enzymes, and prevents yeast and parasites from adhering to the intestinal wall and establishing a foothold.

The Cells of the epithelial layer fit together like bathroom tiles, with almost no gap between them. When this membrane becomes inflamed, the cells swell,pull apart and no longer fit tightly together, which allows larger-than-normal molecules to squeeze between the cells and leak out of the intestines into the blood stream. These large protein molecules are recognized by the body’s immune system as foreign as they are not supposed to be in the blood. This stimulates an immune response from the body to attack these proteins, which sets off an inflammatory chain reaction leading to a myriad of disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, asthma, thyroid disease, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes auto immune disease and more.

The causes of damage to the intestinal epithelial layer are varied. They include gluten and other food intolerances, parasitic infections, candidiasis, chronic giardia infections (Giardia is a protozoa found in lakes, streams and even drinking water) or bacterial dysbiosis from antibiotic use. Furthermore, chronic stress stimulates cortisol secretion, which damages the epithelial layer. Alcohol, steroid and chronic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory usage all can damage the epithelial layer and lead to leaky gut syndrome. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can also cause this, such as Crohn’s disease and severe irritable bowel disease.

Treatment consists of multiple steps. First we determine the cause of the insult by completing a Comprehensive Stool Analysis test. Once we have identified the problem areas, we then initiate a gut healing program to decrease the inflammation and slow down, or stop, the leaky proteins from getting into the body’s circulation. Next we remove the cause of the insult. Finally, we replace healthy organisms to restore normal gut function and healthy balance. Sometimes it can take months of conscientious work to completely heal the gastrointestinal tract and stop leaky gut. This does not guarantee that the illness resulting from leaky gut will be completely corrected, as damage to distant tissue may be too advanced to correct. However, at least it will stop the insult from progressing.

We often like to re-test the gastrointestinal tract to check that the organisms treated are gone as well as various markers of inflammation and immune function.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is often overlooked as a cause of illness, but can be the explanation for many inflammatory conditions in the body.
If you are having vague undiagnosed symptoms, it may be emanating from your gut. Call the office and request a stool kit. I am happy to review the results with you and start you and your gut on the path to optimal health.

This information is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to treat or diagnose Leaky Gut Syndrome or any other health condition.

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