Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common condition which a number of us suffer in silence with. There may also be another, less well known syndrome, which can be just as damaging for the increasing number of people who may have it: Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Leaky Gut Syndrome can affect a lot of people from diverse backgrounds, and knowledge is slowly growing of this troublesome condition. Increasingly, the wider medical community is taking it more and more seriously.
What Is Leaky Gut?
Leaky Gut is also known as ‘increased intestinal permeability’ and refers to the possibility that germs and toxins could be absorbed into the bloodstream through an intestinal wall which has particularly thin or porous walls.
The intestinal system features a barrier or net made up of a single layer of cells between the gut and the body. These cells have something known as ‘tight junctions’ between them, which let helpful nutrients pass through, but stop other more harmful foreign substances which shouldn’t be absorbed into the bloodstream.
In Leaky Gut Syndrome cases, this barrier is broken down and the ‘gates’ into the rest of the body become more permeable, allowing larger molecules through that would be stopped in a healthy, effective gut.
Essentially, for one reason or another, holes have developed in your digestive system, and they’re letting damaging molecules and substances through into the rest of your body.
Are There Any Noticeable Symptoms?
One of the biggest problems with Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) being diagnosed is that the symptoms of it are often those shared with any number of other conditions.
That’s potentially one of the reasons why LGS isn’t an ‘officially recognised’ condition in the general medical community yet.
General symptoms of LGS include:
- Feeling bloated
- Passing wind and regularly being gassy
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Headaches and migraines
- General aches and pains
- Multiple food sensitivities
The key is to think about LGS not as a disease, but as the mechanism and the gateway for other conditions to develop. It’s opening the door to a number of problems!
The Potential Causes of LGS
There hasn’t been much research into Leaky Gut Syndrome, so the causes of a barrier breakdown in the intestinal tract aren’t fully known.
Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are known to cause mild irritation of the bowel, and intestinal infections like salmonella and norovirus can cause inflammation, along with conditions like Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease and cystic fibrosis.
Treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunosuppressants are also known to affect the digestive system, as is the excessive consumption of alcohol.
Doctors are well aware of these symptoms, and generally, they cause only mild irritation or they are part of much larger problem you’re likely already being treating for.
However those medical practitioners who have studied LGS and proponents of the syndrome believe that there could be a number of other factors which cause the intestinal wall to leak.
Most commonly, they say LGS is caused by:
- A generally poor diet
- Gluten, found in a number of wheat, rye and barley based products
- Chronic stress
- Certain antibiotic medicines
- An overgrowth of yeast species, generally caused by excessive sugar consumption
- A bacterial imbalance
Whilst stress can weaken your immune system and make it more difficult to ward off those foreign species in your digestive system, the type of diet you’re on could be repeatedly damaging the cell lining in your intestines.
The Effects of LGS
Again, there is very little research or evidence to support claims about the effects of Leaky Gut Syndrome, but besides the symptoms mentioned, it’s thought that LGS can also contribute to conditions like asthma, arthritis, psoriasis and eczema.
It’s also suspected of contributing to a number of long term health problems like Multiple Sclerosis, but there’s currently no concrete research or proof to back this up.
How to Treat
There’s no specific cure for Leaky Gut Syndrome, but there are some steps you could potentially take to help reduce any inflammation in your intestines, and help restore the lining of the cell wall.
A good diet is often the key factor here, and proponents of LGS recommending reducing and eliminating first. Remove foods that are known to cause inflammation and allergies, such as:
- Dairy products
- Soy products
- Refined sugars
- And any other unnatural chemicals you may be ingesting
Increase your intake of good, anti-inflammatory acids, like those found in fish and nuts, and fill up on green leafy vegetables and high fibre foods – anything which well help digest your food and increase good bacteria.
Taking a probiotic can help this process, and many LGS suffers and researchers believe that glutamine supplements can help to rebuild and repair the intestinal wall.
There are also a number of other potential supplements and herbal remedies out there which may help you, but it’s important to note that none have them have any concrete, approved research to support their use.
If you do think you may suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome, you should always speak to a doctor before you begin any diet or nutrition programme.
And if you have cut out any types of food from your diet, be sure to speak to the staff at Fuzen when you’re in the club, and we’ll help you make an informed decision about what to eat when you dine with us.