What is Leaky Gut?

Our guts are lined with rows of cells called enterocytes. Lying between these cells are tight junctions whose job it is to regulate what crosses the intestinal lining and gets into our general system/blood stream. We all have guts that are naturally permeable to a degree when it comes to small molecules. This is, after all, how we absorb our nutrients form the foods we eat.

Leaky gut occurs when there is damage to the gut lining. This damage can result from any of the following, alone or in combination:

  • stress
  • certain medications
  • environmental toxins
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • microbiome disruption
  • elevated cortisol
  • deficient secretory IgA
  • inflammatory food triggers

As these irritants disrupt the integrity of the gut the intestinal lining can become permeable allowing large particles like proteins from foods we eat and microorganisms to which we are exposed to pass through the gut lining resulting in reactions to foods including sensitivities we may develop to certain foods as well as inflammatory conditions that contribute to ill health and chronic disease leading to a compromised immune system.

Leaky Gut Symptoms

Digestive symptoms one might experience when they have a leaky gut could include the following:

  • gas
  • bloating
  • constipation or loose stools
  • fatigue after a meal
  • mood changes after a meal
  • rapid heart beat after a meal

Leaky gut is a well-established cause of chronic systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, weight gain and even obesity, and it has even been suggested that it can lead to automimmune disease. This cascade of symptoms develops as a result of the protective barrier, the gastrointestinal tract aka the gut lining, becoming compromised.

How Do We Test For Leaky Gut?

Currently I use the Intestinal Permeability test through Genova Diagnostics. The Intestinal Permeability Assessment gastrointestinal test directly measures the ability of two non-metabolized sugar molecules to permeate the intestinal mucosa. The client drinks a pre-measured amount of lactulose and mannitol. The degree of intestinal permeability or malabsorption is reflected in the levels of the two sugars recovered in a urine sample collected over the next 6 hours. This test allows me to see the terrain of your small intestine. I will be able to assess if there are gaps or loose junctions that could be allowing proteins and pathogens to pass through. The results along with correlation of your symptoms can help me build a healing protocol. This test also provides insight into the health of your microvilli. Microvilli are the small fingerlike protrusions that allow for extra surface area along your intestines which is paramount in enabling nutrient absorption. If there is damage here I can correlate it to symptoms that you may be experiencing and ascertain that inflammation is causing the poor absorption rate at the microvilli level. Again, this information along with clinical correlation can assist in building the appropriate healing protocol.

What's Next?

As I mentioned above, the test results and clinical correlation will allow for me to build a personalized health building protocol based on YOUR needs. This will likely include supplements that have been shown to improve the mucosal barrier in addition to other lifestyle adjustments. At this point a client of mine will most likely have had other testing performed to asses hormones, stress levels, gut pathogen/bacteria status or food sensitivities. If the situation warrants I may suggest one or more of these tests (if they weren’t previously performed) if I feel we need it to fully understand where all your health building opportunities are. It’s only once I know what we’re facing that I can build you the most comprehensive healing protocol.

As with all my clients, we will work together via Skype video conferencing (or phone) and emails, the support will be based on your needs and desires, ensuring it’s the best fit for you to succeed. Schedule your free 20-minute consultation today where I can assess your needs so we can start the healing journey together!