What is “Leaky Gut Syndrome?”

Every once in a while, one will hear the term “leaky gut” in relation to some health condition.  It conjures ugly images of the body’s internal plumbing system “leaking” inside secret and hidden body cavities or outside creating a public nuisance or mess.  Of course this is only a slang expression for a condition that afflicts many people these days.

The “gut” refers to the entire alimentary canal.  The alimentary canal is a 33-foot passage or tube that connects the mouth to the anus.  The alimentary canal is where food enters and waste exits the body.  This canal is really quite complicated, delegating different tasks throughout the course of its journey.  The two major divisions of labor are 1. digestion and absorption of nutrients and 2. elimination of wastes.  Leaky gut refers to a problem with the first division of labor—digestion and absorption.

Basically what happens is the lining of the small intestines becomes damaged, causing it to lose its inherent integrity which allows “macromolecules” to pass through the lining and into the blood stream causing a host of problems in the body.  These foreign particles settle in joints and other areas creating pockets of toxins throughout the body.  The body recognizes these large particles to be “alien” and then attacks it waging a territorial war.  This war zone manifests as inflammation in various parts of the body, one common area being the joints.

Another problem is the damage effects the villi in the small intestines, as well, that are responsible for much of the digestion that happens in the small intestines.  This creates a condition of malabsorption of proper nutrients, which effectively starves the body, especially the immune system.  A host of symptoms and health issues can result from or be aggravated from this phenomenon which will be listed in part later.

The question, then, becomes, “How does the small intestines become damaged in the first place?”  There are a variety of explanations for this scenario.  Any circumstance that leads to an inflammatory condition in the lining of the canal will create this damage, for example, candida.  When the common unicellular plant, “yeast,” grows out of control, it produces a rhizome state with “stringers” that punch a hole in the lining of the small intestines.  This hole allows macromolecules to enter the blood stream before they can be fully digested and broken down into usable particles for the body.  One of the primary suspects for leaky gut syndrome is always candida albicans.

Other conditions that can result in intestinal lining damage include fluoride in water and tooth paste, intestinal parasites, food allergies, intestinal dysbiosis in general (bad bacteria, etc.), use of certain prescription and nonprescription drugs, alcoholism, stress, inadequate secretion of pancreatic enzymes or HCL, lactose intolerance, gluten (wheat) intolerance, heredity, chemical exposure, heavy metal exposure, chemotherapy, X-Rays, etc.

One other category that must be emphasized here is “junk” food.  Junk food is “fast” food, pastries, candy, pop, manufactured and highly processed “foods” like TV dinners and other prepackaged and prepared foods.  Junk food generally causes inflammation in the alimentary canal by encouraging candida growth and by the presence of so many food chemicals and preservatives.  To add to the problem, junk food does little to nourish the mucus membranes to create tissue integrity.

With so many possible causes, the problem becomes coming to a determination of what one’s own major underlining cause could be.  This can be done with a good naturopathic or homeopathic doctor.  If one cannot afford a doctor, it may be advisable to at least start the process of healing by eliminating many of the above aggravating or causative factors and perhaps self-treating for parasites and bacterial infections with herbs.  There are herbal combinations that can be used to help detox from heavy metals as well.  Adopting a sound diet with proper supplementation can do much to help one heal from the myriad health problems that can be associated with leaky gut syndrome.

To restore your intestinal mucosa to health:

1. Minimize or eliminate the things that can irritate your intestinal lining:

2. Consume nutrients that sooth and heal the cells lining the intestine: This is certainly not an exhaustive list but can help start one on the road to recovery.  There will be instances when complete relief will only be realized with professional help.

You can suspect leaky gut syndrome if you have the following symptoms:

    1. Gastrointestinal symptoms (irritation, gas, bloating, etc.)
    2. Arthritis
    3. Skin problems (eczema or hives)
    4. Lung problems (asthma, etc.)
    5. Food allergies
    6. Chronic fatigue
    7. Fibromyalgia
    8. Poor digestion
    9. General weakness
  10. Auto-immune problems
  11. Etc.

Many health problems can be concurrent.  For example, the above list is a list that can be written for chronic colon problems and a lack of proper elimination that can cause or result from any of the foregoing.  Usually when one has one problem, the other problem exists as well.

When the body is properly cleansed and nourished, it will usually come into a natural balance of health and well being without having to try to balance out a multitude of factors as is usually the case when you go to a doctor.  However, there are times that we do need outside help to get us on the path to total recovery.

Written by Myron T. Kenney