By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Leaky Gut Syndrome Linked to Diseases
JANUARY 11, 2008 – One area of our body that we seem to forget about it is our intestines & colon. We think nothing of taking antibiotics for the slightest cold, but forget to follow-up with acidophilus or probiotics to maintain balance within our intestines. Many chronic diseases are actually the result of an unhealthy colon.
When our intestinal barrier is defective, it allows larger food particles & bacteria to enter the bloodstream, where they are attacked by the immune system. This condition is also referred to as Malabsorption Syndrome. Leaky gut has been associated with celiac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, cystic fibrosis, dermatitis, eczema, food allergies and intolerance, ADHD, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, hypoglycemia as well as others.
Many individuals with diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and intestinal infections also have Leaky Gut Syndrome. Once harmful bacteria and yeast enter the blood stream through the gut, this leads to an immune reaction and subsequent inflammation, throughout the body.
Chron‘s disease is an inflammatory gut disorder. The disease results in a leaky gut. As the bacteria enter the bloodstream, the condition worsens by increasing the immune response. For example, people with Rheumatoid Arthritis were found to have a much higher incidence than normal of an immune reaction to gut bacteria.
You might ask, what causes leaky gut? There’s a large number of factors related to Leaky Gut Syndrome. The most common include food allergies and intolerance. Others include: Drugs like NSAIDS & antibiotics, chemotherapy, H2 Blockers (stomach medications), stress, lack of probiotics (good bacteria in the gut), radiation, infections, lack of digestive enzymes, nutritional deficiencies.
Some very simple steps can prevent this condition from causing havoc in your life. Start early by breastfeeding babies for the first year. Don’t rush to introduce table food, especially eggs & cow’s milk too early. Food additives such as MSG, & soy proteins, can damage the intestinal flora. Organic foods are always preferred when possible.
Probiotics (found in yogurt) reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and help control the immune system. The good news is that a deficiency of natural probiotics in one’s diet can be easily corrected with a supplemental probiotics.
If allergies are the cause of disease, the offending foods must be eliminated from the diet for 3 to 6 months. A variety of foods in the diet will help prevent food allergies. Those whose diets are repetitive end up developing allergies to those foods that are eaten day in and ay out. Unfortunately, we don’t get all of our nutrients from the food we eat in America today. Everyone should take a good quality multivitamin, mineral & antioxidant supplement.
Eating a healthy diet, taking good nutritional supplements, acidophilus and digestive enzymes will help to cure and prevent Leaky Gut Syndrome. Nutrients that are good for gut health include omega-3 fatty acids, gamma tocopheral (active vitamin E), multiple B vitamins, buffered vitamin C, mixed carotenoids, and the flavanoids such as hesperidin, curcumin, and quercetin, which reduce inflammation in the intestinal wall.
Pamela Egan, FNP-C, CDE is a board certified Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Clinical Specialist in Mental Health.