Leaky gut syndrome is the condition where undigested food, as well as bacteria and toxic substances easily pass through the damaged intestinal wall, and enter the bloodstream. This condition can adversely affect the digestive processes and immune functions, and cause a number of ailments.
Leaky gut syndrome refers to the increased permeability of the gut or the intestinal lining. It often results from the inflammation of the intestinal lining, which can be caused by several factors. The gastrointestinal tract is known to digest food, and then absorb nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The space between the cells of the intestinal lining is usually closely sealed, so that no undigested food can escape through the intestinal wall.
But when the bowel or the intestinal lining gets damaged or inflamed, the space between the cells of the intestinal lining broadens, which allows undigested food, toxins, and microorganisms to pass through and enter the bloodstream. This can cause allergic reactions and inflammation, as these substances are recognized by the immune system as foreign invaders. An inflammation of the intestinal lining also impairs its ability to synthesize digestive enzymes, which in turn, adversely affects digestion of food.
Any factor that irritates and damages the lining of the intestine can contribute towards the development of leaky gut syndrome. Food intolerance, certain allergens, parasitic infections, candidiasis, harmful bacteria, and the long-term use of certain drugs, including antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are some important factors that can cause irritation and inflammation of the intestinal lining.
In addition to these, a poor diet that includes a large amount of refined sugar, but does not include enough fiber-rich foods, as well as the excess consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and inflammatory bowel diseases can also have an association with this condition.
This condition can produce several symptoms and health problems. It is usually associated with a number of health conditions, like autoimmune diseases, ulcerative colitis, arthritis and inflammatory joint diseases, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatic insufficiency, food allergies, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Some of the most common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome are:
- Indigestion, gas, and flatulence
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic joint and muscle pain
- Allergies and asthma
- Impaired immune functions
- Recurrent vaginal infections
- Skin rash and hives
- Poor memory
- Mood swings and confusion
The symptoms of this condition can be treated and managed with the help of dietary restrictions, digestive enzymes, and supplementation. Physicians usually recommend a diet that excludes gluten and foods that contain a high amount of sugar. People with this condition are more susceptible to candidiasis, and so, the foods on which candida thrives should not be included in their diet. Foods that should be avoided by an individual suffering from leaky gut syndrome and candidiasis are, fermented products that contain yeasts, fungal products like mushrooms and cheese, honey, fruits and fruit sugar (fructose), white rice, refined flour, and potatoes.
On the other hand, foods that are rich in fiber, such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables can help manage this condition. Along with dietary modifications, vitamin B12 supplements, nystatin, and probiotics are also commonly used for managing this condition. Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that can help prevent the overgrowth of disease-causing microorganisms while maintaining the intestinal flora. Apart from these, digestive enzymes are also used to reduce the severity of the symptoms. Digestive enzymes can ensure proper digestion of food, and thus alleviate indigestion and gas.
Leaky gut syndrome can be a really debilitating condition that can give rise to many other health problems, and weaken the immune system. Though the aforementioned treatment options can help manage the symptoms of this condition, it is important to consult a physician for proper treatment. A physician or health care provider also needs to be consulted before using any kind of supplements.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.