In recent times, a lot of attention has been given to a condition termed as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. It has become a topic of discussion on health forums and among health-conscious people globally. The practitioners of natural and alternative health remedies have paid special attention to this phenomenon that leads to concerning health issues. Also referred to as ‘increased intestinal permeability’, a leaky gut is a common digestive condition.
When a person is suffering from the signs and symptoms of a leaky gut, toxins and bacteria find their way through the walls of the intestines into his bloodstream. These leaks cannot be considered as serious conditions but they do bring about discomfort in patients. Mainstream medical professionals are still in two minds about accepting a leaky gut to be a real problem. Fortunately, several laboratory-based studies and research reports have provided scientific evidence to support the existence of a leaky gut.
So, what’s the reality about this health condition that is termed as a leaky gut syndrome? Here we help you ascertain what health practitioners are talking about this condition. You will also get to know the causes of a leaky gut along with its signs and symptoms in the paras that follow.
What do you mean by a Leaky Gut?
When you study the human digestive system you gain an idea about the digestive tract. Herein, food substances are broken down so that the vital nutrients present in them can be absorbed effectively. The digestive system in humans is also responsible for creating a protective barrier for the harmful substances entering the body. Among the main barriers are the walls of the intestine that control all that’s entering the bloodstream from the digestive organs.
There are tiny gaps present in the intestinal walls. These gaps are known as tight junctions. They are responsible for allowing the nutrients and water to go through while creating strong barriers for substances that are harmful to the body. These include germs, toxins, bacteria, yeast, and the larger molecules of broken-down food that cannot pass through the gaps easily. Intestinal permeability is the term given to the ease with which different substances can find their way into the bloodstream from the digestive system (by passing through the gaps present in the walls of the intestines).
The problems associated with leaky gut syndrome start arising when these tight junctions loosen up. They allow the gut walls to become more permeable than what they should be otherwise. Resultantly, there’s a higher quantum of toxins and bacteria passing through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream. This leads to widespread inflammation in other metabolic systems along with the digestive system. Adverse reactions are triggered off by the immune system to combat the effects of the increasing quantity of toxins in the bloodstream and other organs of the body.
Signs and Symptoms of a Leaky Gut
There are some common and largely prevalent symptoms of a leaky gut including food sensitivities, fatigue, bloating, skin problems, digestive issues, and so forth. However, it is difficult to recognize the incidence of a leaky gut through the regular means of medical diagnosis. This may be the reason why some medical professionals are still in denial about the existence of this condition. Several others believe that the symptoms of a leaky gut lead to multiple health conditions such as migraines, multiple sclerosis, fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, etc.
Mood swings, thyroid abnormalities, chronic food sensitivities, autism, and severe skin conditions are among the other concerning results of a leaky gut. The good thing about what these proponents believe is that their ideas are backed by scientific results that are gaining momentum with every passing day. Research reports have also established that increased intestinal permeability, which is often referred to as intestinal hyperpermeability, can be found in some chronic diseases.
Causes of a Leaky Gut
The leaky gut syndrome is still a mystery with medical professionals researching its exact causes in a big way. It is said that zonulin, a type of protein, is the sole regulatory agent of intestinal permeability. When activated in patients who happen to be genetically susceptible, this protein can cause a leaky gut. According to the health practitioners believing in the existence of this syndrome, if you have a leaky gut then you are likely to be intolerant to gluten. Gluten is a type of protein present in grains like wheat. It triggers off the release of zonulin that can cause a leaky gut. The presence of bacteria and harmful yeast in the intestines are also responsible for triggering off this phenomenon. Advanced studies have established that the signs of gluten intolerance are more prominent in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, or other related conditions.
Factors Playing a Role in Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Intake of excessive quantities of sugar, or regular consumption of sugar-rich unhealthy diet, specifically fructose, may damage the walls of the intestine.
- Regular and prolonged usage of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) leads to an escalation in intestinal permeability. For instance, if NSAIDs like ibuprofen are taken regularly then they may lead to the incidence of a leaky gut in patients.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol also has a critical role to play in leaky gut syndrome by increasing intestinal permeability.
- Chronic inflammation present in different parts of the body may lead to agonizing signs of the leaky gut syndrome.
- Continuous and high levels of stress is another factor that contributes to the cause of multiple gastrointestinal disorders such as a leaky gut.
Medical professionals and practitioners are in the process of determining the other common causes and symptoms of a leaky gut. Along with your diet, it is important to pay attention to the strength of your immunity. You may want to perform tests for a leaky gut to understand the extent of damages in your intestines. Do research further to attain more knowledge about this commonly occurring and much-talked-about phenomenon- a leaky gut.