Hidden Gut Dysfunctions Part 1: Leaky Gut Syndrome
As you saw in my article ‘What your poo says about you’, there are many indicators that can tell us is something is imbalanced in the gastrointestinal system. Moving on from assessing our stools, there are also a number of other symptoms that might indicate dysfunctions in the gastrointestinal tract.
The power of symptom analysis is not to dive straight in and make knee jerk reactions, but more to help point you in the right direction for further lab testing or some very simple and effective nutrition and lifestyle changes to see if it helps improve the symptoms.
Leaky Gut Syndrome / Intestinal Hyper-permeability
For those of you that have not heard of this, here is a quick explanation. It is essentially a symptom of inflammation within the digestive system. Normally the gut lining is made up of tight junctions that allow only fully broken down particles into the blood stream to then be processed by the liver and subsequently delivered to the appropriate parts of the body.
However for numerous reasons the tight junctions can loosen up, allowing for larger undigested particles to pass through causing immune/inflammatory reactions along with bacterial by-products and other foreign substances, often leading to food sensitivities and systemic inflammatory conditions, heightened white blood cells to tackle the invasion of foreign bodies.
Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome
Intestinal Hyper-permeability / leaky gut is one of the sections in the online health questionnaire I have in development at the moment. Have a look at the symptoms below and see if many of them relate to you. At no point is this a diagnosis, but merely a tool to help point you in the right direction.
- I suffer with constipation and/or diarrhoea
- I experience abdominal pain or bloating
- I get mucus or blood in my stool
- I experience joint pain or swelling, arthritis
- I suffer with chronic or frequent fatigue or tiredness
- I get sinus or nasal congestion
- I frequently feel inflamed
- I suffer with eczema, skin rashes or hives
- I use NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen, aspirin)
- I have a history of frequent antibiotic use
- I regularly drink alcohol
- I suffer with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or coeliac
- I suffer with asthma, hayfever or airborne allergies
- I suffer from food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances
- I experience mental confusion, poor memory or mood swings
What can cause leaky gut syndrome?
Factors that commonly cause leaky gut include prolonged exposure to stress, consumption of alcohol, poor food choices, infections such as yeast/fungal overgrowths, parasite and bacterial infections, food sensitivities, medications such as aspirin, birth control and steroid medications, high levels of exercise, environmental toxins and generally poor food choices.
Testing for leaky gut syndrome
There are also numerous lab tests that can help determine if you are having issues with intestinal permeability. A good blood chemistry analysis can give indicators, also stool test analysis and direct hyper-permeability tests also exist. Often times those with multiple food sensitivities are falling prey to the effects of leaky gut, so a well-structured elimination diet might be a good idea in these cases.
Relief for leaky gut syndrome
Once you have established your potential underlying causes you can begin to address the problem long term. There are some substances though that seem to be able to bring some symptomatic relief and may help restore the integrity of the gut lining after provokers have been removed:
- Deglycyrrhized Licorice
- Digestive Acid and Enzyme Support
- Zinc Carnosine
- Marshmallow root
- Slippery Elm Bark
Before looking at supplementation, appropriate nutrition and lifestyle adaptations should be made, and perhaps exploring the correct laboratory analysis to help support your decisions is a route you might consider when working with your health care practitioner.
Tags: digestive health