Creative Eldering: Leaky Gut Syndrome
Have you been to the doctor to seek advice about a variety of symptoms? Do your symptoms appear to be unrelated? You may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome.
“Leaky gut syndrome is neither a simple nor a consistently defined malady. It manifests with a jumbled variety of symptoms and conditions that vary greatly from one affected person to the next” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 8). Symptoms and conditions commonly stemming from leaky gut syndrome include gastro-intestinal issues, inflammatory conditions, respiratory system complications, skin issues and autoimmune disorders. One person with leaky gut syndrome may experience headaches, depression, hair loss and sinus issues, while another person with the same syndrome may have Rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety.
Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the lining or the mucosal membrane of the small intestine becomes dysfunctional. This increased permeability and decreased filtration ability allows substances to leak from the small intestines into the bloodstream before they have been properly broken down. Partially digested large molecules, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, secreted toxins and other antigenic factors may seep from gaps within your permeated intestinal lining. Because these substances are considered foreign and incompatible when they are present in areas of your body where they are typically not found, your immune system is triggered. This causes the production of your body’s antibodies to go wild.
There are two primary ways for leaky gut syndrome to be induced. Drug induced leaky gut syndrome can occur when you take antibiotics, oral or injected steroids, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Hormone replacement therapy can also cause leaky gut syndrome. Drug induced leaky gut can happen rapidly and is caused by the interaction of these medications and your mucosal lining. Many of these medications destroy your friendly intestinal bacteria by compromising their “living quarters” and destroying their food source, so they die. When this occurs, the inclusion of supplemental probiotics is vitally important in order to restore the friendly bacteria within your body.
Leaky gut syndrome may also develop over time due to lifestyle factors. Insufficient digestive enzymes, ongoing exposure to environmental toxins, especially those in skincare products like lotions, sunscreen and cosmetics, and frequent ingestion of GMO-tainted foods, alcohol and foods that you may have sensitivities to may all contribute to the onslaught of leaky gut syndrome.
Now for the good news! You can take many measures to prevent or heal your leaky gut syndrome. These may include eliminating irritating foods like caffeine, alcohol and “junk foods.” You can consider anything fried, processed or GMO containing to be a junk food. Replacing these unhealthy foods with healthier options is extremely beneficial to the elimination of leaky gut syndrome and your overall health and wellness.
Foods that do not require excess work to digest include apples, leafy greens, grapes, okra and many others can be very supportive to those with leaky gut syndrome. Foods that contain quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, are especially helpful. Prebiotics, food constituents that nurture and feed your friendly intestinal bacteria, can also help you recover from leaky gut syndrome. Jicama, berries, beans and legumes and Jerusalem artichokes are all foods rich in prebiotics.
Raw fermented foods that are made through raw lactic fermentation and not with vinegar can also be an especially effective measure for treating leaky gut syndrome. They contain high levels of probiotics. Sauerkraut, perhaps the most well-known fermented food, rarely contains probiotics when purchased commercially. Only sauerkraut that is not heated during production contains healing probiotics. Commercial sauerkraut that offers healing benefit will only be found in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store. Yogurt and kefir are often advertised for their beneficial probiotic content, but “I don’t classify them as being of THERAPEUTIC strength in serious cases of leaky gut syndrome” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 154). Yogurt may also contain high amounts of sugar that exaserbate leaky gut syndrome.
While diet is vitally important in the treatment of leaky gut syndrome, you may also need additional supplements to help you combat the issue. Helpful herbs include aloe vera, chamomile, fennel, and turmeric. Many nutrients in supplement form may also help you overcome leaky gut syndrome. These include vitamin A, folic acid (B9), pepsin, omega 3 oil, and chlorophyll. For a complete list of herbs and nutrients that can help you with your leaky gut syndrome, please refer to pages 157 and 158 in my book, Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition.
Mangosteen juice is rich in healing nutrients called xanthones. Xanthones are effective in helping to heal leaky gut.
Leaky gut syndrome is a serious condition that many other issues may stem from. If you believe you have leaky gut syndrome, you probably do. Most people have this dysfunction to some degree. In order to heal your body and achieve a more optimal level of health and wellness, you can take proactive measures to eliminate leaky gut syndrome.