Leaky Gut Syndrome, also known as LGS or increaesd intestinal permeability is a major overlooked cause of autoimmune attack and chronic illness. Did you know that during a typical lifespan 60 tons of food pass through the intestinal tract? Of course, along with food there are also bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and other irritants that pass through the GI tract as well.
The small intestinal cells have small finger-like projections that project into the lumen of the intestines. Because of this feature, it is estimated that the surface area of the small instestine is the size of a tennis court! No wonder our small intestines are designed with a complex arrangement of immune system and physical barriers because a tennis court is a lot of surface to patrol.
The intestine's job is to selectively absorb what is good for us and reject what is bad. Talk about a tough job with such a large surface area. Becase the job is so tough, most of the cells of the digestive tract are replaced every 3-4 days and are protected with a multitude of secretions from the cells such as mucuous, enzymes and immune system substances such as secretory IgA.
So What is Leaky Gut Syndrome or increased intestinal permeability? The cells that make up the lining of the gut is only one cell layer thick and can be easily damaged. Remember that the cells that make up this lining live only for 3-4 days and they have extremely high metabolic activity along with intense nutritional demands. Leaky Gut Syndrome refers to how larger molecules can bypass the protective layer of the gut epithelium (lining) and enter the blood. All material that traverses the digestive tract wall (mucosa) is inspected by the immune system, and it is here that the immune system may have its greatest antigenic exposure. Increased gut permeability can permit exogenous antigens (ones that should have been left to exit in the stool) to enter the systemic circulation. If the antibodies generated towards gut antigens cross-react with the body’s own immunologically similar tissues, the resulting process may manifest itself as an autoimmune disease. It is important to note that the cells of the gut epithelium are joined together by tight junctions (special proteins including zonulin and occludin), so that there are no gaps between the intestinal cells lining the gut. The main way nutrients are suppossed to enter the body is through the epithelial cells to be absorbed. In this way the gut is able to strictly regulate what substances enter the body.
Diagram coutesy of ImmunoSciences Laboratory and Dr. Aristo Vojdani
Some of the signs of LGS are as follows:
chronic joint pain
chronic muscle pain
fuzzy or foggy thinking
confusion, poor concentration
mood swings, nervousness, anxiety
poor immunity, recurrent vaginal infections
bloating, diarrhea or constipation
Several conditions are caused by (in part or fully) Leaky Gut Syndrome, these include:
inflammatory joint disease, arthritis
chronic fatigue syndrome
food allergies and sensitivities
- kidney dysfunction/overload
irritable bowel syndrome
The two most serious consequences of LGS are compromised liver function and autoimmune conditions. These two consequences often lead to a long search for help from traditional doctors as LGS is seldom considered as a causitive factor in most illnesses. Instead the various symptoms are treated with drugs or as conditions worsen, surgery.
The causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome are varied and include:
|The aging process||AIDS with diarrhea|
|Rheumatoid arthritis||Chronic hepatitis|
|Shock or anaphylaxis||Crohn's disease|
|Toxic shock syndrome||Cystic fibrosis|
|Trauma||Giardia and other parasites|
|Ulcerative colitis||Gluten sensitivity|
The good news is that specialized testing to determine if LGS is a potental source of your chronic condition is a STANDARD test that I employ in my initial assesment of those who seek my care and advice.
If LGS is discovered, there is a specific 6 step protocol called the 6R protocol that I employ as part of the designed individualized treatment program. The general outline for the "6R Protocol" is:
- Remove mucosal irritants
- Reduce certain foods in the diet that can thwart the healing process
- Restore normal bowel transit time
- Replace agents for digestive support
- Reinoculate with friendly bacteria
- Repair the mucosal lining
Of course this "6R Protocol" is customized for each individual.
If you would like to obtain a case review and detailed testing for your chronic condition call 586-731-8840 or visit this page of my website for additional information.
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