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Leaky gut syndrome

Leaky Gut Syndrome

A syndrome associated with abnormal intestinal permeability; is commonly referred to as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition that is seen when the walls of the small intestine are damaged. A healthy intestine allows only nutrients to pass into the bloodstream. However, when the gut wall is damaged, larger molecules such as incompletely digested fats, proteins, starches, and even bacteria, also permeate the intestinal wall.

What Happens?

In leaky gut syndrome, the tight junctions and glycosaminoglycans (GAG) in the mucous layer of the gut become defective and allow the absorption of partially digested food or bacterial fragments through the gut wall. Excess nitric oxide (NO) produced from this increases peroxidation and reduces energy production (ATP) in the gut. Increases in gut permeability result in an inflammatory cascade in various tissues as well as increasing the toxic load for the liver.

What Conditions are Associated With Leaky Gut Syndrome?

There are many conditions that may be associated with leaky gut syndrome. Some of these include; food allergies or intolerances, poor digestion, malabsorption, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), autism and ADD/ADHD, atopy, chronic urticaria, Candida yeast overgrowth, alcoholism, pancreatic defects, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel, acute gastroenteritis, cystic fibrosis, iron deficiency and bowel cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Therapeutic options include:

  • Reducing the inflammation cascade (in particular NO production) and repairing the mucosal surface
  • Correcting bowel flora
  • Identifying any aggravating foods, pathogens and/or environmental toxins and eliminating these from the diet/environment
  • Support liver function to improve the detoxification process (particularly phase II pathways of detoxification)
  • Check for yeast infections and parasites (also consider that the patient may be suffering from hypochloridia, achloridia, lactose intolerance and/or pancreatic insufficiency).

Dietary Recommendations: 

  • Low glycemic index (GI) and high fibre foods
  • Brassica family vegetables e.g. cabbage – to help with detoxification
  • Increase intake of fish, cod, tuna, salmon or their oils
  • Include as much organic produce as the patient's budget allows (esp. vegetables)
  • Increase consumption of ginger (anti-inflammatory) and garlic (supports liver detoxification)
  • Pineapple (bromelain), papaya (papain) – supports digestion (when eaten with food) due to its proteolytic enzymes
  • Probiotic rich foods (eg. Natural yoghurt, miso soup, kefir and sauerkraut) to help regulate bowel flora – aiding in the proper digestion of food in the gut, as well as the synthesis and absorption of nutrients. Increasing consumption of prebiotic foods (eg. oats and garlic) providing nourishment for beneficial bacteria in the bowel
  • Adding apple cider vinegar to all meals (2-3 tsp in water with meals) – this may help to stimulate gastric digestion

Dietary Exclusions:

  • Any foods aggravating the condition, such as wheat and dairy (due to the gluten and casein proteins)
  • Avoid trans-saturated fats
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking, and avoid (or limit use of) NSAIDs, aspirin and antibiotics – as these damage the gut barrier
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • Try to avoid all additives and preservatives
  • Avoid exposure to xenobiotics (eg. Pesticides, insecticides) and environmental toxins, (by eating more organic foods)

Highly Indicated Nutrients (including nutrient dose, justification and food sources)

Glutamine (500-3000 mg daily) - For gastrointestinal (GI) support. Promotes healing and bowel rescue. Provides fuel for intestinal mucosa and supports gut mucosal growth. Improves gut immunity and is a constituent of glutathione. Food sources; cottage cheese, ham, sausage meat, most protein sources, ricotta cheese, rolled oats

Glucosamine (600 – 3000mg daily) - Major precursor in the synthesis of the mucopolysaccharides and proteoglycans found in ground substances and connective tissue. Liver detoxification. Works with glutamine in improving bowel wall integrity and in reducing bowel leakiness. Food sources; shark cartilage, tracheal cartilage, (synthesized in the body from glucose)

Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3: 2,000 – 3,000 mg daily and Omega 6: 3,000 – 5,000mg daily) - Regulates inflammation reactions. Modulator of leukotriene synthesis i.e. inflammatory mediator chemicals. Precursor of prostaglandins. Facilitates cell to cell communication and growth. Maintenance of cellular membrane structure and fluidity. Foods sources; Omega 3: cod liver oil, mustard seed oil, linseed oil, tuna, salmon and cod. Omega 6: butternuts, corn oil, EPO, rapeseed oil, seaweed, sunflower oil, tofu, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, linseed oil

Probiotics (Lactobacillus / Saccharomyces boulardii Will vary between products - approx 2 to 4 capsules daily) - Regulates bowel flora and decreases toxic bowel metabolites and improves liver detoxification. Food sources; fermented cabbage, natural yoghurt, kefir

Vitamin A (5,000 – 10,000IU (RDA) daily) - Lipid antioxidant. Enhances adhesion between cells and restores contact inhibition of growth. Needed for healing, repair and integrity of mucous membranes. Food sources;

Apricots, carrots, mint, green leafy vegetables, cornmeal, egg yolk, fish liver oils (cod, salmon, halibut)

Bioflavonoids (600 – 3000mg daily) - Antioxidant. Improves immune response and tissue integrity. Promotes healing. Food sources; Green tea, tomatoes, apricots, citrus fruits, berries, papaya, red capsicum, buckwheat, skins of fruits, vegetables and soy products

Glutathione (100 – 500mg daily) - Acts as an extracellular antioxidant, anti-toxin, deactivator of free radicals – able to protect intestinal endothelial cells against oxidative stress. Recycles vitamins E and C thus maintaining their antioxidant properties. Food sources; eggs and garlic

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have regarding Leaky Gut Syndrome.

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