Gut Health: What’s Behind Leaky Gut Syndrome

Gut Health: What’s Behind Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome has gained attention in recent years. What is behind the leaky intestine, why it can be the cause of numerous chronic problems and how it can be treated.

The fact that a healthy intestine is the basis for a healthy body and a balanced mind is no longer new. However, the role that the intestinal mucosa plays in this is still not discussed enough. Leaky gut syndrome is an increasingly common clinical picture, but it is based on exactly that: a poorly supplied, pathologically altered and, above all, permeable intestinal wall, which can be the cause of numerous secondary diseases such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases and even cancer.

Intestinal health: a prerequisite for a vital organism

The gut is a pivotal point of health. The well-being of the organ not only affects the absorption, digestion and metabolism of nutrients, but also the immune system, the aging process and even the psyche. In order to stay fit, powerful and resilient to external stressors in the long term, intestinal health is essential.

There are more than 100 trillion bacteria – good and bad – in the intestines. They all weigh up to two kilograms, are responsible for digestion and the production of important enzymes, vitamins and amino acids and even “filter” harmful substances from food that we unintentionally ingest through contaminated food. Since the intestines and the brain are constantly connected via the so-called intestinal-brain axis and exchange information about the body’s well-being and mood, a sick intestine can also have a direct impact on the psyche – and thus emotional fluctuations and even depression promote upsets.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

When the intestines are healthy and digesting properly, they form a tight barrier between the food passing through the intestines and the rest of the body. The intestinal mucosa acts as a gatekeeper here, is semi-permeable (permeable to certain substances but not to others) and, last but not least, decides what should be passed into the bloodstream (nutrients and enzymes) and what should be excreted as stool (metabolic waste products and germs ingested with food). , parasites, fungi, poisons etc.).

We now speak of a “leaky gut” when the otherwise stable intestinal mucosa becomes perforated – and toxins, bacteria and parasites find their way into the body unhindered.

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

It is self-explanatory that this circumstance has consequences. Not only does the balance between “good” and “bad” microbes in the intestine change, which can lead to digestive problems such as bloating, constipation or diarrhea as well as weight problems and a weak immune system. In the long term, the leaky intestine can trigger and promote inflammation and also lead to food intolerances and allergies, including autoimmune reactions in the body. The latter means that undigested food components such as proteins or gluten enter the bloodstream through the now permeable intestine and are classified as foreign bodies by the body.

The organism develops antibodies against them and from then on reacts allergically to them. In addition to digestive problems, this can also lead to skin problems, itching or asthma if the triggering foods continue to be on the menu from now on. At the same time, the immune system turns against the organism. In the worst case, it mistakenly attacks healthy cells, which can lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The symptoms of leaky gut are correspondingly vague and broad.

Common complaints are:

  • Irritable bowel symptoms: diarrhea and/or constipation, flatulence, abdominal pain
  • Suddenly occurring food intolerances, for example to gluten, milk protein, soy
  • Tiredness, exhaustion, headaches, loss of performance
  • Skin problems, acne, neurodermatitis
  • Metabolic diseases such as type 1 diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis
  • Arthritis, rheumatism, inflammatory joint diseases
  • autism
  • Parkinson’s

What are the causes of leaky gut syndrome?

The causes of leaky gut syndrome can be varied, but usually result from a disturbed balance between the intestinal mucosa and intestinal flora. Normally, the microbes in our intestines live in symbiosis with one another. The beneficial bacteria, which, among other things, nourish the intestinal mucosa and produce important nutrients such as butyric acid, predominate. Some “harmful” intestinal bacteria are also present, but – if they are significantly outnumbered – do not cause any symptoms.

Permanent physical and mental stressful situationsa unhealthy eating style, Lack of exercise and or Medication such as antibiotics or ASS (acetylsalicylic acid)However, they can disrupt the coexistence of microorganisms. If putrefactive bacteria get out of hand, problems arise because the microbes displace the healthy bacteria by emitting toxic bacterial gases, such as LPS (lipopolysaccharides). They also weaken the intestinal barrier and cause it to develop larger and larger “holes”. This allows the toxins to migrate freely into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.

How is leaky gut syndrome diagnosed?

Leaky gut syndrome can be diagnosed by experienced intestinal specialists based on the history of existing symptoms and with the help of various laboratory tests. This includes examinations of the stool including the microbiome and the blood serum increased zonulin and Alpha-1 antitrypsin levels can indicate inflammation in the intestinal mucosa. A common method is also this Lactulose-mannitol test, in which patients are given a lactulose-mannitol solution to drink. If the values ​​are then elevated in the urine, this can be an indication of leaky gut.

Also breathing tests like a Hydrogen-methane test can be used; they are used to diagnose possible small intestinal colonization, which is often accompanied by an increased number of putrefactive germs and a permeable intestine.

How is the disease treated?

It all sounds pretty complicated. And that’s it. However, you don’t have to bury your head in the sand, a leaky intestine can be “patched” again – not with a needle and thread, but with the right diet, regenerative active ingredients and high-quality probiotics. It must be emphasized that the treatment of leaky gut syndrome should generally be carried out together with a doctor and/or nutritionist, especially if there are serious concomitant diseases – for example of the autoimmune system or metabolism.

The overarching goal is to bring the intestine and its microbiome back into balance. The following steps can help:

Intestinal cleansing

Intestinal cleansing in the form of a detox treatment, as is often touted in advertising, has not been scientifically proven. However, some doctors recommend taking certain herbal substances to relieve the strain on the intestines and eliminate toxins. The American intestinal specialist and doctor Dr. Josh Ax recommends this in his book “4 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease.” Taking fiber such as psyllium husk or acacia fiber together with mineral clayto bind harmful substances in the intestines and excrete them in the stool. The mucilage contained in psyllium husks also soothes the damaged intestinal mucosa.

At the same time, the intake of high quality probiotics recommended. The latest studies demonstrate the effectiveness of so-called spore-based microbes. Especially that one Bacterial strain “Bacillus subtilis” has convinced science in the past and was even named microbe of the year 2023 by the Association for General and Applied Microbiology. In addition to taking a probiotic, prebiotics, which promote the growth of good bacteria, are also recommended. Here, individual tolerance should be taken into account. Prebiotic fiber like Inulin or Fructooligosaccharides serve as food for the microbes and can accelerate intestinal flora regeneration, but are not well tolerated by everyone.

Build up mucous membrane and intestinal flora

Strengthening healthy intestinal flora with prebiotics and probiotics already contributes significantly to the regeneration of the weakened intestinal wall. Nevertheless, you can also specifically strengthen the intestinal wall. Science is currently studying the effectiveness of synthetic L-glutamine on the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. The amino acid plays a central role in the supply of the inner intestinal wall in the human body and has already shown effectiveness in animal models in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.

Omega-3 supplements as well as one if possible anti-inflammatory diet rich in antioxidants Last but not least, they can help to inhibit inflammation in the intestines and mucous membranes. You can read what such a diet can look like. In any case, it is important Luxury foods such as alcohol, smoking and highly processed, sugary foods avoidas these promote inflammation and can contribute to the colonization of putrefactive germs.

Adjust lifestyle

Ultimately, leaky gut syndrome is the result of modern lifestyles: environmental toxins, an increasingly poor diet (due to soil impoverishment and the food industry), too little exercise and stress take a toll on the intestines and the intestinal wall and lead to long-term problems. Of course, these stressors cannot all be avoided, but small behavioral changes can still contribute to a healthy gut. Eat as natural, unprocessed and colorful as possible, ideally buy your food in organic or Demeter quality, and avoid factory farming products. Exercise regularly in the fresh air, practice mindfulness and learn methods to reduce stress. Chew your food consciously and thoroughly to relieve your digestion. And above all: don’t put pressure on yourself.

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