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The Leaky Gut and Food Sensitivity Connection

Could you have a leaky gut?

Are you feeling bloated, tired or sluggish? Are you prone to allergies, food sensitivities, skin conditions or mysterious aches and pains? If you show one or more of these symptoms, it could be a sign that your digestive system is not functioning as it should.

 

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal permeability, is a condition where the lining of the gut becomes more porous (‘holey’) and inflamed, allowing a greater amount of undigested food particles, bacteria, toxins and other materials to leak into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.

 

Why is it such a problem?

When these toxins enter your bloodstream, your immune system may recognise them as pathogens (disease agents) and begin to fight them off. This causes inflammation throughout the body which, if left untreated, can contribute to and exacerbate long-term health conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disorders, eczema, psoriasis and chronic fatigue – just to name a few!

What’s more, while your immune system is busy creating antibodies to help stave off these foreign invaders, it’s left more vulnerable to antigens (proteins that stimulate the production of antibodies), which can spark allergies and other sensitivities in the body.

 

Spot the common signs and symptoms

Leaky gut has been linked to a host of serious health issues, and may be difficult to recognise, so it’s important to know the signs. Watch out for:

  • Digestive issues – bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhoea and constipation
  • Food allergies/sensitivities – particularly to dairy, wheat and other grains
  • Seasonal allergy problems
  • Skin conditions – itchy skin, acne, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis
  • Joint pain
  • Mental health and mood issues – irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Auto-immune and inflammatory conditions – rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac and Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, thyroid problems and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Neurological issues – headaches, foggy brain, migraines and forgetfulness
  • Malabsorption – of key vitamins and minerals (such as vitamins D, B12, A and magnesium), as well as vital enzymes, which help you digest food.

 

What causes leaky gut?

The cause of leaky gut is different for every person, but keep an eye out for these common offenders:

  • Inflammatory foods – gluten is closely linked with leaky gut because it triggers the production of zonulin, a protein that can widen the spaces between the cells of the intestinal lining. Other common culprits include sugar, dairy and soy.
  • Food allergies and sensitivities – the correlation between food sensitivities and leaky gut is circular – a leaky gut can cause food allergies, but food allergies can also trigger a leaky gut. This is because, when you eat foods that you’re allergic to, the lining of your gut can become inflamed, which can increase intestinal permeability. And, if your allergies go undetected and you continue to consume these foods, you may spark an inflammatory cycle where your gut lining cannot repair itself.
  • Stress – when you’re stressed your body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing stress hormones like cortisol. Studies have shown that bacteria respond to these hormones by mutating or multiplying[1], which can lead to inflammation and can weaken your digestive capacity.
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – when you have an increased number of certain bacteria (particularly bacteria which is usually found in the colon) nesting in the small intestine, they can damage the cell lining of your gut and cause it to leak.
  • Infection or inflammation in the body – gut infections, such as candida (yeast infections), intestinal parasites and SIBO can harm the lining between intestinal cells.
  • Alcohol and medication – alcohol, as well as some over-the-counter and prescription medications, consumed for long periods of time, are gut irritants.

 

What to do …

A leaky gut can be the major cause, or the result of, food allergies and sensitivities. So, the best treatment for leaky gut is to start the gut healing process while simultaneously reducing your reactions to any foods, which may be exacerbating (or the root cause of) the condition. At Health & Wellness Australia (HWA), we can do this using one, or a combination, of the methods outlined below.

 

  1. Reducing your reactions to inflammatory foods

At HWA we use a technique called muscle testing or kinesiology, to help identify reactions to food and environmental substances. Following testing, you can work with your practitioner to address your sensitivities using a natural allergy treatment called Positive Association Technique (PAT).

PAT is a non-invasive holistic therapy, which draws on acupressure and kinesiology techniques. It aims to re-train your body and reduce your reactions to foods that may be causing or exacerbating your leaky gut, including:

  • Amines (compounds found in aged foods like cheese and wine)
  • Sugars
  • Glutamates (amino acids found in things like MSG)
  • Salicylates (natural chemicals present in many coloured fruits and vegetables)
  • Gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale and oats)
  • Dairy

 

  1. Prescribing herbs and supplements

Many herbs and supplements – like glutamine, slippery elm, zinc and vitamin A – can help manage leaky gut symptoms (bloating, pain, diarrhoea etc.) and heal the gut lining.

 

  1. Prescribing probiotics

That help support your digestive system and correct gut dysbiosis, a bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract.

 

Get in touch

For more information regarding leaky gut, our holistic therapies or to book an appointment, speak with one of our helpful staff on 1300 853 023 / 09 479 5997(NZ)

You can also send our practitioners a questions HERE

OR

Request a FREE PAT Information E-PACK HERE

 

[1] PLoS ONE. Global Effects of Catecholamines on Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae Gene Expression http://bit.ly/1LQZijC

Please note this blog is general information only, always consult your health care professional before making any diet or lifestyle changes.