What is ‘Leaky Gut’ & could it be causing my symptoms!?
Leaky gut is prevalent today amongst people with the following symptoms and conditions; Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) , Inflammatory bowel disease (Colitis, Chronns disease), Skin issues- (eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis) chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders and anyone with food allergies! If you are suffering with any of these, you MAY want to read on!
A bit about our Bowel…..
In short, the digestive system is where the food we eat is broken down and nutrients are then absorbed by the gut and used by the body. Everything we eat goes from the stomach, down to the small intestine, where the goodness is absorbed to keep our body running. The large intestine then takes water out of our food and stores our waste until we go to the toilet.
Not only does our small and large intestine digest and absorb food, but it also protects our body from harmful toxins and pathogens (bacteria) from entering the bloodstream.
Let’s have a look at the digestive wall- see diagram below:
There are possibly millions of little villi in the digestive tract. These are tiny tiny finger-like projections also known as brush border cells that extend into the lumen of the small intestine. If we think of a garden hose and how round it is; our intestine is the same, and the little villi are running all the way around pointing in the way. Villi increase the internal surface area of the intestinal walls making available a greater surface area for absorption and they have a thin wall, (only one cell thick!) which enables a shorter diffusion path, which means our vitamins & minerals can slide across into our blood easily.
An increased absorptive area is useful so more nutrients can be absorbed from our food! The villi are connected to the blood vessels so the circulating blood then carries these nutrients away. In people who are diagnosed with celiac or coeliac disease, these villi have been damaged permanently, so these people have issues with absorbing nutrients.
So what IS Leaky Gut and why is it important to know about?
So beside each of these little villi, there are small gaps in the intestinal wall called ‘tight junctions’. As we can see from the diagram below, on the left, all of the little cells are packed tightly together beside each other. This is how they should be. They have tiny little gaps between them to allow water and nutrients to pass through into the bloodstream, while blocking the passage of harmful substances such as bacteria, chemicals and toxins.‘Intestinal permeability’ is often mentioned with Leaky gut; This refers to how easily substances pass through the intestinal wall. If we think of the wall of your bowel being like a cheesecloth or filter paper; only the tiniest particles should pass through it into the bloodstream.
In someone who has leaky gut, the holes of the cheesecloth or the filter have become bigger. This causes undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the blood stream. The foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune (immune system alert!!!) response in the body! Your immune system cells are like security guards; they recognise and alert each other to the presence of infection (bacteria, viruses, parasites, poisons!) They decide when to attack them, what is going to cause you harm, what is not a real threat… They manage the dangers that enter your body and decide how to deal with them! In someone who has leaky gut, the guard cells of your immune system are on ‘high alert’ as you have toxins, wastes and other substances going in to your blood that should not be getting in! This can then lead to inflammatory and allergic reactions such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, eczema, psoriasis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, food allergies, and other autoimmune disorders. The body begins to attack itself as it is trying to fight off the bad guys but doesn’t know where the bad guys are, so it attacks the good as well. Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells. Makes sense, right!?
The science bit- what causes Leaky Gut to happen!?
Well firstly, do you have any of the conditions listed above? This is a good indication! Over 85% of people I see in clinic have digestive issues. They don’t necessarily have leaky gut, but their microbiome (environment of the bowel) is out of balance! Every illness begins in the gut. Our mental health is very much also dependent on the state of our gut as most of our serotonin (the hormone that makes us ‘feel good’) is produced in the gut.
With BioKinesiology we can test for the presence of an overproduction of zonulin in the system. Zonulin is a protein, synthesized in intestinal and liver cells. It modulates or controls the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract (what the cells let through to the blood) and it induces or causes the breakdown of the tight junctions between the cells. Too much zonulin in the system causes your cells in your intestine to start to open up too much, and this causes leaky gut! Several autoimmune, inflammatory diseases have been associated with elevated levels of zonulin or evidence of increased intestinal permeability.
With BioKinesiology, we also check for the presence of LPS (Lipopolysaccharides) which are molecules found on the outer membrane of certain bacteria. LPS causes an increase in intestinal permeability or leaky gut and can also lead to inflammation within the digestive system. Someone showing to these markers gives a good indication of whether leaky gut is an issue.
But what causes Zonulin to be released in the system??
Whether a person has an autoimmune disease or not, the two most important triggers for zonulin release are bacteria and gluten. Even in people who do not have celiac disease, the gluten and gliadin proteins that are found in wheat can trigger the release of zonulin and increase intestinal permeability. Many people are eating wheat and gluten – practically every processed food product we can buy has wheat in it in some description and our digestive systems are struggling with this BIG TIME!
Gluten is a mixture of proteins found naturally in grains like wheat, barley and rye. The most severe form of gluten intolerance is called celiac/ coeliac disease, but you can be intolerant to gluten and not have celiac or coeliac disease. With celiac / coeliac disease, the villi become damaged and cannot absorb nutrients properly. However, some people test negative for celiac disease but still react to gluten. This is referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance are diarrhoea, stomach pain, excessive wind that is very smelly, skin issues, brain fog, migraine, low energy and joint pain. There is currently no clinical method of diagnosing non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you react negatively to gluten and your symptoms are relieved with a gluten-free diet, you probably have gluten sensitivity.
Gluten must be avoided strictly; if you are sensitive to it, any amount in the diet is going to trigger the immune system. Once you start to follow a gluten-free diet, your symptoms should improve within a few weeks. Many people start to feel better in just a few days. Your body will begin the healing process as soon you eliminate gluten. The more strict you follow the diet, the faster your recovery. The better you recognize the daily negative effects of gluten, the easier it will become to follow the diet regularly. Most symptoms are reversible, but depending on the severity and length of malnutrition, some may be long lasting, or even permanent. It is extremely important to go gluten-free as early as possible. People sometimes say to me, “Well I’ve cut out bread, I only have one or two slices a week now.” This unfortunately is as bad as eating bread every day. You are eliciting the same response from the immune system ! It’s like having an allergy to bee stings and being stung just ‘once a year’…. Your body is still going to react as badly.
What else can I do if I feel I have leaky gut?
Cut gluten out of your diet completely for a few weeks and see how you feel. If gluten is an issue for you, you should notice a difference in how you feel within days.
Supplements such as Vitamin D, Probiotics, Glutamine, Zinc, p5p, Turmeric, Selenium, Omega 3, Inulin powder and Digestive enzymes all help gut health and inflammatory levels within the body. Ideally, you need to be tested to see exactly what your body needs. If you are not in a position to see a BioKinesiologist, Vitamin D is a good place to start! I recommend Pharmanord Ireland Vitamin D3 as it is affordable and also very bioavailable (easily absorbed and used by the body.) Vitamin D3 has the most powerful effect in suppressing the release of zonulin in the system. 
Change your diet and make sure it includes lots of prebiotic and probiotic foods! What are they!?
Prebiotics are compounds in certain foods that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. You want to feed your ‘good’ bacteria the foods that are good for them so that your gut is healthier.
Examples of prebiotic foods are:
Bananas, Apples, Onions, Garlic, Leek, Asparagus, Oats (Make sure they are gluten free as they can become contaminated in production!) Flaxseed (grind up the seeds and add to your porridge or smoothies)
Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that improve or restore the gut flora. If you’ve been on antibiotics, your good bacteria or probiotics have been stripped from your gut. A probiotic supplement can be beneficial, or you can increase probiotic foods in your diet.
Examples of probiotic foods are:
Yoghurt (Must be Live, organic, such as glenisk). Take care as dairy / lactose in yoghurt can cause IBS symptoms in some people.
Buttermilk, Certain Cheeses; Cottage, Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar
Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Natto.
Manage your stress levels! Stress directly impacts our gut and our gut controls our mental health! If you are in a state of stress most of the time, your adrenal glands are on high alert, just like your immune system with leaky gut. Notice how your body feels; slow your breathing, remove yourself from situations that you know will be stressful. Get some fresh air! Take 5. Be mindful of what you are doing to your body. Australian Bush Flower Essences are natural remedies to help us cope with all emotional situations (see more on them in blog section here on website) and they can really help you to unwind and de-stress. Pop me a msg to enquire about them.
Go to a BioKinesiologist, who will be able to put a plan in place for you to help you heal! We work on a ‘Remove, Repair, Replace’ Protocol; removing the toxins causing your issue, repairing the gut lining and replacing any good bacteria that has been stripped away. We worth with gut health on a daily basis. I myself have a history of severe Ulcerative Colitis which is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder. Thankfully it was resolved with surgery 25 years ago, but I have done my own extensive study on inflammation and gut health. I have improved my own health naturally, so I feel very competent in helping others with gut or digestive issues.
For more information or to enquire about BioKinesiology, pop us a msg here.
All information on Midlands Kinesiology is for information purposes only and it does not intend to diagnose or recommend treatment to anyone. Always check with your GP or pharmacist before taking any supplements.
Did you know? Up to 90% of our serotonin or ‘feel good’ hormone is produced in our gut. Another good reason to keep your bowel healthy!