Intestinal permeability (or leaky gut syndrome) occurs when the tight junctions (which regulates what comes in and goes out of the intestinal wall) between the cells of your intestinal lining become compromised. This can be a result of chronic stress, allergies to certain foods or environment, gut infections and drug or antibiotic use. Leaky gut happens when the spaces in between cells start to break down. This allows for large protein molecules (chemicals, allergens, etc.) to get into the bloodstream.
When these larger particles (as opposed to food broken down into manageable molecules the body can use) get past the gut barrier, the body tags this as an “invader” and causes inflammation, hormone disruption, gut imbalance, food sensitivities, unwanted weight gain, etc. If leaky gut continues over a prolonged period of time, this can result in autoimmune disease. This is a defense mechanism the body has developed as a way to protect us from the bad things we are putting in our bodies or coming in contact with.
So, you have leaky gut… now what
There are a few tests that should be run by your doctor if you suspect you have intestinal permeability:
- Stool Culture:
This test can help find the root cause of any gut infection or bacterial overgrowth that can make intestinal permeability worse.
- Food Intolerance Testing:
Leaky gut can cause an array of food intolerance.
- Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen:
A blood test to evaluate intestinal permeability to large molecules which inflame the immune system.
Consider an elimination diet to experiment with foods that may be irritating to the gut, such as dairy products, wheat or other inflammatory ingredients.