How much or rather how little do we really know about leaky gut? Leaky gut is not diagnosed very often and it happens partly because there is not enough research done to date.
Many doctors simply do not know enough about the condition not because they are bad doctors but because the condition wasn’t even heard of when they were studying.
From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”
“Leaky gut syndrome” isn’t a diagnosis taught in medical school. Instead, “leaky gut really means you’ve got a diagnosis that still needs to be made,” Kirby says. “You hope that your doctor is a good-enough Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it is very hard to make a diagnosis.
If we look at human digestive system – it is a perfect “factory” which processes the food and liquids into energy for our bodies to function properly.
Our intestinal lining can cover 370 square meters of surface area – it’s a size of a very spacious house! Healthy intestinal lining is like a tight barrier which controls what gets dispensed and absorbed into the bloodstream from the food which enters our gut. Whatever is left will become the food for bacteria which are present in our stomach and whatever is left of that, will become waste.
Leaky gut, which is called “Increased intestinal permeability” in medical terms, is the condition in which intestinal lining is damaged and has gaps in it, allowing toxins, bacteria or food particles enter the bloodstream.
This not only causes inflammation and changes of gut microbiome, but also can be a reason for developing many other chronic conditions as gut health plays major role in optimal functioning of a human body.
Apparently, all of us have leaky gut of some degree, as intestinal lining wasn’t created impermeable 100%, but due to either genetic or lifestyle factors some of us have it worse than the others.
Experts agree that diet low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fats may trigger the condition, with stress and alcohol consumption as two other contributing factors.
Some studies are proven the fact that leaky gut contributes to diseases such as Crohn’s, IBS and Celiac disease.
There is ongoing research which is trying to verify connection between leaky gut and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus, diabetes type 1, asthma, acne, arthritis and even mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, or bloating
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Difficulty concentrating
- Skin problems, such as acne, rashes, or eczema
- Joint pain
Because many of gut diseases are related somewhat – symptoms can be very similar for leaky gut, IBS or Crohn’s disease, it makes it even more difficult to diagnose, so well-informed patient can really make a difference.
If you suspect that you might have a leaky gut, read a lot on the subject, steer clear of junk food and sugar (fizzy drinks are especially bad), avoid saturated fats and alcohol. Find a doctor who is eager to learn and is open to discussion – professional support and right approach are the key in managing Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
And last, but not least – find the time to de-stress, be it yoga, meditation or a simple walk outside – stress plays major role in aggravating gut conditions, so staying calm means having a healthier gut.
Would you like to share your journey and what living with gut disease feels like? Please drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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