The lining of the intestines is a barrier that normally only allows properly digested fats, proteins, and starches pass through and enter the bloodstream. A healthy digestive tract is very efficient at only allowing these things to pass thorough. However, when the GI tract becomes irritated for any number of reasons tiny spaces between the cells called desmosomes open up and can allow the passage of larger undigested and unwanted molecules into the blood stream. Our immune systems do not recognize these molecules and an immune antibody reaction is triggered. The excess immune response often leads to more damage and irritation to the cells lining the GI tract and now it may be possible for bacteria and/or yeast to pass into the bloodstream. The body’s immune response to these invaders will often trigger an inflammatory reaction that can involve the entire body and produce many symptoms other than GI discomfort.
Some common symptoms of leaky gut include: abdominal pain, asthma, chronic joint pain, chronic muscle pain, confusion, fuzzy or foggy thinking, gas, indigestion, mood swings, nervousness, poor immunity, recurrent vaginal infections, skin rashes, diarrhea, bed-wetting, recurrent bladder infections, poor memory, shortness of breath, constipation, bloating, aggressive behavior, anxiety, fatigue, feeling toxic.
Leaky gut syndrome is associated with the following conditions:
- Autoimmune disease
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Environmental illness
- Inflammatory joint disease / arthritis
- Intestinal infections
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Ulcerative colitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Liver dysfunction
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Due to the close relationship in structural proteins—patients with leaky gut also have “leaky” blood brain barriers, which can lead to inflammation and an immune response in the brain. This can lead to a whole host of disease, which can range from depression to Alzheimer’s.