Leaky Gut Syndrome
Backgound to Leaky Gut Syndrome
Along the normal gut lining, there are epithelial cells forming tight junctions that allow only small particles of digested food through to the bloodstream. Leaky gut or intestinal permeability refer to the gut lining, allowing bacteria and some undigested nutrients into the bloodstream. Instead of being absorbed and digested, these molecules circulate throughout the bloodstream. Here, they stimulate the immune system and, in turn, immune system cells react to their presence, as they would to any foreign protein, by initiating an inflammatory reaction that leads to autoantibody production and autoimmune disease development. Evidence for this theory includes the presence of gastrointestinal tissue damage seen in patients with a number of different autoimmune diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.
Causes and symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Common factors predisposing Leaky Gut Syndrome include antibiotics, alcohol, caffeine, parasites, pathogenic bacteria, some food preservatives and additives, allergic states such as gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, refined carbohydrates, oral contraceptives and fungi. Chronic inflammation from these sources damages the protective coat of immunoglobulin (antibody) A, which interferes with the body's normal ability to inhibit these substances. The resulting toxins then interfere with the liver's ability to detoxify these substances. One result is increased sensitivity to environmental agents such as cigarette smoke, chemical cleaning agents and strong perfumes. Early symptoms include a tendency towards hay fever.