Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) occurs when the wall of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is damaged. Leaky Gut Syndrome is
also called Intestinal Hyperpermeability or Intestinal Permeability (means allowing fluids or gases to pass). This condition is
seldom identified although it is a common ailment, but is rarely tested. Leaky gut syndrome results from an overly-permeable
intestinal lining with spaces between the cells of the gut wall. These spaces allow irritants (bacteria, toxins yeasts, and food)
to leak into the body where they don’t belong, placing an additional strain on the immune and detoxification systems.
A healthy intestinal wall allows only nutrients to pass into the bloodstream; when it is damaged, larger particles such as
incompletely digested fats, proteins and toxins seep through, as well. The body recognizes these substances as foreign and
forms antibodies, which is why some suddenly become allergic to foods they’ve always eaten before without any reaction.
LGS also causes "environmental allergies", causing the individual to responds to various inhalants from the environment.
Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals are common in persons with LGS because, they lack cells to move minerals and
vitamins from the gut to the blood.
Effects of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Normally, the lining of the small and large intestines provides a partial permeable barrier which prevents toxins, large
molecules of food, bacteria and yeasts from passing through the barrier and entering the bloodstream where they cause mild
to severe health problems. This lining has 3 extremely important jobs to do:
1. It absorbs and transports nutrients from our food across the intestinal wall.
2. It provides a protective barrier and prevents toxins, bacteria, yeasts, viruses and inappropriate food molecules from passing
into the bloodstream.
3. It is an important part of our immune system. It fights off negative bacteria and viruses before they can invade our body
and make us sick. The intestinal lining is supposed to have small spaces or “junctions” between the cells. These spaces can
open and close, allowing larger or smaller molecules to pass.
However, when these spaces become destroyed by inflammation and ulcers or breaks between the cells, the spaces become
too large. This allows toxins and large particles to “leak” from the intestines into the bloodstream. Once the intestinal lining
becomes too permeable, it affects all 3 of the jobs it is supposed to do with harmful results:
1. The body loses its ability to absorb nutrients properly leading to malnutrition and severe mineral deficiencies such as
magnesium and copper deficiency.
2. Toxins, negative bacteria, yeasts, and large protein molecules enter the bloodstream and cause the body to attack them as
“foreign invaders,” setting off a series of autoimmune problems.
3. The gut immune system is no longer able to protect the body from negative bacteria and viruses. Another result of a
damaged gut lining is that the pathways in the gut which are supposed to detoxify the body become submissive and fail to
detoxify the many chemicals we are exposed to every day. The liver then becomes overburdened, and it, too, is then unable to
detoxify the chemicals and eliminate them safely from our bodies.
Eventually, the individual could develop Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and become ill around even minute amounts of the
chemicals of every day, modern life: Fragrances, cleaning fluids, building materials, car interiors, etc.
Building a Strong Intestinal Barrier Early
A strong intestinal mucosal lining helps one stay healthy their whole life. When individuals are born, the intestinal barrier is not
fully developed. It does not mature into a fully functioning barrier and immune system until after the age of 2. This immature
lining is more likely to let harmful particles out of the intestines into the bloodstream in infants and young children, causing
allergies and other autoimmune problems. That is one of the reasons that exclusive breast feeding until 6 months is
It is recommended that allergenic foods such as cows’ milk, chicken, eggs, peanuts, soybeans and fish should be avoided
until the intestinal barrier matures. Great caution should also be used in giving NSAIDs (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug,
such as aspirin or ibuprofen) to infants and young children that might damage the intestinal lining. If the mother is still breast
feeding and the child is given antibiotics, the mother may want to take supplemental probiotics which beneficially affect by
improving intestinal microbial balance that will pass through the breast milk and help restore good bacteria killed off by the
Signs of Leaky Gut Syndrome
According to an article in the Alternative Medicine Review, and an article by Dr. Leo Galland, director of the Foundation for
Integrated Medicine, diseases and conditions known to be associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome include:
Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Food allergies, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Migraines, Inflammation of the
thyroid gland, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, Hives, Celiac disease, Cystic fibrosis, Endotoxemia, Pancreatic dysfunction,
Schizophrenia, Autism, Candida albicans overgrowth, Liver dysfunction, Alcoholism Multiple food and chemical sensitivities,
Abdominal pain & inflation, Diarrhea, Skin rashes, Inflammatory bowel disease, Acne, eczema, psoriasis, HIV infection,
Irritable bowel syndrome, Chronic arthritis/pain .
Symptoms Associated With Leaky Gut Syndrome
Fatigue and discomfort, sharp pain in a joint or joints, nonspecific muscular pain or tenderness, fevers of unknown origin,
food intolerances, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, diarrhea, skin rashes, toxic feelings, cognitive and memory problems,
Low exercise tolerance and shortness of breath.
Other general symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome may be: chronic pain, fatigue and weakness, chronic sinusitis, eczema,
uterine and breast fibroids.
So many diseases and conditions are associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome that many medical experts are advising doctors to
always test for intestinal hyperpermeability (over activity of allowing fluids or gases to pass into the bloodstream) with the
above conditions or symptoms.
The Antibiotics/Candida Connection to Leaky Gut Syndrome
Antibiotics are one of the most prevalent medications given to patients in modern medicine. This treatment may be life saving.
However, most antibiotics are not used for major, life threatening illnesses. According to data from the National Center for
Health Statistics, approximately 75% of all outpatient antimicrobial (destroying and eliminating microbes, preventing their
development, or inhibiting their disease causing action) type prescriptions are issued for ear infections , sinusitis , bronchitis ,
sore throat and colds . Antibiotic drug use rates are highest for children. Approximately 83 million antibiotic prescriptions a
year are written for these 5 conditions. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates over 50 million of those
antibiotic prescriptions were unnecessary. Doctors prescribe 18 million prescriptions a year for the common cold, all of
which are unnecessary and will not help. What’s worse, those antibiotics may kill off the friendly bacteria in the intestines of
those 50 million people which may then lead to intestinal problems, diarrhea, constipation, Candida overgrowth and leaky gut.
Antibiotics damage the intestinal tract in two ways. The first is that antibiotics destroy the friendly bacteria, in the intestinal
tract. The small and large intestine normally should have billions and billions of cells of several hundred kinds of friendly
bacteria. Through their natural enzyme secretions, friendly bacteria break up viral toxins, bile, pus, chemical wastes,
hormones, cellular debris, negative bacteria and other harmful substances before they can cause damage. For example, when
bile flows into the small intestine it is an extremely acidly substance. It is the job of friendly bacteria to break up the bile into a
less caustic material before it goes into the large intestine. Without the help friendly bacteria to prevent this, burning bile enters
the large intestine where it can destroy and damage the lining.
The second way that antibiotics damage the intestinal lining is by allowing the overgrowth of Candida albicans, negative
bacteria and other yeasts. When the lining of the intestinal tract is populated by its normal friendly bacteria, Candida and
negative bacteria may be present in small amounts, but have no place to grow. However, when antibiotics destroy the friendly
bacteria, the antibiotic resistant Candida and antibiotic resistant bacteria take over the intestinal lining. In addition, Candida
releases a chemical called “aldehyde,” a form of highly reactive organic compound obtained by the dissolving of certain
alcohol’s, it causes the cells in the intestinal lining to shrink and opens up the spaces between the cells resulting in the classical
Toxins and negative bacteria can now invade the bloodstream and dwell in other areas of the body. In addition, the immune
barrier in the mucosal lining eventually becomes overwhelmed by the Candida and no longer functions properly to protect the
body. Some experts estimate that over 80% of your immune producing cells are in the lining of your small intestine. If that
lining is damaged, the body is losing most of its immune function. National experts agree that it is extremely important that
you only take antibiotics when it is appropriate and necessary and that probiotic therapy accompany any treatment with
antibiotics. Probiotics are helpful in improving intestinal balance by combating disease causing bacteria. The supplements
should be taken during the course of antibiotics and then afterwards for at least 3 months.
Leaky Gut and the Immune System
Many autoimmune disorders may be complicated by or originate with a leaky gut.
When the larger spaces between the cells allow excessively large protein molecules or microbes and fungi to get into the
bloodstream, the immune system apprehends them as a foreign, invading substance. They begin to make antibodies against
them and attack them. If it is food particles, this is where food allergies and food sensitivities will occur. In addition, the
antibodies created by the body to fight off the foreign invaders can get into various tissues in other parts of the body and
trigger an inflammatory reaction when the food, chemical or microbe enters the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, part of the Leaky Gut Syndrome is that the immune system itself becomes compromised. The protective
coating of the intestinal lining collects most of the IgA immunoglobulin , a class of antibodies produced mainly against
ingested antigens such as (toxins, bacteria, and foreign blood cells) found in body secretions like saliva, sweat, or tears, to
prevent attachment of viruses and bacteria to surfaces of immune cells in the body. This gut immune system helps us fight
off viruses, bacteria, fungi and molds. When the lining becomes damaged by medications, Candida, bacteria and chemicals,
these immune cells also become impaired and no longer help protect us. We get sick more often and have a harder time
Repairing a Leaky Gut
• Supplement Probiotics/Friendly Bacteria .
All of the experts agree that a complete course of high-quality probiotics is necessary to repopulate the intestinal tract and
allow the intestinal lining to repair itself. Yogurt is a good natural source of friendly bacteria, but it usually contains only 2 or 3
strains of bacteria and commercial yogurt will probably not have the potency necessary to repopulate the intestinal tract.
Probiotics provide a good pH level for the gut to work properly, crowd out pathogenic organisms which harm the intestinal
lining, kill off negative bacteria and yeasts that may be harmful to the intestinal lining and promote proper immune secretions,
supporting the gut immune system. They also break down harmful viruses and acidly bile that can damage the intestinal lining.
Signs and symptoms of a lack of friendly bacteria and resulting leaky gut may be arthritis, eczema, migraine, asthma or other
forms of immune dysfunction. Other common symptoms of bowel flora imbalance and leaky gut syndrome are bloating and
gas after meals and alternating constipation and diarrhea.
• Eat an Allergy Elimination Diet With High Nutritional Content .
In order to heal the intestinal lining, exposure to food that stimulates an allergic reaction must be avoided. The
Lactulose/Mannitol test may be used to help diagnose which foods are causing the allergic reaction. Research studies have
shown that children and adults with eczema, hives or asthma triggered by hypersensitivity to food allergies have higher gut
permeability. Permeability increases dramatically after exposure to allergenic foods. For people who do not have access to
testing, elimination diets may help them determine the foods to which they are allergic. Unfortunately, for many people with
leaky gut, distinguishing between allergenic and non-allergenic foods becomes difficult when the body is in a constant state of
inflammation. Some health practitioners recommend going off all grains, soy, peanuts, chicken, and eggs, chocolate and dairy
for 3 weeks. These are the most common allergenic foods. Each food would then be reintroduced one at a time to see how
the body reacts. If there is bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, pains, inflammation or a recurrence of other
symptoms, then the food can be removed from the diet during the treatment period.
• Treat Harmful Bacteria, Candida and Parasites .
Negative bacterial overgrowth can be confirmed by an abnormal hydrogen breath test. One of the most common and most
well-known negative bacteria is the Helicobacter pylori infection which causes ulcers and damages the mucosal linings. This is
often treated with a strong course of antibiotics. Restoring a natural balance of Candida in the gut can be very challenging.
Specialists in this area usually recommend taking large doses of probiotics, eliminating sugar and starches from the diet that
feed the fungus, and taking antifungal herbs and supplements such as olive leaf extract, oregano or grapefruit seed extract.
Because it may be possible for Candida to adapt to antifungals and become resistant to them, varying the dosage of probiotics
from high to low dosage is suggested by many practitioners.
When Candida begins to die off, it releases ammonia and other harmful chemicals. If there is also a condition of leaky gut,
these may be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause worse feelings of pain, headaches, nausea, bowel changes and fatigue.
This is often called “the die-off” effect. It is a delicate balancing act in restoring a healthy intestinal lining while killing off toxic
substances in the gut. Hydrogenated fats may also be a problem with Candida and leaky gut. Candida also converts sugars into
ethanol (alcohol). This is another reason to eliminate sugars and starches from the diet when there is a Candida overgrowth.
Too much unused alcohol turns into acetaldehyde (a colorless explosive water-soluble liquid that can cause irritation to
mucous membranes) this causes the spaces to be too large in the intestinal lining.
Testing for Leaky Gut Syndrome
Speak with your doctor who can help determine if there is a hyperpermeable intestine with the Lactulose/ Mannitol Test,
developed by Claude Andre, the leading French researcher in allergy and gut permeability. In the Lactulose/Mannitol Test
Protocol patients ingest 5 grams each of the sugars lactulose and mannitol. Since these sugars are not metabolized by humans,
the amount absorbed is fully excreted in the urine within 6 hours. Mannitol is well absorbed and will be passively transported
through the cells (trancellular) of the intestinal lining at an average absorption of 14% of the administered dose. However, the
intestinal tract is impermeable to lactulose, through which substances, such as liquids or gases, cannot pass. Urine is then
collected and measured. The normal ratio of lactulose/mannitol is less than 0.03. If mannitol levels are low, the small cells of
the intestinal tract may be in jeopardy. If lactulose levels are high, it indicates increased intestinal permeability. The
lactulose/mannitol test is performed after fasting and again after eating a test meal.
Therapy for Leaky Gut Syndrome
The good news regarding treatment is that under normal conditions the mucosal lining replaces itself faster than almost any
other part of the body. Old cells are dissolved off and new cells on the intestinal lining are generated every 3 to 6 days.
However, this rapid cell turnover uses a lot of energy which must be provided by eating highly nutritional food. Restricted
foods are potatoes, pastries, French fries, sodas, diet sodas, white breads and other processed and junk foods, eating these
will cause intestinal lining to lose the energy resources necessary to regenerate it. If the lining is damaged, it requires even
more nutrition to provide the energy to restore it. Because the pesticides and chemicals in commercial food may become
especially toxic to the body with a leaky gut, it is best to eat as much organically grown food as possible.
Food allergies may make it difficult to eat all the nutritious foods you would normally eat, as eliminating allergenic foods will
be necessary to help repair the gut. People with food intolerances and allergies will take longer to heal, so they must be patient.
The overgrowth of Candida will also require a special diet low in all sugars and carbohydrates: Refined sugars or white flour,
alcohol, fruits, fruit juices, dried fruits, potatoes, pasta, bread and high sugar vegetables. Eat a diet high in proteins, olive oil,
avocados and vegetables. A basic healthy diet would include 5 to 8 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, high quality
protein from meat and chicken, eggs, (depending on allergies), healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil (avoid
polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil and refined supermarket oils). Avoid irritants such as caffeine, all
trans fatty acids found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, aspartame, Nutra-
sweet), white flour products and preservatives.
According to medical specialists in intestinal hyperpermeability, if a patient stays on an appropriate diet, recovery is possible in
1 to 2 months using the types of therapy below. However, some patients with weakened resources may need up to 9 months
of treatment for complete recovery. Because Leaky Gut Syndrome cannot be “fixed” with prescription medications, and many
physicians are not trained in the following therapies, it may be necessary to coordinate your treatment with an naturopathic
this therapy offers a method of treating illness and utilize no surgery or synthetic drugs but uses special diets, herbs, vitamins,
massage; to assist the natural healing processes, traditional Chinese medicine or herbalist health practitioners. Patients with
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and severe intestinal permeability may not be able to tolerate all of the supplement and herbal
therapies because they may “leak” into the bloodstream causing sensitivities and reactions, similar to food allergies. Various
supportive therapies to support the intestinal lining may have to be tried at low doses to determine the best treatment.
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