The gastrointestinal condition known as “leaky gut syndrome” has been in the news a lot lately in large part because research has linked leaky gut to a number of health concerns and chronic diseases, and our modern lifestyle of poor diets, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance seems to be triggering this condition in more people. As Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said “all diseases begin in the gut”, and those words are ringing more true than ever.
Suffering from a ‘leaky gut’ sounds like the sort of condition that you would probably be aware of, however; the symptoms of “intestinal permeability” or leaky gut can go undetected and most often do, making this health a concern that goes widely undiagnosed around the world. So…what is leaky gut syndrome — and more importantly — should you be worried?
The ‘leak’ in leaky gut happens when the ‘tight junctions’ in the intestines are malfunctioning, allowing particles such as toxins, microbes and food particles to pass from the intestines directly into the bloodstream. Typically, the intestinal wall prevents this breach from occurring, but when it malfunctions particles that should not be entering the bloodstream pass through unfiltered and begin to set off a chain of events, starting with inflammation which can manifest as rashes, bloating, cramping and stomach discomfort.
Leaky gut is routinely undiagnosed and still remains an area of mystery for many medical professionals. “Leaky gut syndrome isn’t a diagnosis taught in medical school “ says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. “Instead, leaky gut really means you’ve got a diagnosis that still needs to be made. You hope that your doctor is a good-enough Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it is very hard to make a diagnosis.”
Dr. Nawin Jittat with the Vitallife Wellness Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital agrees that diagnosing this condition isn’t straightforward. “Only recently have doctors started to look at leaky gut as the source of common problems like inflammation, irritable bowels, allergies and chronic fatigue”, he says. “A lot of patients get frustrated by misdiagnosis of their condition, and when I see these symptoms I immediately look at leaky gut as a probable cause.”
While few long-term studies have been carried out, leaky gut has been linked to intestinal inflammation and a number of chronic diseases. Researchers in Norway have discovered links to Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, bowel disease and arthritis.
Think you may have leaky gut? Dr. Nawin says to be on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Multiple food sensitivities are one of the biggest indicators of having a leaky gut. An allergic reaction after consuming certain foods is your body’s way of telling you that your intestines are unable to process these particles, particularly fats and proteins.
- Bowel complaints such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome have been linked to this condition.
- Autoimmune diseases are another response to an intestinal breach triggering the body’s immune system going into overdrive. This leads to healthy cells being attacked. Examples of autoimmune diseases include arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
- Skin conditions such as acne and rashes are nothing new, but treatment historically has focused on prescribing skin creams and steroids rather than trying to fix the root cause, which could be leaky gut caused by poor diet.
- Mood and mental health is often a side effect of inflammation, patients with leaky gut are susceptible to increased amounts of inflammatory cytokines which can lead to depression.
The Vitallife Wellness Center runs a number of different diagnostic procedures which can detect a leaky gut, as well as vitamin and mineral deficiency tests to create tailored nutritional programs that can alleviate symptoms of a leaky gut.
For more information please contact:
Vitallife Wellness Center 2
68 Bumrungrad International Tower Building 10th Floor,
Soi Sukhumvit 1, Klongtoey Nua, Wattana,
Tel : +66 2066 8899
Monday to Friday : 08.00 – 19.00 hrs.
Saturday to Sunday: 08.00 – 16.00 hrs.
Nearest BTS: Phloen Chit