Leaky gut syndrome is a risk factor for celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases. Leaky gut syndrome is not a fully-recognized condition across medical boards, but there is a theory that ingesting too many antibiotics or painkillers damages the mucosal barrier that lines the intestines. The purpose of the barrier is to allow nutrients in but keep harmful bacteria out.
In leaky gut syndrome, nutrients and harmful bacteria enter the bloodstream, which leads to inflammation throughout the body.
An autoimmune disease is when the immune system mistakenly targets healthy cells as bad ones, so it essentially begins to attack itself. In celiac disease, the body targets gluten as being bad, thus contributing to inflammation, abdominal pain and even diarrhea, just to name a few symptoms.
Gluten is protein found in grains – most commonly wheat. It holds together the nutrients in the plant it is located in. It is also commonly used as a binder in other foods due to its stickiness. When we consume gluten our intestines work to break down the gluten into its building blocks, known as gliadin and glutenin.
As gluten makes its way through the digestive system, the digestive immune system checks it for harmful substances. In individuals who don’t have issues with gluten, it passes through and out like normal. In a person with celiac or other autoimmune disease, it causes discomfort.
A gluten intolerance can lead to leaky gut syndrome because while the immune system is continuously fighting and attacking gluten the gut is releasing zonulin – a protein that breaks tight junctions apart. It is these broken junctions that cause leaky gut.
Worse yet, the same antibodies that attack gluten can also attack other parts of the body, such as the thyroid or even the skin. For this reason, having celiac disease can contribute to a higher risk of developing a second autoimmune disease as well.
If you’re concerned about your gut and want to figure out if it’s leaky or not, look out for these nine signs.
Even though a gluten intolerance can contribute to leaky gut, the two are not the same thing. With a gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, the tiny hair-like villi, which line the intestines, become damaged and reduce the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients. Over time the tight junctions become loose, making the intestines permeable, which then allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
As you can see, gluten intolerance can contribute to a leaky gut, but even without a gluten intolerance a person can still develop the condition. Over-medication, severe stress, and other food allergies can all contribute to a leaky gut.
Furthermore, even though gluten intolerance and a leaky gut share many common symptoms, they have unique ones as well. For example, leaky gut symptoms may be closer to allergic reactions and autoimmune symptoms like eczema, inflammatory arthritis and chronic fatigue. For this reason, leaky gut is often much more debilitating than a gluten intolerance and harder to treat as well.
In gluten intolerance, symptoms can range in severity but as long as gluten is eliminated from the diet it can be well controlled.
The best way to treat leaky gut syndrome is to follow the four R’s: remove, replace, repair and rebalance.
REPLACE the bad with good, healing foods.
REPAIR with specific supplements.
REBALANCE with probiotics.
When it comes to replacing bad foods with good foods, here is a list of foods that you should implement into your diet.
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