I have been struggling with many health issues over the past two years. First I developed an autoimmune disease called Sjogrens. Then I developed asthma and multiple chemical sensitivity. Now I have multiple food allergies. I've spent countless hours and money at various doctors who basically say I just have to live with these conditions and treat the symptoms as they come. Meanwhile, my health continues to decline. I finally went to a chiropractor who says that I have leaky gut and that's why I've developed all of these conditions. He believes that some of my symptoms will go away if I treat the leaky gut by taking supplements and following a special rotation diet avoiding my allergens. Also, eliminating prescription drugs. Is this condition real? Is it safe for me to get off of my prescriptions, especially the asthma med?
Food Allergies and the Leaky Gut
Only in the last decade has anyone recognized the concept of a leaky gut. And still, most doctors have never heard of it — but it’s a concept that could well explain the evolution of most food allergies.
So what is a leaky gut? As the name implies, leaky gut occurs when the wall of the intestine
develops microscopic leaks. Normally there is a barrier between the food within the intestines and the blood vessels that pick up the digested food components and circulate
them throughout the tissues and organs. These blood vessels are located below the layer of cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.
Digested food normally enters those blood vessels using two routes. It either passes through the cells lining the intestine or through membranes in between the cells. Over 70% of food absorption occurs through the membranes.
However, if the membrane barrier is damaged, whole food particles can enter the bloodstream. And this is bad — large particles of food trigger the immune reactions we refer to as “food allergies.”
It is quite common for newborn babies to suffer from leaky guts, which explains why babies who eat table food during their first six months often suffer with food allergies. But once the immune system has developed and matured, the stomach no longer experiences leaks.
But how does a person develop a leaky gut in the first place? In fact, there are a number of reasons.
Gastrointestinal infections — triggered by typhoid, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, toxins and the loss of “good bacteria” — can easily damage the intestinal barrier system.
The fungus Candida albicans commonly produces infections that destroy this barrier. It can penetrate the lining of the intestine, reaching the blood vessels and leaving microscopic holes in the barrier.
Candida infections in the colon and small intestine frequently result from widespread use of
broad-spectrum antibiotics. Normally, the colon contains a small amount of Candida. But as the good bacteria are killed off, these antibiotics allow the fungus to grow wild in the colon — and sometimes it even progresses all the way to the
There are also a number of drugs and medical procedures that can damage the membrane barrier. Among them are aspirin and non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil and Naproxen. Steroids (cortisone), radiation treatments and chemotherapy drugs can also be quite harmful.
Once a person’s intestinal lining is riddled with microscopic holes, he or she can develop allergies to a variety of foods. This is especially true of everyday foods. Of course some products are more likely to cause allergies than others. At the top of the list are: cow’s milk, soy products, peanuts, corn, cheese, coffee and chocolate.
When the immune system attacks particles of these particular foods, it also worsens any preexisting autoimmune disease — such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or lupus.
And since many of these conditions also exacerbate the leaky gut syndrome, flare-ups often mimic symptoms of exposure to certain foods.
Once the intestine is damaged by inflammation or toxins, the door is open for bacteria, viruses and fungi — which are normally excluded — to enter the bloodstream.
This can lead to a number of symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, aching joints, confusion and difficulty thinking, as well as various skin disorders.
You should know that several laboratories test for leaky gut syndrome.
A test substance (usually a combination of mannitol and lactulose) is taken by mouth.
Mannitol is the control, since it normally passes the healthy intestinal barrier. But lactulose is generally blocked. Urine is collected over a 6-hour period and tested for both substances. High levels of lactulose in the urine suggest a leaky gut.
The treatment you select to combat leaky gut will depend on the cause. First, one should cease taking any drugs associated with a leaky gut. If Candida is a cause, it should be vigorously treated. Probiotics will help prevent a recurrence.
Many have suggested that high doses of glutamine can heal the gut.
Several studies have demonstrated that there is little benefit from glutamine and that high doses can actually increase brain glutamate and trigger excitotoxicity, which destroys brain cells and connections. Intestinal cells use glutamine as a fuel.
If taken, it should not be used for more than two weeks.
There are more helpful alternatives, such as: chondroitin sulfate, phosphotidylcholine and the other phospholipids (lecithin) magnesium ascorbate, probiotics such as Theralac,
branched-chain amino acids (leucine. isoleucine and valine)
omega-3 oils, natural vitamin E AND all of the vitamins and minerals The phospholipids, branched-chain amino acids, vitamin C and omega-3-oils heal the holes in the
Because the entire lining of the gut is replaced every 14 days, healing can occur rapidly when you provide your body with all of the necessary nutrients. Some have noted that food allergies generally disappear once the intestinal lining is repaired.
The probiotics, especially Lactobacillus plantarum and L. reuteri, have been shown to reduce the various leaky gut problems associated with chemotherapy. Another good nutrient combination is white and blueberry tea — and you should drink it twice a day. The flavonoids in white tea have been proven to support the growth of two healthy
bacteria in the colon.
Finally, a yeast organism called Saccharomyces boulardii has been shown to prevent Candida albicans from penetrating the intestinal wall. It is available without a prescription
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