Intestinal Permeability or Leaky Gut
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What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Imagine your intestinal wall as a security guard—its job is to ensure only the essential nutrients and vitamins get through while keeping out toxins, bacteria, and other large molecules. When the security system is compromised, these compounds may pass (or “leak”) through the walls of the intestines into your bloodstream.
The intestinal wall comprises several layers of specialized cells, including epithelial cells that line the intestinal walls and a thick layer of mucous containing immune cells, proteins, and other antimicrobials that defend the body against pathogens.
The intestinal wall is permeable, which means it allows for the passage of some molecules, such as nutrients and water, but it closely monitors what’s allowed to leave the intestines. Tight junctions between cells keep the intestinal wall secure. They act like a zipper keeping the intestines sealed and opening just enough to allow specific molecules to pass through.
Everyone has some degree of intestinal permeability, but too much permeability can be problematic. Larger molecules or toxins can cause an inflammatory immune response or lead to symptoms like gas, bloating, food sensitivities, or fatigue.
Leaky gut is linked to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, autoimmune disease, food allergies, and mental health issues like depression. Research is still trying to determine if leaky gut is the cause or result of these conditions.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Since research is relatively new, the exact cause of leaky gut is still unclear. Theories include:
- Intestinal inflammation.
- Overproduction of zonulin, a protein that regulates intestinal permeability.
- Other digestive health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- Certain medications like NSAIDs.
- Radiation or chemotherapy.
- Dysbiosis or imbalance of bacteria.
- Infections like parasites, candida, or bacterial infections.
What is a Leaky Gut Dietitian?
A leaky gut dietitian is trained to help people with leaky gut. Just like doctors specialize in different fields, a registered dietitian (RD) can specialize in gut health and have deep knowledge about the gut environment and how to support it.
While all dietitians have a general understanding of gastrointestinal health, a dietitian specializing in gut health and leaky gut understands the complexity of digestion, how to support it, and how to use dietary interventions to help reduce inflammation and symptoms.
Benefits of Working with a Leaky Gut Dietitian
The benefits of working with a leaky gut dietitian include the following:
- Personalized advice and guidance on how to support your gut health.
- Advice on which nutrients are best for healing and nourishing your gut.
- Help with an individualized eating plan that considers your unique needs.
- Insight into which foods may trigger your symptoms and how to avoid them.
- Supplement guidance.
- Sort through misinformation about leaky gut and provide reliable information.
- Access to an expert to answer your questions and provide support on your health journey.
Developing a Personalized Healing Protocol
Since gut healing requires an individualized approach, a leaky gut dietitian can work with you to develop a personalized healing protocol that emphasizes anti-inflammatory foods and gut-supporting supplements if needed.
Trying to figure out the best solution for a leaky gut can feel overwhelming, but working with a gut health dietitian can make the process easier. A leaky gut dietitian can help you with an anti-inflammatory diet personalized to you and suggest supplements that nourish and support your gut.
With the proper personalized healing protocol, you can improve intestinal health and feel good again. Get started today.