First of all, what exactly IS leaky gut (also known as intestinal permeability)?
Intestinal permeability is a condition where the integrity of the intestinal cell barrier is compromised/broken down. Normally, our intestinal cell network forms a very important barrier between our digestive tract (outside environment) and our blood stream (inside environment). With Intestinal Permeability, the barrier is broken down and intestinal contents can enter the bloodstream. I don’t mean you have pieces of corn floating around your bloodstream, but you will have bits of toxins that simply just don’t belong.
Why bother testing? Well most of us have it to one degree or another, simply due to foods we eat, supplements,lifestyle choices… it’s also a root cause of many health conditions we commonly see today, from digestive, systemic all the way to autoimmune related.
Digestive: Inflammatory Bowel disease, IBS (gas, bloating, constipation reflux), and food sensitivities.
Systemic: Depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, muscle pain, chronic fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, brain fog, and micronutrient deficiencies.
Autoimmune: Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, asthma, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Let’s start with the digestive component, that’s an easy one. Refined sugar, high starch diet, Gluten in grains casein in dairy, alcohol, GMO’s… basically eating the wrong foods, not just junk- can cause this.
There are lifestyle factors as well, smoking, excessive stress, the wrong supplements, medications (like NSAID’s, antibiotics, fillers found in both medications and supplements).
Pre-existing conditions like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), SIFO (fungal overgrowth associated with SIBO), gut dysbiosis, yeast overgrowth/Candida albicans, parasites, low gastric acid production (low stomach acid/HCL)
Why test, better yet why use THIS specific test? The test we offer measures zonulin levels and blood antibodies to three important biomarkers: Zonulin; Actin; LPS (lipopolysaccharide). Let me give you some important info for each of these so it makes mores sense.
ZONULIN: Discovered in the early 2000’s, zonulin is a protein found in the tight junctions of our intestinal epithelial cells. Zonulin is a “gate keeper protein” and plays a critical role in the structure and health of tight junctions in the intestines. Tight junctions are the main barrier between our digestive tract and our blood stream. If zonulin is elevated in the blood or antibodies are present, this is an indication that tight junctions have been broken down and the barrier has been damaged. Bacterial dysbiosis and gluten in the diet are 2 known factors to cause zonulin release from the tight junctions. The blood brain barrier has zonulin receptors. Zonulin can bind to these receptors and open the tight junctions of the brain. This demonstrates the connection between “leaky gut” and “leaky brain”.
ACTIN: a muscle protein that has structural and mechanical roles in the small intestine. In the microvilli, actin is involved in cell division, growth, and repair. Actin also serves to anchor the microvilli to the cell membrane barrier and to attach intestinal cells together. When antibodies to actin are present in the bloodstream this can indicate compromised structural integrity of intestinal tight junctions or microvilli.
LPS: Our digestive tract is home to trillions of microorganisms (i.e. the Gut Microbiome) which includes both gram (+) and gram (-) bacteria. Lipopolysaccharide is a component of the cell wall on gram (-) bacteria. Only with intestinal permeability, LPS will enter the bloodstream and our bodies will produce LPS antibodies. If it enters the blood, LPS is a powerful mediator of inflammation and has been implicated in a variety of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, chronic fatigue, obesity, depression, and autoimmune disease, etc.
But what are the symptoms? How would I know if I should be testing?
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating.
- Nutritional deficiencies (we can run a micronutrient panel for this)
- Poor immune system.
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss.
- Excessive fatigue.
- Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea.
- Cravings for sugar or carbs.
- Arthritis or joint pain.
Does any of this sound like it might be you? Maybe we should chat.