Leaky gut syndrome also known as increased intestinal permeability a condition in which the intestines become increasingly permeable to toxic wastes, microbes, undigested food particles and other noxious substances which do not usually cross the intestinal lining; in essence the selective permeability of the intestine is compromised. Once these substances cross the small intestine, they gain access into systemic circulation which leads to all sorts of health concerns.
The normal functions of the small intestine involve proper absorption of digested nutrients such as sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids as well as blocking the absorption of noxious substances and microbes. But in the case of increased intestinal permeability, the tight junctions between the intestinal cells that normally form the barrier of the intestinal lining have been damaged and hence the barrier is now “leaky”. In the case of elevated intestinal permeability, substances such as food particles get absorbed into the blood stream before they are completely digested. Having gained “unauthorized” access to the systemic circulation, these undigested food particles can now trigger an immune response whereby the immune system attacks these particles, eventually leading to inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the basis of many of today’s diseases.
The symptoms of increased intestinal permeability can vary from allergies, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, foggy thinking, and anxiety to more serious health concerns such as metabolic disturbances. Leaky gut syndrome has been associated with conditions such as ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, asthma, chronic fatigue, and chronic skin conditions.
There is a noninvasive lab test that helps identify increased intestinal permeability. This test involves two non-metabolized sugars: Mannitol and Lactulose. The patient drinks a pre-measured amount of mannitol and lactulose. The degree of permeability becomes evident based on the levels of each sugar that is recovered in the urine over a six hour collection.
The early detection of this condition is critical in both prevention of further damage to the intestinal lining as well as proper treatment of the existing damaged areas that can otherwise lead to serious health consequences.
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