Antibiotics, steroid hormones (e.g. the contraceptive pill), sugar and allergens such as wheat, cause the gut lining to become inflamed and 'leaky', or too permeable, and food and chemical portions enter inappropriately. Read more below the product list.
When there aren't enough nutrients available for all the functions of the body, some areas will suffer. One scenario might be (and often is) that a lack of vitamin B6 and zinc will not enable the body to make enough stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) which, in conjunction with a digestive enzyme, is needed to break down protein.
Consequently, protein is not digested sufficiently and enters the blood stream too early, often through a gut that is irritated and 'leaky', and causes bloating and all sorts of other symptoms.
Antibiotics, steroid hormones (e.g. the contraceptive pill), sugar and allergens such as wheat, causes the gut lining to become inflamed and 'leaky', or too permeable, and food and chemical portions enter inappropriately.
This may lead to food intolerance and allergy.
Meanwhile, and again largely due to antibiotic use and excessive sugar in the diet, pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria are allowed to grow to unacceptable levels. This is called 'dysbiosis', and the most obvious symptoms include bloating of the abdomen, excessive 'wind' and sometimes pain or discomfort.
The cells of the gut lining are replaced every couple of days, so you can imagine the high levels of nutrients required to sustain this constant renewal.
'Leaky gut syndrome' is a proposed condition some health practitioners claim is the cause of a wide range of long-term conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis (MS).
The inside of the bowel is lined by a single layer of cells that make up the mucosal barrier (the barrier between the inside of the gut and the rest of the body).
This barrier is effective at absorbing nutrients, but prevents most large molecules and germs passing from inside the bowel into the bloodstream and potentially irritating the bowel lining.
Effect of alcohol and certain painkillers
Alcohol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are well-known irritants of the bowel lining. They damage the seals between cells, allowing water-soluble substances to pass through the gaps and into the bloodstream.
Gastroenterologists (specialists in diseases of the gut) generally agree that these irritants do not usually cause anything more than just mild inflammation of a particular area of the bowel, and the bowel lining becomes even more porous as a result. At the very worst, the inflammation might be bad enough to cause ulcers in the bowel lining.
The vast majority of people who consume lots of alcohol or regularly take aspirin or ibuprofen have none of the widespread symptoms or health conditions that proponents of "leaky gut syndrome" mention – health problems you would expect if the theory was true.
Effect of certain bowel diseases and treatments
The following diseases and treatments are also known to damage the seals in the bowel lining:
- inflammatory bowel diseases – such as Crohn's disease
- infections of the intestines – such as salmonella, norovirus and giardiasis
- coeliac disease
- chemotherapy drugs
- chronic kidney disease
- radiotherapy to the abdomen
- immunosuppressants (drugs that weaken the immune system)
- cystic fibrosis
- type 1 diabetes
Generally, only in these situations might treatment for a "leaky" bowel be necessary. For example, people with Crohn's disease usually benefit from medication to reduce the bowel inflammation, and may also benefit from a liquid diet (read more about the treatment of Crohn's disease).
Nutritionists believe it is linked to a much wider range of health problems and diseases, including:
- food allergies
- tiredness and chronic fatigue syndrome
- autoimmune diseases (where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues) such as lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis
- skin diseases like scleroderma