What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is composed of small epithelial cells that act as a barrier between the interior and the exterior of the body.
There are two primary functions of the intestinal epithelial lining:
- To absorb small micro-molecules, such as digested food particles, into circulation which are used as fuel sources for the body
- To act as a barrier to prevent the absorption of larger more toxic macro-molecules
A compromised lining becomes permeable to large undigested food compounds, toxins and bacteria.
These promote exaggerated immune responsiveness and an inflammatory reaction that can manifest at any location in the body after they enter circulation.
This intestinal permeability is known as “Leaky Gut”.
“Leaky gut syndrome” is something of a medical mystery, says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. It isn’t a diagnosis typically taught in medical schools.
“We don’t know a lot about leaky gut, but we know that it exists,” says Linda A. Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center. “In the absence of evidence, we don’t know what it means or what therapies can directly address it.”
Functional Medicine Management of Leaky Gut
There is extensive research and publications on this condition, including causal factors, associated health conditions and dietary and nutritional compounds that help repair the damage that takes place to the intestinal lining.
Functional Medicine utilizes specialized laboratory testing techniques to identify this condition and determine the extent of the damage to the intestinal lining prior to starting therapy.
Food sensitivity testing may also be used.
Specialized lab monitoring of key markers is used to assess progress throughout the treatment program.
Functional Medicine management of leaky gut involves a restricted dietary regimen avoiding foods that can damage the intestinal lining together with the use of nutritional supplements to help reduce the intestinal inflammation and repair the intestinal lining.
There are a number of nutritional compounds that decrease intestinal inflammation and restore the integrity of the intestinal lining.
A customized dietary and supplementation program is used to overcome a long term degenerative condition.
In almost all cases, a significant improvement, or elimination of symptoms can be achieved.