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North Adams Chiropractor | North Adams chiropractic care | MA | Leaky Gut

Living Well

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Chiropractic and Nutrition               413-663-5500


Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut Syndrome

It isn’t hard to notice when our gastrointestinal tract is off, changes in digestion can impact our daily lives. Whether its gas and bloating, cramps and diarrhea, fatigue, or even joint pain or skin rashes, symptoms can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, even debilitating.

The conditions mentioned above are symptoms which can indicate a condition called “Leaky Gut Syndrome”. It is a condition over 80% of humans are predisposed to and its effects on us can range from mild to serious.  

More than half of my patients come in with complaints relating to a digestive imbalance, and many times I can attribute it to leaky gut syndrome. This is a condition you should pay close attention to and get under control and repaired as soon as is possible.

Understand that our digestive system influences everything from controlling digestion and protecting us from hostile bacteria, to communicating with the brain – sending physical signals such as gas or hunger, and emotional feelings such as anxiety, stress, and even love. This complex union moving through the gut is often referred to as our body’s second brain, affecting our health physically and psychologically.

What is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is a condition affecting the lining of the intestines, creating a dysfunctional environment for proper digestion. It is also called “increased intestinal permeability”, because with leaky gut, the intestines lose some of their ability to filter nutrients and other substances. When this happens, particles of incompletely digested foods, bacteria, other waste by-products may leak through the intestines into the bloodstream. It is usually caused by some form of damage to the intestinal lining.

Our intestines are lined with cells, which are sealed together by something called “tight junctions”. In healthy intestines, these junctions work like gatekeepers, which essentially allow or prohibit particles to move through the gut and into the circulatory system. With leaky gut syndrome, particles can slip through the cells and tight junctions and literally leak into bloodstream or lymphatic system, and move freely throughout the body.

When the body recognizes these foreign substances and detects something is wrong, the immune system kicks in, and tries to fight what it perceives to be danger in the intestines. This causes inflammation and inhibits functioning. In this situation, a person’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is decreased, and your immune system can become compromised. Impaired immune functioning here is extremely important, as our guts contain tissue known as gut-associated lymphatic tissue (GALT) which helps protect us from antigens causing food allergies as well as microbes carrying disease.

When the body is continually trying to repair itself from the effects of leaky gut, it can be caught in a never-ending cycle, especially when the source of the problem is not diagnosed. For example, if unrecognized food allergies are creating leaky gut, and the same foods are consumed over and over, a self- perpetuating, inflammatory cycle will be triggered, and the intestinal lining cannot heal.

Chronic inflammation in the intestines is a concern, because of the potential for its link to many serious disorders ranging from depression, osteoporosis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer’s, heart failure, and more. Leaky gut may be also be linked to other gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel disease, Crohns disease or celiac disease, as well as immune system disorders such rheumatoid arthritis, and even asthma. That’s why I stress to my patients the importance of sharing all of their symptoms and concerns, no matter how small they may seem. As we examine each of the symptoms, we can figure out what may be causing them, and how to relieve them.

How do you get leaky gut?

Sometimes digestive problems originate early in our lives–such as lactose or gluten intolerance or other food sensitivities. The problems may ebb and flow, especially during busy or stressful times. Other times we can develop issues related to taking certain medications or medical treatments that may have caused damage in our gut. Things like radiation, chemotherapy, corticosteroids, and even long term use of aspirin and antibiotics can wreak havoc with our intestinal flora, or the “good bacteria” that keep our digestive system functioning properly.

Any abundance of toxins in the system can burden our bodies. It is important to recognize imbalances and try to repair them naturally, before they lead to other disease and disorders.

How can I fix it?

In Nutrition Response Testing, we look at the underlying causes of a disorder, and address it with a patient-centered focus. We evaluate lifestyle factors, environment, genetics, and history, and address individual aspects with a systems-oriented approach.  We approach the repair of this condition in a patient-specific four step process.

1. Undertake an elimination diet

First we must stabilize and smooth the digestive tract. A 14-day detox cleanse is a gentle approach that helps eliminate common allergens, such as dairy, soy, gluten, sugar, yeast, and alcohol. It can help determine which foods may be contributing to symptoms. At Living Well we work in partnership with our patients to help them manage and maintain an effective cleanse.

2. Investigate digestive aids

Oftentimes, using soothing digestive whole food supplements, digestive enzymes, or other digestive supports, can help protect the lining from further damage, and coat the intestines while they heal. A trained Nutrition Response Testing practionier can help determine which supports are best for each patient’s unique needs.

3. Rebalance your gut flora

Friendly bacteria are important, and a well-colonized gut is vital to good digestive health. The good bacteria help abate the less-friendly ones, that lead to sickness and disease. Probiotics are an important way to re-introduce proper flora to the intestines. Proper diet, including fiber-rich foods also establish micro-floral balance.

4. Rebuild your intestinal cells

There are many ways to repair and rebuild the intestinal cells and lining. Nutrition Response Testing research continues to explore ways to advance this healing, naturally. It is important to work with a professionally trained clinician to establish the best ways to treat and repair your digestive tract.

5. Regulate

Finally, we need to pay attention to how we feel when we eat, where and how we eat, and of course what we eat. First, we should avoid anything that we know causes GI upset. We should have our meal in a relaxed setting, eat slowly, and chew our food thoroughly. Digestion begins with an antibody in our saliva called secretory IgA (sIgA), which is an indicator of digestive immune function. Found throughout the digestive tract, sIgA is our first line of defense against those bad bacteria and along with relaxed, healthy eating, is important to our entire immune system.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is not yet fully understood, but is a real problem for a large percent of our population. The symptoms may be different for everyone, but identifying and isolating the cause is the start to eliminate this distressing disorder and start the repair process. I firmly believe digestion is the foundation of our overall health, and by nurturing and improving this very important function naturally, we can open the door to better health.

North Adams Chiropractor | Leaky Gut. Dr. Francine Lajoie is a North Adams Chiropractor.