When a person says they suffer from leaky gut syndrome, they refer to a condition that comes with food sensitivities, gas, bloating, cramps, and pains. However, doctors have yet to pinpoint what causes these symptoms, and this is not a condition they learn about while attending medical school. In fact, when a person receives this “diagnosis”, they don’t have a diagnosis. The doctor is still trying to determine what is wrong with them.
What Doctors Believe
Doctors believe leaky gut syndrome refers to a condition known as increased intestinal permeability. With this condition, gaps in the intestinal walls loosen, allowing bacteria, toxins, and other large substances to make their way into the bloodstream. Researchers have found that a person with this condition is more likely to have other health issues, such as type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.
What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Individuals want to know what allows their intestinal walls to loosen in this way. Scientists believe diet plays a role in this condition along with stress. However, they are also researching other things that may contribute to the syndrome. For example, a protein in the body known as Zonulin regulates junctions in the body. When a person has high levels of Zonulin, tight junctions may loosen and bring about intestinal permeability. Bacteria and gluten stimulate higher Zonulin levels.
Nevertheless, researchers continue to look at other things that may lead to this syndrome. Long-term use of NSAIDs can increase intestinal permeability, as can higher levels of interleukin and tumor necrosis factor. They believe that over time this can lead to leaky gut syndrome. They are also looking into gut dysbiosis or low levels of healthy bacteria in the gut to see if this contributes to leaky gut syndrome and how.
Although doctors have yet to identify specific foods that may bring about leaky gut syndrome, they recommend patients follow a certain diet. They encourage patients to follow a diet that provides them with plenty of healthy gut bacteria. Foods to eat with this diet include vegetables, fruit, gluten-free grains, and fish. Other items found in this diet plan include sprouted seeds, cultured dairy products, and nuts.
One way to determine which foods trigger symptoms is to go on an elimination diet for a week. At a minimum, avoid any foods that contain gluten. However, the best course of action is to choose fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and quality proteins and eat only those to start. Slowly add foods such as those mentioned above into the diet and see how the body reacts. If a food triggers symptoms, remove it from the diet once again.
Don’t expect to see results overnight. The process of reestablishing functioning intestinal mucosa may take a few months. However, individuals who focus on a healthy whole food diet say they feel better in a matter of days or weeks. This makes it easier to continue on the diet and see which foods serve as triggers and need to be avoided.
It’s frustrating to have a medical condition that few people understand and that doctors have little information on. Trial and error often serve as the best way to figure out what brings about symptoms and what you can eat without difficulty. Don’t give up. With the right diet, you’ll likely find you can enjoy some of your favorite foods with no regret once again.