In conventional medicine, Leaky Gut Syndrome disease does not exist. However, if you google the condition, you will find thousands of articles about its causes, symptoms and healing methods. So, what is happening here?
Until recently, experts believed that the lining of our intestines was made up of a solid wall of densely packed cells from which small nutrient molecules can squeeze through into the bloodstream and large harmful toxins are barred inside the gut. But this line of thought is changing as new research continues to emerge supported by technological advancements.
According to Dr. Alessio Fasano, Director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Centre at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the latest studies show that our gut lining is a dynamic structure that can grant access to large molecules when triggered. He explained to Time Magazine, “We now believe that under certain circumstances, fissures open up in the intestinal barrier that may allow things to get through.” Along with his team, Fasano discovered in the year 2000 Zonulin; a protein that modulates the permeability of the tight junctions between the cells in the lining of the digestive tract.
Increase in Zonulin levels appear to play a critical role in the development of Celiac Disease, food allergies, Type-1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome as undesirable toxins enter the bloodstream. Many alternative medical practitioners believe that the Leaky Gut is also the culprit in numerous autoimmune diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimoto Thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and others but further studies are yet to prove the suggested association.
Which brings us to the main question, what triggers Zonulin levels in the body?
Gliadin (a glycoprotein which makes up part of the gluten molecule) activates Zonulin secretion. In simpler terms, glutenous food can increase the permeability of your gut lining; allowing toxins and harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream and wreak havoc with your overall health system. The exact consequences of gluten in the body is still not understood, but with the rise of Integrative and Functional Medicine, continuous research and clinical trials are conducted to prove/disprove the Gut Neuro-immune Brain Connection and understand the role gluten may plays in incurable autoimmune diseases.
So how do you know if you suffer from gluten sensitivity? Common symptoms include:
Digestive Disorders (incl. gas, diarrhoea, constipation, heart burn etc.)
Skin Disorders (incl. eczema, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris and others)
Fatigue and brain fog
Diagnosed autoimmune disease (incl. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Systemic Lupus Erythematosus etc.)
Dizziness, feeling imbalanced
Mood Disorders (incl. anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorders, mood swings etc.)
Chronic inflammation (incl. swelling/pain in joints such as knees, fingers, ankles etc.)
If any of the above apply, ask your doctor for a Food Intolerance blood test to determine if you have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. You may also try cutting out gluten from your diet for 6 weeks to see if your symptoms improve. Gluten-heavy food include wheat, rye, barley, couscous, spelt and semolina to name a few (for a more comprehensive list, click here). Many people reported better health and a feeling of wellbeing when they cut-out gluten from their diet.
In the end, strive to maintain a balanced lifestyle and diet: eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables exercise regularly and meditate daily to bring down your stress levels.