Seasonal allergies aren’t always obvious, in that they can manifest in the form of skin problems or even mood swings. Did you know that there is a condition called leaky gut syndrome of which allergies can be a symptom and often go undiagnosed?
According to a conventional medicine perspective, leaky gut syndrome is not considered a medical condition. Instead, it’s viewed as an allergy or intestinal irritation typically observed in patients without other symptoms or medically diagnosed conditions.
On the other hand, functional medicine and naturopathic medicine has long recognized leaky gut syndrome as a serious condition that can lead to a number of health problems including many autoimmune conditions, mental health conditions, and a host of other conditions.
The concept which is slowly coming to prominence in conventional circles centres on the idea that the human body is actually one connected unit rather than many singular body systems that work separately and independently from one another.
What Is Leaky Gut?
Your mucosal lining of the intestinal tract is the first line of defence against the outside world.
This is where good bacteria and most of your immune system reside keeping guard so no pathogen or foreign object gets through the tight intestinal junctions that are an entry to your bloodstream which where they should never be. The tight junctions that form the intestinal wall can’t do their job properly, as they become inflamed and leaky. This allows larger particles such as toxins, microbes, and undigested food to get through into your bloodstream.
Your immune system marks these foreign invaders as pathogens (that is, not-self) and attacks them. Symptoms occur as a result of your body’s immune response to these invaders which can result in a number of inflammatory symptoms.
1) Food Allergies/Sensitivities
Many scientific studies have shown a relationship between leaky gut syndrome and food allergies. Your intestines are inflamed when you eat something you’re sensitive to, and the inflammation often causes leaky gut syndrome.
If you think you have food sensitivities – eliminate some of the most common culprits including eggs, dairy, gluten, corn, soybeans as well as peanuts and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers & eggplants). However, although these are the main culprits, we see many different food sensitivities related to many common foods such as tea/coffee, chocolate and citrus fruits.
2) Mental Health Conditions
Depression, mood swings, anxiety, and ADD/ADHD are all linked with leaky gut syndrome. Each has a strong neurological tie to the digestive system. This is because 90% of our brains’ serotonin is produced in the gut.
When we have digestive issues, it can directly impact our mental health. This is something that has been recently discovered through the research on the vagus nerve and the cross-sectional signals being sent back and forth to the brain. The gut has its own enteric nervous system which is why it’s called the second brain.
3) Autoimmune Diseases
If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, celiac disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis – there’s a chance that this condition could be attributed to a leaky gut. However, leaky gut, will be the result of a number of different insults on the body which needs investigating.
4) Low Thyroid Function
There’s a connection between low thyroid function, leaky gut, and Hashimoto’s Disease. Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder often referred to as chronic thyroiditis, has a number of different connections to a leaky gut. With inflammation can come dysbiosis and this will cause a disrupted microbiome which will further impact the right nutrients being absorbed, namely Iodine which is the main mineral our thyroid needs for optimal function.
5) Difficulty Losing and Gaining Weight
When you have a leaky gut, it makes losing weight harder. Your intestinal wall is supposed to protect you from outside threats. But a leaky one allows bacteria to slip through the one-cell thick mucosal barrier and travel into your bloodstream where they aren’t supposed to be.
This will cause inflammation and the impact of inflammation can be seen through dysfunction in your metabolism which can cause some to gain weight. The opposite is also true with some patients who can lose weight. The problem with those patients who lose weight is that they are generally underweight in the first place and losing weight can be quite problematic, as they find it difficult to put weight back on.
6) Inflammatory Skin Disorders
Inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, acne, and eczema are linked to leaky gut syndrome.
The excessive inflammation caused by leaky gut syndrome negatively affects the health of your skin as a result of there also being a strong link between your digestive system and your skin with many skin conditions stemming from a toxic liver and digestive system.
Some studies have found that even minor skin complaints like acne flare-ups are exacerbated by inflammation in the gut through a number of different mechanisms.
7) Malabsorption of Nutrients
Sometimes we get stomach issues because we’re not properly absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat.
When this happens, it can occur that our guts aren’t working at their optimal level and we should consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement to aid in the breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates so, they can be easily absorbed and assimilated.
8) Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Gas, bloating, and diarrhoea are all symptoms that point to a leaky gut. But irritable bowel syndrome is probably the most telling.
When you have an IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), you have a condition that is characterised by changes in bowel movement frequency, which can result in stomach cramping, gas, bloating, heartburn and loss of appetite for certain foods. We know from the literature that IBS is linked to SIBO and with SIBO there is always going to be an element of leaky gut due to inflammation caused by the bacteria in the small intestine which should be quite sterile.
In addition, you can have detailed information about chronic fatigue syndrome by reading our article titled How To Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Naturally.