Mon - Thurs - 8:30a - 4:00p

Fri - 8:30a - 3:30p

760-274-2377

Toll Free 855.DOC.MARK

Intestinal Permeability

Intestinal Permeability

We are what we eat—but more importantly, we are the foods we absorb. That’s what we think about when patients come to see us feeling cranky and complaining of fatigue, poor memory, aching joints or moodiness. They want us to treat their symptoms, but to heal them we know I have to go deeper—and focus on their digestive health. The reason: A root cause of many chronic problems often turns out to be poor digestion and absorption of nutrients. In fact, Dr. Stengler, Dr. LaBeau and Dr. Williamson find that nearly every patient with a chronic condition needs to address this digestion issue…and that even most healthy people would feel much better if they improved their digestion.

Good Digestion…and Bad

To understand what goes wrong with digestion, it is important to understand how digestion normally works. As food enters the stomach, it is broken down into small particles by enzymes produced in the small intestine and pancreas and by bile, which is produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder.  Good bacteria (flora) in the small intestine completes the job of breaking down nutrients so they can be absorbed. Undigestable parts of food, such as fiber, and other waste products are pushed into the colon where they remain until they are eliminated.
The small intestine plays the all-important role of gatekeeper, allowing nutrients—thoroughly digested particles of fats, proteins and starches as well as vitamins and minerals—to pass through its wall into the blood stream for distribution around the body. It also serves as a barrier to prevent undigested food, large molecules or foreign substances such as bacteria and yeast, from getting through.  When the lining of the small intestine becomes irritated and inflamed, it is unable to do its job properly. As a result, bacteria and undigested food substances “leak” into the bloodstream. Officially this is called increased intestinal permeability…more often the problem is called leaky gut syndrome.

The Digestion-Chronic Illness Link

Increased intestinal permeability wreaks havoc on the immune function and on nutritional status.  When the gut “leaks,” the immune system believes it has been invaded by foreign bodies and goes on attack.  It produces antibodies and white blood cells, which can inflame the gut and further damage the intestinal lining.  This inflammatory response can result in the worsening of systemic symptoms such as fatigue, arthritis and headache, among others.
In addition, leaky gut syndrome decreases nutritional status. When your gut doesn’t efficiently absorb food, you can develop serious nutritional deficiencies that worsen your systemic problems. The only way to stop the cycle is to heal your digestion.

Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome

There are many reasons people develop leaky gut syndrome. Some of the causes are unique to our modern society, while others are age-old:

    • Poor diet. Fast foods are hard to digest in part because their low fiber content slows them down as they move through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Foods high in sugar, artificial sweeteners, colorings, preservatives and omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils may cause inflammation in the gut.

     

    • Chronic stress. The body responds to stress by going into “emergency” mode.  As a result, digestion slows down.

     

    • Chronic illnesses. Cancer, depression and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are often associated with poor digestion.

     

    • Existing digestive problems. Conditions such as colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome can worsen leaky gut syndrome.

     

    • Common pain relievers. With regular use, aspirin, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs damage the lining of the small intestine.

     

    • Acid-blocking medications. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as esomeprazole (Nexium) and omeprazole (Prilosec) reduce stomach acid.  Long-term use of these drugs intrudes on the GI system’s ability to properly break down food, particularly proteins.

     

    • Other pharmaceutical drugs. Certain chemotherapy drugs, radiation and oral steroids, such as prednisone, destroy the “good” flora in the gut.

     

    • Bacterial imbalance. Dysbiosis is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria. A deficiency of good bacteria in the gut often occurs as a result of too much antibiotic use or an overgrowth of harmful pathogens.

     

    • Environmental toxins. Toxic metals in the environment, such as mercury, kill good flora.

     

    • Excessive alcohol intake. Depending on the individual, two or more alcoholic beverages daily can damage the intestinal tract and reduce absorption abilities.

     

CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH INCREASED INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY

Acne
Arthritis (all types)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults
Cancer
Chronic fatigue
Depression
Eczema
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis)
Indigestion
Irritable bowel syndrome
Lupus
Multiple sclerosis
Nails (brittle nails)
Osteoporosis
Psoriasis
Weight loss and weight gain

TESTING FOR INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY

Our clinic offers state of the art blood tests that can identify if the gut is too permeable. This then helpsDr. Stengler, Dr. LaBeau and Dr. Williamson treat a very important component of your health. Then specific dietary approaches and nutritional supplementation can be used to restore gut integrity.

Acne
Arthritis (all types)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults
Cancer
Chronic fatigue
Depression
Eczema
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis)
Indigestion
Irritable bowel syndrome
Lupus
Multiple sclerosis
Nails (brittle nails)
Osteoporosis
Psoriasis
Weight loss and weight gain