Leaky Gut? Restore Your Defenses!
Intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome, is a very common yet complicated, poorly understood digestive ailment. It is characterized by the inability of the intestines to prevent the leakage of large particles through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream. These antigens may also be able to pass into the lymph glands, lungs, liver and other organs, thereby producing a variety of ailments.
What is the Mucosal Lining?
The mucosal lining is the semi-permeable membrane which lines the digestive tract. It separates everything in the gut from entering the bloodstream. It also needs to be permeable enough to allow nutrients from food to get into the blood. This lining is composed of epithelial cells and is only one cell thick and can be easily damaged. Under normal functioning, the lining is nearly impermeable and allows only fully digested food particles/nutrients to pass into the bloodstream and lymph vessels. Kept out are large, undigested particles, intestinal toxins and (unwanted) microorganisms such as Candida and parasites.
An array of proteins known as "tight junctions" holds these epithelial cells together. The tight junction integrity can be compromised by a huge array of factors: herbicides and pesticides in food, gluten, food allergies, prescription drugs such as corticosteroids (Prednisone) and NSAIDS (ibuprofen), parasites, mold and fungal mycotoxins in food, enzyme deficiencies, alcohol and caffeine abuse, and even a high refined-carbohydrate diet. Broad-spectrum antibiotics, by virtue of wiping out gut-protective bacteria, are a particular threat to these cells. These factors lead to inflammation in the gut which further exacerbates the condition.
Consequences of Leaky Gut
If gaps form in the tight junctions and lining of the gut, as we have discussed, foreign particles and invaders are released into the bloodstream causing damage and resulting in a wide range of problems. A weakened immune system, fatigue, irritability, lethargy, hyperactivity (in children), mood swings, muscle or joint pain, sleep disturbances, poor concentration and memory loss are just a few of the potential symptoms here. Leaky gut syndrome has been associated with conditions such as autism, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Nutritional (mineral) deficiencies develop, causing more damage.
Repairing the Lining
Reducing the causes, such as determining a possible food allergy, is of paramount importance. The diet must be as hypo-allergenic as possible: eliminating or reducing sugar, dairy, wheat and other gluten-containing foods such as oats, barley, and rye is the first step.
An imbalance of friendly gut bacteria is a main cause of many digestive problems and establishing/maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is key in assuaging leaky gut syndrome. Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus may be of particular benefit. A broad-spectrum digestive enzyme formula may be helpful as well. Enzymedica's Digest Gold + Probiotics is an excellent choice with its full-spectrum of enzymes plus L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus and other probiotics.
The amino acid L-glutamine is a key source of energy for intestinal cells (the mucosal lining), and is essential for repair and maintenance of intestinal structure and function. The metabolite of glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine may be helpful for people who suffer from digestive disorders as it is already converted from glutamine. Renew Life offers their IntestiNew product specifically for healing the intestinal lining. It features the above-mentioned nutrients with soothing and demulcent herbs such as marshmallow root.
In addition, the "healing mineral" zinc helps heal damaged digestive tissues (zinc carnosine, in particular, with vitamin C and glutamine as in Solaray's GutShield) and is also needed for proper immune function.
Restore is a new product clinically shown to support the integrity of intestinal walls. This product "restores" and repairs the tight junctions regulating the flow of nutrients, water, and chemicals across the membrane. It also naturally creates a healthy environment for good gut bacteria.
Two of the most insidious disruptors/degraders of the intestinal lining in recent years have been shown to be gluten, and the chemical glyphosate, a commercial herbicide (Roundup). Restore was developed with these culprits in mind. The ingredient in this product is a refined soil lignite supplying highly bioavailable trace minerals and amino acids. These molecules do not act as a probiotic, yet as bacterial metabolites they restore a healthy gut microbiome as well as reduce/repair the gaps in the intestinal membrane. Restore liquid comes in several sizes and is easy to take. It is also available as a nasal spray to help restore the mucosal lining of the sinuses.
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