For decades alternative practitioners have been talking about leaky gut syndrome. We didnít understand everything there was to know about it but suspected that it was behind many immune and allergy problems. In the mid 1990ís some breakthrough research began to change the way we think about and approach the leaky gut syndrome. Fasano and his team were working on a cholera vaccine. There were very disappointed to find their trials stopped shortly after starting due to excessive diarrhea in many of the test subjects despite having the newly developed vaccine injection. It appeared that the cholera bacteria had more than one way to achieve its goals. Instead of throwing in the towel, they decided to try to find out why. They discovered that bacteria had the ability to activate an intestinal enzyme they later named zonulin. Zonulin has the ability to open the tight junctions between the intestinal mucosal cells causing leaky gut syndrome. This was an important finding because other agents could also affect the tight junction in this manner including gluten in many people.
The problem with leaky gut syndrome is that it isnít one of those conditions that is self-limiting. Self-limiting means that over time it will correct itself. An example of a self-limiting problem is a cut on your lip. Even if you need a stitch or two it tends to heal up very quickly without any special measures. Once the zonulin production pathway is activated and fragments of food or other particles find their way to the blood stream, they start an anti-body cascade that further increases zonulin production and activation. Some of these products will also find their way to your brain and attach to opiate receptors and increase your cravings for the very foods that are causing you problems.
How are you going to fix the leaky gut syndrome? The first step will be to discover and eliminate the foods that are causing you problems. Several labs have antibody panels for this including Alcat and Cyrex. We also like the Cyrex Labs Array 2 that checks for zonulin and related gut permeability molecules. Common offender foods are gluten-containing grains, dairy, soy and sugar.Cyrex Labs Array 3,4 and 10 look for such food reactions.
Once the barrier begins to repair, other factors that have been known to help barrier repair might be appropriate. This would include things like L-glutamine, butyric acid, NAG (N-Acetyl D-Glucosamine), gamma-linolenic acid, gamma-oryzanol and maybe some phosphatidylcholine. I donít recommend starting here, however. Use the NutriClear and G.I. Benefits Formulas first and give them a chance to work before getting too creative.
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