Allergies, asthma, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, diabetes, celiac disease, what do they all have in common? Intestinal Permeability AKA leaky gut. Well, what is leaky gut? Intestinal Permeability happens when the barrier in our digestive system has been compromised, meaning that the structural integrity of the cells that line our digestive tract has lost the ability to prevent the passage of food particles, toxins, and other harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. Our digestive tract plays a critical role in a healthy immune system; 70% of our immune system comes from our gut. It also plays a role in determining what is absorbed, like essential nutrients and electrolytes, and what things should not be allowed through. Unfortunately, many modern-day lifestyle habits have disrupted our gut lining's intestinal integrity, leading to inflammation that causes the gi tract to become "leaky."
What lifestyle factors cause leaky gut?
Working out too much
A microbiome that is out of balance
Antibiotics, aspirin, NSAIDs
How do you address it?
In Functional Medicine, we first want to remove the contributing factors causing leaky gut, so first and foremost, address lifestyle factors that are causing it—and identify the foods that are causing inflammation. The gold standard is to do an elimination diet for at least three weeks, but there are also food sensitivities tests that can help but aren't always accurate. Then, we want to replace, meaning, we want to support our digestive system in properly breaking down food particles, and we do this by adding digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid. After that, we want to repopulate the gut with the good gut bacteria to overcrowd the bad ones and support the immune system which can be accomplished with a high quality probiotic. And lastly, restoring the gut lining integrity using critical nutrients like zinc carnosine, glutamine, vitamin D, and others.
How long does it take?
This is the beauty of functional medicine, we practice personalized medicine because everyone is so different, the same symptoms for two people can come from two different places. We take a thorough history, consider the severity of your symptoms and use specialty lab tests to determine the root cause of your symptoms. This allows us to create a treatment plan specifically for you. But if you want a ballpark number, it can take at least six months and can go up to more than a year.