By Paul Fassa
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek doctor, is often quoted as saying,
All disease begins in the gut.
This includes many diseases not currently associated (by modern medical practitioners) with gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues, although there is a small contingent of progressive practitioners who are recognizing this phenomenon.
Dysbiosis is the imbalance of intestinal gut flora or gut microbiome (the symbiotic bacteria occurring naturally in the intestines) that seems to be the foundation of gut diseases: Crohn’s disease, IBD (irritable bowel disease), and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which is technically not considered a disease, but as the title suggests, a syndrome.
Dysbiosis is also the foundation for a syndrome that is at least involved with or possibly the cause of all those gut disorders to greater or lesser degrees – leaky gut syndrome or intestinal hyperpermeability aka intestinal tight junction malfunction.
The normally tight intestinal cellular wall junctions keep undigested food particles and pathogenic microbes from entering the blood stream while allowing nutrients to enter that same bloodstream. If those junctions become somewhat loose or separated, endotoxemia, the release of toxins from inside the gut to other parts of the body, occurs.
Endotoxemia creates problems with the liver and kidneys. It is capable of lowering immunity since the immune system is so engaged with handling those toxins from improperly digested foods. From a 2013 study:
Derangement of the homeostasis between bacteria and host-derived signals provokes intestinal barrier malfunction leading to bacterial translocation, i.e. the bacteria (or bacterial products) transport from the intestinal lumen into the lamina propria [part of the intestinal mucosa]and, eventually, to extra-intestinal sites.[Emphasis added] (Source)
Another study links endotoxemia to metabolic syndrome, the early stages of type 2 diabetes. Since leaky gut can be so damaging and involved as a co-factor or even precursor of the inflammatory digestive disorders mentioned earlier, the focus of this article will be on preventing and healing intestinal permeability.
Preventing Leaky Gut
There has been a steady increase of various gastrointestinal (GI) tract diseases and disorders occurring throughout the U.S. over the past few decades. The popular scapegoat for the rise in GI tract disease is grains, specifically gluten, but much of that blame is misplaced. (Source)
There are other toxic factors in agriculture that are affecting agriculture adversely, such as glyphosate herbicides. Then there is also the heavy use of antibiotics, which alters the balance of our microbiota to create dysbiosis.
The supporting cast for dysbiosis includes excess sugars, sodas, refined carbs, pasteurization, and toxic additives in processed or junk foods that most consume. Those are elements of the disease-creating-diet known as the standard American diet, or SAD. Stress is considered a co-factor as well.
The first step in avoiding leaky gut is to avoid all the above or at least restrict them to the barest possible minimum, and eat mostly clean, pure foods and water.
Get up often and walk around a bit for a few minutes if your work involves lots of sitting. Exercise should be moderate, like walking for a half-hour most days of the week, if you already have leaky gut.
And of course, stress less, relax more, and get sufficient high quality sleep. Excessive amounts of cortisol produced by chronic stress is known to deplete L-glutamine, which is vital for strengthening and tightening the intestinal walls’ cellular arrangement.
We will discuss how L-glutamine can be used to reverse leaky gut later in this article.
Some Symptoms or Signs of Leaky Gut
According to Dr. Leo Galland, director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine, leaky gut can be responsible for the following:
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Poor immune system
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Excessive fatigue
- Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
- Cravings for sugar or carbs
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn’s
- High blood sugar from metabolic disorders (Source)
It’s a bit tricky to diagnose leaky gut, since most of mainstream medicine doesn’t recognize it and there are no specific tests for it.
L-Glutamine, The Most Important Nutrient for Intestinal Health
L-glutamine is an amino acid that is used by the body for protein synthesis. It is a favorite among nutritional savvy body builders and competition weight lifters for repairing muscle tissue. It also regulates pH balance in the kidneys, ATP cellular energy, and balances nitrogen distribution.
Intestinal cells consume more L-glutamine than any other organ in the body. As a powder, it mixes easily in pure water and it is tasteless. Juice can also be used, but do not use any hot beverage. Heat adulterates glutamine, which doesn’t need the L in front to qualify it since D-glutamine is not available as a supplement.
The highest mega-dose recommended by most sources is 40 grams daily. They all recommend starting at five grams per day. The powder is very fine and light. A level half-teaspoon delivers five grams. Most products have a five gram scoop in the container.
After a short period at five grams and without adverse effects, most advise increasing to 10 grams or more. Then if there are no adverse reactions, which are very rare with glutamine, increase to 20. Most consider this a healthy dose that should heal leaky gut. Others advocate increasing to 40 grams daily for five days then going back five or ten grams daily for maintenance.
Determining dosage and how long it should be used is tricky. If there aren’t any noticeable side effects, this is a safe nutrient. It is not expensive, especially if you shop online with distributors who buy in bulk and package it themselves. If it doesn’t work after several trial and error dosage attempts, perhaps the issue is not leaky gut. Nonetheless, other health benefits would be experienced. (Source)
Add Coconut Oil for Healing Leaky Gut
Virgin coconut oil helps heal gut inflammation.
Suzanne Sommers, author of best selling alternative cancer healing book Knockout, told Dr. Mercola in a 2015 interview,
I take four spoons of coconut oil throughout the day. The virgin organic oil heals the intestines, seals up the barrier wall in there. That’s a great antidote to that leaky gut. (Source)
Suzanne also mentioned in another obscure article that her health practitioner put both her and her husband on virgin coconut oil daily for leaky gut. So this is not just her opinion. Other nutritional counselors and health practitioners, whose articles were used for information toward this article, also mention using coconut oil for leaky gut. You can find more information on coconut oil for healing gut issues here.
Coconut oil is so beneficial in so many ways it is certainly worth adding to a L-glutamine or glutamine protocol, both of which are effective, safe, and inexpensive.