Leaky Gut Test
The leaky gut test is important because intestinal permeability or “leaky gut” is a common problem for many people. It can lead to a vicious cycle of inflammation and further breakdown of the intestinal lining that can lead to more serious disease.
How Does Leaky Gut Happen?
When the lining of the digestive tract is inflamed, the connections between the pieces of lining known as “tight junctions” break down and allow large, undigested compounds, toxins and bacteria to leak into
the blood stream.
These substances all react with the intestine’s immune system and cause an exaggerated immune response. This over-reaction by the immune system becomes a vicious cycle that leads to more and more damage of the intestines.
And as this problem grows diet, lifestyle, medications, and infections can cause further intestinal inflammation that can ultimately lead more serious problems.
In addition, after the intestinal lining becomes damaged, the damaged cells become unable to properly digest food and produce the enzymes necessary for digestion.
This can lead to malnutrition, further intestinal inflammation, further permeability, the development of food sensitivities, bacteria and
yeast over growths, and an impaired immune system leading to issues like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and other auto-immune diseases.
These self-destructive patterns can be really difficult to unwind and require special dietary, nutritional and lifestyle changes so that they can be healed.
At Green Health Acupuncture we offer special testing, treatment and counseling for healing leaky gut syndrome.
What Makes People Vulnerable to Leaky Gut?
There are 3 factors that may make people more likely to get leaky gut:
1. Genetics: Studies have shown gentics may play a role in leaky gut. For example, 70% of people who are first degree relatives of Celiac disease patients are positive for intestinal permeability.
2. Environmental: Many studies have shown that a variety of environmental factors can affect the health of your intestines.
*An imbalance of normal gut bacteria and invasions by destructive species of bacteriam yeast, viruses, fungus and parasites.
*Traumas, both surgical and non-surgical
*Stress due to disease, starvation, too much strenuous exercise, and radiation
*Other environmental factors like medications, allergenic foods and environmental toxins
3. Family and Health History: If have had any of the following you may have leaky gut:
*Current or past use of antibiotics, steroids, and NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aceteminophen, etc.)
*History of chemotherapy or radiation treatment
*History of chronic yeast infections
*Digestive enzyme deficiencies
*A typical American diet of fast foods, low fiber, excessive alcohol or caffeine
*Exposure to allergens used as fillers in cosmetics, medications and supplements
“Bad Digestion is the Root of All Evil”
So said Hippocrates over 2000 years ago. Chinese medicine has also long held that good digestion is the key to a long life and there was so much importance put on this idea that an entire school of medicine
grew out of this called the “Earth School”. Earth is the symbolic representation of the digestive system.
Its founder was Dr. Li Dong Yuan (1180-1251 AD) and he wrote a famous treatise called the Pi Wei Lun or Treatise on the Stomach and Spleen that detailed many diseases of the digestive system and their treatments using herbal medicine.
2 centuries later, Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchnikoff famously said “Death begins in the colon.” We are now beginning to understand just how true this is and how important it is to have good intestinal health.
One thing that we now understand is how the vicious cycle described above can lead to auto-immune disease. There are 3 key ingredients that make this happen: the first is a genetic vulnerability to the
disease, the second is environmental exposure to a bacteria, virus and/or environmental toxins and the third is leaky gut or intestinal permeability.
How Do the Intestines Work?
The lining of the intestines form a huge amount of surface area (roughly
3229 square feet – about the size of a tennis court). This is by far
the biggest connection between our bodies and the external environment.
The intestines also do many things; they transport and absorb nutrients, they regulate ion and water movement, they transport waste out of the body, and they protect us from an enormous numbers of invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungus, parasites and more.
And they are home to an ecosystem of millions of the same microbes that help our bodies by breaking down nutrients, fighting invaders and working with our immune system.
A healthy, strong intestine is a barrier against many diseases. And an unhealthy intestine can lead to sickness, body wide inflammation and pain, auto-immune disease and, in some cases, cancer.
What Happens When the Intestines Don’t Work Properly?
As we have already discussed, leaky gut leads to body wide inflammation and pain. The tissues that get inflamed vary with different people and seem to depend on genetics and environmental factors.
This cycle of suffering leads to:
*Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease
*Inflammatory bowel diseases
*Autoimmune diseases (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Hashimoto’s, Type I diabetes, Spondylitis, etc.)
*Nueurological Conditions (Multiple Sclerosis, Gullian Barre Syndrome, etc.)
*Cognitive Problems (depression, anxiety, Schizophrenia, etc.)
What Is the Best Test for Leaky Gut?
20 years ago, many people have measured leaky gut by measuring leakage
of a sugar molecule (lactalose) into the blood stream. Since then,
researchers and doctors in clinical practice have questioned this
practice because sugar does not challenge the immune system.
They decided that we needed a better way to look at the breakdown of the barrier system.
They came up with a test that does several things: it looks at the triggers of the breakdown of the intestines such as toxins produced by bacteria, antibodies produced against parts of the intestine’s barrier system such as occludin, zonulin and actomysin.
Here are the 4 things that we test for intestinal permeability:
1. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS): These are large molcules found in certain bacteria. They are toxins produced by gram-negative bacteria and if they are absorbed they cause a strong immune response. If antibodies against LPS are found this shows that large molecule have leaked through the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream.
2. Occludin: This is a protein that holds together the tight junctions of the intestines. If antibodies to occludin are found this shows that these junctions are breaking down. This is a way to measure the breakdown of the intestinal barrier membrane.
3. Zonulin: This is a protein that regulates how easily things can pass through the walls of the intestines. If antibodies to zonulin are found this shows that the normal process that regulates the passage of all kinds of stuff through the intestines is compromised. This can be a clue to what may be causing the the damage to the barrier system.
4. The Actomysin Network: This is a group of proteins that controls the intestines barrier system by maintaining the flexibility of the tight junctions. If antibodies to the actomysin network are found, this shows that there is a problem with the barrier system by cells infiltrating. For example, 92% of celiac disease patients with flat intestinal mucosa have antibodies to actin. This measures the mechanism involved in dmaging the intestinal barrier.
When Should This Test Be Ordered?
Auto-immune disease requires 3 ingredients: genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger, and increased intestinal permeability. The strength of the intestine’s barrier system palys avery important role in the health and well being of everyone.
If you have a family history of autoimmunity or neuro-degeneration, then this test should be done regularly. In addition, if you have multiple system complaints (like Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia), or food allergies or intolerance then you may problems with the intestinal barrier system.
We recommend measuring intestinal barrier system strength for people who:
*Have gut dysbiosis which doesn’t respond to standard therapy
*Suspect that they have intestinal mucosal damage
*Complain of food allergies and food intolerance
*Present multiple symptom complaints (Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia)
*Suspect that they may have blood brain barrier permeability, depression or autoimmunity to their nervous system.
At Green Health Acupuncture, we offer a variety of tests and we are happy to take the time to explain the tests and to discuss what tests would be appropriate for you.
Call today to make an appointment: 310-831-2202.