Leaky gut syndrome describes a damaged (leaky) intestinal mucosa and is considered a serious contributor to numerous chronic diseases. Most of these are considered incurable, like allergies and autoimmune diseases. Unfortunately, very few doctors are aware of this connection.
The symptoms of leaky gut syndrome can be very diverse and diffuse, such as:
- Chronic joint pain
- Chronic muscle pain
- Concentration disorders
- Mood swings up to depression
- A weak immune system
- Recurring bladder or vaginal infections
- Chronic fatigue
- Intolerances of various foods (food intolerances)
- Irritable bowel symptoms and much more
Since many of the symptoms mentioned are not necessarily associated with a sick intestine, those affected usually do not even come up with the idea of doing something for their digestive system to bring about an improvement.
Over the years, serious complaints develop. In particular, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) are associated with leaky gut syndrome. As well as allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases. Many of these diseases are considered incurable.
However, leaky gut syndrome is curable, so the diseases associated with it can also improve as soon as the intestines have regenerated.
Leaky Gut Syndrome Simply Explained
Leaky gut syndrome particularly affects the small intestine, not the large intestine. But what does it mean when the small intestine is “leaking”?
The intestinal mucosa represents a barrier between the intestinal contents and the bloodstream. It is therefore also called intestinal barrier. When the barrier is intact, the intestinal mucosa only allows water and the required nutrients to pass into the bloodstream.
In leaky gut syndrome, however, the intestinal mucosa suddenly has gaps, so that substances can now also enter the bloodstream that do not belong there under any circumstances and should normally be excreted with the stool.
These are toxins, fungi, fungal toxins and incompletely digested microparticles. If these substances now arrive in the blood, all alarm bells of the immune system ring.
In order to destroy the invaders, immune reactions occur. Inflammatory substances are released and at the same time the organism forms antibodies against the foreign substances. This is very often the beginning of different allergies.
Since the structure of the foreign substances in some cases also resembles the body’s own tissue, confusion can now occur on the part of the immune system. It attacks its own cells – believing that it is one of the invaders. The autoimmune disease is here.
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases include such widespread complaints as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or autoimmune diseases of the skin (pemphigus foliaceus, lichen sclerosus, lupus erythematosus, vitiligo, psoriasis).
Multiple sclerosis and sarcoidosis (lungs, eyes, connective tissue) are also included, possibly ankylosing spondylitis as well as the already mentioned chronic inflammatory bowel diseases Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (and many more).
Leaky Gut Syndrome – The Consequences
In the meantime, numerous scientific studies are already available that show that leaky gut syndrome can be demonstrably present in the majority of the listed diseases, even in heart problems and autistic disorders.
- Rheumatism: As early as the mid-1980s, Smith et al. explained in the Journal of Rheumatology that patients with ankylosing spondylitis as well as those with rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatism) have a significantly increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa compared to the control group.
- Psoriasis: Connections between leaky gut syndrome and psoriasis were also found many years ago, namely in the early 1990s (Humbert et al., Journal of Dermatological Science).
- Neurodermatitis: In 2004, researchers wrote in the Journal of Pediatrics that in neurodermatitis, increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa is probably involved in the disease process. In a double-blind and placebo-controlled study, they gave 41 children a probiotic with L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri over 6 weeks and found that after the 6 weeks, not only was the intestinal mucosa healthier again, but that skin eczema also improved significantly.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: In 2006, researchers at Nottingham University Hospital published a study dedicated to irritable bowel syndrome. The scientists concluded that leaky gut syndrome is regularly present in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome: In 2007, Belgian scientists wrote that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is always accompanied by immunological disorders, most likely caused by leaky gut syndrome, which is also present. They then advised that people with CFS should always undergo therapy for the regeneration of the permeable intestinal mucosa.
- Type 1 diabetes: In 2008, Finnish scientists showed that even children with type 1 diabetes have excessive intestinal permeability.
- Celiac disease: In 2009, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, wrote that not only genetic and environmental factors play an important role in the development of type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, but also leaky gut syndrome. The evidence is becoming more and more condensed that increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa is a key factor in the development of many autoimmune diseases.
- Multiple sclerosis: In 2014, researchers from Sweden’s Lund University in Malmö published a study on multiple sclerosis and gut health. According to the scientists around Dr. Lavasani, it is known that leaky gut syndrome exists long before the onset of multiple sclerosis. At the same time, they found that certain probiotics (L. paracasei and L. plantarum) can lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
- Heart disease: Also in 2014, the European Heart Journal reported that a sick intestine always affects the heart. Patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease, for example, generally have a higher risk of additionally developing coronary heart disease. Again, the problem is leaky gut syndrome. It leads to a load on the blood with bacteria and bacterial toxins, which in turn can now contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and chronic heart failure. However, a diseased cardiovascular system now worsens the microcirculation (blood flow to the finest vessels) in the intestine, which further aggravates the existing leaky gut syndrome.
- Migraines and headaches: In 2014, in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, Dutch researchers wrote in an in-depth review of the links between migraines (or chronic headaches) and gut health. Migraines are therefore particularly common in people whose intestinal mucous membrane is damaged. Anyone who suffers from migraines, for example, is often also affected by irritable bowel syndrome, chronic inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease. Yes, it is enough if the nursing mother is a migraine patient. In the child, colic then occurs more frequently. Often, however, the children themselves already suffer from migraines. The cause is suspected to be an increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa (leaky gut syndrome) in connection with inflammatory reactions. Here, too, it is recommended to urgently look at whether the administration of pre- and probiotics could not help those affected. Prebiotics are certain fibers that serve as food for the intestinal flora. Prebiotics include, for example, inulin or fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in yacon syrup or powder.
- Autism: Dutch researchers stated in October 2014 that although the causes of autism have not yet been clarified, it is known that autistic children suffer from gastrointestinal complaints. They have both a leaky gut syndrome and – compared to healthy children – a completely different composition of intestinal flora. It was also observed in some patients that the autistic symptoms improved as soon as their intestinal health could recover.
- Parkinson: In October 2015, Mulak and Bonaz wrote in the World Journal of Gastroenterology about the gut-brain axis associated with Parkinson’s disease. According to the researchers, intestinal health plays a decisive role in the development of Parkinson’s disease, and the disease probably takes its course in the intestines. First, the immune system is overstimulated as a result of leaky gut syndrome and dysbiosis. It leads to systemic inflammation (systemic = affecting the whole body) and then to the activation of nerve cells in the intestine. Both contribute to the fact that the alpha-synuclein deposits typical of Parkinson’s disease are now increasingly forming – first in the intestine and then in the brain. New treatment options for Parkinson’s disease should therefore also take into account the regulation of the intestinal flora and the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa – according to the researchers.
Scientific evidence for a conspicuous connection to leaky gut syndrome is available for many other complaints too.
This means that any health prevention should also include measures that prevent the development of leaky gut syndrome. The risk of developing a serious disease could be significantly reduced in this way.
But how does leaky gut syndrome develop in the first place? Why does the intestinal mucosa suddenly leak?
Leaky Gut Syndrome – This is how the intestinal barrier is built
Leaky gut syndrome is usually the result of the usual modern lifestyle because this has been proven to damage the intestinal barrier. In order to understand the damaging effect of external influences such as nutrition, stimulants and medications on the intestinal barrier, it is important to first know how the intestinal barrier is structured in the first place:
The intestinal barrier represents a protective wall between the inside of the body and the intestinal contents. It thus prevents the pollutants and bacteria arriving with food as well as food particles from entering the bloodstream. For this purpose, it has at least three different protective layers.
1. The mucus layer
On the very outside there is a layer of mucus (mucosa), which consists of a special gel. Many pollutants roll off it and thus do not even get into the deeper layers of the intestinal mucosa.
With the mucosa, the slgA is also released into the interior of the intestine. This is the so-called secretory immunoglobulin A, which is formed in special cells under the intestinal mucosa.
The sIgA is an antibody and therefore belongs to the immune system. It binds all harmful substances and toxins inside the intestine that it can catch and thus significantly relieves the intestinal mucosa. Because as soon as the sIgA has bound a virus or a toxin, it is excreted in any case with the stool and can no longer get to the intestinal mucosa, let alone through it into the bloodstream.
The better the intestine is therefore supplied with sIgA, the stronger the immune system and the better the intestinal mucosa is protected. Of course, it would be important that many pollutants do not arrive in the body in the first place so that not so much sIgA is needed and consumed. The measures listed below, e.g. the intake of a mineral earth (like zeolite) help to keep the pollutant load as low as possible.
2. The intestinal flora
On the mucus layer, the intestinal flora lives and rules – a squad of intestinal bacteria that can comprise up to 100 trillion members. The intestinal flora has many tasks. For example, she ensures that the mucus layer is rebuilt again and again. It trains the immune system and produces nutrients for the intestinal mucosal cells (short-chain fatty acids).
However, the most important task of the intestinal flora is that it displaces harmful bacteria and fungi, because these would attack the mucous membrane. However, with a healthy intestinal flora, the unwelcome microbes have no chance.
3. The intestinal mucosa
Under the mucous layer lies the intestinal mucosa (tunica mucosa). It consists of mucosal cells that are connected to each other via so-called tight junctions. These are ribbon-shaped proteins that hold the cells together. If the tight junctions did not exist, pollutants could slip unhindered through the spaces between the individual cells and enter the bloodstream.
In leaky gut syndrome, all these protective systems are damaged, which means:
- The mucus layer is getting thinner and thinner.
- The amount of sIgA is reduced. (The thinner the mucus layer, the less sIgA enters the intestine).
- The intestinal flora is disturbed.
- The tight junctions in the mucous membrane no longer work, so that gaps arise between the intestinal mucosal cells. The intestine has now become leaky, and inflammation occurs, which often increases the permeability of the intestinal mucosa even further. Now even more pollutants, poisons and particles can pass through the intestinal mucosa, the inflammation grows and the vicious circle is perfect.
Leaky Gut Syndrome – The Causes
Leaky gut syndrome is thus caused by factors that
- destroy the mucous layer,
- reduce the sIgA,
- damage the intestinal flora and
- attack the intestinal mucosa.
Leaky Gut Syndrome due to improper nutrition
It often turns out that people with leaky gut syndrome like to consume a lot of sugar and isolated carbohydrates (sugar, white rice, white flour products such as bread, pasta, etc.) and at the same time consume little fiber and vegetables.
Usually the wrong fats are eaten (a lot of sausage, cheese and refined vegetable oils) and alcoholic beverages are enjoyed (see next point). Such a diet opens the door to leaky gut syndrome.
In addition, if there is a sensitivity to gluten and casein (milk protein), then dairy and cereal products accelerate the development of leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut syndrome caused by alcohol
Since at least the 1970s (1978, Worthington et al.), it has been known that alcohol can damage the intestinal barrier. And in the journal Lancet, a study was published in 1984 according to which alcohol has a very negative effect on the intestinal barrier, especially if a lot of alcohol is drunk regularly. It takes at least two alcohol-free weeks before the regeneration of alcohol-related intestinal mucosa damage can begin in the first place. However, if only 4 days between the alcohol days is paused – according to the study – then the damaged intestinal barrier remains and regeneration can not take place.
Leaky gut syndrome caused by medication
Many drugs attack the intestinal mucosa and irritate the intestinal flora. First of all, of course, this includes antibiotics that kill not only harmful, but also health-promoting bacteria. In this way, they decimate the intestinal flora, which impairs an important protective shield of the intestinal mucosa.
The frequent consequence of antibiotic therapy is therefore a fungal infection (Candida – see next point). Because as soon as the protective bacteria of the intestinal flora are reduced in quantity, fungi settle (which antibiotics can not harm) and multiply rapidly.
The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (painkillers), which are very often taken long-term or even permanently, also affect the intestinal barrier immensely. They are ASA, ibuprofen, diclofenac, indomethacin and many others.
They are all known to damage the stomach and intestinal mucous membranes – so much so that internal bleeding can occur and the health insurance companies have to raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year to treat secondary diseases of the stomach and intestines.
Cortisone is another drug that can affect the gastric and intestinal mucosa, so with prolonged cortisone intake, the development of leaky gut syndrome is possible.
Of course, radiation and chemotherapy also pose a great danger to the intestinal barrier. Both types of treatment are aimed at cells that have a very fast cycle, i.e. divide and multiply at short intervals. Cancer cells are part of this, but unfortunately also the cells of the intestinal mucosa. Therefore, cancer treatments often lead to massive gastrointestinal complaints – including leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky Gut Syndrome caused by Candida
The yeast fungus Candida lives in the intestines of about 90% of healthy adults. After antibiotic therapies or through the excessive consumption of isolated carbohydrates (sugar, white flour), the yeast fungus can multiply excessively and now damage the intestinal mucosa. He does this in two ways:
- Candida initially displaces the healthy intestinal flora, which would protect the intestinal mucosa.
- Candida releases toxic substances (fungal toxins) that damage the intestinal mucosa.
If the intestine is finally damaged and leaking, the fungal toxins as well as the fungus itself can enter the bloodstream and spread from there into the organs. One speaks now of a systemic fungal infection, which, however, is very rare and occurs only with a severely weakened immune system.
Leaky gut syndrome due to stress
Stress – especially in combination with alcohol, sugar and medication – can also lead to candida infestation and thus damage the intestinal mucosa. But even without Candida, strenuous stress phases that last for several weeks or even months are considered a risk factor for leaky gut syndrome.
As early as 2001, a Canadian study by Söderhalm et al. was published in the American Journal of Physiology, in which the researchers wrote that stress leads to dysfunction of the intestinal barrier.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for physical complaints to occur after particularly stressful phases. In particular, grief, separation from the partner, bullying at work, but also panic and anxiety lead to such stress phases.
Leaky Gut Syndrome due to deficiencies in nutrients
Of course, the intestinal mucosa is also dependent on nutrients of all kinds. If there is a deficiency somewhere, then the intestinal mucosa suffers and its functionality decreases.
Vitamin A, for example, is essential for the health of the mucous membranes throughout the organism and thus also for the prevention of leaky gut syndrome.
Zinc is required for the regeneration and healing of the intestinal mucosa. If zinc is missing, the intestinal mucosa can only recover poorly and a leaky gut syndrome is promoted.
Therefore, zinc should always be part of the therapy for leaky gut syndrome – as was already shown in 2001 in a study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
Italian researchers discovered that zinc supplementation (over 8 weeks) was very good at improving leaky gut syndrome in patients with Crohn’s disease. The improvement achieved remained in the following year so that there was no further relapse in almost all subjects.
Leaky gut syndrome caused by infections of the digestive system
Bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses bring a healthy environment in the body out of balance, and gastrointestinal infections occur. Unfortunately, in many cases, medications are then taken, so that not only the pathogens themselves but also the drugs severely damage the intestine.
In this case intestinal infections are far from over even after the acute phase. Although the digestion has returned to some extent, somehow you are not really well. It is possible that leaky gut syndrome has developed and is now preventing the final regeneration.
Leaky gut syndrome due to food intolerances
Sometimes there is a food allergy that you don’t even know about. This may be due to the fact that some food allergies manifest themselves with a time delay.
For example, you eat a piece of cheese – but don’t have a stuffy nose or a rough voice until the next day. Of course, you do not think about the cheese as a possible trigger – and therefore continue to eat it as before.
Or you suffer from headaches and concentration problems again and again, but do not know that you suffer from gluten sensitivity and therefore continue to eat gluten-containing foods.
This regular contamination of the intestine with food, against which the immune system acts with defensive reactions, can damage the intestinal mucosa in the long term and promote leaky gut syndrome.
Therefore, be attentive if you have chronic complaints. From time to time, skip a food or food group for four to six weeks (e.g. dairy products, gluten-containing foods, soy products, your favourite sausage, certain fruits, nuts, etc.) and see if you feel better with this measure.
If you feel a concrete improvement, eat the previously omitted food again and see how you feel in the next few days. If symptoms return slowly, you may expect a type 3 food allergy (delayed food allergy). In the meantime, there are also laboratories that specifically research these allergies and offer corresponding analyses.
Leaky Gut Syndrome – Higher risk in KPU sufferers
KPU (cryptopyrroluria) is a metabolic disorder. It can be inherited (primary KPU) or acquired later in life (secondary KPU). In the case of KPU, enzyme defects lead to an excess of pyrroles (certain metabolic breakdown products) in the blood, which are then excreted to a greater extent in the urine (hence the name “pyrrole-uria”).
Unfortunately, the pyrroles also take nutrients from the body with them – in particular the following three: vitamin B6, zinc and manganese. As a result, those affected suffer from the corresponding deficiency symptoms. And even if only a few people know about KPU so far, 10 percent of all people worldwide are said to be affected by this disease.
Those affected suffer from a wide variety of chronic diseases (of the thyroid gland, joints, bones, etc.), receive appropriate medication (for the thyroid gland, joints, bones) and do not know that their condition would improve greatly if they simply would consume the missing nutrients.
However, the nutrients missing from KPU are also vital for a healthy intestine. It is therefore not surprising that those markers that point to a KPU also speak for a leaky gut syndrome, e.g. a lack of secretory IgA (sIgA) in the stool.
Other LGS markers are also often conspicuous in KPU. e.g. increased alpha-1-antitrypsin as well as zonulin. There is therefore no question that those affected by KPU are particularly at risk of leaky gut syndrome due to their lack of nutrients.
KPU can be very easily detected by a urine test at the doctor’s.
If the result is positive, the missing nutrients must first be taken in high doses. Then one can dedicate oneself to the other measures against Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Before we come to the helpful measures for leaky gut syndrome, it makes sense to first discuss the diagnostic options. Because you want to be sure whether you actually have leaky gut syndrome or not:
Leaky gut syndrome – the diagnosis
In the past, calprotectin, histamine and alpha-1-antitrypsin (in the stool) were used to diagnose LGS. But these values can be also noticeable with other problems.
However, the following two tests are much more specific for leaky gut syndrome. In addition, the sIgA in the stool can also be determined:
The lactulose-mannitol test in urine
Lactulose and mannitol are two sugars that are not metabolized in the small intestine. Mannitol is actively absorbed by the intestinal mucosal cells and excreted in the urine.
Lactulose is a larger molecule. It is therefore normally only absorbed to a small extent and is only detectable in small amounts in the urine.
However, if the intestinal mucosa is leaky, the amount of absorption of these two types of sugar changes. The intestinal mucosa is less active, so that less mannitol is absorbed than from a healthy intestinal mucosa.
Lactulose, on the other hand, can now pass through the leaky intestine in larger quantities, get into the blood and then into the urine.
The ratio of the absorbed amounts of these two sugars is given in the form of the L/M quotient (L/M = lactulose/mannitol).
The test is now offered in some gastroenterological practices and practices for naturopathic treatments and is carried out as follows:
An aqueous solution of mannitol and lactulose is drunk in the morning on an empty stomach, then the urine is collected over a period of 5 hours and a 20 ml sample from this collection is given to the laboratory, alternative practitioner or doctor. Half an hour after drinking the mixture you can drink some water, after 3 hours you can also have a little something to eat.
The zonulin test in blood serum
If the zonulin value in the blood serum increases, it can also be an indication of leaky gut syndrome. Zonulin is a protein that can open the tight junctions in the intestinal mucosa and thus increase the permeability of the intestinal mucosa.
But what increases the zonulin levels so much?
Gluten, for example, is one such substance that increases zonulin levels. This happens immediately after eating wheat and other grains containing gluten. The more zonulin that can be measured in the blood, the more likely it is to have leaky gut syndrome.
Secretory IgA in the stool
A special immunodeficiency can also lead to chronically reduced sIgA levels. But if such a can be ruled out, then the low sIgA values are an indication of an increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa.
Tests for intolerances
If you suspect a food intolerance in yourself, you should have an appropriate test done so that you can delete the respective foods from your diet for the time being in order to spare the intestines the constant irritations. As these can contribute very strongly to the development of leaky gut syndrome.
Some intolerances that can be diagnosed:
- Gluten intolerance
- Lactose intolerance
- Fructose intolerance
- Histamine intolerance
What can you do if leaky gut syndrome has been reliably diagnosed?
The Leaky Gut Syndrome – Measures
From the properties and characteristics of leaky gut syndrome described above, the following naturopathic measures result:
- Measures to protect the mucus layer
- Measures to build up the intestinal flora
- Measures that contribute to the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa
- Measures that inhibit inflammation
1. Protection of the mucus layer
Of course, the mucus layer in the gastrointestinal system is best protected when, firstly, harmful foods and drinks no longer arrive in the body and, secondly, when the intestinal flora is balanced.
So from now on you will avoid harmful foods and drinks and ensure a healthy intestinal flora. But until a healthy mucus layer forms again, it takes a while. However, you can temporarily provide a natural replacement of the mucus layer, namely by consuming mucus-containing or mucus-forming foods:
Natural mucus from flaxseed
Mucus can be provided by, for example, flaxseed, psyllium husks or chia seeds. (Golden flaxseed provides more mucilage than brown flax.) The day before, put 2 – 3 tbsp flaxseed with 250 to 500 ml of water in a bowl. Crushed flaxseeds give more mucus. In the morning, boil the flaxseed mucus briefly and then pour it through a fine sieve. Fill the mucus into a thermos and drink it lukewarm throughout the day, for example, in three servings.
Natural mucus from marshmallow root tea
Mucus-forming medicinal plants can also be used, such as marshmallow root. It has a mucosal protective and anti-irritant effect. In order for the mucus to detach from the root, a cold approach is required. Heat would break down the mucus and reduce the effect:
Pour over 1 tsp crushed marshmallow root or 1 tsp marshmallow leaves with a cup of cold water. Let the mixture stand for 1 to 2 hours and stir again and again. Then pour off the base and sip it.
Licorice root tea promotes healthy mucus formation
Licorice can protect the mucous membrane very well. The licorice-tasting root also normalizes the mucus composition and promotes the mucus production of the mucous membranes without stimulating acid formation in the stomach. The licorice root also has an anti-inflammatory and healing effect.
Bring 1 tsp of licorice root to a boil with 150 ml of cold water, let it continue to boil for a short time and then pour off the tea. You can drink 3 to 5 cups of it daily. After 4 – 6 weeks, however, you should take a break of several weeks – as always with highly effective medicinal plants.
2. Structure of the intestinal flora
Probiotics are the be-all and end-all for the development of the intestinal flora. However, probiotic foods such as raw sauerkraut and kimchi or other fermented foods as well as fermented (non-alcoholic) drinks can also be used – of course always taking into account the individual tolerances.
The advantage of probiotic preparations compared to probiotic foods is that the former contain a higher number of bacteria and a significantly greater variety (diversity) of beneficial bacterial strains and therefore make more sense for therapeutic purposes.
Probiotic intestinal bacteria can stimulate the intestinal mucosal cells to increase the formation of tight junctions. The permeability of the intestinal mucosa is thereby reduced again. Usually, probiotics are taken 1 to 2 times a day with meals.
Perform intestinal rehabilitation
Probiotics are also part of intestinal rehabilitation. In addition to probiotics, two other preparations are taken during intestinal rehabilitation: a mineral earth (bentonite or zeolite) and psyllium husk powder. Such intestinal rehabilitation can improve leaky gut syndrome in three ways:
- First, with the benefits of probiotic bacteria just described.
- Secondly, with the contained psyllium husk powder, which forms a well-sliding mucus, which cleans the intestinal walls very gently and can replace the still missing or only thinly existing endogenous mucus.
- Third, with bentonite or zeolite. These are mineral earths that specialize in the strong absorption of poisons of all kinds and therefore relieve the intestinal mucosa enormously. In addition, they prevent the poisons from entering the bloodstream. Bound to bentonite or zeolite, these are now excreted with the stool.
An intestinal rehabilitation takes – depending on the intestinal situation – about 1 to 3 months. Probiotics can also be taken for 3 months, depending on your condition. Some people take them for years because they simply feel better with them.
Provide your intestinal flora with prebiotics
While probiotics consist of probiotic bacteria, prebiotics are substances that serve as food for the probiotic bacteria, such as inulin or FOS (fructooligosaccharides), which can be found, for example, in yacon syrup or powder.
Prebiotics are so important because the positive bacteria settle very hesitantly in a battered intestine. However, if they are provided with sufficient high-quality food (prebiotics), the intestinal flora can recover much faster – which is particularly important in leaky gut syndrome.
However, an LGS intestine is often very sensitive at the same time. So if you want to take prebiotics, you should do so very slowly and start with small doses to test your personal tolerability. Otherwise, it could lead to flatulence and other digestive problems.
Eliminate Candida infections
In a leaky gut syndrome – as explained above – there is often an infection with Candida fungi at the same time, which prevents a healthy intestinal flora from building up.
A Candida infection can manifest itself in many symptoms. These can include intestinal complaints (flatulence), headaches or even just sporadic round rash-like manifestations on the skin, which do not even have to be accompanied by itching.
For a concrete diagnosis, you can have an intestinal flora test carried out, which is now even available at home and which can be ordered online.
If you are diagnosed with a Candida infection, select targeted anti-Candida measures in addition to intestinal rehabilitation, e.g.
- the combination of coconut oil and oregano oil
- Mixture of anti-fungal essential oils
- Olive leaf extract
- Cistus tea
- Horopito Herb
- Grapefruit seed extract
You can opt for one of these measures or combine several – depending on the degree of your fungal infection.
3. Regeneration of the intestinal mucosa
Of course, the previously described intestinal rehabilitation already contributes to the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. In addition, other options are available. Choose the ones that best suit you and your well-being. Start here with small doses and test your individual tolerability.
L-glutamine stimulates the healing of the intestinal mucosa
L-glutamine is an amino acid that has been known for many years to have a healing effect on the intestinal mucosa. L-glutamine can reduce the permeability of the intestinal mucosa, maintain the intestinal barrier and alleviate chronic inflammatory processes. Conversely, an L-glutamine deficiency leads to damage to the intestinal barrier (leaky gut) and to disorders of intestinal function.
For the intestine, L-glutamine is even the main source of energy. It is therefore not surprising that the intestinal mucosal cells consume 70 percent of the total L-glutamine ingested with food.
In 2004, the excellent effect of L-glutamine on the intestines was demonstrated in a clinical study with 20 patients who had just undergone abdominal surgery. (Surgery is considered a cause of rapid L-glutamine deficiency and also leaky gut syndrome).
10 patients received 30 g of glutamine per day for one week, the other 10 received a placebo supplement. (Meanwhile, L-glutamine doses of 0.5 g per kilogram of body weight per day are recommended).
In the placebo group, serum glutamine levels dropped and leaky gut tests also came back positive. Thus, the L/M quotient was much higher in the placebo group than in the glutamine group. In addition, the glutamine group recovered much faster from the operation. The body temperature was lower in the glutamine subjects, the heart values were better and the number of leukocytes (and thus the degree of inflammation) was lower.
Two other studies also showed that L-glutamine may be helpful in leaky gut syndrome.
However, there are also two studies in which L-glutamine (in Crohn’s disease patients and four weeks of taking 7 g of L-glutamine 3 times a day) did not bring any noticeable improvemen, so that once again there is no other choice but to test yourself whether it helps or not – of course always in conjunction with a correspondingly gut-friendly relieving diet and an individual selection of the other measures listed here.
This is what taking L-glutamine might look like
Many L-glutamine supplements are capsule preparations with L-glutamine amounts of 1 to 2 grams per capsule or recommended daily dose. These doses are too low for the treatment of leaky gut syndrome. Therefore, it makes more sense to choose an L-glutamine powder.
However, start with small amounts of L-glutamine to slowly get used to it and rule out intolerances, e.g. with 3g each 1 to 2 times a day on an empty stomach (one scoop is included with the powder products). Then you slowly increase to 5g 2 times a day and then start with a two-week intensive treatment, which could look like this:
- Week 1: Increase from 2 times 5 g daily (day 1), 2 times a day 10 g (day 2) to 3 times 10 g (from day 3).
- Week 2: Creeping out from 10 g (day 1) 2 times a day, 5 g (day 2) 2 times a day to 5 g 1 time a day (from day 3 to day 7).
If necessary, you can then take another 5g 1 time a day.
L-glutamine should not be taken for more than 8 weeks. Then take a break of several weeks before starting to take it again if necessary. However, in some places it is also recommended to take 5 to 10 g daily permanently. However, we would test again and again whether the body does not get by without it, because L-glutamine in particular is not used to remedy a deficiency (such as vitamin D or B12), which recurs as soon as the preparation is discontinued. L-glutamine is to help heal the intestinal mucosa. Once the healing process has been completed, L-glutamine is no longer needed.
Do not confuse L-glutamine with glutamic acid or even with the flavor enhancer glutamate. Both substances should not be used as a dietary supplement.
Green juices protect and heal the intestinal mucosa
Barley grass juice powder is considered a natural intestinal therapeutic agent of naturopathy. It has a particularly beneficial effect on the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. A daily shake of barley grass juice powder and water, in combination with compatible fruits or avocado, is therefore a good measure to improve intestinal health. Of course, you can also choose wheatgrass or another grass juice variant.
Since green leafy vegetables, grasses and herbs generally have a strong healing effect on the mucous membranes due to their high chlorophyll and nutrient content alone, additionally detoxify and inhibit inflammation, green smoothies or green juices are an important part of the program for healing leaky gut syndrome.
Bitter substances thus protect the intestinal mucosa
Especially harmful to the intestinal mucosa is incomplete digestion. This can occur if too few digestive enzymes or too little stomach acid is formed. Therefore, experiment with digestive enzymes and bitter substances for digestive complaints.
In case of an excess of stomach acid, you should be careful with bitter substances, as these promote the formation of stomach acid. Therefore, if your symptoms get worse after taking bitter substances, this speaks for an excess of stomach acid, bitter substances do you good, you are more likely to suffer from stomach acid deficiency. By the way, a stomach acid deficiency can manifest itself – just like an excess of stomach acid – with heartburn. So heartburn should not cause you to avoid bitter substances. Give it a try!
Bitter substances stimulate not only the formation of stomach acid, but also the flow of bile and the production of digestive juices from the salivary glands. In addition, the motor performance of the stomach, intestines and gallbladder is improved.
Digestion is thus optimized with the help of bitter substances, which is of outstanding importance especially in a leaky gut syndrome. For the supply of bitter substances, the following natural preparations are suitable:
- Bitter herbal elixirs (Swedisch bitters)
- Bitter herbs and spices, e.g. dandelion, yarrow, wegwarte, sage, ginger, galangal and turmeric
If you suffer from chronic gastritis or stomach ulcer, you should not take concentrated bitter substances.
Nutrients for the intestinal mucosa
With leaky gut syndrome, as with any disease, you have to supply all the necessary nutrients in the required amount. It is therefore not enough to simply take zinc and vitamin A, because these two nutrients are known to have such a good effect on the intestinal mucosa.
Likewise, you should check whether you consume enough omega-3 fatty acids, as these have a noticeable anti-inflammatory effect.
Think of magnesium, iron, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 or the entire B complex including folic acid and, of course, vitamin C and vitamin E.
The list of all the nutrients at this point does not mean that you have to take them all in the form of supplements. What you should do, however, is to take a look at your diet and consider: Which nutrients are missing there? Which one should I feed? Which foods should I consume more intensively? You can also discuss this aspect with a holistic nutritionist who can help you create a suitable nutrition plan here.
Your iron and vitamin D levels can be checked by your GP, so that you can find out very quickly whether or not you should supplement your diet with these two vital substances.
Many of the mentioned nutrients have a strong antioxidant and therefore anti-inflammatory effect, which leads directly to the next point:
4. Inhibition of inflammation
In leaky gut syndrome, latent inflammatory processes are always underway in the intestine. At the same time, large amounts of free radicals are formed, which additionally burden the intestine and aggravate the leaky gut syndrome even further. Therefore, antioxidants should be used that have an anti-inflammatory effect, eliminate free radicals and in this way prevent further mucosal changes.
Fight inflammatory processes with antioxidants
The most effective antioxidants include: OPC, astaxanthin, curcumin, glutathione, pine bark extract, quercetin, rutin, hesperidin, anthocyanins and many more.
Some foods are particularly rich in antioxidants, such as turmeric, moringa, pomegranates, or berries (e.g. aronia berry). Many antioxidants can also be taken very easily as a dietary supplement, especially curcumin from turmeric, moringa powder or aronia juice.
Increase your glutathione levels
Glutathione is an endogenous antioxidant that the organism can produce itself. The body’s own glutathione production can be significantly increased by taking special substances: These are the following four, which themselves also have an antioxidant effect: sulforaphane, curcumin, green tea extract and pterostilbene (in all dark berries).
Milk thistle, which is better known as a liver tonic, also supports the increase in glutathione levels. In addition, it has other excellent effects in leaky gut syndrome. On the one hand, it helps to regenerate the liver, which means that the intestine has to suffer from a lower toxic load, is better supplied with blood and can regenerate faster. On the other hand, milk thistle has an antioxidant effect and anti-inflammatory effect on the intestinal mucosa.
Of course, you don’t have to take many different antioxidants. Simply select one or two of the mentioned antioxidants, and use them until the package is used up, and then switch to another one.
What else you should do about leaky gut syndrome
Basically, the following rules apply. Ignoring them, leaky gut syndrome will never be completely cured:
- Avoid stimulants (sugar, caffeine, nicotine, sweeteners, alcohol and unnecessary medications, etc.).
- Eat healthy! A nutrient-rich and alkaline or alkaline diet ensures that harmful intestinal bacteria and fungi can no longer find food. The organism is strengthened and the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa can begin faster. However, pay attention to individual intolerances. And if you have hardly eaten fruit or whole grains so far, then you should not overdo it with these foods now, as your intestines are not used to it and could be sensitive to it in its ailing state. So stick to a light diet that is best to always prepare fresh, e.g. vegetable dishes, potato dishes, soups, vegetable juices, gluten-free pasta, etc.
- Nevertheless, choose fiber-rich foods. They accelerate the passage of food porridge through the intestine. The faster this happens, the better for the intestinal mucous membranes. Because then no fermentation or putrefactive processes occur and the toxic load on the intestinal mucosa remains as low as possible. However, choose wholesome fibre, so not exactly white flour. Well tolerated and at the same time extremely rich in fiber are, for example, coconut flour, hemp protein, baobab, grass powder and flaxseed mucus.
- Eat slowly and chew intensively. LGS patients benefit enormously from this simple tip, as thorough chewing requires less digestive power, can be digested more thoroughly, the risk of the formation of putrefactive and fermentation substances is reduced and nutrient absorption is improved.
- Think of regular physical exercise, as this gets the intestines going and promotes the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa.
- Drink plenty of pure water daily – about 40 ml per kilogram of body weight. As a result, toxins and pollutants are discharged more quickly and the intestine is relieved.
- Drink digestive herbal teas, such as peppermint tea, again and again. It has been drunk for digestive problems since time immemorial – and not without reason. Peppermint promotes bile release, thereby improving digestion, has a slight antibacterial effect and nourishes the intestinal walls.
- Ginger tea is also excellent for the intestines. It has many healing properties, and has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect.
- Avoid stress whenever possible and learn relaxation techniques that you can practice during your breaks. In this way, your body learns to stop letting stress get so close to it. He can let go again and again in between so that no chronic stress state will develop in the first place.
Leaky Gut Syndrome – The Duration of Regeneration
The regeneration of leaky gut syndrome can take several weeks to 18 months. So approach the matter with patience, but also with the necessary consistency.