Florentina Sgarz, BA
Leaky Gut – What are the causes?
It is difficult to pin down the exact cause of a Leaky Gut. It’s often the summary of several components. Bacterial pathogens, parasites, fungi, medications and lifestyle can all come into question. Here are some of the most common causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome:
Medications, e.g. painkillers, can harm the intestinal barrier after a prolonged intake. Cortisol is another drug that can cause long term damage to the sensitive stomach and intestinal mucosa and can lead to a Leaky Gut.
A stressful daily life or the regular consumption of alcohol can also attack the gastrointestinal tract. Stress almost always plays a significant role in many diseases. The intestines show measurable changes to the intestinal mucosa due to constant stress. Studies have also clearly shown that the regular consumption of alcohol can lead to a damaged intestinal barrier. People who consume alcohol are, on average, more likely to suffer from diarrhoea than from people who abstain from alcohol. Quitting alcohol for only two weeks already improves the condition of the intestinal mucosa. Diet is also a relevant factor in determining the cause of a Leaky Gut. An unbalanced diet or eating habit rich in sugar and fat can have negative consequences for the digestive system and facilitate a Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Our bodies are inhabited by a plethora of microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi. These compete against one another for balance and presence in the intestines. Fungi are usually kept in check by the good intestinal bacteria. However, imbalances to this ratio can occur and fungi, e.g. Candida fungi, can become rampant. Candida fungi are yeast fungi from the Candida family. Candida albicans is one of the most common of this species and can be found in roughly 75% of all healthy people. Usually, they don’t cause any damage, but in the presence of a dysbalance, they also play a crucial role in Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Allergies are becoming a bigger and more common problem. Foods, metals, mycotoxins, colourants and artificial additives can all lead to inflammatory reactions in the body. These inflammations also occur when the body reacts negatively towards some foods. These intolerances can damage the intestinal mucosa in the body over time.
Daily life with a Leaky Gut
Even though the Leaky Gut Syndrome diagnosis is quite a shock to the system, the symptoms can be treated quite well with various therapies. Most importantly, the inflammations in the body have to be reduced. Because of a Leaky Gut, the body comes into regular contact with antigens, such as wheat or cow’s milk, which can cause inflammatory reactions. The first step is to change the diet. The diet is often crucial in determining the intensity of the complaints, which can be handled with a well-thought-out eating plan. Foods that are rich in refined sugar, unhealthy fats, preservatives and additives promote a Leaky Gut Syndrome or the development of other intestinal diseases when consumed frequently. This expresses itself through continuous and silent inflammatory activity in the intestines. A balanced diet with healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals soothe the intestines and inflammations. Foods that are not tolerated should be avoided, especially when a person suffers from food intolerances or food allergies. Due to the constant intake of food and the ensuing uproar in the intestines, inflammations continuously arise that promote the development of diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. A fibre-rich diet including oats, rye, vegetables and fruits are great for the intestinal flora and have a positive effect on digestion.
Which probiotic bacteria species are recommended for a Leaky Gut Syndrome?
There are other therapeutic options, besides a change in diet, to alleviate symptoms and make life with this disease easier. However, it is important to talk to your doctor and choose the right medication together. A further therapeutic option is the use of probiotics. According to the World Health Organization (short WHO), probiotics are “viable microorganisms that have a health-promoting effect on the host when taken in the right amounts.” In this case, humans are the hosts that ingest the microorganism. Probiotics contain bacteria that naturally inhabit the human intestines and support the pre-existing bacteria. There is often an unbalance between good and bad bacteria in the intestines in the presence of a Leaky Gut Syndrome. That is why the addition of viable, probiotic intestinal bacteria is so important for the regeneration of a healthy intestinal flora.
What is the best probiotic for a Leaky Gut?
Combinations of specific probiotic bacterial strains that verifiably reduce a permeable intestine are ideal. Probiotic bacterial strains that work well against a Leaky Gut Syndrome include Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactococcus lactis and Streptococcus thermophiles. The dose and duration of intake, on the other hand, depends on various other factors: Age, underlying diseases, diet, mental and physical restrictions, smoking, alcohol, various (medicinal) treatments, etc. An in-depth consultation with your doctor or pharmacist can help you find out which probiotic or which combination of probiotic bacterial strains is best for you.