Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common condition, affecting around 1 in 10 people, and is usually diagnosed when Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), significant infections or other medically seen as urgent conditions are ruled out. Sadly, there are not many remedies offered after such a diagnosis, with most people simply aiming to reduce their symptoms rather than continue on their journey towards finding a cause or facilitate more permanent healing. They often continue to suffer from diarrhea, bloating, pain or constipation, or a mixture of all of these, for most of their life.
At TACGA, our goals for IBS are to reduce symptoms (such as through diet, nutritional therapy such as correction of deficiencies, or symptom-specific remedies), find the potential causes (such as SIBO or dysbiosis) and provide our clients with tools to facilitate healing, hence allowing them to continue with life without the stress associated with the condition.
Irritable Bowel Disease is medically diagnosed and can include a range of conditions, but most people suffering from IBD have Ulcerative Colitis, which is inflammation and ulceration of the innermost lining of the large intestine, or Crohn’s Disease, being deep inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. The symptoms of IBD are significant and include pain, diarrhea, blood in the stool and fatigue. Most people with IBD are prescribed anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing medications, and some even have parts of their digestive tract removed to reduce their symptoms. It is important to realize that IBD involves high amounts of inflammation and also a dysregulation in the bowel, so at TACGA we believe it is not purely a bowel disease.
We use Nutrigenomic tools to analyze the individual’s inflammatory genetics, as well as other relevant factors such as nutrient receptors, and also the latest technology in stool/microbiome testing to address the multiple facets of IBD. Diet plays a crucial role in IBD, so allowing one of our practitioners to guide you through a gut healing protocol is absolutely essential.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut syndrome, causes digestive distress for many individuals and has a big role in food sensitivity developement. This condition occurs through damage to the lining of the intestines and allows partially digested proteins, bacteria and toxins to enter the bloodstream and trigger systemic inflammation. Individuals then have problems with effective digestion and absorption of food, gastrointestinal illness, pathogenic intestinal microbiota, poor immune status, and overall lower wellbeing.
Under normal circumstances, the gut wall has a number of effective defenses. The first line of defense is the mucosal layer on the intestinal surface, providing a physical barrier and keeping things in the right place. The second line of defense is the integrity of the gut wall itself, where in a healthy gut, epithelial cells are densely packed, with very tight ‘junctions’ between them that only allow small molecules to get through. However, in an unhealthy gut, these junctions get wider, allowing undigested food proteins, toxins and germs to enter the blood system.
Causes of leaky gut
Leaky gut can be caused by many factors such as an imbalance of gut bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses creating inflammation, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, food allergens, mineral deficiencies and poor sulphation. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) may also play a role in intestinal permeability by increasing constipation, reducing pancreatic enzyme and gastric acid activity, and disturbing the microbiota and host immune system relationship.
What are the symptoms associated with ‘Leaky Gut’?
The leakage of partially digested proteins as well as harmful bacteria and toxins into the bloodstream may cause the immune system to treat these molecules as foreign bodies and therefore ‘learn’ to attack them, leading to the development of food allergies, inflammatory responses and the production of free radicals, (highly reactive, unstable molecules) that cause cellular damage and are implicated in a range of serious health conditions.
One of the most significant consequences of leaky gut is stress on the liver affecting its vital detoxification functions. The liver is responsible for filtering out all the toxins, pathogens and undigested food particles that make it through the gut wall and into the bloodstream. The more toxins it has to deal with, the more stress the liver will be placed under, including depleting its reserves of sulphur-containing amino acids (such as cysteine and methionine, which are in turn vital to the production of the super-antioxidant, glutathione).
Probably the most familiar aspect of leaky gut syndrome is its association with gluten and casein. The peptides derived from the proteins in wheat and milk (gluteomorphin/gliadorphin and casomorphin) would, under normal circumstances, be too large to be absorbed through the gut wall into the bloodstream, but are allowed to pass through leaky wall and lead to intolerances and autoimmune reactions.
Repairing the leaky gut
Our clinic focuses on the repair of leaky gut from many angles:
Nutritional support to ensure that enough nutrients such as glutamine, omega 3 essential fatty acids, vitamins like Vitamin E and minerals such as zinc are available to support cell repair. Our practitioners can help to optimise the diet and reduce any genetic malabsorption which may hinder the gut from receiving the nutrients it needs to repair.
Probiotic supplementation can help strengthen the tight junctions of the intestine, reducing overall permeability. Specialist probiotics can have anti-inflammatory effects in the gut, regulating the production of inflammatory cytokines and reducing intestinal permeability. This demonstrates the benefits of a balanced microbiota in the gut to maintain the function of the intestinal barrier.In some instances, fermented foods can be critical to the healing process as they offer a more saturated probiotic supplement than most probiotic tablets. Our practitioners can help to choose the correct probiotic for you, and in most cases ferment with these probiotics to receive maximum benefit. We also run workshops to teach our clients how to ferment to supply their families and themselves with delicious and probiotic rich food.
Reducing inflammation at the genetic level, but also dietary and lifestyle inflammation sources. We use genetic analysis to pinpoint where potential levels of inflammation are coming from.
Dietary support including Gut Healing Diets (discussed in our Gut Healing Diet box)