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Leaky Gut Syndrome: What is it, what are its symptoms, how is it diagnosed and treated?

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Leaky Gut Syndrome: What is it, what are its symptoms, how is it diagnosed and treated?

The density of healthy microorganisms in the intestine, called microbiota, is an extremely valuable structure that directly or indirectly affects the functioning of all body systems, especially the digestive system. The microbiota, which is sterile until the moment of birth, begins to develop at birth and is greatly affected by the person’s birth style, nutritional habits and environmental factors. This microorganism density, which has an extremely delicate balance, is disrupted as a result of unnecessary antibiotic use or unhealthy eating habits such as fast food, and harmful microorganisms first increase on the intestinal surface. This condition disrupts the healthy intestinal structure and causes various diseases such as leaky gut syndrome.

The density of healthy microorganisms in the intestine, called microbiota, is an extremely valuable structure that directly or indirectly affects the functioning of all body systems, especially the digestive system. The microbiota, which is sterile until the moment of birth, begins to develop at birth and is greatly affected by the person’s birth style, nutritional habits and environmental factors. This microorganism density, which has an extremely delicate balance, is disrupted as a result of unnecessary antibiotic use or unhealthy eating habits such as fast food, and harmful microorganisms first increase on the intestinal surface. This condition disrupts the healthy intestinal structure and causes various diseases such as leaky gut syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

There are approximately 10 times more microorganisms in the human body than the total number of cells, and approximately 70% of these microorganisms are located in the intestine. This powerful microorganism density, which has an extremely important role not only in digestive function but also in the functioning of all systems of the body, is indispensable for maintaining both physical, spiritual and neurological health. If the microbial balance is disrupted, the number of pathogenic microorganisms increases and microdamages occur in the intestinal epithelium.

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The inner intestinal wall, called the intestinal epithelium, has the largest mucosal surface in the body. The healthy intestinal wall contains tight junction proteins called occlidin, adhesion molecule and zonula occludens. Thanks to these proteins, which come together with the mucus layer and form an extremely strong barrier structure, beneficial molecules taken with food are absorbed, while toxic substances, harmful bacteria and foreign antigen molecules are excreted from the body through feces without being absorbed. In case of microdamage resulting from changes in the microbiota, the barrier property is impaired; The permeability of the intestinal epithelium increases and toxic contents taken with food or harmful molecules produced by microorganisms pass through the intestinal surface and enter the systemic circulation directly. This condition, called leaky gut syndrome, directly affects many systems of the body, especially the digestive and immune systems.

Leaky Gut Syndrome Symptoms

In the presence of any health problem in the intestines, which is considered the second brain of the body, various signs and symptoms may occur on many systems of the body.

Digestive system problems such as constipation, bloating, diarrhea and gas are among the common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome, as in many diseases affecting the intestine. Intermittent repetition of constipation and diarrhea cycles and mucus-containing stool should bring leaky gut syndrome to mind. In some cases, the person does not experience any bowel-related complaints, but various allergic reactions, eczema-like lesions on the skin, sudden changes in mood, mental problems such as depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue, muscle pain that does not go away with rest, swelling and pain in the joints, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, A wide variety of diseases occur, such as difficulty concentrating and hyperactivity disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and urticaria. The underlying cause of all these diseases may be leaky gut syndrome and other intestinal diseases. Therefore, each of them should be considered a symptom of leaky gut syndrome, and in the presence of these diseases, a detailed intestinal examination should be performed even if there are no symptoms related to the digestive system.

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Leaky Gut Syndrome Diagnosis

Although bowel-related diseases are generally diagnosed based on symptoms, more advanced diagnostic methods are often required for a definitive diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome. In the presence of symptoms indicating the disease, a detailed stool analysis is first performed and thus the bacterial status of the intestines, the ratio of beneficial-harmful bacteria, and the presence of various infections such as fungi are evaluated. Disruption of the healthy microbiota balance, an increase in the density of pathogenic bacteria and the presence of various infections such as fungi can be considered as both the cause and the result of leaky gut syndrome. Since the intestine has an extremely complex functioning, intestine-related diseases also have a very complex course.

However, another frequently preferred method for diagnosing leaky gut syndrome is the zonulin test. Zonulin is one of the molecules that form tight junctions in the intestinal wall and is necessary to maintain the permeability of the intestine. If tight junctions are damaged and intestinal permeability is impaired, the body secretes more zonulin molecules to compensate for this deficit, and zonulin levels increase in both blood and feces. Therefore, increased levels of zonulin in the blood or stool are considered a sign of leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky Gut Syndrome Treatment

When planning the treatment of bowel-related diseases, not only medical methods but also functional methods such as diet, aromatherapy and psychotherapy should be taken into consideration; A personalized holistic treatment plan should be made. Treatment of leaky gut syndrome is possible by repairing the damaged intestinal wall, and nutritional practices are the basis of the treatment. First, the diet plan created with foods aimed at repairing the intestinal wall is applied for a certain period of time; Then, the tests that reveal the diagnosis are repeated along with the patient’s complaint levels. It may be recommended to consume the following foods in the treatment of leaky gut syndrome:

  • Bone broth is the main food that should be consumed to repair the intestinal wall in line with the treatment plan. Bone broth, which contains useful compounds such as many natural oils, minerals and vitamins, is also rich in amino acids such as gelatin, glutamine, proline and glycine. Regular consumption of this amino acid group of compounds, which protect the healthy intestinal wall and repair damaged intestinal cells, is necessary for the treatment of leaky gut syndrome.
  • Homemade yoghurt is another type of food that should be consumed for the treatment of leaky gut syndrome. Thanks to natural yoghurt, one of the most important probiotic sources, beneficial microorganisms in the intestine are strengthened; The microbiota balance is regulated and the repair process of the intestinal wall is accelerated. Lactobacillus group bacteria, which are abundant in it, also provide protection against infection by regulating the pH level of the environment.
  • Coconut oil is also one of the most essential nutrients for the treatment of leaky gut syndrome. This oil, which has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties thanks to the caprylic acid it contains, neutralizes all microorganisms in the intestinal tissue that can cause infection. In addition, coconut oil, which is rich in medium chain fatty acids, is one of the extremely useful compounds to repair damage to mucosal tissues.
  • Beneficial food groups that should be consumed are extremely successful in curing leaky gut syndrome. However, in addition to this, removing foods that should not be consumed from the diet is of critical importance in repairing the intestinal surface. In particular, gluten grains, sugary foods, and foods containing lactose and casein, which are known to cause inflammation in the body, should be excluded from the nutrition plan; Organic foods should be consumed as much as possible.
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Treatment of leaky gut syndrome, which can lead to many diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and celiac disease if not treated correctly, is only possible with a holistic and functional treatment plan designed specifically for the individual. For other issues you are curious about digestive system diseases such as leaky gut, you can contact the gastroenterology unit or nutrition and diet department of health institutions.

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