Article by Jan Cassels
What a truly wise man Hippocrates was. Everything stems from the gut. Without the process of digestion of foods and the absorption of nutrients to fuel every single cell and process in our body, then we would quite literally break down. That is a very simplified version of what actually goes on, but it does get the point across.
We need our digestive tract to be healthy and functioning efficiently.
Leaky Gut has a devastating effect on the digestive system and is starting to be a major problem in the modern World.
What is ‘leaky gut? How does it occur? What happens when it does?
The human digestive tract starts at the mouth and ends at the anus and is everything in between – a long tube. The whole length is coated with a bacterial eco system, much like a fitted ‘organic’ carpet. This layer provides a natural barrier against invaders, undigested foods, toxins and parasites – WHEN THE GUT IS HEALTHY!
The term Leaky Gut Syndrome is used to describe ‘gaps’ that appear in the lining of the intestines which allows partly digested molecules of foods, bacteria and toxins to pass through into the bloodstream.
Once the larger molecules of foods, toxins or bacteria pass into your blood, it will eventually pass through your liver. Normally the liver filters the blood for toxins and waste and is able to excrete them along with bile that is released into your colon. But it cannot possible cope with the amount of toxic substances that may now be passing through your bloodstream if you are eating a typical Western diet and inevitably most of it will be absorbed into tissue causing inflammation.
Eventually your immune system will pick up on these ‘foreign bodies’ and will start to produce antibodies to try and fight them off, creating an autoimmune response. Food intolerances develop as part of this response. Whatever foods you eat regularly, with leaky gut they have the potential to set off an intolerance.
The answer is to heal the leaky gut!
The allergic responses, toxin overload and inflammation experienced can lead to a whole host of symptoms and specific illnesses:
Digestive disorders :
Colic / bloating / cramps / flatulence / diarrhoea / constipation / irritable bowel syndrome / gastritis / colitis / Candida overgrowth/
Coeliacs Disease / rheumatoid arthritis / osteoarthritis / diabetes Type I / multiple sclerosis / amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / systemic lupus erythematosus / crohn’s disease / ulcerative colitis / autoimmune skin problems such as acne rosacea and psoriasis.
Atopic conditions :
Asthma / eczema / acne / various allergies / food allergies / food intolerances / multiple chemical sensitivity.
Muscle weakness / cramps / abnormal muscle tone / muscle and joint aches and pains / skin problems / hormonal abnormalities / chronic fatigue syndrome / fibromyalgia / ME / arthritis / PMS and other menstrual problems / chronic cystitis / thrush / many endocrine disorders (thyroid, adrenal and other) including syndrome X / weight gain.
Includes learning disabilities and mental disorders :
Mood swings / poor memory function / cognitive problems / foggy brain syndrome / behavioural and social problems / panic attacks / anxiety / involuntary movements / various tics and fits / sensory problems / autism / ADHD / ADD / dyslexia / dyspraxia / addictions / depression / obsessive-compulsive disorder / bipolar disorder / schizophrenia / epilepsy / eating disorders.
As I mentioned earlier, leaky gut is a very complex disorder to recognise and treat because if you check the list of symptoms against the list of symptoms for Candida, Fibromyalgia and Adrenal Fatigue there are many cross-overs. Professional diagnosis and treatment is recommended.
What is the cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome? The consensus of opinion is that the main factors are :
- Poor diet full of GMO, pesticide laden and processed food/beverages and toxins – especially alcohol, chemicals and sugars.
- Chronic stress which can affect our adrenal system and also depletes our immune system too. The ripple effect is that our immune system is too weak to deal with all the inflammation, infection and parasites such as Candida that may also be growing out of control at this point.
- Low stomach acid allowing undigested foods to pass through and irritate the gut lining further.
- Over the counter and prescribed medications – all contain toxins adding to the inflammation. But especially NSAID painkillers and steroids.
- Yeast overgrowth, usually Candida albicans. Over a long period it can progress to its fungal state and start to put down ‘roots’ into the gut wall which further opens up the permeability.
Treating leaky gut is complex and has different dimensions to the treatment. In my experience (and that of many other practitioners) diet alone cannot ‘seal the gaps’. Here are what most practitioners agree upon:
- A healthier diet that will need to eliminate all ‘toxic’ foods and include foods that will heal the gut.
- The right nutritional supplements for the individual based on their deficiencies and needs.
- The correct level of digestive enzymes to ensure that food is broken down better so that it can be absorbed in the normal way through receptors and not trigger the immune response.
- Probiotics to balance the eco system.
It is quite a balancing act to reduce the toxins ingested, heal the leaky gut, reduce the Candida overgrowth if there is any, replace the good bacteria and then really start to rid the body of the build up of toxins. Very often my patient will feel worse before they start to feel better because toxins do start to be released and the body is not clearing them fast enough. But through daily/weekly monitoring by me we can keep that balance and continually make adjustments to their diet and treatment programme.
Everyone is an individual and as such their level of Leaky Gut and their reactions to it will be different. Just as the way their body works with the new diet and medicines/supplements will be different too. Often people try to reverse their leaky gut (and the other health problems that they may have as part of the overall dis-ease), by self-diagnosing and self-medicating. I would urge you not to do this as you really could make matters worse. Work with a professional that specialises in Leaky Gut and Candida overgrowth to ensure that you return to health as quickly and as comfortably as possible.
Jan Cassells – BSc (Hons), CGP, MNIMH
Tel: 07832 370262
My early background was in the corporate and the financial sectors, but always had a passion for nutrition and natural ways to treat health issues.
In 2003 I realised my ambition and went back into full time education, graduating from the University of Lincoln with a Bsc (Hons) degree in Herbal Medicine. In 2008 I qualified as a Colonic Hydrotherapist and became more involved with detox programmes and the treatment of Candida.
In 2011 I started taking more interest in nutrition and how to treat certain conditions using food, which led me to train in 2013 under Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and became a qualified Gut & Psychology Syndrome practitioner.
Since 2006 I have continued my Professional Development in herbal medicine and nutritional courses, including the Herbal Treatment Protocols for Cancer and like to keep updated with the current research and trends in natural health care. I am also a trained Samaritan and have experience in counselling and coaching, as well as team training techniques.