Intestinal Permeability or Leaky Gut Syndrome

Although Leaky Gut Syndrome, also called Intestinal Permeability, is quite common, it is rarely tested for by doctors. And some doctors have maintained that it does not even exist! That stance is changing, however, as more and more chronic and autoimmune conditions are connected to having a “leaky gut”.

Normally, the lining of the small and large intestines provide a semi-permeable barrier which prevents toxins, large molecules of food, bacteria and yeasts from passing through the barrier and entering the bloodstream where they can trigger autoimmune reactions and cause mild to severe health problems.


This lining has three very important jobs to do:

  1. It absorbs and transports nutrients from our food across the intestinal wall.

  2. It provides a protective barrier that prevents toxins, bacteria, yeast, viruses and inappropriate food molecules (like undigested proteins) from passing into the bloodstream.

  3. Within this lining, over 70% of immune-producing cells are created. These cells fight off bad bacteria and viruses. So, in effect, over 70% of our immune function lives here. A compromised lining is a compromised immune function.

This intestinal lining is supposed to have small spaces between the cells. These spaces can open and close, allowing larger or smaller molecules to pass as appropriate. However, when these spaces become destroyed by inflammation, the spaces become too large.

This allows toxins and large molecules to “leak” from the intestines into the bloodstream. And once the intestinal lining becomes too permeable, it negatively affects all three of the important jobs this barrier is meant to do.

  1. Our body loses its ability to properly absorb nutrients which can lead to malnutrition and serious mineral deficiencies.

  2. The toxins and undigested proteins that leak into the bloodstream can cause the body to trigger an IL-6 and IL-4 auto-antibody reaction where healthy tissue gets inflamed and food allergies are created.

  3. The lining no longer is protected by probiotic bacteria and bad bacteria and viruses can invade the terrain.

When the lining is damaged in this way the pathways in the gut that are meant to help detoxify the body of chemicals and environmental influences fail to do so. The liver and kidneys can then become overburdened and toxins can redistribute throughout the body and bioaccumulate in the tissue and organs. This could lead to various autoimmune symptoms like multiple chemical sensitivity.

According to an article in the Alternative Medicine Review, Vol. 2, Number 5, conditions and symptoms known to be associated with leaky gut include, but are not limited to:

  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Food allergies
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Sluggish thyroid

What Causes Damage to the Intestinal Lining?
  1. Medications: NSAIDs and antibiotics – These are some of the main culprits in damaging the intestinal lining. Millions of people believe these to be harmless, but unfortunately they can have severe gastric side effects.

    According to Dr. Leo Galland, “Chronic exposure to NSAIDs (like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and nabumetone) produces a chronic state of intestinal hyper-permeability associated with inflammation. And antibiotics kill off the natural microflora in the intestinal tract which would normally protect the intestinal lining from overgrowth of yeast and negative bacteria.

  2. Alcohol –Ethanol has a damaging effect on the lining of the small intestine.

  3. Viral, fungal and bacterial infections – Infections like the stomach flu, food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea can damage this lining.

  4. Parasites

  5. Refined foods, sugar and high fructose corn syrup – In the absence of friendly bacteria, a diet with high levels of sugar and starches will enhance yeast infections and overgrowth. These foods, at high levels, will ultimately compromise immune function.

  6. Stress chemicals – high levels of cortisol and other stress chemicals leads to an inflammatory state which can inflame the intestinal lining.

  7. The cumulative toxin burden of heavy metals, chemicals, food additives, plastics, chlorine, fluoride, etc.

  8. Emotional trauma – like a death, divorce, loss of job.

  9. Surgery

Of course, the most important question is, “What can be done about leaky gut?” The good news is that under normal conditions the mucosal lining replaces itself faster than almost any other part of the body. Old cells are sloughed off and new cells on the intestinal lining are generated every 3 to 6 days.

This rapid cell turnover uses a lot of energy which must be provided by eating highly nutritional food. If the diet is primarily one of refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, packaged foods, junk foods, processed foods, sodas, etc, the intestinal lining will not have the energy necessary to regenerate itself. And, these foods will feed the yeast and fungus in the gut that will sustain this compromised terrain.

A basic healthy diet would include 5 to 8 servings of fresh fruits and mainly vegetables daily, high quality protein form organic (if possible) sources of fresh fish, chicken, eggs, healthy fats such as coconut oil and olive oil (avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil and refined, bleached and deodorized supermarket oils.)

Avoid refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, aspertame (Nutrasweet), white flour and preservatives.

Decreasing the toxic burden in the intestines can be achieved by an implementation of the above diet, an elimination of harmful medications and a treatment of candida, harmful bacteria and parasites.

Supplements Needed to Help Build a Healthy Gut Lining
  1. Bovine colostrum and whey protein – Colostrum and whey protein are rich in natural immunoglobulins that support healthy functioning of the intestinal immune system. Colostrum also helps prevent damage to this lining by NSAIDs.

  2. Bioactive Peptide Protein from white fish – Hydrolized white fish protein is pre-digested by the fish’s own enzymes from the amino acid level to the peptide protein level. This peptide molecule of protein is then available to be absorbed into the intestinal lining where it may help to restore and repair tissue.

    A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on pre-digested white fish reported a 79% decrease in symptoms of leaky gut upon the participants.

  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Increases the formation of prostaglandin in the body. Prostaglandin helps the immune system and helps to reduce inflammation. Experiments with animals showed that fish oil helped reduce mucosal injury.

    Essential fatty acids are best supplemented with molecularly distilled fish oil that is guaranteed free of dioxins and mercury.

  4. DGL licorice – This has been shown to help soothe, restore and repair the tissue in the intestinal lining.

  5. Digestive Enzymes – Plant and microbial enzymes or pancreatic animal enzymes may help digestion and aid pancreatic function which is also associated with hyperpermeability.

  6. Probitoics - To promote colonization of good bacteria in the intestinal tract.

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Recommended: One thing we recommend for anyone who has a health condition, is to have a hair mineral analysis test done.

How can a hair analysis help one achieve better health? If we consider that diet is what we consume and nutrition is what we retain, then we can see that discovering what the body needs when it needs it is a valuable tool in creating health. A hair analysis can determine which essential minerals the body is needing more of and which toxic elements it needs to eliminate. It also provides valuable insight into the body's metaoblism and what dietary changes would be most helpful for recovery. Hair Analysis Report

In Conclusion
Leaky Gut Syndrome can be a key element in many various conditions and symptoms. Hyperpermeability of intestinal lining can start a vicious cycle of allergies, autoimmune reactions of pain and inflammation and mineral depletion. We hope that the above suggestions can offer more than a modicum of relief as you begin to repair and build this very important part of your body.

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To view our page on Leaky Gut Syndrome - Causes and Solutions, please click here.

Thank you for visiting our page on Intestinal Permeability!