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Leaky Gut and Leaky Membranes: How To Avoid It and How To Heal It

Written by: Dr. Fred Harvey, MD

Leaky gut is a term that has had some recent time in the health media spotlight. Many have heard or seen it in use, but few understand it. There is a wealth of information on the internet to distract and confuse. That’s because many sources are for marketing more than educational purposes, so the story told is skewed to sell a product or service rather than to provide the reader with information to make a sound decision regarding their individual health. I will try to help clarify your understanding of several issues so that you can evaluate the information. These are: to define what the problem is and where it originates; to understand how and why it is critical to our health and how we can restore the integrity of out gut lining to protect our health and vitality.

Leaky gut is a term that describes a dysfunctional condition of the intestine in which the lining of the gut is damaged. In the normal state the cells lining the intestinal walls are closely connected and form an impenetrable barrier for large molecules, bacteria, yeast and other unwanted things. These tight junctions that hold together the cells can be damaged resulting in openings that allow “leaking” of these substances into the space between the cells and thus into the lymphatic and blood circulation. A more medical definition from a UK based group is “an increase in permeability of the intestinal mucosa (intestinal wall) to luminal(the open space in the tube of the intestine) macromolecules(large chemicals), Antigens (immune provoking molecules) and toxins associated with inflammatory degenerative mucosal damage" and I would add systemic illness.

The problem with leaky gut is that when one membrane in the body breaks down, other membranes can breakdown, too. This leads to systemic illness. Medical conditions that are associated with leaky gut include gastric or duodenal altars, infectious diarrhea, celiac disease, food allergies, antibiotic use, and those that may be caused by leaky gut such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, inflammatory skin conditions, allergies, asthma, autism, Alzheimer's disease, coronary artery disease, auto immune disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes.

Healing your leaky gut requires understanding of the causes. Triggers that can cause intestinal damage included emotional stress, dietary influences including food allergies and toxins, pregnancy, menopause, antibiotic use and infections.

The “5R" gut restoration program includes removal of irritants, allergens and a infectious agents, replacement of enzymes and stomach acid as needed, re-inoculation with good probiotics, repair of the intestinal lining with proper nutrition including prebiotics and rebalancing of your lifestyle to support good intestinal health.

For more information on this topic, to schedule your complimentary 15 min. consult or to attend Dr. Harvey’s seminar on Leaky Gut, call #941-929-9355.

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