Gut Inflammation & Leaky Gut Syndrome
Your gut is critical for the breakdown, digestion, and absorption of nutrients from your food for repair, growth, energy, health, and well-being. It is also important for protecting you from pathogens, like bad bacteria, fungi, parasites, and toxins in your gut. If you have leaky gut syndrome, your gut health is compromised and cant do its job.
Leaky gut syndrome develops when your intestinal barrier becomes leaky. Under normal circumstances, your intestinal barrier has tiny holes in it. They are large enough to allow water and nutrients to pass through but they are too small for invaders to enter your bloodstream. However, when due to chronic inflammation, a poor diet, poor lifestyle choices, toxin exposure, or chronic stress, these openings can become larger.
When these holes in your intestinal wall become too big, you develop leaky gut. This means that microbes, undigested food particles, and toxins can now escape into your bloodstream. While chronic inflammation is one of the underlying causes and triggers of leaky gut syndrome, leaky gut syndrome also feeds chronic inflammation, creating a vicious cycle.
Address Dysbiosis And Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities and dysbiosis keep the gut in a perpetual state of inflammation, so identifying these issues is critical for restoring gut health. Cyrex is my preferred lab for gluten and food sensitivity testing, while Genova Diagnostics and Doctors Data offer good commercial stool testing options for microbiome assessment. Probiotics and prebiotics can be used to alleviate gut inflammation, with specific probiotic strains indicated for particular conditions for example, psychobiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus counteract gut inflammation to improve mental health.
Warning Signs Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Though many things can provoke recurrent bouts of abdominal pain, one of the most common conditions that may be causing it is inflammatory bowel disease . In fact, a staggering 1.6 million Americans suffer from the painful diseases. Whats more, 70,000 new cases emerge and are diagnosed every year.
At Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, our board-certified proctologist and general surgeon, Dr. Nina Paonessa, specializes in inflammatory bowel disease, caring for patients at both of her state-of-the-art clinics in Manahawkin and Brielle, New Jersey. She shares this information about inflammatory bowel disease and outlines five warning signs that could mean you have it.
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Ibd Diet And Lifestyle
People with IBD may notice that eating certain foods can have an effect on symptoms. The role of diet in IBD is currently a topic of research, which points to a possible overreaction of the immune system to common bacteria in food as a trigger for IBD flare-ups. Keeping a food diary can help you track when symptoms improve or worsen with the foods you eat.
Although a diet cannot reverse IBD, making some modifications may help reduce the severity of symptoms such as abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Before changing what you eat, discuss any changes to your diet with your doctor.
IBD and Dairy
About half of people with IBD, especially those with Crohns disease, are lactose intolerant and find that dairy products can aggravate bloating and diarrhea. If this applies to you, work with your doctor to ensure you get adequate calcium and vitamin D from other foods that are easier on your digestive system.
IBD and Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, the kind in flax seeds, oily fish and other foods, can affect bacteria in your gut and ease inflammation. Including these foods while cutting back on those high in omega 6 can have a positive effect on IBD symptoms.
IBD and Gluten
No studies say a gluten-free regimen gets rid of IBD, but some patients report feeling better, with less bloating, cramps and fatigue.
IBD and Probiotics
IBD and Fiber
IBD and Sugars
IBD and Smoking
What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease causes chronic inflammation of the intestines not due to infections or other identifiable causes. There are two main types of IBD: ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease. Ulcerative colitis affects only the lining of the large intestine , while Crohns disease can involve any part of the intestine, small or large, and irritate not only the lining, but also deeper layers.
It is estimated that about 3.1 million Americans suffer from IBD. Males and females are affected equally. Ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease may occur at any age, including young children but occur most often in young adults. Most cases of Ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease are diagnosed before age 30. Crohns disease tends to occur in families and in certain ethnic groups, such as Eastern European Jews. About 5 percent to 8 percent of patients may have a family member with IBD and about 20 percent to 25 percent of patients may have a close relative with the condition. However, it can occur in any ethnic group and in members of families where no one else has these diseases.
Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers a team of experts focused on the treatment of children and teens with inflammatory bowel disease.
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD?
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Types Of Food For Gut Health
Diet and gut health appear to be very closely linked. Avoiding processed foods, high fat foods, and foods high in refined sugars is likely important for maintaining a healthy microbiome, as these foods may promote the growth of damaging bacteria.
There are also foods you can eat that actively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, contributing to your overall health. These foods include:
Testing For Leaky Gut
If you want to heal your leaky gut, you first have to know if you have one. Symptoms are often attributed to other conditions. The good news is that there are tests that can determine if you have a leaky gut.
One of the more accurate tests is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test .3 This tests the levels of zonulin in your blood, which gives a biomarker of how much intestinal permeability there is. Dr. Alessio Fasanos research showed that gluten triggers the release of zonulin.4 Zonulin is a chemical that signals the tight junctions of your intestinal wall to open up, creating intestinal permeability, or a leaky gut. Higher than normal levels of zonulin is an indicator of a leaky gut. Optimal levels of zonulin are 22.3 to 161.1 ng/mL.
Another way to test for leaky gut is to find out if you have a food sensitivity. The best way to discover your food sensitivities is to complete an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a short-term eating plan with the goal of pinpointing exactly which foods are causing the uncomfortable, painful, or mysterious symptoms you are experiencing.
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What Is A Flare
When you have inflammatory bowel disease, your physician will try to find the right medications to control your symptoms. However, since there is no cure, the systemic disease is always there. When the symptoms arent present, you are in remission. If the symptoms return, especially if they are worse than before, it is a flare. This is why it is important to continue taking any medications your doctor prescribes to treat your IBD, even if you feel better. If you stop taking your medication, then you can increase your chance of experiencing a flare and progression of the disease. Infections, stress, and taking antibiotics or NSAIDs can also make you more susceptible to a flare.
Can Children Have Ibd
Yes, IBD can affect children, and it is more common in teenagers than younger kids. It may take longer to diagnose IBD in children because they may dismiss symptoms, which can also be hard for parents to notice, especially in older kids.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children | Q& A with Clint Cappiello
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How Can I Prevent Inflammatory Bowel Disease
While there isnt anything you can do to prevent IBD, certain dietary and lifestyle changes may control the symptoms. You can:
- Eat smaller meals every two to four hours.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, movement like tai chi, listening to music or going for a walk.
- Get plenty of sleep and stay physically active.
- Keep a food diary to identify foods that trigger IBD flares. You may find you have a food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance. If so, your body has a harder time digesting certain foods, which causes stomach upset.
- Reduce foods that irritate the intestines, such as those that are fibrous, spicy, greasy or made with milk. During flares, choose soft, bland foods that are less inflammatory.
- Cut back on caffeinated, carbonated and alcoholic beverages. Drink more water to prevent dehydration.
Ibd Prognosis And Living With Ibd
Because there are no treatments that cure IBD, acknowledging that it is a lifetime disease can help you focus on working with your doctors for long-term symptom relief. You may have periods of remission followed by weekslong flare-ups indefinitely. Appropriate treatment and your commitment to it can help improve your quality of life.
Once your care plan is established, you will likely see your gastroenterologist once a year, or more frequently, depending on your symptoms. Between these visits, its important to continue checkups with your primary care doctor, who can monitor your physical and mental health, review your medications, work with you to handle side effects, and support your commitment to preventing flare-ups.
Its also important not to become so focused on IBD that you neglect other aspects of your health. Try to stay current with your screenings and preventive care, and contact your doctor for any non-IBD symptoms or signs that could indicate a health problem.
The symptoms of IBD, such as pain, fever and frequent need to use the bathroom, can make it hard to sleep through the night. Difficulty sleeping can also signal that an IBD flare-up is about to happen. Chronic lack of sleep can affect overall health and worsen quality of life. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you get a restful sleep.
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Whodunit: Identifying The Culprit
Gut inflammation can lead to chronic low-level inflammation throughout your whole body. That level of inflammation isnt enough to cause pain, like it does when you sprain an ankle or throw out your back. But it does quietly set the stage for many disease conditions. Thats why its so important to try to get in under control as quickly as possible.
A lot of things can contribute to gut inflammation, but there are two main causes that are typically responsible for creating whole body issues.
Why Do I Have A Pain In The Middle Of My Stomach
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining that is frequently caused by a bacterial infection. Gastritis can also be caused by excessive drinking and the use of pain medicines on a frequent basis. The illness can produce a severe or burning aching in your upper abdomen, which might improve or worsen with food. The pain is likely to get worse when you eat or drink. You should see your doctor if you experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
You may have gastritis if you have persistent heartburn, pain or burning feeling between your ribs on either side of your chest, pain when swallowing, blood in your vomit or poop, or weight loss even though you are eating more than before. Not all cases of abdominal pain are due to gastritis other problems may be causing your pain as well. Your doctor will be able to diagnose gastritis by performing certain tests and examining you properly. He or she may also suggest treatments for you based on the results of these tests.
Gastritis can be mild or severe. With mild gastritis there is no damage to the lining of the stomach and you may not need treatment. With severe gastritis there is injury to the lining of the stomach and treatment may include drugs, changes in diet, or surgery.
The severity of your case of gastritis will determine what type of treatment you receive.
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Reduce Stress & Optimize Sleep
Poor sleep and chronic stress can result in gut inflammation . I recommend that you reduce your stress and optimize your sleep. Taking a few deep breaths can reduce your dress levels immediately.
Practicing meditation, gratitude, mindfulness, guided relaxation, and prayer can help you to learn how to respond to stress better and lower your stress levels. Journaling, positive mindset shifts, and positive affirmations can also help. Exercise, grounding, and time spent in nature are also great ways to calm your mind and reduce stress.
Developing a regular sleep routine, going to be and waking up around the same time helps to support your bodys natural circadian rhythms. Avoid electronics, sugar, caffeine, heavy foods, and stress in the evening. Choosing calming activities instead, such as reading, coloring, taking a healing bath, sipping on herbal tea, crossword puzzles, journaling, and good conversations.
If the weather permits, you may want to sit outside on your porch or balcony taking in the evening sky. Create a safe sanctuary in your bedroom with a supportive bed, comfortable sheets and pillow, calming decoration, an essential oil diffuser with lavender or other calming oils, a salt lamp, and blackout curtains.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
Symptoms tend to vary between individuals and come and go over time, as the inflammation flares up then eases again.
The ulcers that form in the bowel can cause bleeding, so blood and mucus are often present in the stool .
Ulcerative colitis can also cause diarrhoea since the inflamed bowel is less able to absorb water. A person with UC may also experience abdominal cramps and need to open their bowels urgently.
Other symptoms may include fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss.
Dietary And Lifestyle Modifications
An important, overarching challenge is managing nutrition intake when disease has compromised the digestive system. Crohns disease can interfere with nutrient absorption, increasing the risk for deficiencies, but individuals with ulcerative colitis are generally at low risk, as colitis does not affect the small intestine where most nutrients are absorbed. However, there are other factors and symptoms contributing to malnutrition in patients with either disease.
Depending on disease symptoms, a person with IBD may feel unwell, and the sensations of food passing through the digestive tract can be so uncomfortable that this might lead to food avoidance or food choices that might not provide a balanced diet. Better overall nutrition offers the body a better base from which to heal itself, but dietary changes on their own are insufficient to address inflammatory bowel diseases.
If bleeding is excessive, anemia may occur, and further modifications to the diet will be necessary to compensate for this.
Particularly in Crohns disease during symptom flare-up, and sometimes in ulcerative colitis, it might be necessary to allow the bowel time to rest and heal. Specialized diets, easy to digest meal substitutes , and fasting with intravenous feeding can achieve incremental degrees of bowel rest.
Whats The Difference Between Crohns Disease And Ulcerative Colitis
Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease. Within IBD, the split is about half and half.
Even though they have similar symptoms, these two conditions are very different:
- IBS doesnt involve inflammation of the intestine.
- Unlike, IBS, the inflammation present in IBD can cause permanent scarring and damage to the intestine that may require surgery.
- Different medications are used to treat IBD and IBS.
- In general, people with IBS dont have blood in their stool. Sometimes its not clear whether a child who has IBD is experiencing an IBD flare-up or an episode of IBS, and the doctor will perform a colonoscopy to check for inflammation. If inflammation is present, its likely to be a flare-up of IBD.
The Leaky Gut And Autoimmune Connection
When your gut remains leaky, more and more particles are able to escape into your bloodstream. Your immune system reacts by sending out wave after wave of inflammation to attack the foreign invaders. This state of high alert causes your immune system to become overstressed and fire less accurately. This can lead your own tissues to get caught in the crosshairs and cause a flood of symptoms. Eventually, this will develop into full-blown autoimmunity if your leaky gut syndrome is not addressed.
In addition, your immune system starts making antibodies against the substances that have escaped into your bloodstream. Many of these foreign invadersgluten and dairy in particularlook very similar to your own bodys cells.7
Under constant pressure, your immune system can get confused and accidentally attack your tissues. This process of mistaken identity is called molecular mimicry. Its another way that leaky gut syndrome can trigger autoimmune disease. And, once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your symptoms untreated can cause your condition to progress. This places you at greater risk of developing another autoimmune disease.
Does Ibd Increase The Risk Of Colon Cancer
Having IBD can increase the risk of colon cancer by up to four times. The longer you live with an inflamed bowel, the greater the chance of cancerous changes happening in the intestinal cells.
Data show the risk of colorectal cancer increases in patients who were diagnosed with IBD at a younger age, especially if they have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors, including having had primary sclerosing cholangitis.
If you have had IBD for eight years or longer, get colonoscopies every one to three years depending on your risk factors for colon cancer.