Leaky gut syndrome is still being researched. a number of studies and research are under way to better understand how the syndrome starts. It can be prevalent in autistic children, how to treat it? Simply, leaky guy syndrome is the inability of the intestinal wall to keep out large, unwanted molecules. This symptom of autism most often signifies that the intestinal wall has been altered to become permeable. Leaky gut syndrome in autistic children may occur because of increased sensitivity or allergies.
Leaky gut syndrome is problematic for one’s health because it allows molecules and substances (such as proteins) that are normally filtered out of the intestinal tract into the intestines. Because these molecules are not usually allowed inside the gut, the body misinterprets these non-harmful substances as a virus or infection and begins to produce antibodies to attack them. In turn, this creates a process where one’s body recognizes certain foods, as well as any of the body’s regular molecules that are similar to these foods, as harmful, causing an auto-immune disease where the body attacks itself. These are merely two possible outcomes with leaky gut syndrome. Others include the transportation of bacteria normally found within the intestinal tract to move into the bloodstream and cause an infection anywhere in the body as well as a weakening of the liver, which causes more toxins to circulate throughout the body, leading to a number of medical problems.
What can cause leaky gut syndrome? Researchers are still working to more fully understand the causes, but current medical diagnoses suggest that a diet high in alcohol and caffeine intake, certain drugs like ibuprofen and antacids, or a diet high in carbohydrates can decrease the thickness of the intestinal wall as well as other possible reasons. These are just a few possible reasons, and ways to treat leaky gut syndrome are just as uncertain as the reasons. Because of the sensitivity of the digestive system with leaky gut syndrome, many parents of autistic children find that putting their child on gluten- and casein-free diets can help. Both gluten and casein are proteins, and a diet with these proteins may irritate and inflame a leaky gut syndrome – though at the moment, researchers are still studying this. You may also treat leaky gut syndrome by avoiding alcohol, caffeine, ibuprofen, or spicy foods – all of which can cause irritation in the intestines.
- Food Sensitivities – People affected by food sensitivities oftentimes find that leaky gut is to blame. Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are on overdrive mass-producing various antibodies, which makes their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy).
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Researchers from Hungary have recently uncovered that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localized to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
Another study suggests that, for Crohn’s disease patients, leaky guy is prevalent in a majority cases and even up to 10% – 20% of their “clinically healthy relatives,” which suggests a potential genetic component. Zinc supplementation has been found to be quite effective at tightening up the intestinal tight junctions in these cases.
- Autoimmune Disease – The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through the research done on a protein known as “zonulin.” According to a 2011 article published in the journal Physiologic Reviews,
Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders can occur.”
Eating gluten can oftentimes trigger this dangerous cascade. University of Maryland, School of Medicine researchers have uncovered that gluten “activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.”
- Thyroid Problems – One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease. Also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” this disorder can lead to hypothyroidism, impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain, and a host of other concerns.
- Malabsorption – Various nutritional deficiencies result from leaky gut include vitamin B12, magnesium and key enzymes that help digest food. It is recommended that people with leaky gut supplement with a whole foods based multi-vitamin and live probiotic to not only help digest the food that they eat, but to make sure that they get the vital nutrition that they need.
- Inflammatory Skin Conditions – First described over 70 years ago, the gut-skin connection theory has described how intestinal hyper-permeability can cause a slew of skin conditions; particularly acne and psoriasis. Generally, dangerous creams and drugs are prescribed for these skin disorders, yet they can oftentimes be fixed by healing the gut!
- Mood Issues and Autism – According to a study published in the journal Neuro Endocrinology Letters, leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders. For example, the inflammatory response characteristic of intestinal hyperpermeability triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals that induce depression.