The syndrome of ‘ intestines dripping ( Leaky Gut Syndrome ) is a newly introduced term, but already very dear to many health professionals, especially those more attentive to diet-disease relationship and possible remedies offered by dietary supplements and alternative medicines .
At the base of this syndrome there is the hypothesis that the origin of many food intolerances , allergies and autoimmune diseases depends on the increased intestinal permeability . In practice, the intestines of these patients would not be able to adequately oppose the entry of food antigens , toxins and pathogens into the bloodstream. Like a faulty faucet leaking water (hence the term Leaky Gut – dripping intestine), breaches would then be created in the intestinal mucosa, through which proteins with strong antigenic potential, toxins and pathogens can penetrate the body.
All this would trigger an exaggerated immune response, responsible for the aforementioned diseases; in this regard, the more the practitioner deviates – by conviction or interest – from the so-called “official medicine”, the greater the number of disorders and pathologies that he will tend to attribute to the dripping bowel syndrome. In fact, in addition to explaining symptoms such as headaches , joint disorders, fatigue, dermatitis and digestive problems with this hypothesis , some professionals even go so far as to attribute themmajor diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus , inflammatory bowel disease , celiac disease , multiple sclerosis , autism , rheumatoid arthritis, gluten ataxia and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis .
The intestine has the main task of completing the digestion of food and absorbing the nutrients essential for health into the bloodstream .
Beyond this well-known digestive function , the intestine also represents a very important dividing line between the external and internal world, a sort of barrier which is entrusted with the task of distinguishing all that is useful or harmless from what is dangerous. The intestine, in fact, must prevent pathogenic microorganisms , parasites , toxins and food antigens from entering the bloodstream.
The barrier function of the intestine is guaranteed by the presence of numerous defensive lines:
- intestinal mucosa: the intestinal epithelium is furrowed by numerous finger-shaped protrusions, known as intestinal villi , very important for increasing the absorbent surface of the organ. The cells that make up the intestinal villi are in turn equipped with digitiform protrusions called microvilli ; moreover, which is very important to explain the dripping bowel syndrome, they are closely joined to each other by tight junctions and desmosomes, which have the purpose of sealing the intercellular space preventing the penetration of unwanted substances and the escape of those useful that are just been absorbed;
- immune system: in addition to hosting more than half of the body’s immune cells, the intestine is equipped with a large number of lymph node stations;
- digestive enzymes: of intestinal or hepatic origin, they are important for digesting food proteins with allergenic potential;
- natural antibiotics: such as defensins , they are poured into the intestinal lumen to fight a wide spectrum of bacteria , both Gram positive and negative;
- mucus: viscous substance capable of facilitating the progression of food and trapping pathogens, which will then be expelled through the faeces thanks to the peristaltic movements ;
- intestinal flora: under the close surveillance of the immune system, saprophytic or symbiotic bacteriacompete withpathogenic fungi and bacteria for nourishment and adhesion sites to the intestinal mucosa.
The integrity of intestinal cells would be undermined by the persistence of a chronic inflammatory state , linked to problems of poor digestion , high stress and many other factors.
Among the possible causes of the dripping bowel syndrome there would be in particular: food excesses (with particular reference to the abuse of sugars , refined cereals and derivatives), food pollutants and toxins (eg mycotoxins ), prolonged stress, antibiotic or cortisone therapies prolonged, laxative abuse , dysbiosis and small bowel contamination syndrome .
The increase in intestinal permeability can have very important repercussions:
- the hyperactivation of the intestinal immune system feeds the local chronic inflammationthat has given rise to the increased permeability; this creates a vicious circle that promotes a further worsening of the situation;
- the hyperactivation of the intestinal immune system can have repercussions even at a distance, since the immune cells activated in the intestine migrate into the systemic circulation and reach other organs, where they can damage healthy tissues, promoting inflammatory and / or autoimmune phenomena;
- the entry into the bloodstream of immunogenic substances can trigger an immune response even in organs distant from the intestine, triggering inflammatory and / or autoimmune phenomena;
- if the immune system’sability to distinguish harmful antigens from those that are not is lost, the immune response could turn to harmless food components or to “friendly” bacteria, triggering allergic phenomena or even chronic inflammatory bowel diseases.
Symptoms such as depression , anxiety, hyperactivity syndrome , joint and muscle pain, headaches, chronic fatigue, intestinal disorders ( irritable bowel , constipation or diarrhea ), and thyroid changes ( hypothyroidism ) are generally attributed to leaky bowel syndrome .
The treatment of the dripping bowel syndrome is essentially based on dietary correction, possibly assisted by particular food supplements .
As anticipated, on the dietary front, particular emphasis is given to limiting the consumption of refined sugars and cereals, especially those containing gluten but not only. It is also necessary to limit the consumption of irritants , such as spices , alcohol or foods subjected to particularly long cooking and / or high temperatures ( grilling , frying , roasts, sautées, etc.). Legumes are also often not recommended. The consumption of foods such as is instead encouraged broth of meat (particularly rich in collagen and its precursors), the yogurt andfermented milks (such as kefir ), seeds and nuts , while for fiber it is necessary to evaluate individual tolerance.
On the food supplements front , glutamine has proved particularly useful , because it is capable of improving the functionality of the intestinal and immune barrier. Collagen supplements are also potentially useful , including precursor substances or substances that stimulate their synthesis (eg proline and glycine , vitamin C and natural extracts such as centella ).
Moving on to phytotherapy , the extracts traditionally used for the healing of ulcers and wounds ( healing ), such as licorice root , aloe gel , echinacea and gotu kola , could be particularly useful . Potentially useful also anti-inflammatory extracts , such as those of Boswellia and Curcuma .
Finally, with regard to probiotics, it is also necessary to consider the risk that these can enter the bloodstream due to increased intestinal permeability.