As unexplored and mysterious as the deepest depths of our ocean, our stomachs present some of the greatest conundrums of modern medicine. With rising cases of gastrointestinal issues among Americans today, more concern over leaky gut syndrome (LGS) has caused doctors and medical professionals to assess who may be more prone to contracting LGS, or its residual effects from added wear and tear on our stomach and intestinal lining.
Our stomach linings are thin and certainly not impermeable, which makes LGS a likely factor in contributing to Crohn’s or celiacs disease, stomach pains, bloating, cramps, and more. It is believed that unhealthy diets high in saturated fats, acidity, or sugars can deteriorate the stomach's lining, leading to the absorption of toxic substances into our bloodstream.
While it is still unclear whether LGS is the leading cause of these illnesses, modern medical science has logically concluded that eating proper foods can lessen the chance of inflammation and deterioration within our stomachs.
As Harvard Medical School describes, “We already know that increased intestinal permeability plays a role in certain gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. The biggest question is whether or not a leaky gut may cause problems elsewhere in the body.”
Ongoing studies and research are continuing to narrow our conclusions regarding residual effects of LGS on our bodies, which could mean “...leaky gut may be associated with other autoimmune diseases (lupus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity, and even mental illness,” says Harvard Medical School. “However, we do not yet have clinical studies in humans showing such a cause and effect.”
Although inconclusive, medical professionals agree LGS can likely contribute to these illnesses, which makes combating its potential dangers a necessary precaution.
Without concrete evidence to properly diagnose those most prone to LGS, some doctors believe individuals who consume large amounts of alcohol, fatty or acidic foods, or have frequent stressful habits can play the largest role in contributing to LGS.
Linda A. Lee, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, has recommended “You need to tend to your stress, whether through medication or meditation. That’s what you need to focus on,” when discussing stress in relation to LGS. “Chronic health problems are so often due to lifestyle, and we don’t have pills for those.”
Our DNA could also be a contributing factor, predisposing some individuals to hyperpermeability within the intestine or stomach, which could inherently impact the likelihood of LGS signs. The importance of consulting a thorough and caring gastroenterologist can help determine your own specific symptoms and leading causes.
Our intestinal function is significantly impacted by amino acids like L-glutamine. Used by intestinal cells throughout the body, higher concentrations can strengthen intestinal walls and promote healthier digestive cycles. On top of a healthier diet, increasing your body’s ability to toughen its lining could potentially counter the effects of LGS in the stomach or otherwise. Although not proven to directly address the syndrome, consuming healthy amounts of nutrients and supplements can only benefit our bodies as they combat the effects of LGS.
We are all susceptible to the effects of LGS throughout our lives—some more than others as studies have shown. Even without concrete evidence to directly establish a cause and effect, we can reasonably battle these issues with supplements and healthier lifestyles for the most proactive approach to these illnesses.