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Your Leaky Gut: The Reason Behind Allergies and Other Health Ailments

Updated on March 14, 2014

Many people suffer from allergies, acne, and other ailments that are usually treated with temporary fixes such as over the counter medications or steroid injections. The actual problem is they’re never really dealt with. It’s a little known fact that your gut is strongly intertwined with your bodily functions. It’s not only about digesting your food; there is significant communication with your brain that tells your body how to react to certain things and carry out functions.


What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

In the digestive track, the small intestine has a protective lining to guard the bloodstream from undigested food particles, enzymes and other microorganisms that can be dangerous if not digested through the small intestine properly. The lining of the small intestine is delicate and requires a high amount of nutrition to stay intact. Once this lining is damaged a gap is created, allowing the larger particles of undigested food, debris, carbohydrates, and fat to pollute the bloodstream. These particles not only travel through the bloodstream, but they go to other organs such as the liver and get processed and circulated throuout the body. Once the particles are in the bloodstream and processed by other organs, the immune system is under strain and pressure to react to defend the body which causes allergic symptoms such as seasonal and food allergies.

Allergies is one of the main symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Allergies is one of the main symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome. | Source

Allergies and Intestinal Permeability (Leaky Gut Syndrome)

Allergies and Intestinal Permeability

Your digestive system has a more direct effect on your body than you may think. Besides digesting food, the digestive system serves as an immune barrier for the body; in other words, your gut protects your body from outside intruders that can make you sick. The digestive system also has very strong ties with your respiratory tract; so when one system is affected the other can easily react. When those undigested food particles and other toxins sneak into your bloodstream through the damaged small intestine lining, the immune system flares up causing the following:

  • Digestive prolems
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Food allergies

Seasonal allergies are the most common symptom of Leaky Gut Syndrome. The respiratory and immune systems have gone into “attack mode” in an attempt to eliminate the particles that have entered into the bloodstream. That’s why there’s sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny noses during certain times of the year.

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Leaky gut results in high levels of histamine in the body, causing it to overreact in defense mode.
Leaky gut results in high levels of histamine in the body, causing it to overreact in defense mode. | Source

Histamine overload!

Histamine is a chemical produced by your immune system to fight off invading elements trying to enter your body. It's a very important part of the immune system because it transmits messages to the brain to put the body on alert and get in defensive mode to keep out "intruders". The histamine levels flare up to flush out foreign elements from the body. All of the itching, sneezing, runny nose and drained feeling you may have is the body's natural response to locate and eliminate diseases from your body.

Leaky Gut Syndrome throws off your immune system because the food particles haven't been broken down properly - because the intestinal barrier is not intact to keep certain items out of the bloodstream. Once the poorly broken down particles enter the bloodstream, the immune system doesn't recognize them and treats them as a disease trying to enter the body. This causes the histamine levels in your body to skyrocket and create the reactive symptoms described earlier. So the high levels of histamine causes the inflammatory reactions that contribute to allergy symptoms.

Food and Your Brain

Nutrient
Communicates
Source
Bioflavanoids
Tells brain to produce more neurotransmitters
citris fruits, red bell peppers, stawberries, garlic, spinach
Omega 3
Signals cells to calm down with inflammation
walnuts, sardines, salmon, flax seeds, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
 
 
 
Food sources of biovlavinoids and omega-3 can digest better in your body and improve communication between your brain and body systems.

Links to other conditions

Because the systems of your body are so intertwined, a leaky gut can bring on other health ailments in addition to seasonal allergies. These include:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Skin conditions such as acne and eczema
  • Arthritis/joint pain
  • Memory problems
  • Celiac disease

The reverse also takes place – other conditions to the body can contribute to a leaky gut diagnosis. They include:

  • Stress
  • Oversized meals
  • Incomplete chewing
  • Imbalanced bacteria in gut
  • Alcohol
  • Medications – frequent use of over the counter aspirins and ibuprofen can weaken small intestine lining

A low-histamine diet can also help relieve leaky gut symptoms.
A low-histamine diet can also help relieve leaky gut symptoms. | Source

Healing approach

Leaky Gut Syndrome is identified as a common cause of food and seasonal allergies, but it is not the only cause. Consult with a health care professional to be sure of your condition and know what treatment is best for you.The syndrome is also a condition that can exist in the body for years without detection.

Testing

Because leaky gut can go undetected for years, it can be difficult to be tested for it. Depending on if you have other ailments or not, speak with your doctor or physician to see if samples of blood or urine is needed to test for levels of antibodies or bacteria in your body. Tests you can ask about:

  • Lactose/Mannitol - urine test to screen lactose and mannitol which are two sugars associated with leaky gut
  • Food allergy - caused by systemic inflammation of the intestinal barrier which produces symptoms such as inability to digest certain foods; a skin test is usually performed to determine a diagnosis
  • Bacterial Dysbiosis test - determines your pH balance that affects growth of certain bacteria levels in your body.

Healing

On a broader scope, diet has been linked to having a leaky gut and all the listed conditions that go along with it. Here are ways you relieve symptoms of leaky gut:

Eliminate alcohol from your diet - you will need to cut out alcohol for at least 30 days to see an improvement of your condition

Stop using non-sterile antiflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), aspirin and ibuprofen - using these as a relief to your allergy symptoms can be detrimental in the long run and effect your overall immune system.

Make changes to diet - there are no "superfoods" you can eat to guarantee healing from leaky gut. However, it has been shown that the following foods can make a difference:

  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Sweet potato
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Water chestnuts
  • Meats - fish and chicken; preferably organic and anti-biotic free
  • Caffeine-free herbal teas

If you're diagnosed with a food allergy, of course you will have to eliminate that food from your diet. Be sure to check with a doctor or dietitian to determine which foods are safest for you.


References

(2007). Gallbladder attack. Leaky Gut Diet. Retrieved from http://gallbladderattack.com/leakygutdiet.shtml

Galland, L. (2007). Leaky guy syndromes: Breaking the Vicious Cycle. Retrieved from http://mdheal.org/leakygut.htm

Morris, M. (2011). Leaky gut. The Root of Health. Retrieved from http://www.therootofhealth.com/leaky-gut/

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    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Great Hub! Very good information on Histamine overload. Voted up!

    • Zainab Tarawali profile image
      Author

      Musu Bangura 3 years ago from Nation's Capital

      Thanks for reading and voting up, cecile!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Great hub, and you covered it well. I was first introduced to this idea when doing research regarding MS. Dr. Mercola is someone who promotes this connection a lot. Voted up and more.

    • profile image

      yourhealthmatters 3 years ago

      Great hub, I agree that digestive health has a significant impact on our overall health, and can be the root of many health problems. Thank you for this insightful article!

    • Zainab Tarawali profile image
      Author

      Musu Bangura 3 years ago from Nation's Capital

      Thanks a lot FlourishAnyway. I recently heard about the actual term leaky gut, but I've always heard references being made about the gut being a big part of the immune system, so I decided to look into it. I'm glad you found it insightful. Thanks for reading and voting!

      Thank you for the feedback, yourhealthmatters!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I knew that the immune system goes into “attack mode” when we eat foods that we are allergic to. There are many food allergies that we are not aware of.

      But I learned a lot more from you now just now. I did not know about the leaky gut syndrome, which can cause the same problems with the body trying to fight back when undigested foods enter the blood stream.

      A better understanding of how organs of the body are intertwined is helpful to recognize where symptoms such as arthritis and skin conditions are coming from. It goes to show that some ailments can probably be avoided simply by knowing the unrelated cause.

      Great article with useful information, thanks.

    • Zainab Tarawali profile image
      Author

      Musu Bangura 3 years ago from Nation's Capital

      Hi Glenn,

      It's amazing how many roles our immune systems play into protecting our body. It was interesting to learn how they're involved with the other bodily systems, especially digestive.

      I'm glad you were able to learn something from the hub. Thanks for commenting!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      This is a really interesting post on the topic of leaky gut. I have changed my eating habits over the past years and have noticed great improvement in health. I can see how these foods would benefit those who suffer from this ailment.

    • Zainab Tarawali profile image
      Author

      Musu Bangura 2 years ago from Nation's Capital

      We really are what we eat, teaches12345. Our diet really effects our bodily functions. Thanks for commenting!

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