For years, leaky gut syndrome (LGS) was thought to be nothing more than a myth in medical circles — simply a condition fabricated by ‘fringe’ alternative medicine practitioners to push their agenda. But times have changed and researchers are beginning to take a hard look at the role abnormal intestinal permeability plays in a range of diseases — from autoimmune disorders to food allergies and even cancer. Characterized by abdominal pain, fatigue, inflammation, gas, bloating and intolerance to specific edibles, the syndrome can make life miserable.
Researchers believe LGS is caused when normally tight junctions of the intestinal lining become compromised and allow the passage of undigested food particles, toxic waste products, bacteria and viruses into the bloodstream. Autoimmune disorders can develop when these foreign particles travel throughout the body and activate the immune system, which mistakenly attacks the thyroid in case of Hashimoto’s, joints in rheumatoid arthritis or the intestinal lining with celiac patients.
Currently, over 80 different autoimmune diseases have been identified — and the numbers are rapidly rising. It’s estimated that 23.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disorder, with 75 percent being female. Incredibly, autoimmune diseases are now among the top 10 leading causes of death in American women under the age of 65.
Emerging research has found a majority of autoimmune disorders share leaky gut as a common root cause. In fact, world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and research scientist, Alessio Fasano, MD, believes three factors are always present in all autoimmune conditions: a genetic susceptibility, antigen exposure, and increased intestinal permeability.