Malabsorption and Leaky Gut Syndrome

Last week I mentioned malaborption as one of the causes of hyperthyroidism.  The following explains what malabsorption and the related leaky gut syndrome are.

The job of the gut is to absorb the goodness from food. To do this, it first has to reduce food particles to a size which allows the digestive enzymes to get at them, then it has to provide the correct acidity for these enzymes to work, produce the enzymes, emulsifying agent (bile salts) and move the food along the gut. Finally the large bowel allows growth of bacteria for a final digestive/fermentative process and water extraction.

The gut has a particularly difficult job because it has to identify foods that are safe from potentially dangerous microbes (most are not dangerous but positively beneficial). This explains why 90% of the immune system is gut associated.

Anything which goes wrong with any of these processes can cause malabsorption. Malabsorption means that the body does not get the raw materials for normal everyday work and repair.

Causes of malabsorption include:

  • Failure to chew sufficiently when eating.
  • Not producing enough stomach acid, enzymes or bile.
  • Allergic reaction to foods such as celiac, Crohn’s or multiple foods.

Symptoms of malabsorption include:

  • Chronic gastrointestinal issues, bloating, constipation, gas, and other GI symptoms from carbohydrate malabsorption.
  • Inexplicable fatigue even if you’re sleeping plenty from iron, B12 and folate malabsorption.
  • Bone problems and brittle bones from calcium malabsorption,
  • Inexplicable weight loss or inability to gain weight from protein, fat and/or carbohydrate malabsorption.
  • Muscle cramping from calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D malabsorption.
  • Thyroid conditions; both hyperthyroidism (fast) and hypothyroidism (slow).
  • Skin issues such as rosacea and acne.

The other gut malfunction is called leaky gut syndrome. What is leaky gut syndrome you ask? It’s an increase in intestinal permeability. Holes are too big and allow things like gluten, bad bacteria and undigested food particles into your blood steam.

Stress, toxins, food particles, drugs, pathogens and organ malfunction create intestinal inflammation and due to holes in your intestines, this results in food intolerances, immune system issues and autoimmune diseases.

The main causes of leaky gut syndrome are poor diet, chronic stress, toxin overload and bacteria imbalance. Wheat, rice, spelt, soy, sugar and conventional dairy all contribute to this matter.

To heal leaky gut syndrome or malabsorption:

  1. Remove foods and other inflammatory factors.
  2. Replace with healing foods
  3. Repair with specific supplements
  4. Rebalance with probiotics.

The best foods to heal the above are:

  • Bone broth
  • Raw, cultured dairy such as kefir, yogurt, butter and raw cheeses
  • Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Coconut products from oil to butter to milk
  • Sprouted seeds although if you have severe leaky gut you may have to ease into this one gently and only after you’ve started to improve.

Supplements that help heal your gut are:

  • Probiotics but make sure it’s a really high quality probiotic
  • Digestive enzymes (multi strain is best)
  • L-Glutamine
  • Licorice Root (DGL)
  • Quercetin

Left unchecked, leaky gut syndrome can result in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, lupus, celiac disease, Crohn’s Disease to name just a few.

If you exhibit signs of malabsorption or leaky gut syndrome, find a natural health practitioner such as myself to help you heal your gut and get your health back,

Until next time, have a fabulous week!

Sandy O’Shea, CNP
Holistic Nutritionist

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