22 Aug Leaky Gut Syndrome…You Have Been Deceived!
Paul A. Goldberg, MPH,DC,DACBN,DCBCN
Goldberg Tener Clinic
Chronic Disease Reversal
The subject, “Leaky Gut Syndrome” (LGS), has over the past several decades gone from obscurity to being a popular alternative medicine “diagnosis.” There is considerable controversy, however, as to how the topic is being interpreted.
Thirty years ago, while teaching University Courses in Gastroenterology and Clinical Nutrition, I introduced the term “intestinal permeability,” from which the concept of leaky gut syndrome is derived, to students. Intestinal Permeability refers to the degree of migration of intestinal materials that make their way into the bloodstream. Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) extrapolates on this. It refers to a compromised intestinal lumen that allows excessive foreign materials to seep through the gut lining thereby creating adverse toxic/ immune reactions in different areas of the body. Advocates of the LGS concept contend that this generates harmful gastrointestinal, allergic, dermatological, rheumatological, autoimmune and behavioral reactions and is a major factor in creating a slew of chronic diseases.
The intestine must possess a degree of permeability to allow nutrients to pass from the digestive tract into the bloodstream while maintaining a barrier to prevent undigested and potentially harmful substances such as whole proteins from entering the blood or lymph. In the intestine, small particles pass directly through the cells. This is known as the transcellular route or transcellular permeability. Some materials also pass through openings between the cells, referred to as the paracellular route or paracellular permeability, which are controlled by “tight junctions” (see illustration below). It is generally acknowledged that disruption of these tight junctions can trigger intestinal disorders.
Taking a Closer Look
The gastrointestinal tract is where fats, carbohydrates and proteins are broken down into simpler components and prepared for safe passage into our blood and lymphatic system to be utilized for energy and to make new cells and tissues.
Separating the GI tract and the blood stream, the thin (about as thick as a hair on your head) intestinal membrane lining selectively allows the entry of nutrient components while filtering out foreign materials. This selective process is critical to our health. Digested proteins for example are broken down into their amino acid components to be safely accepted into the bloodstream while undigested proteins which could result in allergic/toxic/immune reactions are prevented entry.
Proponents of LGS advocate that many illnesses including allergies, autoimmune issues, autism and others have their origins in ‘leaky gut syndrome’ and choose to “treat” the supposed Leaky Gut Syndrome.
The existence of intestinal permeability is widely accepted. The notion that excessive permeability should be addressed by alternative therapies unrelated to causes is not.
Exemplifying the involvement of excess permeability in poor health is celiac disease where increased permeability results from an abnormal immune reaction induced by gluten. This allows a protein called gliadin to travel past the intestinal membrane lining resulting in an immune response that can lead to extra-gastrointestinal symptoms. Eliminating gluten from the diet in celiac disease can help normalize intestinal permeability. This, however, is not treatment of LGS; it is the removal of a causal factor that damages the intestinal lining.
Alternative medical practitioners often use the term “leaky gut syndrome” as a primary ”diagnosis”. Patients are placed on protocols to “treat” the supposed Leaky Gut Syndrome utilizing an array of supplements without giving consideration as to what caused the supposed “leaky gut” syndrome to begin with. Such an approach focuses on suppressing the patient’s symptoms rather than addressing causal factors.
Laboratory testing for LGS has not proven reliable. The diagnosis of LGS is based on the alternative practitioner’s convenience in making a quick “diagnosis” followed by a cookie cutter supplement program. Such programs are not based on causal factors. The causes of the patient’s illness even if they possess a “leaky gut” remain untouched.
Supplement Companies have seized upon this controversial syndrome as an opportunity to market products containing nutrients such as glutamine under the premise that taking such nutrients can “treat” leaky gut syndrome… without consideration as to the initial causes of the syndrome in any particular patient.
Addressing Causes and Creating the Right Conditions For Healing to Occur
Telling a patient they have “Leaky Gut Syndrome” serves as an easy way for alternative practitioners to hand out a “diagnosis” and sell quantities of supplements with little effort. It must be recognized that such a “diagnosis” does not discern why the patient became ill.
Causal factors for potential increased intestinal permeability are many and diverse including emotional stress, alcohol, food and inhalant allergies, steroid usage, poor diets, lack of sleep, excessive physical stress, antibiotic usage, genetic factors, toxicities of many types, and many other potential factors. These are the causes that must be carefully sorted out, one by one, through a case history, careful physical examination and by appropriate laboratory testing. This takes time and effort on the part of the practitioner but is essential to provide a successful outcome for the chronically ill patient.
Experience has proven that favorable results occur in restoring a patient’s gastrointestinal and overall health when adequate attention is placed on determining why the patient has intestinal issues (including a potential increase in gut permeability) and addressing those causal factors directly. The before / after pictures of patients at our clinic shown below illustrate the results that are possible when causes factors are addressed. Each of these patients had an autoimmune disorder commonly associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome. Click here to see more before / after pictures of patients from the Goldberg Tener Clinic.
The Bio-Hygienic Re-Creative System™
Rather than applying treatments for symptoms and syndromes, the Goldberg Bio-Hygienic Re-Creation System™ helps patients successfully reverse chronic disease conditions by identifying and addressing causal factors. Leaky Gut Syndrome does not create itself nor is it the result of a lack of supplements. It is at best a syndrome and behind every syndrome there are underlying causes that differ from patient to patient. The patient’s condition might include an alteration of gut permeability but this is a result of underlying problems, not a cause of itself.
Forty-five years of working with chronically ill patients has taught me the importance of identifying and addressing the causes of each person’s health issues. This is then followed by creating the right conditions to Re-Create™ the patient’s well being. This is not only logical, it is essential to returning the chronically ill patient to a high state of vitality and good health. Click here to learn more about our unique approach, the Goldberg Bio-Hygienic Re-Creation System™.
 Heyman M, et al. (Sep 2012). “Intestinal permeability in celiac disease: insight into mechanisms and relevance to pathogenesis”. Gut (Review). 61 (9): 1355–64
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