How To Tell If You Have Leaky Gut?
The term leaky gut gets thrown around a lot, but a lot of people don't know what that means. And in this topic, I'm going to share with you different symptoms and lab tests that are used to determine if somebody has a leaky gut.
I'm Ashley Oswald, founder of Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and more. If you or somebody you know, wants to work with our clinic, schedule an appointment with us or download our free guide.
What is a leaky gut?
So leaky gut is just another word for intestinal permeability. Our gut lining is always semipermeable. It has to be it's how the food nutrients get into the bloodstream, into our bodies, and go to the cells and it can function properly.
But if those gaps in our gut lining, explaining it for simplicity's sake, are too large, it's considered leaky gut with high intestinal permeability. And then it can start to have a negative effect on the body and some symptoms that you might have and notice if you have a leaky gut include a variety of different autoimmune symptoms.
If you're eating foods and you seem like you're reacting to all these foods and your skin's breaking out to a variety of foods, or you're just not feeling well, you're getting brain fog. Your brain fog is better in the morning after waking up. It's worse at the end of the day after you've been eating foods and such, and might be something related to your gut lining and the permeability of your intestinal lining and otherwise leaky gut.
Now the lab tests that we can use to help determine if somebody has a leaky gut, there are several, and I'm going to kind of go down the list with some of the most common at the start, and least common at the end.
And so the first one I want to share with you is the lactulose mannitol test. So how this test works is that it uses two sugar molecules lactulose, which is a disaccharide, and mannitol which is a monosaccharide. So mannitol is slightly smaller than lactulose. Mannitol should free easily through your gut lining through that mucus layer of the gut.
It should freely be able to go through into your body, and eventually, be eliminated in the urine. Lactulose is not as much because it's a bigger sugar molecule so how the test works are it will take a urine sample and test the amount of mannitol and lactulose in your urine, complete that ratio. And if you have too much lactulose coming through compared to mannitol, it's an indicator that possibly you have a leaky gut.
Now there is with most lab studies, they're not perfect. So there can be a high amount of false positives with this. And also, ultimately we don't exactly know what a healthy amount of mannitol flowing beyond and lactulose flowing beyond the gut barrier is.
Number two is testing for lipopolysaccharides. Now we talked briefly about this in the coffee video. When I mentioned how coffee can decrease LPS and LPS is basically an endotoxin that's traded when these microorganisms are in your gut, right?
We have all these bugs when their cell membranes rupture cause that's going to happen natural part of the body process. So when they rupture, they can secrete these LPS, lipopolysaccharides. And these are known as an endotoxin, but they should stay in the gut and be eliminated in the gut.
So this is a serum test, a blood test, and it shows that if you have too many lipopolysaccharide antibodies in your serum, that can be an indicator that these endotoxins are crossing over your gut barrier, getting into your blood, where they shouldn't belong. And it is possible because of too permeable of a gut lining, allowing them to cross when otherwise they would stay in the gut lumen and be eliminated in the stool.
The next lab test that you'll notice is being used is zonulin. This is a blood test and zonulin is excreted when there are bad bacteria or when certain foods are passing through the gut. And when it is uncleaved it's been shown to increase intestinal permeability and therefore possibly contribute to leaky gut.
I want to take a quick pause from talking about lab testing for leaky gut and talk to anybody struggling with gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain, and who wants to improve their bloating, boost their immunity, and improve their energy.
I'm Ashley. I have seven years of schooling in nutrition science. I had my own gut issues and I'm so grateful for the knowledge. I've gathered through all my schooling and training and from being a registered dietitian.
Now let's get back to talking about the last couple of labs I want to share for assessing leaky gut. And then I'm going to pull it together. Big picture. To help you gain a better understanding because you certainly don't have to get all these lab tests done.
I mean, hardly anybody does. So I'm going to share with you some signs that you should really tune into and are going to help you to assess what next steps you should take.
So the next lab test is Citrulline. I'm not going to talk too much about this, but it's basically a way to assess mucosal integrity. So our gut lining has all this mucus on it to help protect it. And so this is a marker to help evaluate that.
And then the last lab test is secretory IGA. And now this is not a direct marker of leaky gut or intestinal permeability, but it could be used in conjunction with other awareness that we have. And it'd be useful to assess the increased risk of mucosal damage, that same mucosa I was just talking about now, leaky gut intestinal permeability, swinging back to the side of this topic.
If you have a lot of autoimmune issues and you have probably gut issues that go alongside that, it's a pretty safe bet that you have something not optimal about your gut lining the root cause of that could be varied.
But if you're struggling with those symptoms, I would really, really encourage you to pursue functional medicine, come, book that free call with our clinic or find somebody else because honestly, it's just very effective.
Functional medicine is very effective at improving gut issues. And we often see auto-immune issues improve as we improve the gut. So I hope this is your sign. If you've been thinking about this for a while just go ahead and move forward with it.
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I hope you all have a great rest of your day and I will see you at the next one.
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