Food Allergies & Intestinal Permeability

The gastro-intestinal tract is designed to absorb nutrients that have been digested to simple molecules.  Certain factors can cause microscopic damage to the intestinal lining, called the gut mucosa, increasing permeability to larger, more allergenic molecules.  These contributing factors include:

  • Gut dysbiosis, where there is overgrowth of yeast (Candida albicans or others), bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella, or parasitic infections such as giardia.
  • Medications, especially non –steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) including aspirin, ibuprofen, Celebrex, Vioxx, and many others
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Allergic reactions due to the increase of histamine causing inflammation
  • Psychological stress
  • Environmental toxin exposure
  • A diet low in vitamins and minerals and high in sugar

This syndrome of increased intestinal permeability is known as “leaky gut” syndrome.  is partially to blame for symptoms associated with food allergies.  The lining of the gastrointestinal tract is the body’s first line of defense and acts as a barrier to prevent foreign organisms and toxins from escaping into the bloodstream.  A breakdown of this mucosa allows bacxterial or fungal toxins as well as larger food particles to pass through the membrane.  These substances then enter the body’s second line of defense, the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (or GALT), which is the extensive amount of lymph nodes representing the immune system around the gastro-intestinal tract.  Since these large molecules do not normally pass into the GALT, they are seen foreign invaders. The immune system starts making antibodies against food particles, causing food allergies. This up-regulates the immune system, causing increased imflammation and allergies throughout the body.  Mold allergies frequently worsen due to increased exposure to yeast cell wall toxins. Leaky gut syndrome puts continual stress on your body’s immune system.

Leaky gut syndrome is identified by performing an intestinal permeability test, in which two inert substances (lactulose and mannitol) are consumed.  These molecules are minimally absorbed by the body and are not metabolized (changed) in any way before being excreted in the urine. Urine is collected for 6 hours, then sent to the lab to measure for these two substances. Increased or imbalanced amounts in the urine signify leaky gut or malabsorption.

Healing the gut lining requires several strategies.  Identifying and eliminating the cause is crucial.  If gut dysbiosis exists, Candida overgrowth or other infection must be treated, then the intestinal flora restored.  Beneficial bacteria must also be taken such as lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium.  FOS, a sweet tasting, non digestible carbohydrate which feeds gut flora, is very beneficial for keeping the gut colonized with healthy bacteria.

Nutrients that heal the gut include zinc, glutamine, zinc, folic acid, apple pectin, calcium pantothenate, and Vitamin A.  Combinations of these nutrients that we have found to be helpful include Permeability Factors, Oxyperm, and Ultraclearsustain.  Take them as prescribed by your health care provider.

Food allergies must be identified and treated, as continued allergic reactions increase intestinal permeability.  Common symptoms associated with food allergies include:  severe fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, extreme difficulty losing weight, constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, colitis and irritable bowel.

Food allergies can be determined through an elimination diet or through food allergy testing. Our office utilized two highly successful methods for identifying allergens.  Foods that are commonly allergenic include dairy products, wheat, yeast, eggs, corn, seafood, nuts and sugar.

To maximize energy, improve immune function, and to lose weight, ideal results will be achieved when all allergic foods are avoided initially.  Your nutritionist or doctor will instruct you how to do an elimination diet.  Allergic foods can later be worked into your diet quite successfully without symptoms if a rotation diet is used.  This involves having foods from the same food family on a certain day and avoiding this whole food family for several days before the foods are repeated again.  This prevents repetitive exposure to antigens leading to allergic symptoms.  Food allergy diets may be slightly difficult to understand and follow at first.  Please make an appointment with our qualified nutritionists who can help make a food allergy diet fun, enjoyable and easy.

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