An overview of gut rot, leaky gut and what life can be like if you take control of your gut health.
A Detailed Look at Gut Rot
Leaky gut, also called increased intestinal permeability or gut rot, is a controversial condition. Due to the poor understanding of this condition, the healthcare community is split on how to approach it, or if they should diagnose it. As science catches up with this condition, patients need to look out for themselves by understanding the symptoms and what is happening in their bodies when gut rot is present.
What is Gut Rot in Humans?
Inside the digestive tract is extensive intestinal lining. It forms a tight barrier under normal circumstances that controls what the bloodstream is able to absorb. When the gut lining is unhealthy, holes or cracks may be present. This could allow for toxins, bugs and partially digested food to penetrate into the tissues below.
When this happens, gut flora changes and inflammation may result, leading to digestive tract issues, and health problems affecting other parts of the body. Now that you have the answer to “what is gut rot in humans, it is important to know the health issues it may contribute to:
• Autoimmune disease
• Crohn’s disease
• Intestinal infections
• Ulcerative colitis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Food sensitivities
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Celiac disease
• Environmental illness
• Arthritis and other inflammatory joint diseases
• Pancreatic insufficiency
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Liver dysfunction
What Are the Possible Symptoms?
This condition can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, as well as symptoms that affect other systems of the body. The following are possible symptoms:
• Chronic constipation, bloating, diarrhea and gas
• Poor immune system
• Excessive fatigue
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Brain fog, memory loss and headaches
• Cravings for foods high in carbohydrates and sugar
• Depression, ADD, ADHD and anxiety
• Skin rashes and other problems, such as eczema, acne and rosacea
• Joint pain or arthritis
Since these symptoms are largely nonspecific, it may take some time for a healthcare professional to determine the cause. You can make note of your symptoms and keep a journal. Be specific about when they occur and what helps to improve them. This information may aid your healthcare provider in making an accurate diagnosis.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
For some people, they are genetically predisposed to developing this condition. Increased intestinal permeability is also seen with certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
In some cases, your diet may be what triggers this condition. A diet high in sugar and low in fiber can disrupt the balance of healthy gut flora to contribute to this condition. People who have high stress levels or consume alcohol excessively may also disrupt their healthy flora.
While the research is still in the preliminary stages, some evidence suggests that people with an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis and lupus, may be at a higher risk for increased intestinal permeability. However, clinical studies need to be performed to confirm this association.
How is the Condition Diagnosed?
Diagnosing this condition can be tricky. There is not one test that can provide a definitive diagnosis. However, performing a lactulose test and a mannitol test may help people to get a diagnosis. Both of these tests involve molecules that are water soluble and things that the body is unable to use.
When the intestinal lining is healthy, the body can readily absorb mannitol. Lactulose is relatively large, so the body views it as only slightly absorbable. For both of these tests, you drink a liquid that contains both lactulose and mannitol.
For six hours after drinking the solution, your urine is collected for six hours. It is then tested to determine how much mannitol and lactulose is in your urine. This will show how much of each of these substances your body absorbed.
When your gut is healthy, your urine will have low lactulose levels and high mannitol levels. However, if there are high levels of both of these in your urine, it can indicate increased intestinal permeability. If there are low levels of both of these, in can indicate that your intestines are poorly absorbing all types of nutrients.
Your doctor may also recommend a food intolerance test. This test will show any food sensitivities that you may have. It is important since people with increased intestinal permeability often have food sensitivities that may worsen the condition.
This test is controversial and not all doctors believe that it delivers accurate results. Because of this, it should never be done alone to make a diagnosis. However, it is a relatively simple test. It involves drawing a small sample of blood and sending it to a laboratory for analysis.
Stool testing is another option. This is done to analyze your stool for the state of your immune function, inflammation markers, beneficial bacterial levels and overall intestinal health. For this test, you will be asked to provide a stool sample. In most cases, you can collect it at home and bring it to your healthcare provider in the specimen bag or jar that they provide you.
This test can also provide information about different microorganisms in your gastrointestinal system that may be pathogenic, such as parasites, yeast and bad bacteria. Your stool is analyzed in a laboratory.
What Are the Treatment Options?
Treatment for this condition is often twofold. If you have an underlying condition that might be contributing to it, such as celiac disease, getting this condition under control is imperative for helping your symptoms. From here, your healthcare provider will work with you on your diet.
A diet with happy healthy food is often described as the ideal treatment for this condition. This diet is generally broken down into foods to eat and foods to avoid. Certain foods may promote inflammation which could contribute to unhealthy bacteria increasing in your gut. The following foods should be avoided:
• Wheat-based foods, such as pasta, wheat flour, bread, cereals and couscous
• Processed meats, such as deli meats, hot dogs, cold cuts and bacon
• Snack foods, such as crackers, popcorn and pretzels
• Dairy products, such as cheeses, milk and ice cream
• Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame and saccharin
• Certain beverages, such as carbonated drinks, alcohol and sugary beverages
• Gluten-containing grains, such as rye, seitan, oats, barley, bulgur and triticale
• Baked foods, such as muffins, pies, pizza, cakes, cookies and pastries
• Junk food, such as potato chips, candy bars, fast food and sugary cereals
• Refined oils, such as sunflower, safflower, canola and soybean oils
• Sauces, such as soy, hoisin, teriyaki and salad dressings
The foods that you do eat should promote beneficial bacteria growth. This can help to improve your digestive health to reduce your symptoms of increased intestinal permeability. The following foods are recommended for people with this condition:
• Vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage, carrots, eggplant, Swiss chard, ginger, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, arugula, kale, beetroot, spinach and mushrooms
• Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, miso, kimchi and tempeh
• Sprouted seeds, such as chia, sunflower and flax seeds
• Healthy fats, such as avocados and their oil, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
• Eggs and lean cuts of meats that are not processed
• Cultured dairy products, such as yogurt, kefir and traditional buttermilk
• Nuts that are raw and raw nut milks
• Tubers and roots, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, potatoes, yams and squash
• Certain fruits, such as grapes, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, lemons, papaya, coconut, bananas, raspberries, pineapple, mandarin, limes and passionfruit
• Gluten-free grains, such as amaranth, sorghum, gluten-free oats, buckwheat, white and brown rice and teff
• Fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon and herring
• All spices and herbs
• Certain beverages, such as tears, nut milk, kombucha, bone broth, water and coconut milk
Leaky Gut Supplements
Probiotics might also be recommended for this condition. A quality probiotic supplement can help to promote healthy gut flora at the right levels.
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Leaky Gut Supplements may help to alleviate symptoms, such as diarrhea and bloating. The supplement should have at least 50 billion CFUs. Ensure that there are multiple bacterial strains in the supplement.
Other supplements that may benefit this condition include:
• Fiber to increase fiber intake and to aid the probiotic supplement
• Digestive enzymes after and before meals to help breakdown certain nutrients
• L-glutamine for its anti-inflammatory properties
• Zinc to boost the immune system
• Curcumin for its anti-inflammatory effects
Can You Prevent Bubble Gut?
Not all of the possible causes can be fully prevented. For example, if you have an autoimmune condition or a genetic predisposition to increased intestinal permeability, you cannot just reverse these. However, eating a healthy diet low in saturated fats and sugars may be beneficial.
If you have risk factors for this condition, consider working with a healthcare provider that is familiar with it. They can evaluate your diet and help you to make the necessary changes to reduce your risk of this condition. While this may not fully eliminate your risk, it may help to reduce it.
If you have bubble gut working with a healthcare provider who understands the condition is important. They can help you to get an accurate diagnosis. This professional can also ensure that you are eating the right happy healthy food and using any other treatment methods to improve your symptoms.