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Diet, Education on Diabetes

Leaky Gut Syndrome 101

Leaky gut syndrome is a hypothetical condition with symptoms being extremely common. Leaky gut can often cause a myriad of symptoms in the gut and across the body.

What is it?

bacteria - leaky gut syndrome

The intestines have a barrier made up of cells which separates the lining of the gut and the bloodstream. Normally this layer of cells are tightly packed together, so we only absorb nutrients and not harmful substances.

Leaky gut syndrome is when the tight junctions between cells become loose, increasing absorption of harmful substances. This can result in toxins and bacteria leaking into the bloodstream, creating inflammation and symptoms across the body.

Symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhoea/constipation
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Skin conditions e.g. acne and eczema

Due to such a variety of symptoms, people often do not know they have leaky gut.

Consequences of leaky gut syndrome

Inflammation created by leaky gut can be associated with:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis)
  • Coeliac disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune conditions (e.g. Type 1 diabetes, Grave’s disease etc)

Preventing leaky gut syndrome

antibiotics - leaky gut syndrome

The following can be associated with leaky gut:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Certain medications (PPI’s)
  • Chronic stress
  • Alcohol
  • Environmental toxin exposure
  • Gluten consumption
  • Dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut)
  • Nutrient deficiencies

The following steps can help to decrease the risk of getting leaky gut:

1.Remove foods that can trigger inflammation. This can include going gluten-free, decreasing alcohol and caffeine consumption.

fermented foods - preventing leaky gut syndrome

2. Replace essential nutrients needed to support digestive health. This can be achieved by increasing fibre and prebiotic foods (garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, banana) to support digestion, absorption and elimination. 

3. Reinoculate the gut with beneficial bacteria. Consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut and/or taking a prebiotic supplement can help to reinoculate the gut. 

4. Repair the gut by consuming vital nutrients needed for the intestinal barrier. Increasing fresh fruit and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can help to increase nutrients for the intestinal barrier. 

5. Rebalance and decrease stress load. Chronic stress can decrease blood flow to the gut, linking to leaky gut. Use breathing techniques and relaxation methods to aid stress relief.

Thank you for reading Leaky Gut Syndrome 101! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Oxidative Stress 101 and Metabolic syndrome 101!

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Diet, Education on Diabetes

Gluten – what is the big deal?

Gluten is a very controversial topic, with ‘experts’ claiming we have to quit gluten in order to be healthy. So here is everything you need to know about gluten, and whether or not you should consider going gluten free!

What is it?

sources of gluten

Gluten is a storage protein found in certain grains.

It is essentially is what makes foods stretchy and expand. Sometimes, gluten can be linked to causing leaky gut syndrome due to its expanding properties.

Leaky gut syndrome is when cells in the gut lining lose tightness, and allow fragments of food to leak into the blood. This is linked to a variety of health conditions, including autoimmune diseases.

Grains that contain gluten include:

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Malt
  • Wheat starch

E.g. Pasta, bread, flour, cakes, biscuits, pastry and ready-made sauces.

Coeliac’s disease

Coeliac’s disease is where the body attacks the lining of the digestive tract in response to gluten consumption.

This creates some severe symptoms, including:

  • Severe or occasional diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or wind
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Recurrent stomach pain or cramping
  • Iron, B12 or B9 (folate) deficiency
  • Anaemia
  • Tiredness
  • Mouth ulcers
gluten free products

If individuals with coeliac’s continue to consume gluten, damage to the digestive tract will become so severe, nutrients will not be absorbed. This can result in multiple nutrient deficiencies which can lead to further discomfort and the onset of other health conditions.

Therefore, it is imperative that coeliac’s sufferers completely avoid gluten to stay healthy.

Gluten intolerance (non-coeliac)

Some people can have what we call intolerance or sensitivity. This is essentially when consuming gluten causes a variety of symptoms, without the presence of antibodies or long-term damage. The reason why is not fully known, but it could be linked to leaky gut syndrome.

Symptoms of sensitivity include: (these are usually less severe than symptoms in coeliac’s)

  • Bloating
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Nausea
  • Brain fog/ poor concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

Some people also benefit from quitting gluten with health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic skin conditions like eczema. Research suggests that gluten can make inflammation worse in the body, and can increase autoantibodies seen in some autoimmune conditions.

If you do not have any digestive issues or health conditions, there is essentially no point in quitting gluten. Individuals can be perfectly healthy consuming gluten, so please do not go down the route of thinking cutting out certain food groups makes you ‘healthy’.

My general advice, is if you have any digestive issues or unexplained symptoms, go and see your doctor and consider quitting gluten for 6-8 weeks to see if this relieves symptoms. If it does not relieve symptoms, you are fine to continue consuming gluten.

Gluten and type 1 diabetes

type 1 diabetes and gluten

Interestingly, type 1 diabetes and coeliac’s disease seem to be linked. Many people living with type 1 also have coeliac’s.

Research has shown that the autoantibodies (antibodies that cause the onset of autoimmune diseases) seen in type 1 diabetes are very similar to those seen in coeliac’s.

So if you are living with type 1 diabetes, I would absolutely recommend asking your doctor for a coeliac’s blood test.

If this comes back negative, but you suffer from any of the gluten sensitivity symptoms listed above, I would definitely quitting gluten for 6-8 weeks (the longer the better) to see if this helps.

Thank you for reading gluten – what is the big deal? I really hope you learnt something new and have a better understanding of gluten! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Autoimmune conditions linked with type 1 diabetes and Keeping your feet healthy with diabetes!

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