In connection with a wide variety of autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the term leaky gut syndrome (German: licking, holey intestine) appears again and again. But how does this syndrome manifest itself and in what context is it a trigger for autoimmune diseases?
Leaky Gut Syndrome, or LGS for short, refers to a damaged or leaking intestinal mucosa. To be precise, there is a loosening of the cell-cell connection (tight junctions).
In the meantime, it has been found that this defective barrier in the small intestine plays a decisive role in whether autoimmune diseases develop or are triggered in the first place.
This syndrome is also partly responsible for how a chronic or even incurable disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis , progresses.
These are all good reasons to deal with the topic of intestinal health and leaky gut syndrome as a Hashimoto sufferer in order to minimize inflammation in the body and bring about a significant improvement in your well-being.
What happens in the body with leaky gut syndrome?
As already mentioned, leaky gut is a permeability of the intestinal mucosa. In a healthy body, this represents the protective wall between the contents of the intestine and the bloodstream. Normally, the intestinal mucosa only allows water and the nutrients that are important for the body to pass through.
However, when the intestinal mucosa is damaged, food components, metabolic products, pollutants, bacteria and toxins repeatedly get into the bloodstream in this way.
You could also compare it to a broken sieve. If it is intact, only the fine juice of berries is let through. However, if there is a small tear in the close-meshed fabric, the coarser pieces also get into the glass.
A healthy intestinal wall basically consists of four layers. From the inside out they would be:
- The intestinal flora (microbiota): This layer consists of our intestinal bacteria. These have the task of protecting our intestinal wall from pathogens, producing enzymes and minerals, breaking down mucus and training the immune system
- A layer of mucus that binds toxins and is carried out with the stool.
- A layer of mucous membrane, which consists of separate skin cells and are connected to each other via the “tight junctions”.
- The fourth layer consists of connective tissue.
A damaged intestinal mucosa allows toxins and pollutants, as well as viruses, bacteria and fungi, to enter our bloodstream, which our immune system classifies and classifies as hostile superiority.
So it’s only natural that there would be an immune response. This means that the body releases inflammatory substances and at the same time antibodies are produced against these invaders. In principle, this would be a good thing.
However, since these foreign substances, which have entered the organism from the intestine, are often very similar in structure to the body’s own tissue structure, errors are often made.
As a result, the immune system now also attacks the body’s own cells, which happen to have a similar molecular structure to those that got into the blood through the perforated intestine. Eventually, the body mistakenly begins to attack itself and an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis develops.
Gluten in particular is a very big problem in this context . Due to the molecular similarity between the thyroid tissue and the protein building block gliadin, a serious mix-up can occur in the organism.
If gluten gets into the bloodstream due to the permeable intestinal wall, the immune system activates the release of antibodies, which are intended to attack and ward off the intolerable gluten protein gliadin. Due to the structural similarity, however, the thyroid tissue is also attacked by mistake and the thyroid gland quickly becomes inflamed.
Antibodies are also formed against other foods that accidentally get into the bloodstream, so that allergies and intolerances to them can easily develop.
What are the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome?
The permeability of the intestine usually has very different effects and comes with a wide variety of symptoms. Here is a small excerpt of the possible signs:
- Food allergies / food intolerances
- autoimmune diseases
- Small bowel overgrowth (SIBO)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- digestive problems
- Skin diseases, neurodermatitis and eczema
- General fatigue and drop in performance
- Diabetes Typ I
- celiac disease
- Chronic Headaches
- mood swings
- Depression and general mental symptoms
- nutrient deficiency
- Chronic abdominal discomfort in the form of diarrhea, constipation, bloating and abdominal cramps
- hair loss
- weight loss
What are the causes of leaky gut syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome can be caused by:
- Incorrect, high-allergen and sugar-heavy diet
- Darmpilze (Candida Albicans) & Parasiten
- heavy metal pollution
- lack of vital substances
- Infections in the digestive system
- food intolerances
- metabolic disorders
- Changed composition of bile acids and gastric acid deficiency
If you take a closer look at the causes of leaky gut syndrome, it is obvious, especially with regard to the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis , that these two factors strongly influence each other and are closely related:
If a lot of sugar and isolated carbohydrates are ingested through food, but at the same time not enough vegetables and fiber are taken in, the LGS is often already pre-programmed. In many cases, the wrong fats, such as those from sausage and cheese, are then also consumed in large quantities.
If then there is also a hypersensitivity to gluten or milk protein, good conditions are already in place for the development of leaky gut – often without knowing it or noticing it right away. But undiscovered intolerances also permanently irritate the intestines and thus ensure permanent permeability.
Many of today’s painkillers and antibiotics pose a real problem for the intestinal mucosa and intestinal flora. Antibiotic drugs attack the intestinal mucosa, destroying unwanted and harmful bacteria as well as health-promoting bacteria.
After taking antibiotics, a fungal infection with Candida Albicans is often found, which can spread undisturbed due to the reduced intestinal flora caused by antibiotics.
A one-off treatment with antibiotics causes damage to the intestines, which the body can only repair itself after 6 months at the earliest. If several antibiotics are administered in succession, the intestinal flora can basically no longer regenerate completely and a diseased intestine is inevitable.
But even anti-inflammatory painkillers often damage the stomach and intestinal mucous membranes so severely that internal bleeding can actually occur. But cortisone or radiation and chemotherapy also damage the healthy intestine with serious consequences.
Everyone knows that this luxury food is not exactly healthy in principle. But with regular alcohol consumption, the intestinal mucosa is damaged, as is the case with medication or the wrong diet.
The main problem here is that with regular consumption of alcohol, the intestinal mucosa has no opportunity to regenerate naturally.
Intestinal fungi and parasites
All of us harbor the yeast Candida Albicans in our intestines. But if it multiplies too much due to poor nutrition or a higher dose of antibiotics, it can trigger leaky gut syndrome. Because in higher concentrations, it also damages the natural protective layer in the intestine.
It multiplies so much that it suppresses the healthy intestinal flora and then releases fungal toxins and fusel alcohols, which are toxic to our intestinal health and which destroy the intestinal mucosa.
We now encounter heavy metals everywhere in everyday life. However, the main sources of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and palladium are still dental materials, air pollution, cigarette consumption and contaminated food.
It is now known that dental materials are the number one source of heavy metals, but the contamination of our food is also taking on unimagined dimensions.
In terms of leaky gut syndrome, heavy metals are detrimental in many ways. Heavy metals themselves irritate the intestinal mucosa, which would be enough to cause leaky gut. In addition, they destroy the entire intestinal flora, which again clears the way for fungi and parasites.
In addition, significant deficits in the mineral balance occur due to heavy metals, which ultimately leads to a weak immune system, which again calls intestinal fungi and parasites onto the scene.
Due to the lack of minerals, the body is no longer able to regenerate and constantly rebuild the intestinal mucosa. I can only emphasize again and again that heavy metals not only play a central role in LeakyGut Syndrome.
In relation to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, HPU/KPU and also adrenal insufficiency, the connection can no longer be denied.
It has been proven that stress can make you ill. In combination with the wrong diet, taking medication and/or constant alcohol consumption, it can even make you really ill.
Now it is not the stress itself that threatens our intestinal health, but it triggers other factors, such as the infestation of Candida, which ultimately leads to damage to the intestinal mucosa.
But stress also often leads to what is known as adrenal fatigue , in which the adrenal glands are no longer able to produce enough cortisol. Cortisol is anti-inflammatory and ensures appropriate wound healing.
If there is too little cortisol available due to stress, even apparently harmless foods can lead to inflammation in the intestine.
lack of vital substances
Our entire organism is dependent on vital substances, nutrients and vitamins in order to function smoothly. If there is a deficiency in this area over a long period of time, the intestines become diseased and the active functioning of our entire digestive system decreases significantly.
Vitamin A and zinc in particular are absolutely necessary in sufficient quantities for a healthy intestine. While vitamin A is responsible for healthy mucous membranes, zinc serves to regenerate and heal.
Infections in the digestive system
You can quickly get bacterial, viral or fungal infections that can lead to gastrointestinal problems. If you don’t live in a sterile glass house, you won’t always be able to avoid it. In principle, such an infection is not such a huge problem for a healthy person.
Unfortunately, in order to restore this imbalance in the body, drugs are administered very quickly these days, which in turn have a negative effect on intestinal health. Because antibiotics and co not only attack the harmful bacteria, but also those that are responsible for optimal intestinal health.
Many people who suffer from headaches, tiredness or concentration problems over a long period of time often do not know that they may suffer from a food intolerance. This can also be allergies, such as gluten sensitivity.
This can mean that you keep eating the foods that weaken your immune system and thus damage your gut health. If such a food intolerance is ignored or the causes are not combated, leaky gut syndrome can also be triggered here.
When it comes to metabolic disorders, those affected by HPU/KPU in particular have an increased risk of developing LGS. Because in hemopyrrolic actamuria / cryptopyrroluria , enzyme defects lead to an increased amount of metabolic breakdown products in the blood, which are then excreted in the urine with zinc, vitamin B6 and manganese.
The main reason for the increased risk of LGS is the lack of vital substances, which those affected do not have. Ultimately, this leads to the fact that leaky gut syndrome is almost pre-programmed here as well.
How is leaky gut syndrome diagnosed?
Suddenly occurring food intolerances can already be an indication. The classic lactose and fructose intolerance also includes histamine intolerance. But also too low secretory IgA in the stool is often an indication of the leaky gut syndrome.
In the past, the markers calprotectin, histamine and alpha-1-antitrypsin were often tested when leaky gut was suspected. However, these have not proven to be reliable, as they can also show abnormalities in other diseases.
The two true and direct tests for leaky gut syndrome today are the slightly outdated lactulose-mannitol test and the current zonulin blood test.
The disaccharide lactulose is not normally absorbed in the small intestine because the body cannot metabolize it. In leaky gut syndrome, however, lactulose enters the blood in large quantities through the perforated intestine and can later be detected in the urine.
Mannitol, on the other hand, is a simple sugar that is always completely absorbed by the small intestine and can later be measured in the urine. Concrete conclusions about leaky gut can then be drawn from the ratio between the measured mannitol and lactulose.
Zonulin is a protein that is able to open the tight junctions of the intestinal mucosa and thus promote leaky gut. If increased zonulin values are measurable in the blood serum, this is an indication of the leaky gut syndrome.
How to deal with Leaky Gut Syndrome?
First and foremost, your own measures against the LGS result from the possible causes. This means that by changing your diet and changing your diet, you help your own intestines to regenerate and become healthy again.
With an appropriate change in diet and special diet, you can:
- better protect the mucus layer in the intestine
- rebuild the intestinal flora
- contribute to the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa
- inhibit inflammation
In detail, this means that you can achieve a lot by changing your diet . First and foremost, you should make sure that as many of your foods as possible are rich in probiotic and prebiotic ingredients. So enrich your diet, for example, with homemade milk kefir, fermented vegetables or yoghurt.
You should also eat more artichokes, asparagus, aubergines or legumes. Because it contains nutrients that help the natural and health-promoting bacteria in your intestine to regenerate faster.
You should also increase your dietary fiber intake. Because vegetables, seeds or nuts contain those substances that are known to allow the fungi to be excreted more quickly in the intestine. Here, however, it is important that you consider whether you tolerate these foods well.
To support the natural regeneration of your intestines, especially the intestinal mucosa, it is helpful if you supplement your weekly menu with L-glutamine.
This can include beef, spinach and parsley, which are particularly rich in glutamine. To be on the safe side, L-glutamine should also be supplemented in powder form. The usual dosages of the amino acid are 5-20g per day.
In addition, dietary supplements are an optimal way to supply your body with vitamins A, C and D3 as well as NAC, zinc , butyrate, lecithin, rhodiola and plant-based enzymes on a daily basis. But iron, selenium, calcium, magnesium, co-enzyme Q10 and high-dose probiotics should not be forgotten either.
Intestinal initiations and/or colon hydrotherapy are recommended to relieve the entire system and to cleanse the intestines. In this way, the body is helped to gently remove toxins and degradation products and to stimulate intestinal peristalsis.
As a rule, leaky gut syndrome can be treated with …
- a targeted change in diet
- reducing stress and avoiding stressful situations
- the replenishment of nutrients and vital substances
… got a good handle on it.
Experience shows that a targeted change in diet and the supply of nutrients and vital substances can weaken or completely contain other causes of LGS.
It has been shown again and again that with a balanced and healthy diet, the adrenal glands react less stressed and recover better, simply because, among other things, sleep is better and deeper as a result of the changed diet.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is closely related to autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. On the one hand, it can trigger this disease, but on the other hand it can have a strong influence.
The syndrome itself can appear as a result of other illnesses, or it can be the result of poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption or the constant use of medication, to name just a few causes.
In principle, the leaky gut syndrome is largely responsible for the fact that harmful and toxic cells from the intestine get into the organism via the bloodstream, because in this syndrome the intestinal mucosa is damaged and permeable.
Especially in the early stages, LGS cannot always be clearly diagnosed. Leaky Gut Syndrome can have a variety of causes. In order to get it under control to some extent, we recommend a healthy lifestyle and switching to a special diet so that the intestines can regenerate again.
With regard to one’s own autoimmune disease, leaky gut is not only the trigger, but also a constant companion, which can make the disease progress faster or help determine the entire course of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.