By Chrissy Weaver, PA-C

If you, like many Americans, suffer from diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain or gas and bloating, it’s likely you have begun some of your own research in an attempt to explain your chronic symptoms. A simple google search may yield a result that poses the question “Do YOU Have Leaky Gut Syndrome”? It only takes one click to lead you to a list of symptoms that seems to perfectly describe your situation. A list of supplements and dietary changes is recommended to treat the ailments associated with possible “Leaky Gut.” It’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s next to impossible to determine which sources are credible and to differentiate between reality and pseudo-science.

What the Medical Community Says About Leaky Gut Syndrome

It’s important to look to credible sources backed with evidence-based claims. Here’s what the medical community largely agrees upon: At this point, the term “intestinal-permeability” is gaining recognition in the medical world, but the correlation of increased intestinal permeability and the manifestation of chronic systemic diseases, including chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, arthritis and other autoimmune diseases has not been proven. In simpler terms, the idea the lining of your gut can be damaged, subsequently causing “leaking,” is credible. However, no studies have demonstrated this finding is causative in the manifestation of other systemic diseases.

Treating Leaky Gut Syndrome

So, what is there to do if you’re still suffering from chronic GI symptoms? It is reasonable to seek care from a healthcare professional specializing in the field of gastroenterology. Tests will help rule out diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease and Peptic Ulcer disease, amongst others. If you continue to suspect a “Leaky Gut,” you should speak with your health care provider. There is no test that is routinely used in a clinical setting to diagnose “Leaky Gut,” but if your suspicions continue, it is reasonable to take steps to improve your overall gut health.

Recommendations to Support Overall Gut Health

– Consider a diet that eliminates high amounts of carbohydrates, fats and processed foods. A Western Diet has been associated with development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and may be a source of chronic GI symptoms even in those without IBD. Evidence is emerging that the Mediterranean Diet can help improve subjective GI symptoms.

– Avoid heavy use of medications like NSAIDs (after a discussion with your doctor).

– Limit alcohol intake.

– If diarrhea is a large component of your symptoms, a supplement called l-glutamine has been shown to improve symptoms of chronic diarrhea and can improve gut permeability. Talk with your health care provider before starting any supplement.

– Make efforts to control chronic stress. Yoga and meditation can help manage stress in an effective and healthy manner.

Obviously, those with continuing symptoms should plan to see their gastroenterology specialist for an accurate diagnosis and help improving digestive health with advice from the experts. Granite Peaks Gastroenterology has nine providers able to help with symptoms and treatment for this frustrating syndrome. Talk with one of them today to start feeling better soon.

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