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    You are here : Home » About MS » Associated Illnesses » Leaky Gut

    Leaky Gut

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    Leaky GutThere are many parties that are convinced that increased intestinal permeability or a leaky gut may be connected to a good many people with Multiple Sclerosis.

    The MS Diet Research Group connected to the Best Bet Diet Group are making progress getting academics and doctors interested in researching this field as to date only very limited research has been carried out.

    Having said that the results of this research have indicated a plausible connection. If is also people with MS themselves who are proving that measures taken to heal the gut can often result in improvement in their MS symptoms.

    What is a leaky gut?

    A leaky gut is when the lining of the intestines has lost some of its integrity and has become permeable, like a sieve. This allows partially-digested foods to get into the bloodstream. This means that nutrients are not absorbed properly. A leaky gut also triggers an immune response which causes inflammation and damage. Leaky gut is common in MS.

    How do you know if you’ve got a leaky gut?

    Typical signs and symptoms include (see how common these are in MS!):

    Testing for a leaky gut

    There is a non invasive technique for assessing stress on the lining of the gut wall using the Vega machine.

    We also have a Malabsorption/Intestinal Permeability, which is carried out in the laboratory. This is a simple urine test which directly measures abilities of two non-metabolised sugar molecules (mannitol and lactulose) to permeate the intestinal mucosa. The test measures the amount of lactulose and mannitol recovered in a 6 hour urine sample.

    As well as measuring toxic elements, a hair mineral analysis can also detect malabsorption, i.e. gut permeability.

    Causes of a leaky gut

    • Nutritional deficiencies
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (eg. Aspirin, ibuprofen, NSAIDs etc), antibiotics, cytotoxic drugs, H2 receptor agonist drugs, eg Zantec, Tagamet.)
    • Toxic pesticide residues/inhaled chemicals/environmental toxins
    • Refined sugar
    • Candida
    • Parasites
    • Stress
    • Trauma
    • Inflammation
    • Food allergens
    • Lectin, which can cause inflammation of the gut lining
    • Free radical damage
    • Alcohol and tobacco
    • Low secretory IgA intestinal antibodies
    • Bacterial secretions
    • Sluggish liver - toxic overload from the liver affects the gut and increases permeability
    • Lack of Oxygen
    • Deficiency in digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid

    Why does a leaky gut matter?

    A leaky gut is of major importance.

    • Nutrients essential to health and life itself are absorbed from the intestinal tract. If these nutrients are leaking out your body will be deficient and your health will suffer.

    • If your gut leaks, it allows through not just food particles but other invading pathogens, such as viruses bacteria, and parasites.

    • A leaky gut affects your immune system

    • Without the proper nutrition, the T-cells, and B-cells and all the other major players in the immune system cannot function properly

    • A weak gut lining cannot produce the needed amount of secretory IgA, an antibody present in the muscosal lining of the gut.

    • Something called brush border enzymes work at the tip of the intestinal cells, which break down food properly. When the gut is leaky, these enzymes do not work at their best.

    • Large, undigested food particles are toxic to the system and can activate an auto-immune response.

    • Leaky gut is thought, by some, to be a cause of MS.

    What can you do about it?


    • Glutamine. This is essential to the healing of the gut lining. It is the main fuel for the intestinal cells. Glutathione and N-acetylcysteine. A deficiency in the liver is common in Leaky gut.

    • Probiotics e.g. Lactobacillus bifidus - friendly bacteria which counteract the bad bacteria/candida and boost the immune system.

    • Polysaccharides e.g. in Jerusalem artichokes or aloe vera juice - dietary sources of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) which attract beneficial bacteria to inhabit to gut.

    • NAG (N-acetyl glucoamine) - builds the tissue surrounding intestinal wall cells. It has a unique ability to decrease the binding of some lectins to the intestinal lining.

    • Antioxidants - e.g. Proanthocyanidins from grape seeds, Pycnogenal from pine bark, Vitamin C, Vitamin E.

    • Vitamin E - also an antioxidant maintains the integrity of lipid cell membranes.

    • Essential Fatty Acids - for membrane integrity Lipoic acid - a potent antioxidant which binds heavy metals.

    • Gingko Biloba - an antioxidant which also increases circulation in the smaller vessels and capillaries, increasing nutrient delivery and tissue healing

    • Zinc - plays a role in regenerating lining tissue and protecting it from damage.

    • Cat’s Claw - this helps cleanse internally. DGL (licorice without glycyrrhizin) - strengthens integrity of mucosal cells and increases their life span.

    • Slippery Elm - calms inflamed mucous membranes. Digestive and pancreatic enzymes.

    • Natural antimicrobials - e.g. citrus seed extract, artemisinin, colloidal silver, bismuth.

    • Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.

    Recommended Dietary and lifestyle changes to heal the Leaky Gut

    • Eat a good, healthy, high fibre diet which excludes foods to which you are sensitive.
    • Drink filtered water.
    • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and certain drugs (listed). Reduce exposure to environmental toxins.
    • Wash all fruit and vegetables.

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre (MSRC)

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