Leaky gut syndrome and Lyme disease
Gastrointestinal symptoms are uncommon in acute Lyme illness, but nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and stomach discomfort might occur. Constipation, gas/bloating, and stomach discomfort are more likely in those with chronic or late-stage Lyme disease. Lyme bacteria can infect the gastrointestinal tract directly, resulting in inflammation and digestive problems. As a result, gut difficulties can lead to immunological dysregulation, making you more susceptible to infections. Digestive troubles can be a result of Lyme disease or increased susceptibility to chronic infections; addressing the underlying concerns is therefore critical to restoring health more quickly and efficiently.
Small intestine hyperpermeability, often known as leaky gut syndrome, can occur in Lyme disease. This condition occurs when the gaps between the cells lining the small intestine increase exponentially. This permits bacteria and food particles to enter the bloodstream, causing the immune system to release inflammatory cytokines in response. The outer layer of bacteria that enters the bloodstream contains fat and lipopolysaccharide, a carbohydrate that triggers the immune system's response. Increased intestinal permeability can be caused by food allergies, alcoholism, stress, infections (including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), toxicants, some drugs, and mast cell activation syndrome. Food proteins move through the inflamed small intestine into the bloodstream, causing an antibody reaction, which leads to an increase in food allergies.
Leaky gut syndrome causes systemic inflammation, which causes fatigue, headaches, joint pain, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, brain fog, and autoimmune diseases. Because inflammation causes many of the symptoms of Lyme disease, appropriately treating leaky gut syndrome (if present) is critical to lowering the systemic inflammatory burden.
What happens in leaky gut syndrome?
The intestines' lining acts as a barrier, allowing only adequately digested fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to pass through and into the bloodstream. It allows chemicals to flow in various ways.
Intestinal cells diffuse chloride, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and free fatty acids. Amino acids, fatty acids, glucose, minerals, and vitamins all pass through cells by a different method known as active transport.
Substances can also flow through a third channel. In most cases, the crevices between the cells lining the intestines are shut. These tight connections are known as desmosomes. When the intestinal lining is inflamed, the connections loosen, allowing bigger molecules from the intestines to flow into the bloodstream. Because these undesirable compounds aren't ordinarily found in the blood, the immune system perceives them as foreign. This causes an antibody response.
Larger items, such as disease-causing bacteria, undigested food particles, and poisons, flow directly through the injured cells as the gut lining gets more damaged. The immune system is triggered once more, and antibodies and cytokines are secreted. White blood cells are alerted by cytokines to combat the particles. This battle generates oxidants, which cause irritation and inflammation all across the body.
Leaky gut syndrome is a gastrointestinal condition that affects the intestinal lining. However, because identifying the illness is extremely difficult, there is some debate on whether leaky gut genuinely exists. Tight connections in the gut walls may not be operating properly when a person is suspected of having this disease, resulting in microscopic holes that allow bacteria and other poisons to flow into the bloodstream. In people with disorders like Crohn's disease, increased intestinal permeability is common. However, intestinal permeability is a symptom and not a cause; it only causes intestine wall inflammation and is not the same as leaky gut syndrome.
From your gums to your bottom, the gastrointestinal tract is a network of interconnected organs. The esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines are the organs that make up the gastrointestinal tract. Simply put, digestive enzymes break down nutrients in food and drink in the stomach and small intestine. The body then uses these smaller molecules for energy, growth, and repair.
When it comes to safeguarding the body from harmful germs and chemicals, the intestines play a critical role. The narrow pores of the gut walls allow water and nutrients to enter the bloodstream while keeping dangerous particles inside. These gaps widen in leaky gut syndrome, resulting in hyperpermeability, which allows food particles, germs, and toxins to enter the circulation directly.
Microbes that promote digestion, protect the intestinal wall, and maintain appropriate immunological function reside in the intestines. According to research, leaky gut syndrome may be caused by microbiota imbalances that drive the body's immunological response, resulting in gut inflammation and increased intestinal permeability.
Despite the fact that many doctors and healthcare professionals do not identify leaky gut syndrome as a diagnosable disorder, current scientific research suggests that it may have a role in various medical conditions.
What are the signs and symptoms of leaking gut syndrome?
As previously stated, leaky gut, also known as "increased permeability," is not well recognized by the medical establishment, making the identification of symptoms difficult. Many of the symptoms overlap with those of other illnesses, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose the condition. The following symptoms may be caused by or contribute to a leaky gut:
- Persistent bloating
- Deficiencies in nutrition
- Concentration problems
- Joint discomfort
- Widespread inflammation
These symptoms are similar to those of many other illnesses, prompting doctors to assume that a leaky gut may play a role in their development. Although it is unclear if leaky gut syndrome is a cause or a symptom, it has been associated with various conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, diabetes, and food allergies. Increased intestinal permeability may potentially contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease, according to a peer-reviewed study. Before any definite conclusions can be formed, more peer-reviewed investigations must be performed.
In addition, scientists have studied the gut-brain axis, which is the link between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. Leaky gut has been linked to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, according to several studies.
What else could be associated with leaky gut syndrome?
The following could be possible causes of leaky gut syndrome:
- Chronic anxiety
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth
- Environmental factors
- Alcohol abuse
- Poor nutrition
- Certain medications like NSAIDS
- Autoimmune illness
- Celiac disease
- Crohn's disease
- Inflammatory joint disease
- Intestinal bacterial infections
- Insufficient pancreas
- Giardia (an intestinal parasitic infection)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Food sensitivities and allergies
- Hepatic/liver dysfunction
- Irritable bowel syndrome
How is leaky gut syndrome diagnosed?
Although diagnosis is extremely difficult (if not impossible), some clinicians will use one specific test to determine intestinal permeability. The mannitol and lactulose test is the gold standard for detecting leaky gut syndrome. Both are water-soluble compounds that the human body is incapable of using. People with good digestive linings can easily absorb mannitol. Lactulose is a bigger molecule that is absorbed very minimally.
The test is performed by asking a person to drink a solution containing both mannitol and lactulose. Urine is collected for 6 hours and analyzed for each substance to understand the amount of each substance absorbed by the body. Mannitol levels are high and lactulose levels are low in a healthy test. A leaky gut condition is indicated by high levels of both substances. If they are at low levels, it means that all nutrients are being absorbed poorly.
It's important to remember that this test is merely an indicator of small intestinal permeability and cannot be used to clearly identify leaky gut. Most doctors avoid this test because they don't think it's particularly accurate. Furthermore, because increased intestinal permeability is a symptom of many different disorders, it should not be used to diagnose leaky gut syndrome because it may prevent a patient from seeking treatment for a more serious condition. A gastroenterologist, who specializes in digestive health and the gastrointestinal tract, is recommended for consultation.
How can leaky gut syndrome be managed?
It takes 3-6 months on an average to mend and heal the gut. The goal is to restore intestinal function with the help of a supportive diet and supplements. To heal, one must first eliminate the possible causes, such as yeast and parasites, before seeding the intestines with a healthy probiotic and feeding the healthy gut flora with a plant-based diet. It's crucial to remember that research on leaky gut syndrome is limited. It's also worth noting that self-treating and ignoring or postponing professional medical attention might have catastrophic effects. Consult your doctor if you're experiencing any symptoms or have any worries about your health.
The following diet changes can help heal the gut:
- Probiotics that enhance good gut bacteria
- Prebiotic fiber-rich meals, such as veggies and whole grains
- Consume less meat, dairy products, and egg products
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, additional sugar, and processed food