The following Leaky Gut Syndrome quiz (From Elizabeth Lipski’s book, Leaky Gut Syndrome) doesn’t provide a definitive diagnosis, but it can help you to assess the functioning of your small intestine.
It is not intended to replace a physician’s care or an intestinal permeability test. However, if you score high on this self-test, seek a practitioner who is knowledgeable about leaky gut to help you.
Circle the number that most closely fits, then add up your results.
0 = Symptom is not present or rarely present
1 = Mild/sometimes
2 = Moderate/often
3 = Sever/almost always
|INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY / LEAKY GUT SYNDROME|
|Constipation and/or diarrhea||0||1||2||3|
|Abdominal pain or bloating||0||1||2||3|
|Mucous or blood in stool||0||1||2||3|
|Joint pain or swelling, arthritis||0||1||2||3|
|Chronic or frequent fatigue or tiredness||0||1||2||3|
|Food allergies, sensitivities or intolerance||0||1||2||3|
|Sinus or nasal congestion||0||1||2||3|
|Chronic or frequent inflammations||0||1||2||3|
|Eczema, skin rashes or hives (urticaria)||0||1||2||3|
|Asthma, hayfever, or airborne allergies||0||1||2||3|
|Confusion, poor memory or mood swings||0||1||2||3|
|Use of NSAIDS (Aspirin, Tylenol, Motrin)||0||1||2||3|
|History of antibiotic use||0||1||2||3|
|Alcohol consumption makes you feel sick||0||1||2||3|
|Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s or celiac’s disease||0||1||2||3|
YOUR TOTAL: ________________________
Score 1-5: Leaky gut less apt to be present.
Score 6-10: Leaky gut may possibly be present.
Score 7-19: Leaky gut probably present.
Score 20+: Leaky gut almost certainly present.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is a condition that involves damage of the lining of the small intestine causing incompletely digested nutrients, toxins, bacteria, and wastes to “leak” through the intestines and flood the blood stream. The foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body including inflammatory and allergic reactions such as respiratory and digestive issues, headaches, joint pain, skin conditions, and more.
Because damaged cells in the intestines may fail to produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion, absorption of essential nutrients is compromised, creating further imbalance throughout the body that can contribute to various issues including hormone imbalance and a weakened immune system.
When substances leak out of the intestines, the liver is forced to work extra hard to filter them out of the blood stream. The extra burden on the liver can result in the accumulation of fatty liver tissue. Some toxins may be sent back into the blood stream when the liver’s ability to detoxify fails, where they reach muscles and connective tissues.
Leaky Gut Syndrome isn’t typically diagnosed in western medicine, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be affecting your health. Many health issues related to LGS go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or are ignored by traditional medicine. Patients may be left with frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms and no answers.
Just a Few Conditions That May be Linked to LGS
“Sub-Clinical” symptoms including:
Headaches and migraines
Hormone imbalance including PMS
Gastrointestinal issues including:
Abdominal bloating and cramps or painfulgas
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Crohn’s Disease and other intestinal disorders
Respiratory Conditions such as:
Autoimmune Conditions including:
Developmental and social concerns including:
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Some factors that may contribute to LGS include:
- Inherent weak digestion (All children fall into this category)
- Too much refined sugar
- Inadequate dietary fiber
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Radiation and cytotoxic drugs
- Parasitic infections
- Candida (an imbalance of intestinal flora)
The candida connection
Antibiotics are a common cause of LGS as they destroy the beneficial bacteria that are required for healthy metabolic functioning and an adequate immune response. Antibiotics also support the excessive growth of pathogenic fungi and yeast in the body, such as Candida Albicans.
Candida contributes to LGS by causing the small intestine’s epithelial cells to shrink. Spaces are formed as a result, and intestinal toxins can pass through to the blood. Important immune agents in the epithelial mucus of the small intestine that normally neutralize toxins are overwhelmed by the increased flow, and the immune system is compromised as a result.
Leaky gut and Oriental medicine
Though Western medicine does not readily diagnosis or treat Leaky Gut Syndrome, the equivalent diagnosis in Oriental Medicine (OM) is likely rooted in Spleen Deficiency and can be treated with acupuncture, diet and lifestyle modifications.
Spleen Deficiency does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong with the actual spleen organ. In fact, the Spleen in OM refers mostly to the body’s digestive system and it’s delicate dance with the endocrine, nervous, and respiratory systems; genetic predispositions; lifestyle and emotions.
The Spleen system/digestion is adversely affected by “cold” and “damp” – two conditions created by an overuse of antibiotics or a diet high in refined foods. The Spleen/Digestive system is also easily affected by stress: an overtaxed nervous system, especially from over-worry, puts added burden on the Spleen’s ability to digest food.
Great. The quiz says I have a Leaky Gut. How can I know for sure?
Testing for LGS is easy and can be done at home. Your health practitioner will provide you a test that you can perform at home and mail off to the lab yourself.
The Intestine Permeability Test for Leaky Gut Syndrome is as simple as drinking some fluid and catching the urine output in a cup. The fluid contains two sugars, mannitol and lactulose. In a healthy person, lactulose is only slightly absorbed but mannitol is easily absorbed. Therefore, if the test shows high amounts of both sugars, you may have LGS. If both sugar levels are low, this could indicate malabsorption. Finally high levels of lactulose with low levels of mannitol have be associated with such conditions as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or ulcerative colitis.
If your Intestinal Permeability test is positive, your practitioner may want to follow up with other tests to determine the underlying cause of your Leaky Gut. These may include a comprehensive stool analysis, parasitology testing, food and environmental allergy tests, and possibly a liver panel.
Treating Leaky Gut Syndrome
Sure you could chase the symptoms with temporary band-aid solutions, but the optimal approach for treating symptoms associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome is to focus on healing the gut for good. Such treatment may be require more time and effort, but in the long run will make all the difference in your health, longevity, and quality of life.
Discuss a plan with your health practitioner that includes:
Big changes to diet can be stressful and challenging. With this in mind, come up with a plan that is realistic for you. Although you may need to avoid certain medications and foods long-term in order to “cure” LGS, some changes only need to be avoided temporarily.
- Eat fresh, organic, and local as much as possible. Aim for at least 20% of your diet to be raw.
- Eat fiber (Unless you suffer from Inflammatory Bowel disease and are experiencing a flare of your symptoms)
- Avoid or eliminate common food allergens include eggs, dairy and wheat or gluten. Talk to your practitioner about elimination diets.
- Avoid foods that Candida need to thrive including
- All sugar (fructose, molasses and honey, fruits and fruit juices)
- Refined carbohydrates including processed flours, bread, and pasta
- Fungal foods such as mushrooms
- Fermented foods including cheese, wine, beer, soy sauce, vinegars.
- Avoiding alcohol and NSAIDS
Acupuncture addresses the underlying imbalances of your body’s entire system – body, mind, and spirit – guiding the healing for Leaky Gut Syndrome and life in general. Not only can acupuncture optimize and speed recovery, but the sessions can also provide a healing space for you to slow down and take time for your own well-being.
- Probiotics – to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. Choose high quality and high potency (in the billions)
- EFAs – such as fish oils for omega 3 fatty acids will reduce cell inflammation throughout the body
- Digestive enzymes – to assist in digestion while your gut heals. Use only for a short time or intermittently.
- L- Glutamine – an amino acid that can help protect and restore the barrier function of the intestinal wall
Do you have experience with Leaky Gut Syndrome? Please tell us about it in the comments below!