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Intestinal Permeability


Commonly known as "LEAKY GUT", this underlies many conditions especially allergies, auto-immune diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis.  In leaky gut the cells of the small intestine (enterocytes) become inflamed and the spaces between them (tight junctions) which normally form a barrier, start to open up. 


This allows larger food particles which have not been properly broken down by the digestive processes and bacterial byproducts into the bloodstream which activates the immune system.  This over-reaction causes immune system dysfunction and is the HIGHEST CONTRIBUTOR OF TOXINS TO THE BODY.


Leaky gut will result in food intolerances and food intolerances cause inflammation which aggravates the leaky gut.  It is a vicious self-perpetuating cycle unless it is treated.  Overuse of antibiotics is a common cause of leaky gut, also candida overgrowth, parasites and blastocystis.


Testing involves taking two sugars which are water-soluble and not metabolised by the body.  One small molecule (mannitol) which is readily absorbed through the intestine and one large (lactulose) which should not be absorbed whole through a healthy, undamaged gut.  The urine is then testing for the presence of these sugars.  A normal test will have high mannitol, low lactulose.  In leaky gut the lactulose result will be much higher as the large molecule is able to penetrate the jeopardised intestinal wall.


In addition to assessing leaky gut, this test can also help diagnose malabsorption.  If a low level of mannitol which normally penetrates the intestinal epithelium is observed, it may indicate malabsorption of small molecules and possible atrophy of the intestinal villi (as in the case of Coeliac disease, especially when a gluten-free diet is not strictly followed).










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