Leaky gut syndrome is set to become the #1 killer in America. The condition occurs when the lining of the gut becomes damaged and bits of undigested food pass through (aka leaky gut). Having bits of undigested food going through your bloodstream is not good! Your immune system attacks these bits of food. This would normally be a good thing but, if your gut is constantly letting food through, your immune system is in hyper-gear. You suffer from constant inflammation and a slew of other health problems ranging from rashes to brain fog to malnutrition. Read more about what leaky gut syndrome is and why you should be worried here.
There are several ways to go about diagnosing leaky gut syndrome. The first is to diagnose food sensitivities, and the second is to diagnose leaky gut itself. The third is to use an elimination diet for self diagnosis.
Diagnosing Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities are both a cause of leaky gut syndrome and a symptom of the disease. It is good to catch food sensitivities before they develop into full-blown leaky gut syndrome. This way you can avoid these foods so your gut can heal itself. When caught early on, you can avoid serious health issues like autoimmune disease which come from having a leaky gut.
Unfortunately, food sensitivity diagnosis methods have a long way to go. The tests which exist look for specific antibodies. When you have a food sensitivity, your body will produce antibodies in response to that food. Antibodies are special proteins that remove foreign antigens, bacteria or viruses from the body. Each antibody recognizes a specific foreign antigen. This makes it possible to use antigens to test for food sensitivities, but it also means you have to run a separate antibody test for each possible food sensitivity!
Cyrex Laboratories offers food sensitivity tests. The tests currently cost upwards of $500 each and are usually not covered by insurance. Unfortunately, these tests aren’t always a reliable way to tell if you have a food sensitivity. They only screen for common food sensitivities. For the test to be accurate, you must still have the antibodies from that food in your body. If, for example, you’ve been gluten free for a few months, taking a gluten sensitivity panel might prove pointless since your test result will likely be a false negative. (Source)
I took a comprehensive Cyrex food sensitivity panel and I have mixed feelings as to whether it was worth the expense. It didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know and I suspect a couple of false negatives based on the fact that I react to certain foods despite my Cyrex results saying I don’t.
Leaky Gut Syndrome Diagnosis Test
If you think that your food sensitivity has already developed into full-blown leaky gut syndrome, there are some diagnostic tests available. One option is a Lactulose/Mannitol test (also called Polyethelyne Glycol test). Basically, you are given a solution made up of two different sugars. One sugar has small cells (which should be easily absorbed) and the other has large cells (which shouldn’t readily pass through the gut). A urine sample is then analyzed to see the levels of these sugars. If you have high levels of both sugars in your urine, then it is a sign your gut is leaky.
Another option is a Comprehensive Stool and Digestive Analysis Test (CSDA). A stool sample is taken to look for parasites, bacteria, and high yeast levels, as these are indicative of gut problems. Your levels of an antibody called IgA can also be analyzed, which helps determine the condition of your gut mucosal lining. Stool tests also can look for antibodies to gliadin, the protein in gluten which causes holes to form in the gut lining. (Source)
I did take the Cyrex leaky gut test and regret it. The test confirmed I had leaky gut syndrome, but I pretty much knew that anyway from my symptoms. Doing the test also didn’t change my course of treatment; I planned on putting myself on an anti-inflammatory diet (paleo autoimmune protocol) anyway.
Elimination Diet for Self-Diagnose of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Want a cheaper and easier way to diagnose whether you’ve got food sensitivities and leaky gut syndrome? An elimination diet is the best method. This basically means you avoid certain foods for a specific period of time (usually 30 days) and see whether your symptoms improve. Then you gradually reintroduce one item at a time. If symptoms return, then that food is a culprit. You might also hear the elimination diet referred to as the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. If you are lost about what to eat during the elimination diet, I highly recommend the great ebook The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook.
Keep in mind that there can be multiple culprits, so you’ve got to wait until symptoms go away again before you try reintroducing another food. Granted, this won’t tell whether the problem is an allergy, a food sensitivity, or leaky gut syndrome but, considering how unreliable the current diagnostic methods are, it is the best option for people on a limited budget. Some would argue it’s the most effective test.
The most common culprits that you may want to consider eliminating are gluten, grains, legumes, eggs, nuts, alcohol, caffeine, nightshades, processed sugars, and processed foods. Among those foods, the one most worth reintroducing from a nutritional standpoint would be eggs, especially the yolks since they’re packed full of nutrients. Nightshades and nuts you may want to try reintroducing next mostly because they’re delicious and if you don’t react to them, will give you a lot more flexibility when you’re out and about eating at restaurants and traveling.
How long should the elimination diet last? It depends on how bad your symptoms are and how long it takes for you to feel benefits (assuming that your symptoms are alleviated at all). Do note that you’ve got to be really strict about sticking to the elimination diet if you want to accurately gauge your results! And with something like gluten which is a sneaky ingredient found in just about everything, a lot of label reading will be required if you’re eating anything other than what is found in the perimeter of the store.
Think you have leaky gut? Read about How to Repair Leaky Gut HERE
Want to learn more about leaky gut from the experts? Sign up for the FREE Leaky Gut LIVE Webinar which occurs every Tuesday. Presented by Jordan Reasoner & Steven Wright of SolvingLeakyGut.com and authors of the book “Surviving to Thriving”, you will learn everything you need to know about how to fight this disease. Sign Up for the Free Weekly Webinar Here.
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