There are several medical diagnoses that might politely be called controversial. One of these is “leaky gut syndrome”.
In leaky gut, a trigger substance damages the lining of the small intestine, where most of our food is absorbed. As a result, excessively large molecules (macromolecules) from food “leak” through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.
The immune system, always on the alert for invaders (like viruses or bacteria), reads these macromolecules as “the enemy” and creates antibodies to destroy them. The antibodies attach to the macromolecules, producing something called an antigen-antibody complex. This now quite-bulky complex lands in certain susceptible parts of the body and causes trouble. Deposited in the skin, you can get a rash like eczema; in your respiratory tract, sinus problems or even asthma; in your joints, pain and swelling. Plus a variety of general symptoms can occur, including fatigue, brain fog, chronic digestive issues, and weight gain from fluid retention.
The single most common trigger is an irritating food. Let’s say you’re sensitive to wheat. Every time you eat a wheat product, it irritates the lining of your intestine, leaks through, creates more antigen-antibody complexes, and as a consequence, more symptoms. Give up wheat for a week or so and you realize you’re feeling better. Other common trigger foods are dairy, egg, corn, soy, citrus, and various food additives and preservatives. Non-food triggers include alcohol, NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen, intestinal parasites, and candida.
Wikipedia defines Leaky Gut Syndrome as “a proposed condition some health practitioners claim is the cause of a wide range of serious long-term conditions, including diabetes, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. Proponents of leaky gut syndrome state that an altered or damaged bowel lining or gut wall results from poor diet, parasites, infection, or medications, and that this allows substances such as toxins, microbes, undigested food, or waste to leak through. They say this prompts the body to initiate an immune reaction leading to potentially severe health conditions. This theory is vague and largely unproven, and there is no evidence that the remedies marketed for treating leaky gut bring the benefits they claim. The scientific community continues to debate whether there is a connection between a leaky gut and autism. There is some concern that the promotion of the contentious “leaky gut syndrome” diagnosis is a dishonest ploy designed to make money from the sale of supposed remedies for it.”
Leaky gut syndrome is not taught in medical school, and unless you’re out there researching and self-educating yourself about complementary and alternative medicine treatments, you would never hear about it. Why is that? The truth of the matter is that most of the expensive research that fuels modern medicine is sponsored by drug companies hoping to prove that their product works. Once they’ve proved it in randomized controlled trials, it becomes mainstream. Because there is no “drug” to treat leaky gut syndrome and nobody has paid to perform big studies, there isn’t a lot of data out there in the mainstream medical literature, so it falls largely into the realm of what doctors call “anecdotal medicine” and they tend to dismiss it as a disease.
I don’t know if it is real or not, but those of us who suffer from stomach problems should take the time to read the many articles appearing on diets to counter this syndrome.