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Leaky Gut Syndrome



We are currently living in an age where parents are not able to send their children to school with peanut butter sandwiches. Allergies and food sensitivities are drastically increasing in people of all ages from gluten, lactose to nuts. Whilst there can be many reasons for digestive upsets, one of the common reasons is ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’ which may be caused by sympathetic dominance.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs when the gut lining becomes inflamed and more porous which allows for partially digested food particles, toxins and waste products, into the bloodstream. The body then causes an immune response to these substances, producing inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Once these inflammatory cytokines are released into the body, they travel around the circulatory system attacking other tissues in the body. This then leads to inflammatory conditions of other parts of the body which you may find the diagnosis ending in ‘itis’, such as arthritis and dermatitis.

The standard medicinal approach to decreasing inflammation involves the use of anti-inflammatory drugs including at times cortisone or corticosteroids. Whilst this is effective, it is merely only addressing the symptoms and not the underlying cause.

What is sympathetic dominance and how does it contribute to Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Sympathetic dominance is a state where the sympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system is over dominant and controls the body’s immediate thoughts, actions and reactions. The autonomic nervous system is the nervous system that controls everything in the body automatically without conscious thought. It’s made up of two parts: sympathetic and parasympathetic. These nervous systems act as a see-saw-like balance – when one is up, the other is down.  The sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response for safety and survival, and the parasympathetic nervous system restores the body to a state of rest, digest and repair.

In other words, the body is in a fight or flight state and responds as if it’s running away from a lion. The image below explains the common neurological and physiological reactions.

A classic example of poor digestion in sympathetic dominance is eating a large BBQ lunch on a hot sunny Australian day and going for a swim right after. You might find yourself getting a cramp in your legs and become stuck, unable to swim. This is because the parasympathetic mode is activated with the digestion of the food being a priority. In this example, the stressor was physical exertion from swimming, however, other stressors that can cause sympathetic dominance to include chemical and emotional stressors. Leaky Gut Syndrome can occur when the ‘digest and repair’ functions of the parasympathetic nervous system are suppressed leading to gut health not being the body’s priority, so increased permeability may occur and allow reactions to happen.



How to best determine food sensitivities and intolerances?

The easiest and most effective way to determine what your body reacts to is by taking an IgG sensitivity test which is via a blood test. The results will have a +1, +2 and +3 rating with +1 being the least reactive and +3 being the most reactive.

What do you do about leaky gut syndrome?

  1. Cut out all offending items from your diet and stay off the offending foods for 6 months to give the gut lining time to heal by not causing inflammation
  2. Treat the gut lining with supplements and micronutrients
    • Good quality live probiotic – supports the digestive system
    • Bone broth – supports healing of the gut lining
    • Glutamine – supports the digestive and immune system
    • Glutathione – supports tissue building and repair
    • Omega 3 – reduces inflammation
    • Fish oil – reduces inflammation
    • Vitamin A – has antioxidant properties
    • Vitamin D – supports the immune system
  3. After 6 months, undertake a staged reintroduction of the offending foods, starting with the least reactive foods first

Treating Leaky Gut Syndrome requires a lot of patience and persistence, however, generally, people notice changes within a short period of time. If you would like further support with your gut health, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or 6299 2660.



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