Debate Continues Over Leaky Gut Syndrome

Posted at 4:15 PM, Jun 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:15:57-04

TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – It has been called “leaky gut syndrome” and patients have said it can wreak havoc on everyday life, but some doctors said there’s no such thing!

Personal trainer Jeff Dillion has pumped himself up, but a while back, severe stomach pain interfered with his workouts.

“Uncomfortable stomach pains, lovely diarrhea, but as time went on it got worse and worse and worse to afternoons basically bent over in pain,” Dillion told Ivanhoe.

Dillion did reps of tests, but doctors couldn’t tell him what was wrong.

“Test after test that were you know, negative this, negative that, negative this, which is good, but it still doesn’t tell me anything,” Dillion told Ivanhoe.

Then Integrative Medicine Nutritionist, Dr. Sheila Dean, told him he had leaky gut syndrome. She said this happens when the tight gap junctions of the intestines loosen and food wiggles through.

“When that happens, foods that you normally eat suddenly start acting as antigens, foreign materials that your immune system doesn't really understand what to do with,” Dean told Ivanhoe.

She advised Dillion to take digestive enzymes. They're part of her “4 R's” to treat leaky gut: Remove certain foods. Replace with digestive enzymes. Re-inoculate using a high dose of probiotics and Repair with glutamine. But, not every doctor has been diagnosing and treating leaky gut syndrome.

“Leaky gut syndrome is a presumptive diagnosis or a diagnosis that's not formally recognized by the medical community at this time,” Physician Robert DiMasi, Jr. told Ivanhoe.

DiMasi had a warning: most insurance companies won't cover leaky gut syndrome and there's just not enough research to back up the diagnosis and treatment. But for Dillion, he managed to find a way to whip his gut into shape.

Dean said leaky gut affects anyone of any age. It has not been a diagnosis taught in most traditional medical schools, but integrative medicine has recognized this syndrome.

BACKGROUND: Leaky gut syndrome is a common, but not well-known condition that causes stomach issues. It’s not conventionally recognized by all physicians, but more evidence has come out in support of the diagnosis. In leaky gut syndrome, the lining of the intestines becomes damaged. This allows bacteria and toxins to leak into the bloodstream. The body then reacts to the foreign substances and causes abdominal issues. Dr. Sheila Dean, DSc, said that the approach to handling leaky gut syndrome is to remove certain foods, replace them with digestive enzymes, reinoculate using probiotics, and repair with glutamine. Some of the causes of leaky gut syndrome may be inflammation of the intestine, food sensitivity, excessive alcohol consumption, or certain medications. (Source 1, Source 2, Dr. Sheila Dean, DSc)

SYMPTOMS: Some of the common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include:

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • gas
  • bloating
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • skin problems, such as eczema or rashes

Leaky gut syndrome could also lead to arthritis or other autoimmune diseases. (Source)

DR. SHEILA DEAN: Dr. Sheila Dean, is a registered and licensed dietician, board-certified clinical nutritionist, certified diabetes educator, and exercise physiologist. She is the author of the book Nutrition & Endurance: Where Do I Begin? and a contributing author to several textbooks. She is the owner of Palm Harbor Center for Health & Healing, a Florida nutrition private practice and wellness center based on integrative medicine. She received her Doctorate of Science degree from Hawthorn University. Dean has also had advanced training from the Institute for Functional Medicine in functional medicine and nutritional biochemistry. (Source)


“Leaky gut is also known as “intestinal permeability” which can then lead to a variety of diseases. It’s more the mechanism leading to gastrointestinal diseases and almost any other type of autoimmune disease and not necessarily the disease itself. In other words, if a person has a “leaky gut”, this can cause food to act like antigens which are foreign materials that trigger the immune system to create an inflammatory-immune response. In many cases this paves the way for autoimmune conditions to manifest such as inflammatory bowel disease but also rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, etc. Dr. Dean says “It’s a barrier problem and poorly digested food is getting through barriers it’s not supposed to. This is triggering the immune system to attack and sometimes mistakenly, the immune cells attack the body’s own tissues. So, if genetically you are predisposed to some types of autoimmune disease, leaky gut is what pulls the trigger.”