Multiple research studies have linked gluten to the condition known as intestinal permeability – AKA – Leaky Gut Syndrome. I recently had the privilege of speaking with one of the leading gluten sensitivity researchers in the world, Dr. Alessio Fasano. He is the head of research at the University of Harvard Celiac Research Center, and he is responsible for discovering the gluten/leaky gut connection. In this video, we discuss how this condition can affect the gut, the brain, and multiple other tissues in the body…
Making the Connection – The Gluten Free Warrior’s Stance:
Most people assume that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are the same thing. Fortunately, this archaic thought is rapidly changing. Although it is well established that gluten often impacts the villi of the small intestine, it has also been shown to affect the body in multiple ways. These differences account for the massive failure of doctors to diagnose gluten sensitivity. Below is a diagram of environmental triggers to intestinal permeability (leaky gut). You will find that gluten sensitivity can directly and indirectly contribute to this problem. To the intelligent observer, this picture illustrates why simple antibody testing fails to accurately diagnosis gluten sensitivity. Antibody production is only one lab component of a multi-faceted problem.
Click on image to enlarge…
How Does Gluten Play a Role in All of These Factors?
- Gluten – Gluten directly impacts the intestinal lining through zonulin production. Zonulin is a protein that directly causes leaky gut.
- Antibodies – Gluten contributes to the formation antibodies. Antibodies can cause the secretion of inflammatory chemicals leading to tissue damage. Additionally, through a process called molecular mimicry, antibodies can cross react with the tissues of the body causing autoimmune disease. Lab tests measuring these antibodies are typically not associated with gluten because most doctors are not trained adequately to identify the connection.
- Medications – Many medications commonly contain gluten leading to a direct effect. However, many chronic health conditions caused by gluten sensitivity are misdiagnosed leading to medicine prescriptions that are not only unnecessary, but can be detrimental to the gastrointestinal tract. Anti-acid medications are a common example. These medications predispose to infection and lead to abnormal bacteria presence in the gut. Over utilization of antibiotics to treat viral infection is another example.
- Stress – Although not a physical stressor, gluten is a chemical stressor on the body. Chemical stress comes in many forms. One of them is vitamin and mineral deficiency. Loss of key nutrients causes a fundamental breakdown in the body’s ability to modulate the healing and repair process.
- Bacteria – Gluten ingestion causes detrimental changes in intestinal flora (AKA gut dysbiosis) predisposing to infection. This is one of the reasons why so many yogurt companies are adding beneficial bacteria to their products. Gut dysbiosis is an epidemic in the U.S. If you need a gluten free probiotic go here <<<
- Cytokines – Gluten induces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemicals that damage cells).
- Neurotransmitters – Gluten causes neurochemical changes in the production of neurotransmitters (chemicals that allow the nervous system to communicate). Examples include: serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, epinephrine, and histamine. Gluten is also a neurotoxin that has been shown to damage nerve tissue. This is the reason so many with neurological disease (autism, ADD, bipolar, schizophrenia, neuropathy, epilepsy, etc.) do well on a gluten free diet.
- Digestive chemicals – Gluten can damage the intestine, the pancreas, the liver, and the gall bladder. All of these organs play a pivotal role in the body’s ability to produce digestive chemicals and enzymes. When this mechanism is compromised, digestive processes start to break down and become ineffective.
Restoring Leaky Gut
Restoration of intestinal permeability is not difficult. In my experience there are some critical components that need to be addressed.
- Remove gluten from the diet
- Investigate for food allergies beyond gluten
- Identify and correct nutritional deficiencies
- Restore healthy bacteria in the gut (take a high potency probiotic)
- Provide immune factors that and natural anti-inflammatories to aid in the healing process
- Consider the use of a good digestive enzyme
Sum it all up –
Leaky gut contributes to autoimmune disease. The only known cause for any autoimmune disease is gluten sensitivity. We are blind fools to ignore this connection because it does not fit the status quo of the allopathic medical paradigm. If you have autoimmune disease and have not investigated gluten sensitivity as a contributing factor, you should. Learn more about genetic testing for gluten sensitivity now!
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23 thoughts on “Dr. Fasano on Leaky Gut Syndrome and Gluten Sensitivity”
I have a ten year old daughter who has leaky gut syndrome. She is now on a gluten free diet, pharmaceutical grade pro-biotics, a homeopathic yeast cleanse (she tested positive for Candida as well), and digestive enzymes.
My question is, is Leaky Gut Syndrome a life-long problem, or can she be healed from this?
Leaky gut can be healed. Make sure you are under the care of a well qualified functional medicine doctor.
All the best,
My 8 year old daughter has had vitiligo for the past two years. We did some basic blood test which did not point to anything definitive. Right from when I stopped nursing her when she was about 18 months old, she has had digestive problems like severe constipation, tummy aches and general malaise. And then suddenly 2 years ago she started depigmenting. I started her on a gluten free diet (very challenging!) and her general health has improved, but there is no improvement in her skin condition. I wish gluten was the answer to her problem.
Have the doctor check your daughter’s B-vitamin levels. I have seen re-pigmentation occur after addressing this issue.
All the best,
Try the Myers Way diet by Amy Myers. I have developed vitiligo despite being gluten free for years.
Try excluding dairy. Once you ceased breast feeding and problems started….did she go onto a formula or did she begin taking dairy…???
Hi Sue, I had vitiligo all my life, I’m 51 on a gluten free diet, added coconut oil and I’m repigmenting! I only take 1 teaspoon daily, the reason I started taking virgin coconut oil was to loose weight. It does not hurt trying…
I write from Poland. I had suddenly problem with health after I finished my studies. (But even when I felt so sick- devastated- and went to hospital I had good blood test.) In clinic I have biopsy -flattened intestinal villi IIIc Marshal… since that time ( 10 months) I;m on diet. However I sometimes feel tired, and I have muscle pain( all arm), and I can’t eat – after B vitamin injection I feel excellent and don’t have diarrhea and stomach pain. What’s more I have Hashimoto( take euthyrox). How can I know that I have leaky gut syndrome or celiac?
To determine whether or not you have gluten sensitivity, I would recommend you have genetic testing performed. Here is a link:
All the best,
Hello, I have some gastrointestinal issues and I switched my medication to Tinosint. I have seen an improvement and after 4 years of no energy I am now getting back to myself. It is important to have the right dosage of Tinosint as it goes by a person’s weight. My aches and pains are also going away. The Hashimoto’s Protocol book by Dr Wentz along with her supplements and programs have been extremely helpful. She is also from Poland but lives in the United State.
I’m 25/ weight 43 kg/ 176 height
Great article. Here is the latest publication from Fasano that takes the argument one step further.
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my 16 yr old son was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease after 2 yrs of stomach and joint pain. He has been gluten free for 10 weeks and dairy free for over 4 months .2 weeks of GF he was feeling great and then his symptoms came back so we removed all grains. i am assuming this is due to leaky gut syndrome and he is having a cross reaction to certain foods. unfortunately not all doctors believe in leaky gut syndrome and when i say i learned it from the internet i am not being taken seriously. im on my own, other than books and the internet to try and get my son well again. im hoping after keeping my son off of all grains and dairy for a while his gut will heal and he will be able to eat gluten free grains.
I am from Asia. please help me. I have 4 years old daughter that her wight is 12 kilo and her length is 94. so i thought she is ill after some blood test is shown that her Igg (ttg) was 763. and her genetic test showed (HLA DQ2 allel not identified – HLA DQ8 allele identified). please help me and guide me if she has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity
for direct advice, please call my office and set up a consultation with me. To properly evaluate your daughter’s test results, I would need more information.
All the best,
In the article you reference “several studies”. Can you provide links to the studies? Do you have a place on your site that includes links to studies relevant to gluten related issues? Trying to convince a skeptical family member.
Hola estoy haciendo una investigación y me gustaría saber las ventajas y desventajas de tener una dieta libre de gluten, esperó su respuesta
Hi, I have Microscopic Colitis. I’ve had this disease all my life, but I can’t remember if I had diarrhea. As a wee child, my stomach was bloated and my hair was ultra-thin. I was diagnosed in 2015, when the doctors did a biopsy of my colon. I had explosive diarrhea, thin, and hair falling out. The GI doctors treated this as a “little diarrhea and minor discomfort. NO BIG DEAL!” Huh? If they had MC, they would not consider this a NO BIG DEAL DISEASE! I have given up on GI Specialists. The told me to take gobs of Pepto Bismol and suffer the consequences of falling down. Yes, large amounts of Pepto makes you fall. GI specialists know nothing about Microscopic Colitis. What say you about MC? Thanks, Dorothy
Hi My husband has been in the military for 26 years and he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis and has the marker HLA-B27 gene all the research I have found is klebsiella bacteria that needs to be restored. I have him on high doses of probiotics 300 billon of renew life and I also make home made kimchee and time to time chicken bone broth and a no starch diet and that is hard because it is a basic repeat of the same vegetables that he can have. I know he has had every shot with the military including anthrax shots. I have contacted Dr. Ebringer from England and he told me to have him on a no starch Diet. I am sure I have to detox him but how when I try something new and he has a outbreak of uveitis and so I try to do everything that he can have basically veggies and chicken and Smoothies with homemade kefir and coconut water and aloe Vera and parsley and spinach and celery and cucumber. Please tell me if I am missing something and if he will every be heeled. He has about 100 floaters and I want to use serrapeptase on him. He does not take meds because he wants to live long.
Have read all kind of natural dr books to heal guts not sure If I am doing it right
If you suspect a bacterial infection, you need to seek out help to get it properly addressed. Happy to consult with you. You can contact my office at 281-240-2229. Have you read No Grain No Pain? Protocols in the book might be very helpful.
All the best,
Following Dr. tundra book The Plant Paradox has done wonders for me
So, if a blood test is negative for celiac is it worth getting an endoscopy to know for sure? and I thought good reactions can be healed if the gut is healed… so can gluten intolerance be healed? It seems there are people who avoided it a long time and then ate it again occasionally