The gut plays a major role in all of the body’s functions. When your gut works properly, you feel well and everything runs smoothly. However, when there are issues with your gut function, it can trigger problems outside of your digestive system.
The gut plays an essential role in our overall health, but sometimes gut health gets overlooked (especially when symptoms don’t immediately point to digestion.) Whether you’re experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms or not, improving your gut health is the first step to a healthier and happier life.
Amy Brenner, MD & Associates has a team of experienced physicians, nurse practitioners, and wellness coaches that work together to create customized treatment plans for every patient. With specialized testing, a thorough understanding of gut function, and the right tools for treatment, we can help patients get their health back on track.
If you’re ready to schedule leaky gut testing in Cincinnati, you can book a consultation online to meet with one of our experts.
Keep reading to learn more about leaky gut, the testing we use to diagnose it, and the treatments that can help.
What is leaky gut?
To better understand leaky gut, let’s talk about how the gut works.
Anatomy of the gut
The “gut” is a term that describes your entire gastrointestinal (GI) system. From the time food enters your mouth to the time it leaves your body as waste, your GI system is hard at work. Let’s break down the main components of the digestive system and their role in digestion:
- The mouth: Salivary glands produce saliva to moisten food, your teeth break down food into small pieces, and enzymes in saliva begin to break down starches and fats
- Esophagus: Moves food from your mouth to your stomach
- Stomach: Mixes food with digestive juices and enzymes, empties contents into the small intestines
- Small intestines: Further breaks down food, absorbs nutrients the body needs, and solidifies the waste
- Large intestines: Absorbs water and remaining nutrients, forms and stores stool
Small intestine, big responsibilities
When we talk about leaky gut, we are talking about your small intestines. In this organ, a layer of cells acts as a barrier to prevent toxins, bacteria, and digestive waste from entering your body.
“Leaky gut” happens when the barrier holding in food particles, toxins, and waste is compromised. As a result, microorganisms that should stay within your intestines “leak” into your bloodstream.
You might be wondering why the gut lining is permeable. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the lining to completely trap the harmful particles in? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. As discussed above, the small intestine’s job is to absorb the nutrients that your body needs.
How are these nutrients absorbed? You guessed it—the gut lining. The gut lining needs to let desirable substances pass through, yet keep the unwanted substances out. When your gut is functioning properly, tight cellular junctions line the intestines to do just that.
However, when these tight cellular junctions become loose, the barrier fails and toxins pass through. The result is a leaky gut.
The consequences of leaks
If you have a leaky gut, toxins can enter your bloodstream. This can trigger inflammation, cause gut flora changes, digestive problems, and more.
Leaky gut is associated with several common chronic diseases. Research has shown a relationship between leaky gut and:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Leaky gut is a relatively new discovery in the medical field. Research is still needed to determine if a leaky gut causes the conditions above.
Symptoms of leaky gut
Symptoms of a leaky gut present differently in nearly every patient that walks through our doors. Because symptoms vary so greatly, diagnosing a leaky gut based on symptoms alone is virtually impossible. Leaky gut testing in Cincinnati is the only way to know with certainty if you have this condition.
However, most patients with leaky gut will experience one or more of the following:
Digestive system problems
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bloating after eating
- Weight loss
- Nutritional deficiencies (iron, omega-3 fatty acid, vitamins)
- Anxiety and depression
- Brain fog
- Irregular periods
- Perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms
Weakened immune system
- Frequent colds
- Muscle or joint pain
- Autoimmune disorders
- Difficulty losing weight
- Insulin resistance
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Yeast overgrowth
- Nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Seasonal allergies
If you have any of the above symptoms, it may be time to consider leaky gut testing. In Cincinnati, Amy Brenner MD & Associates offers specialized testing to evaluate the health of your digestive system.
What causes a leaky gut?
Everything about the American diet sets up the digestive system to fail. We eat foods high in sugar, saturated fats, and additives. This combined with a limited amount of fiber can contribute to the development of leaky gut.
Food sensitivities can also play a role. Common food sensitivities include: alcohol, dairy, eggs, GMOs, grains, sugar, and artificial ingredients
Many lifestyle factors can disrupt the GI system. These include physical and mental stress, a lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug use.
Unfortunately, we can’t change our DNA. Your age and genetics will always play a role in your gut health.
Medications like NSAIDs (Advil, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, etc.) can damage the intestinal lining and cause it to leak. Antibiotics can also disrupt the gut microbiome by destroying both good and bad bacteria. Lastly, immuno-suppressant and chemotherapy medications also take a significant toll on your gut health.
Gut infections and imbalances
Parasites, SIBO, and yeast overgrowth can contribute to and worsen a leaky gut.
Leaky gut testing in Cincinnati
At Amy Brenner MD & Associates, we use a variety of specialized tests to diagnose and treat the problems in your gut. Each patient starts with a personalized consultation where one of our experts sits down with you to discuss your symptoms and concerns. Then, our provider will talk you through all your testing options.
GI Map stool testing
GI Map testing gives us valuable information about the health of your digestive system. This is an easy and convenient test that you complete in the comfort of your own home. With these results, we can determine the health of your intestinal lining to find out if you have a leaky gut.
If results show that you don’t have a leaky gut, our experts can still help. The GI Map test will provide a comprehensive report of your digestive health, and from these results we can determine:
- If you have pathogens like yeast, parasites, and viruses that shouldn’t be in your gut
- Your balance of good vs. bad bacteria
- If you are digesting food and absorbing nutrients properly
- If you have inflammation in your gut
- Your level of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that helps the body eliminate toxins
Food sensitivity testing
Food sensitivities are the result of a leaky gut. Many patients with digestive symptoms cut out entire food categories (like gluten) because it improves their symptoms. These patients assume that they are allergic/sensitive to gluten.
In many cases, patients do not have a true gluten allergy! Instead, the problem is because of a leaky gut. Once we heal the leaky gut, patients can reintroduce the foods they have avoided for so long.
Food sensitivities are difficult to pinpoint because reactions can occur up to 72 hours after consuming the food. However, with an easy blood test, we can determine your degree of sensitivity to specific foods.
Leaky gut treatments
If we determine you have a leaky gut, your wellness coach will customize a leaky gut treatment plan to:
- Remove the digestive irritants and toxins
- Replace stomach acid and digestive enzymes
- Repair gut health with supplements and elimination diets
- Conduct food sensitivity and food allergy testing
- Help you make lifestyle changes to improve your gut health (stress reduction, improved sleep habits, diet, exercise, etc.)
Other gut health treatments
If you have digestive symptoms but don’t have a leaky gut, we can create a care plan to help. This could involve one or more of the following treatments/next steps:
- Diet modifications
- SIBO Breath Test
- Food sensitivity testing
- Referral to GI specialist if necessary
Visit Dr. Amy Brenner MD and Associates for leaky gut testing in Cincinnati
Whether you’re experiencing GI symptoms or having symptoms unrelated to digestion, your problems could result from an unhealthy gut. Our experts in Cincinnati are here to help diagnose your problem and offer treatments to help.
Patients visit us from all over the country for expert, transformative wellness services. We offer a friendly environment and provide the highest quality treatments and wellness plans to help you feel your best. If you’re ready to finally find out why you’re always bloated, get started by using our virtual consultation tool or by scheduling an appointment online.