What is leaky gut syndrome?


Q: I’ve just been diagnosed with celiac disease. What are the main things that I should be concerned with right now? Stephanie W., Taylor

A: Gluten, gluten and gluten! It is the offending agent to your gastrointestinal tract. Eliminating it will aid in healing the bowel and in turn improve absorption of nutrients. It has been postulated that with uncontrolled celiac there is a small chance of development of a type of stomach lymphoma. Hence it is important to completely eliminate gluten from the diet.

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Q: Is has been suggested to my wife by an alternative medicine practitioner that her varied gastrointestinal symptoms may be the result of “leaky gut.” What is this? Janice S., Flat Rock

A: Leaky gut syndrome is a theory that claims a damaged bowel wall, caused by various reasons (parasites, poor diet, infection, or medication) could contribute to toxins leaking into the gut and cause various symptoms. However this has not been proven. Various dietary modifications can usually alter or improve GI symptoms, but that tends to be due to elimination of offending food agents that can upset the GI tract. Nonetheless, work up should always be done at first to rule out underlying pathology of your symptoms 

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Q: I have been experiencing what I would call esophageal spasms. Symptoms are excessive belching and a knot-like discomfort in the center to upper chest which becomes pronounced during periods of stress. I have been prescribed Prilosec which doesn’t seem to relieve my symptoms. Could this be a purely stress-related condition? Michael F., Dearborn

A: Esophageal spasms can be related to stress. Having said that, an investigation with an upper gastrointestinal scope and possibly an esophageal manometry are recommended prior to attributing spasms to other causes.

Rana Sabbagh, M.D., is board-certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and nutrition. She is the founder of GastroCenter of Michigan and Experior Weight Loss Clinic, 23500 Park St., Suite 2B in Dearborn. Do you have a health question for Dr. Sabbagh? Submit it by email to: askthedoctor@cscmi.net.

All information provided in Ask The Doctor is intended for your general knowledge. Consult with your personal doctor or pharmacist for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of information you have read in any publication.