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Intestinal Permeability

This test is a powerful and non-invasive assessment of small intestinal absorption and barrier function in the bowel.   Leaky Gut is the name of the syndrome describing an unfavourable increase in intestinal permeability which causes nutrients to leak out.  Undigested macromolecule food particles and toxins are allowed to pass directly into the body, creating a variety of problems including triggering an immune response sensitizing the individual to normally harmless molecules.  When this occurs some people become hypersensitive to environmental substances or develop multiple food allergies. These undigested particles may also pass through the blood-brain barrier where they can be mistaken for neurotransmitters, leading to mental symptoms that may create abnormal behaviour.  The small intestine has the paradoxical dual function of being a digestive/ absorptive organ for nutrients as well as a powerful barrier against the excessive absorption of bacteria, food antigens and large molecules. Increased permeability of the intestinal mucosal barrier can swell the number of toxins and antigens entering the bloodstream and lead to an overly sensitized immune system in some individuals.

The small intestine has to be able to both digest and absorb nutrients. The leaky gut test can determine how effectively you are assimilating nutrients like amino acids, trace minerals and anti-oxidants into your blood stream through the mucosal enterocytes. Your intestine also has the important immune function of keeping out excessive absorption of bacteria, substances that trigger allergies, and other large toxic compounds that do not belong in the body. If the gut is too permeable [leaky gut],  these substances will penetrate the intestinal barrier, invade the bloodstream and lymph system, overwhelm the liver's detoxification system, and cause an overly sensitive immune system that can then lead to a variety of diseases including auto-immune disorders.

Intestinal permeability may be affected by several factors, including intestinal infections and microbiological imbalances such as yeast-candida overload, ingestion of allergy-causing foods, toxic chemicals, trauma, blood poisoning, alcoholism, and NSAIDS [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications], such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen.

Both malabsorption and  increased intestinal permeability ["leaky gut"] are associated with chronic gastrointestinal imbalances  as well as many systemic disorders, such as...

  • IBS [Inflammatory Bowel Disease]
  • Gastritis, Colitis, Ileitis, Crohn's Disease
  • Food Allergies
  • Inflammatory Joint Disease [Arthritis]
  • Chronic Skin Disorders
  • Malabsorption
  • Failure To Thrive
  • Worsening Of Gluten Sensitivity

The Intestinal Permeability Assessment directly measures the ability of two nonmetabolized sugar molecules mannitol and lactulose to permeate the intestinal mucosa. Mannitol is easily absorbed and serves as a marker of transcellular uptake, while lactulose is only slightly absorbed and serves as a marker for mucosal integrity. To perform the test, the patient mixes premeasured amounts of lactulose and mannitol and drinks the challenge substance. The test measures the amount of lactulose and mannitol recovered in a urine sample over the next 6 hours.