Interview with Doni Wilson, ND By Kimberly Lord Stewart
Intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut, is frequently overlooked by many doctors. Despite that there are thousands of clinical studies supporting that this is an actual condition, there is a perception that the intestine never allows anything to pass through that shouldn’t enter into the bloodstream. Dr. Doni Wilson explains why this is a fallacy and what can be done to address this all to frequent complex condition.
KLS: Dr Wilson, you see a fair number of patients with gastrointestinal problems who have not been treated for leaky gut until they find your practice. Why is that?
DW: Most gastroenterologists don’t know what to look for when the classic symptoms of leaky gut present themselves, such as bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, as well as aches and pains. They are easily confused for other health issues, such as for which drugs and antibiotics are prescribed, which only exacerbate the problem.
KLS: You mention antibiotics. What are the root causes of leaky gut?
DW: Leaky gut is a spectrum condition, we all probably have some form of intestinal permeability. It’s a matter of degree. There are a number of possible contributing factors. Certainly celiac or gluten sensitivity is one cause. But also, consider exposure to toxins such as glycophosate from grain crops. As I mentioned, antibiotics do contribute to problems with permeability.
KLS: Do the symptoms of leaky gut always present in the same manner?
DW: No, and that is often the biggest challenge. The patient may not always have overt symptoms. It may be a food sensitivity, a generalized feeling of being unwell, or something seemingly unrelated at all. For instance, I always check for leaky gut when I see cycistis symptoms, or inflammation of the bladder. Also skin conditions and unexplained weigh gain may point to leaky gut.
Because leaky gut is associated with inflammation, it is important to test all patients who have problems with blood sugar regulation, autoimmunity and even chronic stress and anxiety.
KLS: What might a treatment pattern look like for the leaky gut?
DW: It is a slow process, one size does not fit all with repairing intestinal permeability. Because the intestines are more porous, there may be nutrient deficiencies for vitamin D, iron or B-vitamins. Hormones may be out of balance that can affect blood sugar and women’s hormone balance. Once you have this combination of nutrient and hormone imbalances, therapy becomes very complex. The patient must commit to a long process of committing to dietary changes, taking carefully prescribed supplements, specific strains of probiotics and managing stress.
The good news is that this is very doable. I will talk about this in my webinar. There is a lot of territory to cover in the gut to heal all the porous tissue. It can take about a year, which means both the patient and the practitioner have to stay in this together. Overall, it empowers the patient to improve their health and get to the underlying causes of their discomfort and illness.
The microvilli that line the intestines are tiny but play a distinct role in nutrient absorption. Leaky gut can negatively impact microvilli’s ability to absorb nutrients, support digestive motility and immune function, as well as microbial balance. Read more in Intestinal Microvilli: Small but Mighty by Jesse Davis DC.