I refuse to believe that MS just happens. I am constantly on the lookout for new possible explanations. And, being a perpetual reader of all things social media, it was impossible that I wouldn’t see mentions of intestinal permeability.
The lining of the small intestine also called the mucosa, allows you to digest food by absorbing nutrients into your bloodstream. It keeps out toxins and bad bacteria. It also keeps in the good stuff that your body needs. The protective layer of this organ is made up of tiny cells called enterocytes, which are bound together by tight junctions. These tight junctions are made up of proteins that are critical for maintaining these cells.
What is Intestinal Permeability?
Proponents of “leaky gut syndrome” claim that many symptoms and conditions are caused by the immune system reacting to germs, toxins or other substances that have been absorbed into the bloodstream via a porous (“leaky”) bowel.
While it’s true that some conditions and medications can cause a “leaky” gut (what scientists call increased intestinal permeability), there is currently little evidence to support the theory that a porous bowel is the direct cause of any significant, widespread problems.NHS
It should be encouraging that the first reference I have found dismisses the theory quite assuredly. But, I found the notion of a porous bowel very convincing. However, that is only because I had preconceptions.
I am looking for answers and this seemed to fit the bill very neatly.
Bear in mind, that I have a very sceptical attitude towards perceived opinion. Medical science does not have all the answers. Sure, it has found many solutions to many problems.
But, any theory is only good until it is disproved. So, we must maintain an open mind.
The phrase “intestinal permeability” is an alternative name for leaky gut. But, whichever name you ascribe to the condition it will indicate a porous bowel.
What might cause a Porous Bowel
If we accept that a leaky gut might have been responsible for my developing multiple sclerosis. we must then question why my gut lining is or has become porous.
The answer that immediately draws my attention is: alcohol. In my younger years, I was overly enthusiastic about my beer consumption.
Practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine propound the belief that certain foods can cause the bowel lining to become inflamed allowing the mucosal barrier to become pervious.
In this situation particles of undigested food can pass into the bloodstream which triggers an autoimmune response.
The idea of an autoimmune response resonates with me. MS is caused by the uncontrolled action of the immune system.
Leaky Gut Research
In the interest of acquiring a balanced perspective of intestinal permeability, I have continued the search.
Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability,” is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the blood stream. The foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body including inflammatory and allergic reactions such as migraines, irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, multiple sclerosis and more.HEALTHYWOMEN
According to Dr Leo Galland, director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine, the following symptoms might be signs of leaky gut:
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Poor immune system
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Excessive fatigue
- Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
- Cravings for sugar or carbs
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn’s
It will come as no surprise that I can identify with many of the above symptoms. However, that does not necessarily link MS and leaky gut. Because, to my mind, the causal link has not been established.
Adding to my scepticism of the medical profession; A few years ago I underwent extensive tests for suspected Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. At the outset of the investigation, I asked my gastroenterologist if multiple sclerosis could explain my symptoms. He stated quite emphatically that it could not!
However, after conducting all of his tests, over the course of several months and coming to no conclusion, he referred me to a neurologist. He had finally admitted in my opinion, that it could be the MS.
At no point did he ever mention leaky gut as a potential suspect. And, I should add that the neurologist could not or did not offer any further ideas. The only thing that this investigation did was strengthen my lack of faith in medical science.
Diet for Intestinal Repair
While the earlier NHS link downplays the benefits of the diet in treating leaky gut. the HealthyWoman link attaches a lot of importance to reducing inflammatory food intake.
HealthyWoman talks about eliminating foods that your body finds toxic. I would qualify that claim by suggesting that food can only become toxic if it leeches into your bloodstream.
I make a special effort to avoid so-called inflammatory foods. But, I would further suggest that these foods can, also, only become inflammatory if they leak into the blood.
At this stage, I am not fully persuaded by the leaky gut argument. But, I can fully endorse the need for a good diet if you have any autoimmune disease.
Multiple Sclerosis Timeline
- Childhood, Temperature Sensitivity
- Teens, Discoverd alcohol
- 20s, Became a parent
- 30s, Dxd with MS
- 40s, Got remarried
- 50s, Stopped drinking and smoking, gave up full-time work
- 60s, MS worsening, cognition failing
I include drinking in my MS timeline because this could be attributed to intestinal permeability and thereby MS.
I also mention childhood because there were signs, even then, of the impending multiple sclerosis. Although I and my medical practitioners did not make the connection.