Living with Celiac Disease (CD) or gluten intolerance can be very challenging. Not only do you have to scrutinize every food label for hidden sources of gluten you also need to be careful when dining out due to the high risk of cross contamination.

Unfortunately with CD, one may experience other health related side effects as well. Often these can be attributed to an intestinal condition known as “Leaky Gut Syndrome”.

Leaky Gut syndrome

It used to describe a condition of increased intestinal permeability and occurs when there is damage to the gut lining and a disruption of the tight junctions that line the intestinal tract.

When these tight junctions are disrupted, toxic particles can leak out into the bloodstream and cause an immune response.

When this occurs repeatedly it becomes a vicious cycle and causes inflammation of the intestinal lining. The substances that leak out include toxins, large particles of food and also bacteria and yeast.

Dr. Alessio Fasano, head of the Center of Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston has made further discoveries related to these tight junctions and “Leaky Gut Syndrome” – a very important one being Zonulin.


A protein that controls the tight junctions between the intestinal wall cells in the GI tract.

According to Fasano, “Zonulin is the only physiologic modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance.”

When there is a dysregulation in the Zonulin pathway in genetically predisposed individuals, autoimmune disorders can occur like CD.

So what is the relationship between

Intolerance Issues or Suffering From Food Insensitivities_2 Zonulin seems to be overexpressed in those with autoimmune disease and gluten or gliadin also seems to trigger the secretion of Zonulin.

In fact it may be beneficial for anyone with autoimmune disease to avoid gliadin for this reason.

There are other factors that can affect intestinal permeability. They include history of antibiotics and steroids, alcohol, stress that can affect intestinal flora, diet like excessive sugar intake and food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances.

Food sensitivities and intolerances

Many individuals with CD/gluten intolerance and Leaky Gut Syndrome complain of food sensitivities and intolerances.

The symptoms they can experience include: headaches, joint and muscle pain, diarrhea, heartburn, fatigue, skin issues and even anxiety and depression.

Food sensitivities seem to be a common problem with individuals with CD because of damage to the gut lining caused by the disease and/or the leaky gut. Unfortunately, those with gluten issues seem to be predisposed to food sensitivities.

Food sensitivities are different to food allergies in that they are a delayed hypersensitivity reaction.

They can also be dose-dependent. However, like an allergy, a sensitivity is an immune response in which cell mediators like histamine and prostaglandins are released.

It’s these immune reactions that contribute to the unwanted symptoms.

Manage your food sensitivities

It is important to identify the foods and chemicals someone with CD/gluten intolerance is sensitive to.

This can help eliminate the immune responses, heal the gastrointestinal tract, and improve health and well being.

Mediator Release Testing or MRT is a blood test for food sensitivities.

MRT reliably accounts for Type 3 and Type 4 immune mediated hypersensitivity reactions which tests not only reactions to foods but food-chemicals as well.

MRT tests for 120 foods and 30 chemicals and once reactive items have been identified and eliminated along with consuming the least reactive foods and chemicals individuals quickly find relief.

In particular, IBS and headache symptoms often resolve in one to two weeks. The dietary management program that goes along with the testing is known as Lifestyle Eating and Performance (LEAP).

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