The gastrointestinal tract is roughly the size of a tennis court when all stretched out. The gastrointestinal tract is one of the most important systems in the body. Throughout life, the human gastrointestinal tract is responsible for housing, breaking down, and passing 60 tons of food. It is no surprise that with a heavy load such as this, the gastrointestinal tract is often associated with disease, cancers, and infected by inflammation. When affected by inflammation, the gastrointestinal tract sends out immune system signals which relay to us as symptoms including headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and more.
Why Is the Intestinal Barrier Important
The intestinal barrier is our protective layer and the first line of defense against disease. Our intestinal barrier needs to be strong to ensure the proper nutrients are released to the bloodstream and pathogens are kept out. The surface of the gastrointestinal tract is replaced every 3-4 days and is constantly working. Considering that anaerobic yeast, bacteria, and indigestion all play a vital role in immunity, it is important to keep the intestinal barrier and tight junctions strong. Yeasts can alter the body’s pH and create increased permeability. Other factors that contribute to increased permeability and a poor intestinal barrier include stress, processed foods, consumption of GMOs, and antibiotics.
How Can We Test The Integrity of Our Intestinal Barrier
Testing the integrity of the intestinal barrier allows us to determine the extent of its damage, what is causing the damage, and how to safely and properly repair the gut tissues. There are many tests available to determine the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Some of these tests are performed with serum (blood) while others are done via saliva.
The factors that are measured with these tests are the mucosal barriers response and function to dietary proteins (corn, cows milk, eggs, gluten, and soy), yeasts, and anaerobic/aerobic bacterias.
The specific immunoglobulins that are tested are IgA, IgE, and IgG. If a patient has results that come back with high, we are able to assess gut dysbiosis or food sensitivity.
What Can We Do From Here
Depending on the results, patients have a choice of a 90-day hypoallergenic diet or performing another round of tests to determine what foods are causing irritation. Food Sensitivity testing is a great option and provides faster more accurate results than the elimination diet. Once we determine if further testing is needed, we create a personalized treatment plan to restore optimal gut health and function.
The gastrointestinal tract is highly important. With the American diet and lifestyle, it gets run down fairly quickly. Testing the integrity of your gastrointestinal tract and the intestinal barrier is always a good idea. There are food sensitivities that go unnoticed simply based on the fact that symptoms may appear up to 72 hours after the food has been ingested! Leaving us to not relate the food we ate 3 days ago to our headache now. This test allows us to see real numbers and gain faster results versus performing an elimination diet. If you can not find a practitioner to perform this test, an elimination diet is a great place to start. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
University, Functional Medicine and Ronald Grisanti, directors. Interpretation and Treatment Intestinal Barrier Function Test. Functional Medicine University – The Leader in Online Training in Functional Diagnostic Medicine, 2010, www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/members/447.cfm.
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The information herein on "Functions Of The Intestinal Barrier" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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