(The first in a series of articles on the health and wellness of children.)
Does your baby have a persistent diaper rash with excoriated skin that just won’t heal, even with prescription diaper creams? Does your child get chronic ear infections, mucus, or coughing? Does she have premature or uncontrollable acne, psoriasis, or eczema? Or is he always tired, despite adequate rest? If your child suffers from one or several of these chronic conditions, they may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities.
Leaky Gut: The Precursor to IgG Food Sensitivities
Leaky gut syndrome is defined as an irritation of the cells, or enterocytes, of the GI tract, and it is the condition that precedes food sensitivities. These cells are supposed to fit together like brick and mortar, providing a protective barrier between the contents of the bowel and the blood stream. In a GI tract that functions healthfully, this barrier is intact and therefore able to wait until the proteins from food are completely broken down to their smallest form before selectively picking up nutrients from the bowel and delivering them to the bloodstream.
However, when this protective cell wall has been damaged, the individual cells, or “bricks”, swell like balloons, creating gaps. This is what is commonly referred to as “gut inflammation.” Now, proteins that have not been fully broken down are able to pass through the compromised cell wall into the blood stream. They are detected by the body, which enlists IgG antibodies to work overtime to mount an immune response. The higher volume of IgG antibodies begins to the stir up the IgA antibodies found in high concentrations in the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages. And onward, like a domino effect throughout the body, the infiltration of proteins into the blood stream can eventually put all systems of the body to work mounting one immune response after another.
This immune response taxes the body and, similar to a common cold, causes the body to become tired. However, unlike the common cold, the body does not recover from the symptoms of gut inflammation through rest alone. If the damage to the cell wall is not healed and the immune response is not stopped, the fatigue becomes chronic, and with it comes a rise in the stress hormone cortisol. This leaves us with less energy in the morning, during the day, and a decreased ability to deal with the stressors of everyday life, which can manifest in extreme behavioral and emotional responses. The acute assault on the immune system caused by a leaky gut can also provoke an overproduction of both mucus and histamine, leading to respiratory illness and skin reactions.
What Causes Food Sensitivities in Children?
A variety of factors, from diet and lifestyle to medication use, can contribute to or cause leaky gut. Repeated or even one time use of antibiotics, for example, can destroy the beneficial bacteria in the gut, leaving the cell wall vulnerable. A parasitic infection, a bad stomach virus, consuming dairy products with a known lactose intolerance, overconsumption of sugar, or even serious and chronic stress can do the same.
But it often isn’t as simple as making the “right” choices for our children. Parenthood is especially challenging in the inevitable moments when we are forced to choose between “bad” and “worse” on behalf of our children: We weigh the pros and cons of giving our children antibiotics against the possibility of a serious infection, like Lyme disease or, in the case of a newborn, a group B strep infection. We let our child have the sugary treats at the birthday party to prevent them from feeling awkward or left out of the fun. We take them to public places knowing that there is a stomach virus circulating and that they will undoubtedly stick their contaminated fingers in their mouths before you’ve had a chance to wash their hands. We do these things because the alternative is to cover them in bubble wrap and suffocate them with well meaning but misdirected overprotectiveness.
There might come a time, however, when our children develop a condition, like leaky gut, that motivates parents to raise their vigilance and make different choices. Fortunately, leaky gut and resulting food sensitivities can often be cured in a matter of months, after which children and their families can return to their usual pre-treatment way of life if they choose.
(Part 2 will be published next week… stay tuned)
This article is not written to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. The information written in this article is intended for general purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use this information in the place of the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Dr. Matthew Perchemlides is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other information, services, or product you obtain by reading the information in this article or through this site.
Post copyright 2017 by Minibury and Dr. Matthew Perchemlides.