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Nutrition

Pediatric Food Sensitivities Part One: Signs and Symptoms

Does your baby have a persistent diaper rash 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? Is he always tired, despite adequate rest? If your child suffers from one or several of these chronic conditions, they may have leaky gut 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.

Check back in for the next installment in this series.