What Is Leaky Gut?

Hi, I'm Dr. Marie Starling.

At The Healing Center, we help people like you reach their full potential.

I specialize in adjunctive care for internal disorders, autoimmune conditions, IBS, thyroid symptoms, diabetes, and other complex health issues.


Figuring Out What’s Wrong… What Is Leaky Gut?

Are you dealing with any of these health issues:

  • Suffering with fatigue?
  • Living life by force of will?
  • Do you gain 5 pounds in a day?
  • Have bloating after you eat?
  • Do your stools change?
  • Pain in your belly?
  • Been told you don’t have Celiac but still reacting to gluten?
  • Do you feel fuzzy in your brain?
  • Can’t remember things?
  • Starting to lose your memory?
  • Thyroid issues?
  • Skin issues?


Leaky gut syndromeYou could have a multitude of issues, but they often fundamentally come down to the shape your gut is in. How intact is the barrier in your belly between the outside world and the inside world? Is it keeping out what’s supposed to be kept out? Or, is it letting things leak in? We call that Leaky Gut. Leaky gut is the breakdown between the tight junctions of the single layer of cells in your intestines that keeps the outside world of the intestinal lumen and the inside world of your bloodstream and lymph system separate. Leaky gut occurs when the barrier of your intestine breaks down, often in response to multiple insults that can be simultaneous.


Do you react to gluten even though your lab results are negative?

Standard lab tests for gluten sensitivity and celiac panels often come back negative but frequently are false indications of the actual clinical picture purely as a result of the limitations of the test. Many people go gluten free despite the lab results and end up feeling significantly better. We now have a lab test, through Cyrex Laboratories, that checks for antibodies to multiple breakdown products, like proteins and peptide antigens of the wheat and gluten molecule, as well as multiple versions of the transglutaminase enzymes implicated in celiac disease.

In the past, lab tests were so riddled with false negatives that we had to encourage patients not to discount their personal experience with a gluten-free diet, despite the absence of correlation with the lab test. This approach was not always successful because at times patients returned to gluten simply because they had no lab test to verify the truth.

This panel is more sensitive and comprehensive than any we have had in the past, thereby reducing false negatives. A patient MUST be consuming gluten for this profile to be accurate.

Gluten and its breakdown products can produce an inappropriate immune response and cause a multitude of problems including leaky gut, brain based attention issues, hypothyroid issues, autoimmune syndromes, and conditions that come from chronic inflammation.

Cyrex’s gluten sensitivity blood test is recommended for patients who:

  • Have gut dysbiosis (imbalance between good and bad bacteria)
  • Are suspected of having intestinal mucosal damage (damage to the lining of the small intestine)
  • Complain of food allergies
  • Complain of chemical hypersensitivity
  • Present multiple symptom complaints )including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia)
  • Suffer from abnormal immune cell count and function
  • May suffer from depression, ADD/ADHD or neuro-autoimmunity
  • Have an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s hypothyroid, Celiac, etc.)

This panel is a broadly inclusive blood test designed to measure both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Because this test measures several aspects of the protein structure (rather than just the single protein fragment heretofore analyzed), we believe it will take many of the false negatives out of the picture.


When one has eliminated gluten (and often dairy) from one’s diet, it obviously takes a big commitment. The last thing such a person might want to hear is that there are other foods they may also need to eliminate.

That is exactly what we found in patients who were being extremely vigilant about their diet but still felt ill and the cause had not been found. This may be due to cross-reactions with an array of foods.

Cross-reactive foods are foods with a protein structure similar to gluten. Upon ingestion, these foods, confuse one’s immune system into thinking that it has ingested gluten. The proteins are confused (one for another) and the reaction is as if one has consumed gluten. Cyrex Laboratories offers a panel that looks at twenty-five possible foods (mostly in the grain and dairy families) to which one could be experiencing a cross-reactivity reaction.

Cyrex’s cross reaction blood test is recommended for patients who:

  • Have gluten sensitivity or celiac diseaseCyrex_CrossReactive
  • Have a diagnosed autoimmune disorder
  • Are non-responsive on a gluten free diet (in other words, don’t feel better on a gluten free diet)
  • Have gut dysbiosis which appears to be resistant to standard therapy
  • Chronic fungal infections which indicate a compromised immune system

While it definitely takes further commitment to confront more dietary change, our current patients consider it well worth it based on their health improvements.


The Healing Center can assess the root of why you feel sick or why you aren’t responding fully to the protocols you are doing by correlating symptoms, exam findings and lab tests in a way that is comprehensive and likely different than you have had before.  It is crucial to look at what body systems are and aren’t working.  In addition, we will find what infections and toxins need to be eliminated,  what deficiencies need to be replaced, what allergens and immune triggers must be eliminated, and heal your leaky gut to ensure proper absorption of nutrients.

Dr. Marie Starling has practiced as a holistic chiropractor for 18 years.  Dr. Starling is board certified in nutrition and board eligible in neurochemistry. Utilizing cutting edge protocols and testing, she is able to get to the heart of structural problems, chronic illness and autoimmune issues. As a specialist in functional medicine, allergy elimination, neurologically based chiropractic and clinical nutrition, she is well equipped to address the most challenging of cases.  As well, she is a dynamic speaker who teaches functional medicine to doctors. She cares passionately about sharing how to create vitality and wellness.

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