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What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome? New Details About Bethenny Frankel's Medical Diagnosis

Photo: getty
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome? New Details About Bethenny Frankel's Medical Diagnosis

It's indicative of a bigger problem.

For those of us who love all things Real Housewives, part of being a fan means following their daily lives outside of filming. Divorces, legal issues, career success, plastic surgery — through it all, it’s important to realize that these women are still people just like the rest of us, albeit much more wealthy.

With Bethenny Frankel, especially, she’s had quite a tumultuous year. Not only is she still in a custody battle with her ex-husband, Jason Hoppy, but she recently lost her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Dennis Shields, to a drug overdose. To say she’s been through hell and back is an understatement. And just when she thought things were getting better, she almost died in December after she had a near-fatal allergic reaction to fish.

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Frankel was rushed to the hospital after falling unconscious and unknowingly ingesting soup that had fish in it. Luckily, after two days in the hospital, she recovered, and has pledged to improve the facilities at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where she stayed. She has also pledged to provide EpiPens to schools.

Though she’s been allergic to fish for as long as she can remember, she was also recently diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome. Seems she just can’t catch a break, health-wise. But what is leaky gut syndrome?

Also known as “intestinal permeability,” this is a common digestive disorder where the lining of the intestines become damaged, “causing undigested food particles and toxins to leak through.” The symptoms include food sensitivities, aches, bloating, gas, and cramps, though experts don’t truly know what causes it. It can also be indicative of a larger problem, like Crohn’s disease, IBS, or Celiac disease.

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According to Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic, “From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area. Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ... leaky gut really means you’ve got a diagnosis that still needs to be made. You hope that your doctor is a good-enough Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it is very hard to make a diagnosis.”

Frankel took to Twitter to update fans on her health:

No, it’s not sexy to have a digestive issue like this, but thanks to Frankel, she’s educating people to be on top of their health, for companies to lower the cost of EpiPens, and for restaurants to take food allergies seriously.

She’s been vocal about that issue in particular, saying, “You say in a restaurant that you have an allergy and multiple people come over, and sometimes people won’t serve you and everyone makes a big deal, and now I realize it is a big deal. But there’s a little bit of shame in getting so much attention and people rolling their eyes and thinking, ‘Oh god, here we go.’ Because a lot of people say that they have allergies and they have intolerances. Everyone now says they’re gluten-free and dairy-free, so people don’t really believe the people who really have an allergy.”

Now that she knows about leaky gut syndrome and wheat allergy, hopefully she will remain in good health.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.