You may have heard of leaky gut syndrome as it is gaining some popularity as of late. The gut is naturally permeable so that molecules can pass through and nutrients can be absorbed. Leaky gut syndrome is a gastrointestinal condition that is characterized by higher intestinal permeability. Basically, you have tight junctions in the gut which control what passes through your intestinal walls and into the bloodstream. When these junctions don’t function properly they can allow for substances to ‘leak’ into the bloodstream. I think the name “leaky gut syndrome” is probably starting to make sense for you. This experience is common for people with celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, but it’s unclear why someone would experience this problem when those diseases are absent. The problem with leaky gut syndrome is that it is typically very difficult to find the culprit and then treat.
How Do You Get Leaky Gut Syndrome?
How does one get a leaky gut? The general consensus is that we’re unsure – but we have a few ideas. It could be due to the food we’re eating, infections, or toxins. A lot of people point to inflammatory foods like gluten or dairy. Other culprits could be sugar or even alcohol. As far as infections go, candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth are thought to be common causes of a leaky gut. While stress and age are also thought to be factors, toxins can play a big role in leaky gut syndrome. These toxins mostly come from medications like Motrin, Advil, steroids, antibiotics, and acid reducing drugs, but can also come from environmental toxins.
Leaky Gut Symptoms
A lot of people don’t even know they’re struggling with leaky gut syndrome. It’s important to know if you’re suffering from leaky gut syndrome so you can start to fight against it. It is not fun and has a handful of tricky symptoms:
This is one of the main symptoms of a leaky gut and includes issues as minor as gas and as severe as irritable bowel syndrome. Other issues could be bloating and diarrhea.
This could also be considered food allergies or food insensitivities. Leaky gut could allow toxins from food to enter the bloodstream much easier. If you have a higher intestinal permeability your immune system will likely be in overdrive because of all the toxins entering the body. This would cause a higher rate of antibodies being produced and make your body more susceptible to antigens in food. This often happens suddenly and with foods you have never had issues with in the past.
These include rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease. These autoimmune diseases can be an ordeal in and of themselves leading to things like impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain, among others.
Leaky gut can cause nutritional deficiencies, including vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, iron, and enzymes necessary for food digestion.
These can include acne, rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis. These conditions are often treated by other means, but it is believed they can often be remedied by fixing a leaky gut.
A leaky gut can have a serious effect on mood and energy. Leaky gut syndrome could be the culprit behind things like depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, or fatigue. Many people drive themselves crazy trying to figure out what’s behind these diseases without ever realizing it could be a leaky gut.
Repairing a Leaky Gut
The bad news is that the medical community is lacking in treatments for a leaky gut. They can’t give it a proper diagnosis so they don’t know exactly how to treat it. A lot of times people will be prescribed things that may alleviate symptoms for a short time, but never actually fix the problem. Antacids are often suggested for leaky gut symptoms.
The good news is there are some things we can do to try to fix a leaky gut on our own. We know that the causes are believed to be poor diet, toxins, and infections causing a bacterial imbalance. Stress can also play a large role.
The first place to start is diet. It is believed that the most harmful foods will likely be unsprouted grains, sugar, and dairy. Removing these foods from your diet is probably the most important step in healing your leaky gut. I know this is going to be a hard one for most people. The good news is you shouldn’t really be indulging in these things anyway. Gluten can damage your intestinal lining, so this is a must to stay away from. Raw dairy might be okay but the pasteurization process leads to the destruction of vital enzymes. This will make sugars like lactose even harder to digest. Sugar is another one you need to watch out for. Unfortunately, it will only exacerbate the growth of yeast, candida, and bad bacteria.
I started with diet because it is most likely going to be the easiest thing for you to control on your road to beating leaky gut syndrome. Other factors causing a leaky gut are going to be more out of your hands. A big factor at play in a leaky gut is stress. Stress makes it harder for your immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses. Everyone lives a busy life but it’s important to get enough rest and avoid stressful situations wherever possible.
Toxins are another big issue and they may be just as hard to avoid as stress. We get exposed to toxins from the antibiotics we take, pesticides, tap water, and pain relievers. It’s important to try to avoid these things as best you can. You can buy a high quality filter for water and try to always buy organic to avoid pesticides.
Avoiding these things is a huge first step in fixing your leaky gut but you’re not done. You also have to add things into your diet for gut health:
- Bone broth is full of things that can aid in healing damaged cell walls.
- Probiotics are huge for gut health.
- Organic acids to help balance intestinal pH levels. These can be found in fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.
- Medium chain fatty acids are easier to digest than other fats so these will be great for a leaky gut. Coconut lovers, rejoice! Coconut is very high in medium chain fatty acids.
- Sprouted seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds are great sources of fiber. This can be vital to the growth of good bacteria.
- Omega-3s are good for leaky gut.
- Anti-inflammatory foods will also prove helpful. These include grass-fed beef, lamb, and wild caught fish.
Wrapping things up…
I hope this has been informative at the least. Leaky gut syndrome is something that affects so many people without them even knowing it. I wanted you to have all the facts. If there’s been something ailing you and you and your doctors haven’t been able to figure out what, it’s worth considering leaky gut syndrome.
Share this article with your friends to make sure they aren’t suffering from leaky gut syndrome unknowingly!