Posted on Jan 02, 2020, 3 p.m.
Leaky gut syndrome may be underlying what other mysterious health issues are plaguing you; from weight gain to skin problems, depression, autoimmunity, to food allergies and more leaky gut may be at the bottom of it. As Hippocrates said over two thousand years ago “All disease begins in the gut.”
Leaky gut is when your intestines develop tiny holes in them which allow for their contents that should remain in the gut to slowly leak through the gut wall into the body. Up to 80% of the immune system is located within the gut walls, and it’s job is to produce inflammation in response to anything foreign that passes through the gut wall. With leaky gut contents are continually leaking out into the body, meaning that the immune system will continually be producing inflammation which eventually will become chronic, and chronic inflammation underlies most of the disease of modern society such as obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, autoimmunity, heart disease, cancer and many more.
Some with leaky gut syndrome don’t experience any digestive symptoms at all, but manifestations of the condition can appear anywhere in the body. Digestive issues may be a sign of leaky gut: gas, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, bloody stool, abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, smelly stools, IBD, SIBO, candida overgrowth, gastroparesis, dysbiosis, pretty much any and all digestive symptoms and disorders may be due to leaky gut syndrome.
Some research suggests that in order for autoimmune disease to be active leaky gut syndrome must be present, and over 80 have been identified including Celiac disease, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, alopecia, and rheumatoid arthritis among others.
Just about any disorder or disease in the body may be related to having an underlying leaky gut, which can include but is not limited to cardiovascular disease, cancers, thyroid disorders, digestive disorders, urinary conditions, obesity, reproductive disorders, respiratory disorders, hepatitis, periodontal disease, and osteoporosis.
Skin issues may also be linked to leaky gut syndrome; the connection between skin and gut health has been well established and many conditions such as acne, hives, psoriasis, hair loss, rashes, eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, and dry skin among others have been connected to leaky gut syndrome.
According to research nearly all people with food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances have to some degree an underlying issue with leaky gut syndrome; once the gut has healed many patients discover that their food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances will resolve themselves.
One of the common indicators of leaky gut is low trace minerals across the board, and it is typically accompanied by inflammation along the inside of the digestive tract which makes it difficult for vitamins and minerals to be absorbed through the gut wall and into the body which may be what is leading to nutritional deficiencies.
Brain and mood disorders/conditions such as anxiety, depression, brain fog, chronic fatigue, headaches, migraines, mood swings, autism, ADD, ADHA, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and other brain related symptoms are also thought to have a connection to leaky gut syndrome at their roots.
Body and joint pains such as arthritis, muscle pain, muscle weakness, nerve pain, fibromyalgia and other musculoskeletal conditions have been connected to increased intestinal permeability according to research.
Sugar cravings may be a symptom of an overgrowth of bad bacteria within the gut, this dysbiosis will often disappear once the patient has addressed the health of their gut lining.
To find out if you have leaky gut syndrome consult with your doctor or certified medical professional for testing, and if needed to come up with a plan of action to get your gut back to optimal health. Lactulose/Mannitol urine testing and the zonulin test are two of the more popular methods for assessing intestinal permeability. Many factors can trigger leaky gut syndrome but the most studied are diet, drugs, dysbiosis, infections, and poor oral hygiene.
The 4R approach may help to heal a leaky gut which involves:
- Removing all irritating foods and other toxins from the diet and environment.
- Replacing all toxic foods with those that support digestion and healing foods.
- Repairing the intestines with nutrients needed to heal the gut wall and underlying immune system.
- Reinoculating to restore a healthy balance of the gut’s microflora.
Remove all main dietary triggers for leaky gut including legumes, dairy, grains, refined foods, processed foods, and put the focus on relaxing before, during, and after meals to help optimize digestion, especially while healing. Stress is bad, and when it comes to leaky gut this is no exception, stress whether it be mental or physical can trigger leaky gut syndrome.
Diet, several drugs, and alcohol are all triggers that have been most studied. Imbalance in gut microflora, infections, and yeast overgrowth all contribute to an increasing intestinal permeability. The mouth is the beginning of the GI tract thus research suggests that poor oral hygiene and dysbiosis in the mouth can also contribute to increased intestinal permeability.
Replace bad dietary habits with those that are healthy, nourishing, and whole foods can really help. While healing the digestive system may need some additional temporary support such as hydrochloric acid, bile salts, or digestive enzymes. Often those with leaky gut have low stomach acid production that may benefit from taking apple cider vinegar before meals.
Glutamine amino acid is the main fuel for gut wall cells and while healing supplementation has been shown to assist in restoring integrity. Additionally vitamins A, C, E, D, B1-12, all amino acids, as well as the minerals zinc, selenium, chromium, molybdenum, manganese, and magnesium have also been shown to help enhance gut wall repair. Mucilaginous botanicals have been shown to help improve overall gut health by reducing inflammation, these include slippery elm, marshmallow root, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, and aloe vera among others. N-acetyl-D-Glucosamine can help to strengthen connective tissues and has been shown to help repair intestinal permeability. EPA and DHA found in fermented foods, oily fish, ginger, quercetin, and turmeric all have also been shown to help repair leaky gut.
Fermented foods and probiotics will help to reinoculate the gut with healthy bacteria to restore a healthy ratio of gut bacteria. To help improve the health of the gut microflora eat a variety of healthy foods and fibers; avoid using antibacterial cleaners; consume raw/live/unpasteurized fermented foods; and consume a range of probiotic and prebiotic foods. Keep in mind that it is possible to over consume one type of bacteria, making it recommended to get probiotics from a variety of fermented whole food sources.
If you suspect that you may have leaky gut, try not to stress too much about it as stress is another trigger. First get tested, and remember there is much you can do to help heal your gut, which will heal itself relatively quickly with your help. The body uses over 20% of the energy derived from food to replace the gut wall every 1-4 days, meaning that you can start to feel like a new person after 4-6 weeks of making better dietary choices and the immune system has been able to reset itself. Keep in mind that it may take several months before you are at 100% again depending on your specific situation and how long the gut has been leaky. The good news is that the body in most cases is capable of healing itself, provided that you take steps to help it.
Materials provided by:
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.