Leaky gut is getting a lot of attention in medical blogs and social media lately. But don’t be surprised if your doctor does not recognize this term. Because “leaky gut syndrome” isn’t a medical diagnosis taught in medical school. But its a proposed condition by some health practitioners. They claim its the cause of a wide range of long-term conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis (MS).
While it’s true that some conditions and medications can cause a “leaky” gut, there is currently little evidence to support the theory. Furthermore, there is also little evidence of effective treatments. Some people claim their leaky gut symptoms reduce using nutritional supplements. Others says herbal remedies.
What is leaky gut?
Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged. Inside our bellies, we have an extensive intestinal lining. This covers more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When working properly, it forms a tight barrier. The barrier controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
The digestive system also plays an important role in protecting your body from harmful substances. The walls of the intestines act as barriers. This controls what enters the bloodstream to be transported to your organs.
There are small gaps in the intestinal wall called tight junctions. They allow water and nutrients to pass through, while blocking the passage of harmful substances. Intestinal permeability refers to how easily substances pass through the intestinal wall.
However, an unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes. This allows partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the tissues bel. This may lead to changes in the normal bacteria. Due to this, problems may occur within the digestive tract and beyond.
Furthermore, the foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body. This includes inflammatory and allergic reactions such as migraines, irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
However with leaky gut, damaged cells in your intestines don’t produce the enzymes for proper digestion. Due to this, your body cannot absorb essential nutrients. This can lead to hormone imbalances and a weak immune system.
What causes leaky gut?
In many cases, leaky gut is caused by your diet. Certain foods such as gluten, soy and dairy are culprits. Your body sees them as foreign invaders. Anytime you consume these foods, your body produces antibodies against them. This triggers an immune response causing symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, fatigue and joint pain.
Leaky gut can also occur due to certain medications such as antibiotics and steroids. Besides OTC pain relievers such as aspirin and acetaminophen, can also irritate the intestinal lining and damage protective mucus layers. This irritation can lead to intestinal permeability.
The most common infectious causes are candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Stress and alcohol can also play a role.
Signs and symptoms of a leaky gut
The following might be signs and symptoms of leaky gut:
- Digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, IBS, constipation or gas
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Poor immune system
- Hormonal imbalances such as irregular periods
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Excessive fatigue or myalgia
- Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
- Cravings for sugar or carbs
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or Crohn’s disease
How to heal a leaky gut
1. The key to healing a leaky gut is changing your diet. Eliminating foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol that your body treats as toxic. With this your symptoms will subside gradually.
2. In addition to eliminating certain foods, eat healthy nutritious diet. Consume healthy fats such as fish, coconut and olive oils, avocados and flax.
3. Moreover, add probiotics to restore the healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Also, eliminate any infections.
4. Additionally, limit your refined carb intake. Harmful bacteria thrive on sugar, and excessive sugar intake can harm gut barrier function
5. Eat plenty of high-fiber foods. Soluble fiber in fruits, vegetables and legumes, feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Besides, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, consult your health care provider. Because, your symptoms could be due by other issues.