The Truth About Leaky Gut Syndrome

leaky gut

As an autoimmune patient, one thing is always going to be true. You have intestinal permeability or what is more commonly known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.

In fact, recent studies have stated leaky gut as one of three major factors present in those with an autoimmune disease. The other two factors are a genetic predisposition for it along with some sort of trigger due to food or something in your environment.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The term “leaky gut” itself is more than enough to give most people somewhat of a glimpse into this unpleasant yet common ailment.

leaky gut

The problem is that not enough is known about our gut to know exactly how it all works. This is discouraging at best since our gut is actually the biggest organ in our entire immune system. In fact, I have heard that some conventional doctors don’t even consider leaky gut syndrome as a real thing. But trust me, it is.

Without getting too technical, intestinal permeability or leaky gut happens when things like undigested food, toxins, or microbes “leak” into your bloodstream instead of into your small intestines. Your gut lining is mesh-like, and it’s only supposed to allow specific substances to pass through. Leaky gut occurs when that lining doesn’t work properly and “holes” are present. The result is that substances that should go into the intestines pass through the gut lining and are able to travel throughout your body and through the blood. In turn, this occurrence can cause multiple problems.

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky gut is caused by a number of issues that can put your health at risk, including:

  • Unhealthy Diet – If you eat a lot of processed foods, fast food, or foods high in processed sugar, you’re putting toxins directly into your body. Our gut isn’t designed to handle all the preservatives and artificial ingredients found in these foods, and they will eventually cause you to have problems.
  • Chronic Stress – We all deal with stress on a constant basis, but over time it will take its toll. Stress directly affects your immune system and will compromise it to the point where it can’t handle excessive toxins in your body. This overload of toxins will result in a number of health issues, mainly autoimmune disease.
  • Certain Foods – Some foods are proven to be unhealthy for the gut, and they aren’t limited to what you would think of as unhealthy. Gluten is high on the list of culprits that are bad for the gut. Products containing wheat, soy, rice, and spelt are high in lectins, which are hard to digest. Conventional cow’s milk and any products derived from it contain lactose, which is also difficult for the digestive process. Sugar can also fuel bad bacteria that can damage the intestinal wall.

How Do You Know If You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The symptoms of having leaky gut syndrome range widely. At first, you will likely experience general digestive issues, but if left unchecked, it can lead to much more serious issues.

Some symptoms of leaky gut include:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Nutritional or vitamin deficiencies (especially Vitamin D)
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Skin rashes (especially eczema)
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog or memory loss

If you have a history of stomach issues, IBS, food sensitivities, or skin problems, get checked out to see if you’re at risk for an autoimmune disease. However, keep in mind that most conventional tests like an upper GI or endoscopy won’t necessarily detect this type of problem.

leaky gut

You may want to consider going to a functional medicine doctor to get tested for elevated thyroid antibodies, toxicity levels, or food sensitivities that a conventional doctor normally won’t do. You owe it to yourself to dig a little deeper and uncover what’s going on in your body.

I’ll write a post soon about my own issues with leaky gut as well as some dietary changes you can make to help heal and prevent it.

What are your thoughts on leaky gut and how it’s being treated (or not) by the medical community? Share them with us in the comments below.

References

PubMed – Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases