Gut health

Leaky Gut

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Leaky gut

Medically reviewed by: Dr James Freeman

Leaky Gut: what it is, symptoms, and treatment

Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition that affects the intestines and causes them to become permeable or “leaky.” Doctors don’t recognise it as an actual diagnosis, but plenty of evidence suggests leaky gut can contribute to various medical conditions.

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that causes the intestines to become permeable, hence the term increased intestinal permeability. The exact cause of the leaky gut syndrome is unknown, but it is believed to be linked to inflammation in the intestinal lining.

When the intestine becomes inflamed, gaps can form in the lining, allowing toxins and other harmful substances to leak out into the bloodstream. This can lead to a wide range of symptoms. While the leaky gut syndrome is not a life-threatening condition, it can be extremely debilitating.

Gut microbiota and leaky gut

The human gut is home to a complex community of microbes known as the gut microbiota. These microbes play a vital role in keeping the gut healthy, helping break down food, producing and extracting vitamins, and protecting against infection. The composition of the gut microbiota varies from person to person, but it is thought that a healthy gut contains a diverse mix of different microbial species.

The gut microbiota can be influenced by factors such as diet, age, and antibiotic use. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the role of gut microbiota in human health. Studies have shown that dysbiosis (an imbalance in the composition of the gut microbiota) is linked to several health conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut microbiota is essential for overall health and well-being.

When the balance of bacteria in the gut is disturbed, it can lead to leaky gut syndrome. This can trigger inflammation and cause various symptoms, including diarrhea, bloating, and fatigue. The leaky gut syndrome is believed to be a significant contributing factor to many chronic diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Symptoms of leaky gut

There are a variety of symptoms that are associated with leaky gut, including:

  • abdominal pain and cramping
  • bloating and gas
  • diarrhea or constipation (or both)
  • fatigue
  • headaches or migraines
  • joint pain
  • skin problems, such as eczema or psoriasis

Causes of leaky gut syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that a variety of factors can cause. These include:

  1. Diet: A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and alcohol can lead to leaky gut syndrome. These substances can damage the gut lining, making it more permeable.
  2. Stress: Chronic stress can also lead to leaky gut syndrome. When stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, triggering inflammation and damaging the gut lining.
  3. Medications: Some medications, such as NSAIDs and antibiotics, can cause leaky gut syndrome. These medications can promote inflammation and weaken the gut lining.
  4. Infections: bacterial or viral infections can also lead to leaky gut syndrome. These infections can damage the gut lining and cause inflammation. Leaks in the gut allow toxins and bacteria to enter the bloodstream, leading to various health problems.
  5. Autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease: These disorders are thought to be caused, at least in part, by leaky gut syndrome.
  6. Autism: There is a strong link between autism and leaky gut syndrome. It is thought that the autistic brain cannot properly break down and eliminate toxins, which can lead to neurological problems.
  7. Neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease: Neurological conditions have been linked to leaky gut syndrome. It is thought that the build-up of toxins in the brain may contribute to the development of certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  8. Cancer: Leaky gut syndrome has been linked to several different types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic cancer. It is thought that the toxins and bacteria that enter the bloodstream through a leaky gut may contribute to cancer development.
  9. Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression: There is a strong link between mental health and leaky gut syndrome. It is thought that the toxins and bacteria that enter the bloodstream through a leaky gut may contribute to the development of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
  10. SIBO: Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a condition in which bacteria have overrun the small intestine. This can cause malnutrition and digestive problems and contribute to leaky gut syndrome. SIBO can also cause other inflammatory illnesses, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Risks for leaky gut syndrome

While the exact causes of leaky gut syndrome are not yet known, there are a variety of risk factors that have been identified, including:

  • a family history of autoimmune disorders
  • chronic stress
  • a diet high in sugar and processed foods
  • excessive alcohol consumption

The connection between leaky gut syndrome and other health conditions

There is a strong link between leaky gut syndrome and other health conditions, such as:

  • autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis
  • mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression
  • neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

It is unclear whether leaky gut syndrome is the root cause of various illnesses or merely one of their symptoms. However, some evidence links elevated intestinal permeability to the onset of inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.

The gut-brain axis is also an area of scientific study, and there is evidence that a leaky gut may exacerbate mental health disorders. However, more research must be done to confirm these assertions.

Leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disease

There is a strong link between leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. This can lead to various symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, and skin problems. The leaky gut syndrome is thought to play a role in the development of autoimmune disease. The increased intestinal permeability allows toxins and other harmful substances to escape from the intestines and enter the bloodstream. These substances can trigger an immune response, leading to autoimmune disease.

Leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities

Leaky gut syndrome is also linked to food sensitivities. When the intestines are permeable, larger food molecules can escape from the intestines and enter the bloodstream. The body then reacts to these foreign substances as if they were toxins. This can lead to various symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

How is leaky gut treated?

There is no specific treatment for the leaky gut syndrome. However, there are a few things that you can do to help lessen your symptoms and improve your overall health. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fiber and probiotics.
  • Taking supplements, such as glutamine, can help heal the gut lining.
  • Avoid foods that trigger inflammation, such as processed foods, sugar, and gluten.
  • Getting enough rest and managing stress levels.

Supplement ingredients shown to improve leaky gut include:

Glutamine

L-Glutamine nourishes and supports gut cell regeneration which occurs every 48hrs. L-Glutamine is a major fuel source for enterocytes (intestinal cells and brain cells). L-glutamine is a unique amino acid that serves countless major functions in your body. L-glutamine has been widely studied and found to support gut health.

  • Supports muscle mass
  • Fuels the cells of the gut to function
  • Supports the integrity of the gut lining
  • Reduction in bloating

Zinc

A lack of zinc is directly linked to damage of the gut membrane barrier. Studies have shown that zinc can assist in tightening a leaky gut.
Zinc also supports:

  • Immune system
  • Gut health
  • Gut lining
  • Thyroid function
  • Reduction in bloating
  • Skin health

DGL licorice

DGL licorice soothes your stomach lining and supports adrenal glands. The licorice we formulate with is deglycyrrhizinated. This means it has minimal effect on your blood pressure compared to regular licorice and is safer for long-term use.
DGL licorice supports:

  • Reduction in acid reflux
  • Mucus lining production in the stomach and intestines
  • Reduction in heart burn
  • Healing of ulcers
  • Reduction in bloating

Marshmallow root

Marshmallow root has been studied and found to improve mucous membrane health.

  • Coats the digestive tract with a protective lining to support a balanced inflammatory response in the gut
  • Restore cell junctions
  • Soothe the stomach lining
  • Promote regular bowel movements

Quercetin

Quercetin can enhance intestinal barrier function and modulates gut microbiota composition. The activities of tight junction proteins at the gut epithelium enhance barrier functions and reduce inflammation, protecting the host from colonic diseases. Quercetin is a naturally occurring free radical scavenger that supports healthy immune system function. Studies suggest that quercetin affects the progress of microbiota-associated diseases. Notably, quercetin supplementation increased gut microbial diversity, which may improve gut protection.

Berberine

Berberine is another powerful natural ingredient that effectively treats leaky gut syndrome. It works by helping to repair the intestinal lining and improve gut motility.

Supplements for leaky gut

A healthy gut is essential for overall health and well-being, but poor diet and lifestyle choices can lead to leaky gut syndrome. If you’re suffering from a leaky gut, taking a supplement that contains clinically proven ingredients to help repair can help improve your symptoms and support your digestive health.

Glutamine, zinc citrate, marshmallow root, and quercetin are all shown to support intestinal health and recovery. They work together to repair the gut barrier, reduce inflammation and improve gut motility.

Berberine is another powerful herb that effectively treats leaky gut syndrome. It works by helping to repair the intestinal lining and improve gut motility. In addition, berberine has strong antibacterial properties that can help control the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

Powerful essential oils also help support gut motility. These oils work by stimulating the movement of the intestines, helping to clear out any unwanted bacteria. In addition, they help reduce inflammation and protect the cells of the intestines. As a result, they can play a vital role in restoring gut health and preventing leaky gut syndrome.

Taking a leaky gut supplement designed by gut experts based on clinical evidence will help you get your gut health back on track so you can feel your best.

The bottom line

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that is characterized by increased intestinal permeability. This allows toxins and other harmful substances to escape from the intestines and enter the bloodstream. Leaky gut syndrome is linked to various health conditions, including autoimmune disease, food sensitivities, and mental health disorders. There is no specific treatment for leaky gut syndrome, but there are a few things that you can do to help improve your symptoms. Do you think you might have a leaky gut syndrome? If so, talk to your doctor about ways to manage your symptoms and improve your overall health.

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