In today’s post I’m covering all the details you need to know about leaky gut including causes, signs, and how to heal it!
You may have heard the term “leaky gut” twirling around the health-o-sphere over the past while. If you have and you’ve been wanting to know more about it, this post is for you! And if you haven’t heard of it before, this post may be very enlightening for you.
What Is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut, technically referred to as increased intestinal epithelial permeability, is a term used to describe, quite literally, intestines that are “leaking”. And while this may sound disgusting or horrifying, it’s becoming increasingly understood.
Our intestines are lined with a single layer of cells. Yup. That’s it. One cell thick, side by side.
In a healthy gut, this intestinal lining is held together tightly with proteins called “tight junctions”, only opening when it’s supposed to. But when this gut barrier becomes compromised we experience what’s known as leaky gut whereby the cells lining our intestines separate. This allows undigested food, bacteria, and other foreign material to have direct access to our blood stream which causes an immune response.
Our immune system responds because it sees particles that shouldn’t be present in the bloodstream, forcing it to overwork and eventually weaken which compromises our ability to properly fight off infections and other illnesses.
What Causes Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is caused by an array of factors such as:
- Gluten (gluten triggers the release of zonulin, a protein that regulates gut permeability)
- Individual food sensitivities or allergies (e.g. dairy, grains, eggs, etc.)
- Dysbiosis (overgrowth of undesirable bacteria, parasites, fungi, yeast)
- NSAIDs such as Advil
- Gut inflammation (due to all of these things)
Symptoms of Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is a symptom and a cause. A damaged gut leads to inflammation and a high production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. However, these cytokines don’t always stay in the gut, and instead begin circulating throughout the blood stream, telling all kinds of bodily parts to become inflamed (also known as systemic inflammation).
Some signs of leaky gut include:
- food sensitivities or allergies
- chronic digestive problems
- autoimmune conditions
- inflammation in any area of the body and its associated signs (i.e., joint pain, migraines, acne/eczema, colitis, etc.)
- hormonal imbalances
How to Heal Leaky Gut
Healing leaky gut involves:
- removing triggers and causes listed above
- replacing the gut with factors that promote optimal function
- rebalancing the microbiome/gut bacteria (correcting dysbiosis)
- adding in therapeutic foods and supplements to facilitate gut tissue repair
- making necessary lifestyle changes such as reducing stress
To learn more about how you can heal your gut, read my blog post on the 5 Steps to Heal Your Gut. And if you want to learn how you can give your digestive system a good ‘reset’, learn more about my 4-week Digestive Reset Program!
Questions? Leave ’em below in the comment section!