Leaky Gut has been blamed for many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all too common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, even autoimmune diseases can all be linked back to a leaky gut.
But what exactly is a leaky gut? What causes it? What kinds of issues are related to it? And most of all, what can you eat for leaky gut?
So what is a leaky gut?
Simply put, your “gut” (aka “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together.
Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.
It’s also selective. Not everything is allowed past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don’t want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?
Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they’re allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great — as long as what’s being absorbed are fluids and nutrients.
The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.
How does a gut become “leaky?”
The gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors such as too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you’re intolerant to can all contribute to a leaky gut.
Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections and some medications may also play a significant role. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut is thrown off, this too, can contribute to a leaky gut.
Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become “permeable” or leak. At this point, incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.
Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.”
This is not a good thing.
What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?
About 70%-80% of your immune system is housed around your gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders.
Because so much of your immune system is located around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and begin to respond. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.
But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, inflammation starts. Once the immune system starts responding, it can show up as allergies, food intolerances and even autoimmune diseases.
Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms that can show up right there. These are things such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea.
Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren’t properly digested, their nutrients aren’t properly absorbed.
Poor absorption can lead to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.
Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin. Acne, dry skin, itchiness, rashes, eczema and hives can all be symptoms related to a leaky gut. Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.
It’s possible that even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, inability to sleep and general moodiness can also be related to a leaky gut.
Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut as well. These are things such as Crohn’s, colitis, celiac disease, IBS and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.
What to eat for a leaky gut
The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods, and eat more gut-soothing foods.
A gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes and dairy. Also, add to that list of foods to cut: food additives, alcohol and refined sugars.
In their place, add in more green leafy and cruciferous vegetables. These are full of nutrients and contain fiber to help feed your friendly gut microbes. You also want to add more sources of vitamin D, which can come from fish and egg yolks and also from the sun.
Eat more probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt and kombucha (fermented tea). Make sure you’re getting enough essential omega-3 fats found in seafood and seaweed.
And make sure you’re getting some coconut oil and bone broth. Coconut oil has special fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) and bone broth has essential amino acids.
To Sum Up
Leaky gut or “intestinal permeability” can happen when your gut gets damaged due to too much sugar and alcohol or eating foods you’re intolerant to. It can also be from stress, lack of sleep or imbalance in your friendly gut microbes. The symptoms of leaky gut are vast and can span from digestive woes to skin conditions, even to autoimmune conditions.
It’s important to cut out problem foods and drinks and add in more gut-soothing things such as green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables and probiotic foods. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D and amino acids.
Do you have symptoms of a leaky gut? Have you been diagnosed with it? Have you changed your diet? Do you have lifestyle factors, such as stress, that may contribute to your symptoms? Please comment below, we’d love to hear from you.
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