Could leaky gut be the cause of your health issues?
You should consider leaky gut as a major factor if you or your family are struggling with an autoimmune disease that may have either specific or even vague symptoms of unwellness.
Sometimes with leaky gut there are obvious digestive symptoms of stomach pain, bloating or bowel problems. But it can show up in many different forms. It can masquerade as ongoing tiredness, anxiety even depression, achy joints and muscles, skin problems like eczema or itchiness and it can even affect weight and blood sugar.
Leaky gut is not widely accepted or understood by doctors because the symptoms can relate to so many illnesses and more importantly because there are no standard tests. Also there are no developed medications to address the underlying cause of leaky gut.
For most people identifying and treating leaky gut can be life changing because you can help your body heal itself with a change in diet and the addition of some nutrients and probiotics to stop the ‘leaking gut’. Try our free Leaky Gut quiz to see if you have Leaky Gut.
What does ‘leaky gut’ mean?
The intestinal or gut wall is held together by tight junctions that should allow only vital micro nutrients from food to be absorbed into your blood stream.
But stress, medications especially antibiotics, processed food particularly gluten and environmental toxins such as mercury or pesticides (all associated with our modern lifestyle) breach the integrity of the tight junctions between cell walls leading to increased permeability ie leaky gut.
Leaky Gut and Autoimmune disease
When the protective barrier is permeable, microbes, toxins, proteins and undigested food particles escape into your bloodstream. Your immune system responds with waves of inflammation to kill the foreign invaders. But often the immune response is an attack on your own tissues leading to an autoimmune condition.
Dr Alessio Fasano’s research  in animal models has shown the mechanism – the zonulin pathway -whereby leaky gut is a precondition for developing an autoimmune disease. This might be in the form of an immune attack on joints (rheumatoid arthritis), thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease), or the gut lining itself (Celiac, Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis).
Leaky gut has also been linked to type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, and asthma, among others.
The first and most important step for dealing with an autoimmune disease is to repair the gut wall.
What to do when you suspect you have leaky gut.
Try the 4 R’s program
- Remove suspect foods most likely to increase leaky gut – gluten, dairy, corn, soy and eggs – while lessoning your exposure to toxins such as sugar, alcohol and caffeine. To find out what your personal food sensitivities are complete an elimination diet. Remove one food at a time for a period of time (I recommend 3 weeks) before introducing it back and noting what reactions you have to that food.
- Restore your digestion and absorption gut functioning with digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid such as Betaine HCL which can improve fat breakdown and protein digestion for people who have low stomach acid due to aging or an autoimmune disease. Often these are depleted by diet, stress or drugs.
- Re-establish a healthy balance of good bacteria by taking a probiotic supplement, preferably one with a variety of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species in large numbers. Consider then adding fermented foods (coconut yoghurt, apple cider vinegar, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir) as a source of natural probiotics to your diet to maintain that healthy balance.
- Repair the gut with supplements such as collagen that is rich in amino acids that seal the leaks and L-glutamine that helps to rebuild the gut wall lining. Home made bone broth is an excellent natural source of glutamine and collagen.
Looking for a Leaky Gut Repair program that makes it simple. Try our Leaky Gut and Dysbiosis Heal yourself guide.
Don’t ignore leaky gut – you can change your life
Be patient – it won’t happen overnight. As the cell walls of your gut need time to rejuvenate it can take 3 to 6 months. But when you gradually reduce the amount of inflammatory foods in your diet, manage your stress, eat gut friendly foods and add the right supportive nutrients, your gut health will steadily improve and so will how you feel. Then you can be the person you want to be every moment of every day.
 Fasano A (2011) Zonulin and its regulation of intestinal barrier function: the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer. Physiol Rev 91:151–175