7 Symptoms of Leaky Gut
The father of modern medicine Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the Gut” and research is proving he was absolutely correct.
Many health and nutrition experts agree that to a large extent, health really begins in the gut. Why? Because up to 80 percent our of our immune system actually resides within the gut, where billions of bacteria live (both good and bad). Your gut communicates with your brain to control a range of functions including appetite, mood and stress levels as well as your body’s ability to defend itself from sickness.
The gut truly is the gateway to health and if your gut is healthy, chances are you are in good health. However, there’s a condition called leaky gut that can lead to a host of health problems.
Leaky gut syndrome also known as “intestinal hyperpermeability” or increased intestinal permeability, is condition that happens as a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction. These “tight junctions” are the gateway between your intestines and what is allowed to pass into the blood stream.
Once these tight junctions break down, you have a leaky gut. When your gut is leaky, things like toxins, microbes, undigested food particles, and more can escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. Your immune system marks these “foreign invaders” as pathogens and attacks them. The immune response to these invaders can appear in the form of any of the nine signs you have a leaky gut, which are listed below.
But having leaky gut is essentially like having the gates broken from your intestines to your blood stream allowing particles that should never enter the body, to get through. When this happens it causes an immune response as well as inflammation throughout your body leading to a variety of diseases.
According to a study published in a Norwegian medical journal this process is implicated in the onset of disease include several acute and chronic conditions and has been linked to:
- Autoimmune disease
- Eczema, Psoriasis, and Acne
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)
- Type 1 diabetes
So how do you know if you have a leaky gut? Below are seven common symptoms associated with leaky gut.
The 7 Signs You Have Leaky Gut
1. Food Sensitivities – People affected by food sensitivities often find that leaky gut is to blame. Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter their bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are on overdrive mass-producing various antibodies, which makes their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy).
2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Researchers from Hungary have recently uncovered that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localized to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
Another study suggests that, for Crohn’s disease patients, leaky guy is prevalent in a majority cases and even up to 10 to 20 percent of their “clinically healthy relatives,” which suggests a potential genetic component. Zinc supplementation has been found to be quite effective at tightening up the intestinal tight junctions in these cases.
3. Autoimmune Disease – The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through the research done on a protein known as “zonulin.” According to a 2011 article published in the journal Physiologic Reviews,
Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders can occur.”
Consumption and general exposure to gluten can oftentimes trigger this dangerous cascade. University of Maryland, School of Medicine researchers have uncovered that gluten “activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.”
4. Thyroid Problems – One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease. Also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” this disorder can lead to hypothyroidism, impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain, and a host of other concerns.
5. Malabsorption – Various nutritional deficiencies result from leaky gut include vitamin B12, magnesium and key enzymes that help digest food. It is recommended that people with leaky gut supplement with a medical grade multi-vitamin (one free of fillers and excipients) and a quality live probiotic formula to not only help digest the food that they eat, but to ensure their bodies are able to process the vital nutrients they desperately need.
6. Inflammatory Skin Conditions – First described over 70 years ago, the gut-skin connection theory has described how intestinal hyper-permeability can cause a slew of skin conditions; particularly acne and psoriasis. Generally, dangerous creams and drugs are prescribed for these skin disorders, yet they can oftentimes be fixed by healing the gut!
7. Mood Issues and Autism – According to a study published in the journal Neuro Endocrinology Letters, leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders. For example, the inflammatory response characteristic of intestinal hyperpermeability triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals that induce depression.
Regarding autism, a study was just published this past January in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience describing the “vicious circle between immune system impairment and increasing dysbiosis that leads to leaky gut and neurochemical compounds and/or neurotoxic xenobiotics production and absorption.” The idea is that the “metabolic pathways impaired in autistic children can be affected by genetic alterations or by environment-xenobiotics interference.”
What the Medical Community Has to Say About Leaky Gut Syndrome
WebMD refers to leaky gut as “something of a medical mystery.” No wonder, because it isn’t even taught as a diagnosis in medical school!
“From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD – Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic – “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”
In the words of Linda A. Lee, MD – gastroenterologist and Director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center – “We don’t know a lot but we know that it (Leaky Gut) exists.” Nevertheless, “In the absence of evidence, we don’t know what it means or what therapies can directly address it.”
This is an important point to keep in mind.
In the medical world, if there are no standard diagnostic criteria for a disease, there are no specific therapies or treatments, then most MD’s are left with no other choice than to travel along the “safe path” and prescribe drugs; which, in this case, are oftentimes Prevacid or generic ant-acids like Tums.
Because most of the medical community denies its very existence, it’s critical that you understand what leaky gut is and what to look out for in case you or a loved-one is affected by it. This way, even though your doctor may not pick up on the clues, you’ll be armed with the knowledge that you need to make the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes.
How Do You Repair Leaky Gut?
If you think that you might have leaky gut after reading this article, then I have two very important things to tell you:
- You don’t have to suffer any more and there is hope!
- If you follow the 4 steps to heal leaky gut, you can strengthen your body putting it in the position in which it can heal itself.
While we certainly aren’t purporting this to be a cure-all, these 4 steps to heal leaky gut have helped countless people and they are an effective means of improving the health and the integrity of your gastrointestinal tract!
How do you heal a leaky gut?
In our Nourish Balance Thrive™ program, we have all of our clients follow a comprehensive elimination diet which removes the toxic and inflammatory foods for a certain period of time. Reactions to food can be delayed by as many as three to four days and any food can trigger an inflammatory response. The key is to determine which specific foods and food-chemicals are triggering adverse reactions for you and this often includes food sensitivity testing or an elimination diet.
Once these food sensitivities have been identified, we have our client follow a 4R Program to heal their gut. The 4R program consists of the following:
Remove the bad. The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract, such as inflammatory and toxic foods, and intestinal infections.
Replace the good. Add back the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption, such as digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acids.
It’s critical to restore beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria.
It’s essential to provide the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself. One of my favorite supplements is l-glutamine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the lining of the gut wall.
If our clients still have symptoms after following the above recommendations, there is usually an underlying: infection, intestinal parasite or yeast overgrowth. Comprehensive stool test would then be necessary to identify the issue before an appropriate treatment protocol could be determined.
For additional information we invite you to view Heal the Gut, Heal Your Life