LEAKY GUT SYNDROME – Causes and Treatment Approaches

It is possible that leaky gut syndrome may be causing other health issues that are affecting you; from weight gain to skin problems, depression, autoimmunity, to food allergies.

Your gut should contain its contents within the gut.  Leaky gut happens when your intestines develop tiny holes and contents leak into the body. The gut wall houses up to 80% of your immune system. Up to 80% of the immune system is located within the gut walls, the leak causes excess inflammation as your immune system tries to deal with the leak. Over time this can lead to chronic inflammation which is at the root of many modern illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, autoimmunity, heart disease, cancer and many more. 

Not everyone with leaky gut has digestive symptoms and sometimes the problem manifests itself elsewhere in the body.  If you have digestive symptoms such as gas(wind), constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, cramping, bloody stool, abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, smelly stools, IBD, SIBO, candida overgrowth, gastroparesis, dysbiosis, then pretty much any and all digestive symptoms and disorders may be due to leaky gut syndrome. 

Some research has suggested that in order for autoimmune disease to be active leaky gut syndrome must be present, and over 80 have been identified including Celiac disease, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, alopecia, and rheumatoid arthritis among others. 

A substantial number of disorders or diseases could be related to having an underlying leaky gut, which can include but is not limited to cardiovascular disease, cancers, thyroid disorders, digestive disorders, urinary conditions, obesity, reproductive disorders, respiratory disorders, hepatitis, periodontal disease, and osteoporosis. But there are steps that can be taken to help alleviate the causes.

Leaky gut may also be behind some skin disorders; the connection between skin and gut health has been well established and many conditions such as acne, hives, psoriasis, hair loss, rashes, eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, and dry skin could be connected to leaky gut syndrome. 

It is thought that many brain and mood disorders/conditions such as anxiety, depression, brain fog, chronic fatigue, migraines, mood swings and cognitive diseases have a connection to leaky gut syndrome at their roots.  The same applies to body and joint pains such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and other musculoskeletal conditions which have been connected to increased intestinal permeability according to research. 

Food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances may to some degree have an underlying issue with leaky gut syndrome; once the gut has healed many patients discover that their food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances will resolve themselves. 

In testing, low trace minerals are often an indicator of leaky gut.  Inflammation inside the digestive tract makes it difficult for vitamins and minerals to be absorbed through the gut wall and into the body which may be what is leading to these low mineral readings. 

Sugar cravings may be a symptom of an overgrowth of bad bacteria within the gut, this dysbiosis will often disappear once the patient has addressed the health of their gut lining. 

Some steps which may help to heal a leaky gut include:

  1. Removing all irritating foods and other toxins from the diet and environment.
  2. Replacing all toxic foods with those that support digestion and healing foods.
  3. Repairing the intestines with nutrients needed to heal the gut wall and underlying immune system.
  4. Reinoculating to restore a healthy balance of the gut’s microflora.
  5. Remove all main dietary triggers for leaky gut including legumes, dairy, grains, refined foods, processed foods, and put the focus on relaxing before, during, and after meals to help optimize digestion, especially while healing. Stress is bad whether it be mental or physical can trigger leaky gut syndrome. 
  6. Diet, several drugs, and alcohol are all triggers that have been most studied. Imbalance in gut microflora, infections, and yeast overgrowth all contribute to an increasing intestinal permeability. The mouth is the beginning of the GI tract thus research suggests that poor oral hygiene and dysbiosis in the mouth can also contribute to increased intestinal permeability. 
  7. Replace bad dietary habits with those that are healthy, nourishing, and whole foods can really help. While healing the digestive system may need some additional temporary support such as hydrochloric acid, bile salts, or digestive enzymes. Often those with leaky gut have low stomach acid production that may benefit from taking apple cider vinegar before meals. 
  8. EPA and DHA found in fermented foods, oily fish, ginger, quercetin, and turmeric all have also been shown to help repair leaky gut.
  9. Fermented foods and probiotics will help to reinoculate the gut with healthy bacteria to restore a healthy ratio of gut bacteria. To help improve the health of the gut microflora eat a variety of healthy foods and fibres; avoid using antibacterial cleaners; consume raw/live/unpasteurized fermented foods; and consume a range of probiotic and prebiotic foods. Keep in mind that it is possible to over consume one type of bacteria, making it recommended to get probiotics from a variety of fermented whole food sources. 

Leaky gut is something we can help with, so it is worth your coming along to see us. Contact secretaries@doveclinic.com or call 01962 718000 to arrange a consultation.