Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the bloodstream. The foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body including inflammatory and allergic reactions such as migraines, irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
With leaky gut, damaged cells in your intestines don’t produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion. As a result, your body cannot absorb essential nutrients, which can lead to hormone imbalances and a weakened immune system.
In many cases, leaky gut is caused by your diet. Certain foods that you consume every day, including gluten, soy and dairy, may be treated by your body as foreign invaders that have to be fought off. When you eat these foods, your body may be going to war, producing antibodies, which trigger an immune response that included diarrhea, headaches, fatigue and joint pain.
Leaky gut can also be caused by medications including antibiotics, steroids or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen, which can irritate the intestinal lining and damage protective mucus layers. This irritation can start or continue the inflammation cycle that leads to intestinal permeability. Ongoing high levels of stress are often a contributing factor to leaky gut syndrome.
10 signs of leaky gut syndrome
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Poor immune system
- Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
- Excessive fatigue
6. Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
7. Cravings for sugar or carbs
8. Arthritis or joint pain
9. Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
10. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn’s
Healing a Leaky Gut
The key to healing a leaky gut is changing your diet and eliminating the foods that your body treats as toxic. This often requires eliminating gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol. An Elimination Diet is the key first step.
In addition to eliminating certain foods, you will need to add a few things to help repair your leaky gut. These included healthy fats such as fish, coconut and olive oils; avocados and flax; probiotics to restore the healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract; and L-glutamine, an amino acid that rejuvenates the lining of the intestinal wall. You will also need digestive enzymes to help your body more fully break down the protein in your meals. Also, aloe can help to coat the GI tract while the underlying lining heals.