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What is Leaky Gut?

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Our digestive tract is one of the primary places where our bodies interact with the ‘outside’ world. The lining of the intestinal wall is an important barrier, letting nutrients in and preventing bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other unwelcome substances from entering the body.

In the process of digestion, we absorb nutrients from food while eliminating various toxins and other by-products produced in the digestion process. A special layer of cells line the small intestine and are responsible for absorbing nutrients and protecting the body from harmful substances.

Between each cell in this lining is a space called a “tight junction.” The health of the cells that line the small intestine, and the health of these tight junctions, are key to what is absorbed in the digestive tract and what is not.

“All Disease Begins in the Gut” - Hippocrates

What Is Intestinal Permeability?

Intestinal Permeability is defined as how porous or leaky the intestinal lining is. A leaky lining occurs when the protective barrier of cells is damaged and no longer are tightly connected. While some intestinal permeability is normal, increased intestinal permeability (also referred to as a “leaky gut”) allows harmful substances like toxins and pathogens as well as partially digested food, to enter the bloodstream at high levels causing serious immune reactions and inflammation.

Intestinal permeability can reduce the absorption of essential nutrients important for overall health and wellness. When leaky gut occurs, the immune system can become activated and lead to inflammation, foods reactions, and the increased likelihood of a variety of diseases.

What Causes Increased Intestinal Permeability?

  • Infections or overgrowth of bacteria and/or yeast

  • Lack of a healthy, protective microbiome

  • Medications (antibiotics, NSAIDs, PPIs & acid blockers)

  • Toxins (environmental, personal care products)

  • Chronic stress

  • Inflammation

  • Food intolerances

  • Poor diet high in inflammatory foods (sugar, GMOs, processed foods, additives, preservatives, trans fats, alcohol)

  • Nutrient deficiencies (Omega 3s, proteins, zinc, vitamins A, C, D, fiber, etc.)

  • Low Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio

  • Poor digestion (low pancreatic enzymes, stomach acid, liver/gallbladder)

What Can Increased Intestinal Permeability Cause?

  • Migraines

  • Mental health issues (mood swings, depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD)

  • Various autoimmune diseases (Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, MS)

  • Arthritis or body aches & pains

  • Digestive issues (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, IBD, etc.)

  • Allergies & asthma

  • Chronic fatigue & fibromyalgia

  • Brain fog, memory issues

  • Skin conditions (acne, rosacea, eczema)

  • Weak or poor immune system

  • Food sensitivities

  • Systemic inflammation

  • Liver related diseases

  • Diabetes (Type 1, Type 2, Gestational)

There are a variety of ways to address the root cause of these symptoms – Leaky Gut. This includes intentional dietary and other lifestyle related changes as well as specific nutritional supplements when needed to re-establish your intestinal barrier’s protective function.

What Are Gut Healing Foods?

  • Antioxidants from colorful fruits and veggies

  • Fiber rich sources (fruits, veggies, ground flax, chia, avocado, sweet potato)

  • Healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, seafood, olives, EVOO, ground flax, whole eggs)

  • Quality proteins (grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild caught)

  • Herbs & spices (cinnamon, ginger, turmeric)

  • Bone broths, collagen powders

  • Probiotic rich foods (sauerkraut, fermented veggies, kimchi, cultured yogurts)

  • Supplement if needed (glutamine, Omega 3s, turmeric, probiotics, vitamin C, slippery elm, digestive enzymes, DGL, quercetin, zinc, etc.)

How To Find Out About Your Gut Health?

  • IgG Food sensitivity testing

  • GI MAP Testing (GI Microbial Assay Plus) by Diagnostic Solutions

  • GI Effects by Genova Diagnostics

  • Zonulin Testing

  • Organic Acid Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency Tests

Every person is different and therefore their healing plan will be different, however focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet, adopting healthy ways to deal with stress, quality sleep and keeping active are always at the top of the list for overall wellness and true healing.

Contact us for information on testing and personalized plans.

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