9 Signs You Have A Leaky Gut

September 12th, 2013


9 Signs You Have A Leaky Gut

The gut is the gateway to health. If your gut is healthy, chances are that you are in good health. However, there’s a condition called leaky gut that can lead to a host of health problems.

What is a leaky gut?

The gut is naturally permeable to very small molecules in order to absorb these vital nutrients. In fact, regulating intestinal permeability is one of the basic functions of the cells that line the intestinal wall. In sensitive people, gluten can cause the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining. Other factors — such as infections, toxins, stress, and age — can also cause these tight junctions to break apart. Once these tight junctions get broken apart, 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.

What causes leaky gut?

The main culprits are foods, infections, and toxins. Gluten is the number one cause of leaky gut. Other inflammatory foods like dairy or toxic foods, such sugar and excessive alcohol, are suspected as well. The most common infectious causes are candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Toxins come in the form of medications, including NSAIDS like Motrin and Advil, steroids, antibiotics, and acid-reducing drugs. They can also present in the form of  environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides and BPA from plastics. Stress and age also contribute to a leaky gut. If you suffer from any of the following conditions, it’s likely that you have a leaky gut.

9 Signs You Have a Leaky Gut

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

2. Seasonal allergies or asthma

3. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS

4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease

5. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia

6. Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD, or ADHD

7. Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema

8. Diagnosis of candida overgrowth

9. Food allergies or food intolerances

How do you heal a leaky gut?

In my practice, I have all of my patients follow The Myers Way comprehensive elimination diet, which removes the toxic and inflammatory foods for a certain period of time. In addition, I have them follow a 4R program to heal their gut. The 4R program is as follows.

1. Remove.

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.

2. Replace.

Replace the good. Add back the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption, such as digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acids.

3. Reinoculate.

It’s critical to restore beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria.

4. Repair.

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 you still have symptoms after following the above recommendations, I would recommend finding a Functional Medicine physician in your area to work with you and to order a comprehensive stool test.

Learn more about my approach to healing the gut in The Autoimmune Solution!


Want to learn more?


Take our Guide to the Gut and Comprehensive Elimination Diet eCourses! These courses outline Dr. Myers’ method in diagnosing and treating gut infections in order to achieve optimal gut health. If headaches, seasonal allergies, and gastrointestinal issues (like IBS) have you looking for a solution, the basic protocol outlined in these eCourses will help to resolve those issues. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, or candida overgrowth, these eCourses have a specialized protocol designed for you.

Our objective is to empower you to discover your personal food sensitivities and find the most effective ways to implement a dietary change into your unique lifestyle. You will discover the root cause of your symptoms and be able to self-treat at home with food and supplements. During the course, you will have access to a number of worksheets, shopping guides, and checklists that you can complete in the comfort of your home.

The Myers Way Guide to the Gut eCourse includes:

  • 4 hours of information
  • Guide to digestion
  • Signs that you have a leaky gut
  • Risk factors for leaky gut
  • Personalized gut exam
  • Symptom tracker
  • 4R Program guidelines
  • Gut-soothing recipes

You will learn about:

  • Digestion and absorption
  • The development and recommended treatment of leaky gut
  • Testing and treatment of various gut infections
  • Gut-healing supplements and foods

The Myers Way Comprehensive Elimination Diet eCourse includes:

  • 25 worksheets
  • 8 modules of information
  • Symptom tracker to track your progress
  • Specific diet protocols based on medical needs
  • Unique shopping guides for each diet protocol
  • Tips for following The Myers Way elimination diet on-the-go
  • Personalized food sensitivity information card
  • Easy-to-follow meal plans
  • Interactive food diary

You will learn how to:

  • Formulate a tailored eating plan for life to optimize your nutrition and your health
  • Identify foods that are inflammatory triggers
  • Achieve weight loss, better sleep, mental clarity, beautiful skin, high energy and youthfulness
  • Improve common symptoms associated with chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases, IBS, blood sugar imbalances, migraines, chronic pain disorders, skin disorders and more


Did you like this article?

Have the latest articles delivered to your inbox every week and get a free juice and smoothie recipe eBook for your free subscription.

  • Terri Farruggia

    Can kids have a leaky gut? I am 44. I have multiple food sensitivities with gluten at the top of the list. I have candida overgrowth, drank alcohol to excess in my 20’s and used to take NSAIDS like candy. A functional medicine practitioner told me I had/have a leaky gut. Now I have been gluten/egg free for 4 years and followed many of the other recommendations above. My seasonal allergies & PMS symptoms have significantly improved as well as a few other things. My quality of life is %100 better. HOWEVER, my 5 year old has had seasonal allergies since he was 2 and my 8 year old is starting to get them now as well. I couple of years ago I had my (then 3 year old) son tested (blood test) for food sensitivities and he came up sensitive to gluten & eggs as well as several other random foods. He has been gluten/egg free for a year and a half now but since his only real symptom is seasonal allergies its hard to tell if there is any improvement. There appears to be a connection between my symptoms and his but if that is true I just don’t get how it works. He is so young. How could his gut lining be messed up already? I didn’t get allergies until I was 30. No one else in my family has allergies. Why did he get them at 2 years old?

    • absolutely. it starts with c-section, not breast feeding, antibiotics, poor diet or any one of them.

      We’d be happy to see your son or I’d recommend a wellness coaching session with one of my RD to discuss this further.

    • Absolutely children can get a leaky gut easily — C section, not breast fed, antibiotics, food sensitivities, GMO foods etc. My RDs or I can work with you through a consultation or I created the eCourses so that people can heal themselves on their own.

  • Pingback: 10 Foods to Fight Candida » Amy Myers, MD Functional Medicine()

  • Pingback: 10 Signs You Have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) » Amy Myers, MD Functional Medicine()

  • Tomas kennedy

    Yes It was really troubling me specially when I am in class and when my intestines make noise, that is simply unbearable. But that is until I applied the natural way in this site: http://dess.me/Lkygt

  • veteran222

    how much L-Glutamine initially? and then recurring? Thanks!

    • I think if you click on the links it tells you — I have several articles about how to heal the gut and amounts of what to take. I say 3-5 gm when healing

  • Erin Cahoon

    About Replacing with bile acids. How do you do this? And is it appropriate for someone with Crohn’s Disease who doesn’t reabsorb bile acids well?

  • Aj Oliva

    Great post Amy. BUTTTT one thing, can’t forget about gut infections/parasites/SIBO/lyme/mold – You can drink all the bone broth and eat all the fermented foods you’d like but if you don’t address these first you won’t get well 🙂

    • So true and I have MANY articles about all of these things and my eCourse shows you how to address each of these.

  • Pingback: Keep Getting Glutened? Don't Always Blame Gluten()

  • Mariah Quattlebaum

    I have been gluten and dairy free for a year now and in the first 6 months I was doing great and I had my energy back, but in the last 6 months I keep getting sick from foods that are even naturally gluten free, For example when I have salads, or an apple, or certain peanut butters. Since I continued to get sick, I’ve cut out soy, corn, quinoa, and rice from diet as well, but it seems nothing is helping no matter what I cut out. Could this be a sign of leaky gut?

  • sandra

    I have been diagnosed with hashimotos, ebstein barr virus and fibro myalgia after having a hysterectomy 5 years ago and this year partial thyroid removal..i have chronic constipation and pain and am trying many medications to solve it…doctors don’t seem to know how to treat the chronic fatigue and neck back pain as well..These symptoms have been getting worse at a fast pace..affecting every area of my life…your articles make sense and give me hope..

  • chanel

    I have suffered from acne since I was 12 I am now 25 and have to children. A 2 1/2 year old and a 7 month old. Both of them get eczema. I breast feed both and I am still breastfeeding my 7 month old. I just came across leaky gut last night while looking up how to treat acne. I don’t know who to talk to or what to do about my acne. If I do an elemenation diet can I ever eat dairy products or grains? Can I do a diet while breastfeeding? How to tell if my kids have a leaky gut?

  • Nikesh

    Hello i am from India I am 26 I have psoriasis since 9 years i have all most all symptoms of leaking gut.I want to know can I cure this problem now. I live in Poland now so what should i do to cure it and how much time it will take ?

  • Pingback: Amy Myers MD()

  • MarkStolzoff

    you copy and pasted directly from wikipedia here, you should consider at least trying to make it look like your words

  • Pingback: 9 Signs You Have A Leaky Gut | Life in These Hawaiian Islands()

Featured Categories Header

Category Buttons

All Categories Header


Recipes Header

Recipe Image