9 Signs You Have a Leaky Gut
March 19th, 2018
Did you know that if you’re dealing with symptoms ranging from seasonal allergies to brain fog to skin issues to hormone imbalances that the true source could be your gut? That’s because the gut truly is the gateway to health. It’s where nearly 80% of your immune system lives and where up to 95% of your serotonin (the primary neurotransmitter responsible for your mood) is produced. 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 whole host of health problems and set you on the path to chronic illness. The symptoms caused by leaky gut go far beyond digestive issues. And thanks to our modern environment, leaky gut is much more common than you’d think. In fact, millions of people are struggling with leaky gut without even knowing it!
You can also view my video on the topic below:
What is Leaky Gut?
Think of your gut as a drawbridge. Your gut is naturally semi-permeable to let teeny-tiny boats (micronutrients) pass through your intestinal tract and into your bloodstream. It’s how you absorb your food. Certain external factors, including food, infections, toxins, and stress, can break apart the tight junctions in your intestinal wall, leaving the drawbridge open. Once this happens, you have a leaky gut. When your gut is leaky, much larger boats that were never meant to get through (toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles) can escape into 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.
9 Signs You Have a Leaky Gut
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Food allergies or food intolerances
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, ADD or ADHD
- Mood imbalances such as depression and anxiety
- Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
- Seasonal allergies or asthma
- Hormonal imbalances such as irregular periods, PMS, or PCOS
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
What Causes Leaky Gut?
The main culprits are foods, infections, toxins, and stress. Gluten is the number one cause of leaky gut. Gluten causes the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart the tight junctions in your intestinal lining. Other inflammatory foods (such as dairy) or toxic foods (such as 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 (Motrin and Advil), steroids, antibiotics, and acid-reducing drugs, as well as environmental toxins including mercury, pesticides, and BPA from plastics. Stress can also contribute to a leaky gut.
The Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Connection
When your gut is leaky and more and more particles are able to escape into your bloodstream, your immune system reacts by sending out wave after wave of inflammation to attack the foreign invaders. This state of high alert causes your immune system to become overstressed and fire less accurately, sometimes leading your own tissues to get caught in the crosshairs. Eventually, this will develop into full-blown autoimmunity if your gut is not repaired.
In addition, your immune system starts making antibodies against the substances that have escaped into your bloodstream. Many of these foreign invaders–gluten and dairy in particular–look very similar to your own body’s cells, causing your immune system to get confused and accidentally attack your tissues. This process of mistaken identity is called molecular mimicry, and is another way that leaky gut can trigger autoimmune disease.
We know from the research of Dr. Alessio Fasano that leaky gut is a necessary precondition for developing an autoimmune disease.1 And, once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your leaky gut untreated can cause your condition to progress and places you at higher risk of developing another autoimmune disease.
How Do You Repair a Leaky Gut?
In my clinic, and in all of my books and online programs, the very first place I have anyone start is by repairing their gut using the 4R approach, which is as follows:
- Remove. Remove all inflammatory foods that can damage your gut such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs, as well as toxic foods, including sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. You’ll also want to eliminate any gut infections you have, whether caused by Candida overgrowth, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), or parasites.
- Replace. Replace the good. Adding digestive enzymes to your regimen will help support optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as assist your body’s intestinal repair and inflammation responses.
- Reinoculate. Restore the beneficial bacteria in your gut with high-quality, high-potency probiotics to reestablish a healthy microbiome. I recommend 100 billion CFUs (colony forming units) while dealing with a leaky gut, and 30 billion CFUs as a maintenance dose.
- Repair. Provide your gut with the essential nutrients it needs to repair itself. L-glutamine is extremely beneficial for rejuvenating the gut wall lining. One of my other favorite supplements is collagen which is rich in amino acids that quite literally, “seal the leaks” or perforations in your gut by repairing damaged cells and building new tissue.
Repairing your gut is the first step in restoring your health. By overcoming leaky gut, you can reverse your symptoms, reduce your risk for a number of chronic illnesses, and start living your best life!