Seasonal allergies. Brain fog. Skin problems. Hormone imbalances. Digestive issues. Mood swings. Did you know that these are all signs and symptoms of leaky gut?

The gut truly is the gateway to health. It’s where nearly 80% of your immune system lives. Your gut is also where up to 95% of your serotonin (the primary neurotransmitter responsible for your mood) is produced.1 If your gut is healthy, chances are that you are in good health.

However, there’s a condition called ‘leaky gut syndrome’ that can lead to a whole host of health problems and set you on the path to chronic illness. Symptoms go far beyond digestive issues. And thanks to our modern environment, these symptoms are much more common than you’d think. In fact, millions of people are struggling with leaky gut syndrome without even knowing it!

What is Leaky Gut?

Before I dive in, feel free to view my video below:

Increased Intestinal Permeability

Think of your gut as a drawbridge. Your gut is naturally semi-permeable to let teeny-tiny boats (micronutrients) pass through your intestinal wall 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 symptoms of leaky gut occur as a result of your body’s immune response to these invaders. I’ll discuss what these symptoms are, what causes leaky gut syndrome, and how to prevent and reverse symptoms with the help of Leaky Gut Revive®. To read more in-depth about what leaky gut is, see my recent article on the topic.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut and How to Heal – Amy Myers MD® Symptoms of Leaky Gut and How to Heal - Amy Myers MD® https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/signs-leaky-gut/ Symptoms of Leaky Gut – Infographic – Amy Myers MD®

9 Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome has been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, and rosacea, just to name a few.

A properly functioning digestive system is critical to good health. Problems in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea; they can be the root cause of many chronic health problems. If your intestinal wall has been compromised, you’ll likely experience these signs and symptoms:

  1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  2. Food allergies or food intolerances
  3. Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, ADD, or ADHD
  4. Mood imbalances such as depression and anxiety
  5. Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
  6. Seasonal allergies or asthma
  7. Hormonal imbalances such as irregular periods, PMS, or PCOS
  8. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease
  9. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia

4 causes of Leaky Gut – Infographic – Amy Myers MD® 4 causes of Leaky Gut - Infographic - Amy Myers MD® https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/signs-leaky-gut/ 4 causes of Leaky Gut – Infographic – Amy Myers MD®

What Causes Leaky Gut?

A poor diet is one of the leading factors of leaky gut syndrome. In fact, gluten is the number one cause. Gluten causes the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart the tight junctions in your intestinal lining.2 Other inflammatory foods (such as dairy) or toxic foods (such as sugar and alcohol) are causes as well.

Infections, toxins, and stress are the other three important factors that can cause leaky gut symptoms. The most common infectious causes are Candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Toxins come in the form of medications including NSAIDS (Motrin and Advil), steroids, antibiotics, and acid-reducing drugs.3 Environmental toxins including mercury, pesticides, and BPA from plastics are also causal agents. Finally, stress can also be a cause.

The Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Connection

When your gut remains leaky, 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. This can lead your own tissues to get caught in the crosshairs and cause a flood of symptoms. Eventually, this will develop into full-blown autoimmunity if your leaky gut syndrome is not addressed.

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.4 Under constant pressure, your immune system can get confused and accidentally attack your tissues. This process of mistaken identity is called molecular mimicry. It’s another way that leaky gut syndrome 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.5

And, once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your symptoms untreated can cause your condition to progress. This places you at greater risk of developing another autoimmune disease.

Find out if you have a leaky gut with this free quiz!

How Do You Treat Leaky Gut?

If you’re wondering how to heal and prevent symptoms, I suggest everyone begin by following the 4R approach:

Remove

Remove all inflammatory foods that can contribute to leaky gut such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs. You’ll also need to ditch toxic foods including sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Finally, eliminate any gut infections you have, whether caused by Candida overgrowth, SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or parasites.

Replace

Replace the bad with the good. Adding gut healing supplements such as 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 re-establish a healthy microbiome. I recommend 100 billion CFUs (colony forming units) while dealing with symptoms. Transition to 30 billion CFUs as a maintenance dose.

Repair

Provide your gut with the essential nutrients it needs to repair itself. My most comprehensive supplement for this is Leaky Gut Revive®. This supplement contains powerful, gut-repairing ingredients such as L-glutamine, aloe, licorice, arabinogalactan, slippery elm, and marshmallow root. With these ingredients, Leaky Gut Revive® nourishes and soothes your gut cells, restores your gut’s natural mucosal lining, and maximizes gut-mending fatty acid production. Another one of my favorite gut-healing 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.

How Do You Know When Your Leaky Gut Is Repaired? 

Following this protocol takes commitment, so of course, you want to know if all your hard work is making a difference. While there are lab tests available, I typically didn’t use them in my clinic to diagnose leaky gut. 

Once you’ve followed my protocol to repair your gut, your leaky gut symptoms (or a lack of them!) are the strongest indication of whether or not your gut is healthy. Here are a few good indicators you are on the right track: 

  • Digestive issues disappear: Gas, bloating, heartburn or acid reflux, and constipation are some of the first signs of leaky gut. This is especially true if a gut infection played a role in your leaky gut. When those symptoms start to dissipate and then go away completely, this is a good sign your hard work is producing results.
  • Food sensitivities go away: If you have increased intestinal permeability, you likely also have multiple food sensitivities because partially digested food particles are escaping via your bloodstream and your immune system is attacking them. Another sign your gut is repairing is that you’ll be able to eat foods that once caused digestive problems. 
  • Skin issues clear up: Skin issues are another common symptom I see as a result of leaky gut. Whether it’s eczema, rosacea, dandruff, rashes, or even acne, most skin issues are an outward manifestation of an internal problem in the gut. That’s why, once your gut begins to repair, you will likely see your skin issues begin to subside as well.
  • Autoimmune labs improve: Because gut health plays such a critical role in your immune system, repairing your gut also often leads to improvement in your autoimmune lab markers. Many patients see their lab results improve, and some even see their antibodies go negative.
  • You are your optimal self: If you are dealing with a leaky gut, you are very likely living with symptoms that affect the quality of your life in some way. A good indication that the gut repair program is working is when your energy and vitality have returned, you’ve regained mental clarity, your mood has improved, you’ve returned to your ideal weight, and you feel like your best self.

Repairing your gut is the first step in restoring your health. Be sure to review my article on common mistakes people make in their leaky gut treatment. By overcoming this condition you can reverse your symptoms, reduce your risk for a number of chronic illnesses, and start living your best life!

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Leaky Gut Signs & Symptoms FAQs

https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/signs-leaky-gut/

What is leaky gut?

Leaky gut syndrome is when the tight junctions that hold your intestinal wall together become loose. While it’s naturally semi-permeable, certain factors can punch large holes in your intestinal wall, allowing toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles to escape into your bloodstream.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/signs-leaky-gut/

What are the most common leaky gut symptoms?

Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or IBS, food allergies or intolerances, brain fog or mood imbalances, and autoimmunity are all symptoms.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/signs-leaky-gut/

What are the main causes of leaky gut syndrome?

The high prevalence of gut problems is a direct result of our modern lifestyle. The toxic and inflammatory foods we eat, medications, infections, and chemicals our bodies are exposed to and the chronic stress many of us are under every day are the cause of symptoms.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/signs-leaky-gut/

What foods should you avoid if you have leaky gut syndrome?

Gluten is the number one culprit. Other inflammatory foods such as dairy, grains, pseudo-grains, nightshades, and eggs along with toxic foods such as sugar, alcohol, and GMOs are key contributors to symptoms.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/signs-leaky-gut/

How do I know if my leaky gut is repaired?

Once you’ve followed a protocol to repair your gut, your symptoms (or lack of them!) are the strongest indication of whether or not your gut is healthy. You might notice your digestive issues disappear, food sensitivities go away, skin issues clear up, or autoimmune labs improve.


Article Sources

  1. That Gut Feeling. . American Psychological Association. .
  2. Zonulin, Regulation of Tight Junctionsm and Autoimmune Disease. . NCBI. .
  3. Toxins in Drug Discovery and Pharmacology. . NCBI. .
  4. Molecular Mimicry As A Mechanism for Food Immune Reactivities and Autoimmunity. . NCBI. .
  5. Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases. . NCBI. .