Leaky gut syndrome is a hypothetical condition with symptoms being extremely common. Leaky gut can often cause a myriad of symptoms in the gut and across the body.
What is it?
The intestines have a barrier made up of cells which separates the lining of the gut and the bloodstream. Normally this layer of cells are tightly packed together, so we only absorb nutrients and not harmful substances.
Leaky gut syndrome is when the tight junctions between cells become loose, increasing absorption of harmful substances. This can result in toxins and bacteria leaking into the bloodstream, creating inflammation and symptoms across the body.
Symptoms can include:
- Excessive flatulence
- Brain fog
- Joint/muscle pain
- Skin conditions e.g. acne and eczema
Due to such a variety of symptoms, people often do not know they have leaky gut.
Consequences of leaky gut syndrome
Inflammation created by leaky gut can be associated with:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis)
- Coeliac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Autoimmune conditions (e.g. Type 1 diabetes, Grave’s disease etc)
Preventing leaky gut syndrome
The following can be associated with leaky gut:
- Antibiotic use
- Certain medications (PPI’s)
- Chronic stress
- Environmental toxin exposure
- Gluten consumption
- Dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut)
- Nutrient deficiencies
The following steps can help to decrease the risk of getting leaky gut:
1.Remove foods that can trigger inflammation. This can include going gluten-free, decreasing alcohol and caffeine consumption.
2. Replace essential nutrients needed to support digestive health. This can be achieved by increasing fibre and prebiotic foods (garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, banana) to support digestion, absorption and elimination.
3. Reinoculate the gut with beneficial bacteria. Consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut and/or taking a prebiotic supplement can help to reinoculate the gut.
4. Repair the gut by consuming vital nutrients needed for the intestinal barrier. Increasing fresh fruit and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can help to increase nutrients for the intestinal barrier.
5. Rebalance and decrease stress load. Chronic stress can decrease blood flow to the gut, linking to leaky gut. Use breathing techniques and relaxation methods to aid stress relief.
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