man in white shirt suffering from a stomach pain
Diet, Education on Diabetes

Leaky Gut Syndrome 101

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?

bacteria - leaky gut syndrome

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:

  • Diarrhoea/constipation
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • 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
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune conditions (e.g. Type 1 diabetes, Grave’s disease etc)

Preventing leaky gut syndrome

antibiotics - leaky gut syndrome

The following can be associated with leaky gut:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Certain medications (PPI’s)
  • Chronic stress
  • Alcohol
  • 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.

fermented foods - preventing leaky gut syndrome

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.

Thank you for reading Leaky Gut Syndrome 101! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Oxidative Stress 101 and Metabolic syndrome 101!


How to remove gluten from your diet

Last week I talked about what circumstances someone might want to stop eating gluten in Gluten – what is the big deal?

So I thought it would be helpful to provide guidance on what you need to think about if you have decided to see if gluten is causing symptoms you are experiencing.

The process:

Remove all sources of gluten for up to 6 weeks, and then reintroduce different sources of gluten week by week to see if any symptoms reappear. For example, the 7th week you eat only gluten bread and record your symptoms. Week 8, you stop eating bread and start eating gluten pasta. Repeat until necessary.

Sometimes certain foods can cause symptoms while others do not, so it is important to see what foods specifically cause you discomfort.

Learn what contains gluten

remove gluten

Grains that contain gluten include:

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Malt
  • Wheat starch

Foods that contain gluten:

  • Beer and ale
  • Bread
  • Bulgar wheat
  • Cakes
  • Cereal
  • Cookies/biscuits
  • Crackers
  • Flour
  • Gravy
  • Pastry
  • Soy sauce
  • Most packaged snack bars, crisps etc

Make sure you check ingredients lists for sources of gluten. I would recommend checking all sauces, spreads and packaged foods as gluten containing ingredients are often in these products.

Focus on what you can have

gluten free foods - remove gluten

Rather than dwelling on what you can’t have, focus on what you can have. Remember this is temporary to see if symptoms improve. And if your symptoms do improve, you are gaining so much more than you think you are ‘losing’.

Here are grains that are gluten free:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Corn
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes

Gluten free flour – here is a little tip of mine, if you are living with diabetes and want to stick to brown flours that digest slower, opt for brown rice flour, amaranth flour, or simply put some oats in a blender to make your own. The gluten free four alternatives from free-from isles will be white flour and could contribute towards sugar spikes. So sticking to brown rice, oats and amaranth may help to keep your sugar levels more stable!

Get organised

Write a shopping list: Write a shopping list or save online shops to make sure there are always meal and snack options. There is nothing worse than being hungry and having nothing available. This also makes it more likely you will give up and consume something that contains gluten!

get organised - removing gluten

Find the free-from isle: In every supermarket there will be an isle that has all of the free-from products. There will be an alternative for pretty much anything here, so make sure you know where it is to make your life easier!

Keep track: I’m going to be completely honest, some gluten free products are horrible! But with that in mind, it is really important to keep a list of the free-from products that are delicious (they do exist I promise!).

Find some awesome recipes: Or swap ingredients from your old recipes! For example, I always use brown rice flour for cakes, pastry and sauces, and red lentil pasta.

I also recommend purchasing the cook book ‘How to make anything gluten free’ by Becky Excell. This will help with both gluten free cooking and baking 🙂

Thank you for reading how to remove gluten from your diet! I hope you found this useful and if you decide to give gluten free a go, good luck! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out My Type 1 diabetes diagnosis story! and Apple and Blackberry Crumble