Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut Syndrome: What You Need to Know

Leaky Gut Syndrome
Written by Suesan Sullivan

“All Disease Begins in the Gut”

A gut which becomes inflamed will become very porous (much more than normal) and will allow large food proteins, bacteria, fungi, metal and toxic substances straight into our bloodstream. This is the basis of Leaky Gut.

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut” meaning that a healthy diet can promote a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract and help prevent many disease conditions.

Hippocrates lived more than 2400 years ago but it’s never too late to embrace his hypothesis!

Get to Know Your Gut

In today’s world, we seem to have “a need for speed.” Fast food and faster technology have led to an over-scheduled, over-stimulated and overweight population.

To make matters worse, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of sugar and inflammatory foods, and folks rarely make exercise and sleep a top priority.

Restoring and rebalancing your gut bacteria is more crucial to your health today than at any time in the history of mankind.

Your Gut is Your Internal Garden

Your gut is so much more than just your stomach digesting food. The author of Happy Gut, Vincent Pedre MD, states that your gut is your internal garden and requires tending, as a garden would.

Just as your skin forms a barrier to the world outside your body, your gut plays a similar role in your body.

Its surface area is a remarkable 200 times greater than that of your skin, making it the largest surface of interaction with the outside world.

Your Gut: The Gatekeeper

Your gut is in continuous contact with nutrients, as well as all types of toxins, microbes, food additives and drugs that may pass through your digestive tract daily.

As gatekeeper, your gut has a huge job of serving as a porous filter for the building blocks of life but also as a barrier against harmful substances you might be exposed to. Your intestinal gut ecosystem is Grand Central Station to maintaining overall health.

“Leaky gut, or ‘intestinal permeability,’ is when the intestinal lining becomes damaged, allowing larger molecules (undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria) to “leak” through the intestines and flood the bloodstream.

Foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body, including inflammatory and allergic reactions that can cause disease.

Leaky gut also damages cells in your intestines and prevents them from producing enzymes needed for proper digestion.

As a result, your body cannot absorb essential nutrients, which can lead to hormone imbalances and a weakened immune system.

Quite frankly, you can eat clean, exercise daily, keep stress under control, and get enough sleep, but if your gut is out of balance, you’re not going to feel or be on top of your game.

The Gut Factor: Symptoms of Leaky Gut

If you suffer from bloating, constipation, or borborygmus (funny word for tummy rumblings), you would be right to suspect leaky gut syndrome.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut can vary from person to person depending upon the tissues being affected and level of damage:

  • Multiple food sensitivities can indicate that your immune system is developing antibodies to everything you’re eating.
  • Nutritional deficiencies indicate a lack of vitamins and minerals from the improper breakdown of food in your intestines.
  • Chronic diarrhea and constipation are signs of inflammation of the intestinal walls from Leaky Gut.
  • Skin rashes are your body’s way of trying to dump the toxins through skin perforations.

Unfortunately, we tend to cover our symptoms with medications such as acid blockers, antibiotics, immune suppressors, anti-inflammatories, and laxatives.

These medications merely act to silence symptoms that indicate something is not quite right. Silencing your symptoms does not address the cause of your symptoms.

Do I Have Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Take a short leaky gut quiz to find out if you’re suffering from leaky gut syndrome or something else.

Leaky Gut and Candida

Leaky Gut and Candida

Approximately 80% of the population struggles with Candida Albicans, a common pathogenic yeast.

Candida, like all yeasts, is a single cell organism, and it thrives on the abundance of sugars found in the modern diet. It can be found growing and causing inflammation in our bloodstream and in our organs.

Candida robs your body of essential nutrients like iron and other minerals and helps keep your blood very acidic, causing many of the severe symptoms of Candida.

Candida overgrowth activates inflammation. Beneficial bacteria (or probiotics) inhibit it.

Your inner ecosystem is healthiest when it houses a wide range of beneficial bacteria and yeast.

These beneficial bacteria and yeast not only compete with Candida for resources, they also produce substances that curb Candida overgrowth.

Beneficial bacteria help to repair damaged tissue. This is especially good news when it comes to the leaky gut because Candida colonizes areas that are inflamed.

Is Leaky Gut Syndrome a Real Thing?

Finally, researchers are beginning to see the clear connection between the gut and one’s health.

They are beginning to recognize the importance of restoring and maintaining a healthy intestinal ecosystem.

Exciting new finds are moving medical research forward into the 21st century, particularly because so many diseases, seemingly unrelated to the gut, are often initiated by gut dysfunction and inflammation.

Many doctors and healthcare practitioners are more surprised than you are to learn about it. This isn’t something they learned about back in medical school.

And it’s basically not talked about at prominent clinics or leading universities. Nevertheless, doctors are becoming more aware of the condition.

Findings from numerous research teams—have produced what Dr. Alessio Fasano MD calls a “paradigm shift” in the scientific community’s understanding of the gut and how it functions.

Dr. Fasano is the director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

He has spent more than two decades studying the gut and its role in human health, particularly in the realm of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.

Leaky Gut Triggers

Leaky gut can trigger inflammation but it may also be caused by inflammation in the gut. And the one way your gut can become inflamed is through food sensitivities.

David Edelberg, MD, medical director of Whole Health Chicago. He notes that there are few good tests for leaky gut and as a result, one of the better ways to get nearer to a diagnosis is to eliminate foods that are most likely to cause problems.

He focuses on six and asks patients to try going without them for two-three weeks: dairy, egg, corn, gluten, citrus, and soy. Patients can then reintroduce the foods one at a time to identify their trigger.

Other triggers can include painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin and drinking too much alcohol.

He suggests tracking the times when you feel lousy to see if you can spot a pattern. That will go a long way toward helping you reach a diagnosis and find a way to eliminate your troubles.

“The first step is to eliminate the trigger,” says Dr. Edelberg.

Is Leaky Gut the Disease Your Doctor Can’t Diagnose?

No one is sure about the prevalence of leaky gut (intestinal permeability). But most agree that it can be very difficult to diagnose.

Many of the causes and cures are confusing and widely debated. Leaky Gut manifests itself as fatigue, anxiety, depression, digestive symptoms, weight problems, and other serious conditions.

Research has found leaky gut syndrome in association with chronic diseases, including:

  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Eczema/Psoriasis
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Impaired thyroid
  • Irritable Bowel
  • Mental illness
  • Cancer
  • Heart failure

Even with all the latest technology and a multitude of research papers profiling intestinal permeability, it’s still a hidden epidemic to modern medicine!

Several tests do exist to help identify direct and indirect signs of a leaky gut but according to Dr. Edelberg, no single test will give you an absolute answer.

Gut Health: Breaking It Down

Your digestive tract is not only responsible for breaking down and absorbing the foods you eat.

It also acts as a barrier against foreign substances, including undesirable bacteria. Most people are surprised to learn that 70 to 80% of their immune system lies in their GI tract but this shouldn’t be surprising.

After all, your digestive tract is one of the main entry points for harmful substances to get into your body.

That means we need safeguards for making sure these undesirable microorganisms can’t take up residence in your gut or be absorbed into your bloodstream. That’s where the immune system comes in.

GI Tract Immunity

GI Tract Immunity

Beneficial bacteria establish themselves over the intestinal lining and create a natural defense barrier against undesirable bacteria and yeast.

Good bacteria make it harder for the bad bacteria by dominating resources that bad bacteria need to survive.

Unfortunately, numbers of factors can upset the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut. Drugs can destroy unfriendly bacteria as well as beneficial bacteria.

This creates disharmony in your gut and makes it easier for resistant bacteria to inhabit this environment.

Eating a poor diet and physical and psychological stress are other factors that can cause gut bacteria to become unbalanced.

The population of bacteria in your gut is very much influenced by what you eat and drink and how you deal with stress.

“Friendly Bacteria”

It is no secret that your digestive tract performs vital functions that allow your body to work optimally.

After all, during a lifetime, one will consume 30-60 tons of food! Everything you eat must be broken down into nutrients that can be absorbed and used by your body.

The waste is removed via bowel movements.  What is most remarkable about digestion exists at the microscopic level – your gut microbes — mostly composed of bacteria within your digestive tract.

Truth is that by balancing your gut bacteria with the right foods, supplements, and lifestyle, you can turn your health around for the better.

Probiotic Supplements: Maintaining Bacterial Peace

Approximately 100 trillion bacteria live in your digestive tract which makes up 90 percent of the cells in your body.

When those microbes are out of balance, chronic health conditions can occur. By balancing the good and bad bacteria, you can maintain peace in your digestive tract.

We can control what we ingest but of course, it’s hard to completely control factors like stress that can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your gut.

That’s where probiotic supplements come in. They seed your gut with beneficial bacteria and help maintain a healthy digestive tract, important for immune support and overall health.

Unfortunately selecting the right probiotic bacteria can be difficult, especially today when the health store shelves are full of options.

Probiotics are live microorganisms so protective packaging and careful handling are imperative. Buy products that clearly list the potency (CFU).

Probiotics are the foundation of health for the 21st century; educate yourself and get to know the published standards to make certain you’re getting the right product for your money.

Harvard Health Publishing reveals their take on the topic, Should You Take Probiotics?

Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome

If you google foods to heal leaky gut, you will get pages of results. No shortage of sites to explore.

One such site, Kettle, and Fire promotes “better living through better eating” and provides information, tips, and recipes for a healthy gut.

You can find more details in the article The Best and Worst Foods for Healing Leaky Gut.

Best Foods for Healing Leaky Gut

  • Bone Broth
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Non-Dairy Fermented Foods: Unsweetened Coconut Milk Yogurt, Coconut Milk Kefir,
  • Sauerkraut, Kimchi
  • Coconut Oil
  • Wild Fatty Fish and/or Fish Oil
  • Grass-fed Meats

Worst Foods for Healing Leaky Gut

  • Gluten
  • Grains
  • Refined Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
  • Refined Vegetable Oils (Sunflower, Safflower, Canola, Soybean)

Digestive Nirvana

It’s important to have a well-functioning digestive system, but how do we achieve digestive nirvana?

Many foods in today’s SAD (Standard American Diet) have been shown to damage the intestinal lining and worsen gut health.

Many foods found in nature have been shown to repair intestinal damage and heal the gut.

True to the saying “the road to health is paved with good intestines,” eating foods that promote gut health will not only help heal leaky gut but allow you to regain your health and happiness.

The Road to Health is paved with Good Intestines!

leaky gut syndrome

About the author

Suesan Sullivan

Suesan works as a Registrar for BayCare Health Systems in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. She has a master’s degree in education and loves teaching fitness to seniors as a certified Silver Sneakers instructor and educating the community about essential oils as a distributor for Young Living. Suesan is a freelance writer and voice over specialist. She spends her leisure time kayaking, hiking, biking and cultivating friendships. Her favorite saying is “Don’t just be good. Make good things happen!”


  • No one would cheerfully choose to have a permeable intestine. Imagine food materials leaking into the blood stream, this can pose a great danger to the overall health of the body. From the possible solution you proffered in this piece, I can’t find anything as surgical operation or the likes. Does this mean that taking just the right gut healthy foods can alleviate this health condition?

  • Sounds like an overall change in diet and switching to healthier food options will alleviate this condition. I think after reviewing the symptoms this might be something my mother is suffering from and Im SO relieved that she can repair the damage done! Thanks Im going to forward right now to her

  • This is really educative and informative, we really need to get enlightened and be conscious of our health status. It’s surprising to me that there can be a correlation between permeable intestine and mental illness

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