Gut Health

Signs & Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Signs & Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Leaky gut syndrome is a major gut health issue that many people suffer from. Most people that have leaky gut are unaware of it, but if untreated, it can lead to even further health issues down the road. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of leaky gut, and to see your doctor if you notice that you have any of these leaky gut syndrome symptoms. In this article, we are going to explore the topic of leaky gut, signs of leaky gut, and how to heal leaky gut.

 

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

 

Leaky Gut

 

Leaky gut syndrome is a digestive condition that affects the lining of the intestines. In leaky gut syndrome, gaps in the intestinal walls allow bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream. This can lead to numerous other ailments as toxins in the bloodstream are distributed to other organs in the body.

 

Another name for leaky gut syndrome is “intestinal permeability.” It is when the lining of the intestinal wall develops openings that allow toxins and undigested food to pass through into the bloodstream, and it is considered to be a dangerous signal for autoimmune disease.

 

How Leaky Gut Syndrome Affects the Immune System

 

Leaky Gut and the Immune System

 

The toxic particles that enter the bloodstream have a detrimental effect on your immune system. Because these particles are not meant to be in the blood, the immune cells in your blood quickly identify them as foreign substances, and as a result, these immune cells alert your body that there is a pathogen in the body.

 

Your body’s immune system then responds by acting to neutralize what it perceives as a threat to your health. It does this in the same way it neutralizes other threats like bacteria and viruses—by ‘attacking’ the invader. This can lead to substantial inflammation and damage to the surrounding tissues. While this immune response is meant to protect you, it also causes systemic inflammation—another major underlying cause of disease.

 

The immune system functions by attacking pathogens and remembering all of the pathogens it has fought in order to release antibodies that protect from those pathogens in the future. However, if your immune system has neutralized and eliminated the “invading” particles of undigested food in your blood, it remembers exactly what they were, and it remembers them as the threat that your immune cells marked them as. This means that the next time you eat the food that was mistakenly seen as a pathogen, your body (specifically your immune system) is likely to have a reaction to it. This is one major underlying cause behind food allergies.

 

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

 

Leaky gut syndrome can be caused by a number of factors. Essentially, leaky gut manifests when there is damage to the gut lining.

 

The intestines are protected by a single layer of specialized epithelial cells that are linked together by certain proteins. These proteins are the gateway between your intestines and your bloodstream. They have the delicate job of maintaining the careful balance of allowing vital nutrients to enter the blood, while remaining small enough to prevent toxins from passing out of the digestive system and into the rest of the body.

 

When there is a malfunction in the linking of these proteins, it creates openings that allow substances to pass through the epithelial lining of the intestines. Leaky gut symptoms are a consequence of this.

 

When you have leaky gut, certain tiny particles that should never be able to enter your bloodstream start to make their way through. The result is a disruption of acute inflammation, and sometimes autoimmune reactions—as mentioned above. A normal part of your immune response that serves to fight infections and diseases winds up over-performing, which often leads to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases.

 

Now, the question remains: what is it that creates these openings in the intestinal lining?

 

Some of the underlying causes of leaky gut include:

 

  • Poor diet If your diet includes common allergens and inflammatory foods such as GMOs, refined oils, added sugars, synthetic food additives, conventional dairy products, pesticide grown produce, and un-sprouted grains, it can lead to leaky gut.
  • High toxic loadEvery single day we are exposed to numerous toxins, some much more than others depending on lifestyle and environment. The toxins most likely to lead to leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin, NSAIDS, and alcohol.
  • Chronic stressStress is actually a major cause of illness, and is especially harmful to the gut, where significant parts of the autonomic nervous system exist. Chronic stress can lead to a range of gut health issues, including leaky gut syndrome.
  • Genetic predisposition — A genetic predisposition can also make people more prone to leaky gut because they are sensitive to environmental factors that trigger their bodies into initiating autoimmune responses.
  • Bacterial imbalance — an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut, also called dysbiosis, can be a contributing factor to leaky gut syndrome. A large body of evidence now shows that gut microbiota is important in supporting the intestinal lining and preventing autoimmune reactions.
  • Candida overgrowth When Candida cells begin to grow hyphae – the long branches that grow out of the fungus they can invade the cells in your intestinal lining, creating inflammation and permeating the membrane that prevents harmful substances from leaking out. (Read our article “How to Heal Leaky Gut & Candida Overgrowth” to learn more about this)

 

There is not one specific cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome, as Leaky Gut Syndrome is more of an effect that happens as the result of another condition. It is the inflammation and weakening of the intestinal walls, and this can be caused by any number of things.

 

Symptoms and Signs of Leaky Gut Syndrome

 

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include:

 

  1. Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities are a common sign of leaky gut syndrome because of how the immune system functions in relationship to this condition. When toxins and undigested food particles make it through your intestinal barrier into your bloodstream, your immune system recognizes these invaders as foreign particles and produces antibodies to neutralize them. Your immune system remembers these toxins and undigested food particles and it considers them to be a threat. So, the next time you eat a food that your immune system mistakenly identified as a threat, it will initiate the same immune response to neutralize this “invader.” Thus, intestinal permeability commonly leads to various food allergies and sensitivities.

 

  1. Autoimmune Disease

Leaky gut syndrome is almost always associated with autoimmune disease. In fact, reversing symptoms of autoimmune disease often depends on healing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. An autoimmune disease is defined as one in which the immune system makes antibodies against its own tissues. Diseases in this category include lupus, alopecia areata, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, vitiligo, thyroiditis, vasculitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, urticaria (hives), type 1 diabetes and Raynaud’s syndrome. Understanding the leaky gut phenomenon helps us see why allergies and autoimmune diseases develop, and how to design therapies to restore intestinal integrity and reverse leaky gut.

 

  1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

 

The inflammation of the intestinal wall caused by leaky gut can become chronic and can lead to inflammatory bowel diseases. Researchers from Hungary uncovered in 2012 that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localized to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Scientists have suggested that Chron’s disease may be more of a risk for people with leaky gut as far back as 1988.

 

  1. Inflammatory Skin Conditions

 

Inflammatory skin conditions may also be associated with leaky gut syndrome. While often people try to treat these skin conditions with topical creams, there is significant evidence that these skin disorders originate in an unhealthy gut. The gut-skin connection shows how intestinal hyperpermeability can cause a wide range of skin conditions, particularly acne and psoriasis. Thankfully, leaky gut syndrome is reversible, and healing leaky gut could possibly alleviate problematic immune responses such as inflammatory skin conditions.

 

  1. Thyroid Problems

 

Leaky gut syndrome may also directly affect Hashimoto’s disease, also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” an auto-immune disorder that is associated with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain and a variety of other health concerns.

 

  1. Nutrient Malabsorption

 

Nutritional deficiencies can also result from leaky gut. Leaky gut syndrome not only allows for undigested food particles to penetrate the intestinal wall, it also causes inflammation in the gut and may impair digestion, making it more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food.

 

  1. Mood Issues

 

According to some studies on leaky gut, this condition has also been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders, including mood disorders like depression. The gut–brain axis is the biochemical signaling that takes place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. The majority of serotonin, the hormone associated with feelings of happiness and well-being, is also produced in the gut. Gut disorders can have a negative influence on the nervous system, and may consequently result in mood disorders.

 

Conditions Associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome

 

Leaky gut syndrome, or intestinal permeability, is linked to numerous symptoms and health conditions. Some of the most common conditions associated with leaky gut include:

 

  • Gastric ulcers
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Celiac disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Acute inflammation conditions (sepsis, SIRS, multiple organ failure)
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis)
  • Autoimmune disease (lupus, multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes, Hashimoto’s, and more)
  • Infectious diarrhea
  • Allergies
  • Respiratory infections
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Tendency towards weight gain or obesity
  • Obesity-related metabolic diseases (fatty liver, Type II diabetes, heart disease)
  • Parkinson’s disease

 

All of these conditions are linked to leaky gut syndrome, however, there is no established data that leaky gut causes any of these conditions, just that people who have leaky gut are more likely to have a number of other health problems, including the ones mentioned above. So, scientific evidence has not yet proven that leaky gut syndrome is responsible for these conditions, but it strongly suggests that leaky gut and other dysfunctions tend to occur simultaneously.

 

How to Get Rid of Leaky Gut

 

Leaky gut is a serious condition, and it can be reversed, but it requires one to ardently follow certain steps. These basic steps are referred to as the “4 R’s” of remove, replace, repair, rebalance:

 

  • Remove foods and factors that damage the gut—these include pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy (fermented dairy like yogurt is okay), added sugars, food additives and chemicals, produce grown with pesticides, GMOs.
  • Replace these foods with a whole-foods diet with a focus on anti-inflammatory foods like blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, leafy greens, avocados, peppers, etc.
  • Repair the gut with specific leaky gut supplements like collagen precursors (link product), amino acids (link product), butyric acid, digestive enzymes (link product).
  • Rebalance your gut microbiome with probiotics (link product). This step is essential because bacteria in your gut are a major component of the intestinal barrier. They help promote resistance to the colonization of harmful bacteria species competing for nutrients. They also regulate the digestion and absorption of nutrients and help supply epithelial cells with energy.

 

Summary

 

Leaky gut syndrome is a digestive condition that affects the lining of the intestines. In leaky gut syndrome, gaps in the intestinal walls allow bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream. This can lead to numerous other ailments as toxins in the bloodstream are distributed to other organs in the body.

 

Leaky gut syndrome can be caused by a number of factors—such as poor diet, toxic overload, chronic stress, gut dysbiosis, candida overgrowth, and even a genetic predisposition. Essentially, leaky gut manifests when there is damage to the gut lining—and there are numerous things that can cause this.

 

The intestines are protected by a single layer of specialized epithelial cells that are linked together by certain proteins. These proteins are the gateway between your intestines and your bloodstream. They have the delicate job of maintaining the careful balance of allowing vital nutrients to enter the blood, while remaining small enough to prevent toxins from passing out of the digestive system and into the rest of the body.

 

When there is a malfunction in the linking of these proteins, it creates openings that allow substances to pass through the epithelial lining of the intestines. Leaky gut symptoms are a consequence of this.

 

Leaky gut syndrome can lead to further symptoms such as food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, inflammatory skin conditions, nutrient malabsorption, thyroid problems, and even mood issues. Many other diseases have been associated with leaky gut syndrome as well.

 

Thankfully, leaky gut syndrome can be reversed, and with it, the symptoms and issues that stem from it. To heal leaky gut, a typical process that is recommended is to remove pro-inflammatory foods, replace them with anti-inflammatory foods, repair the gut lining with key nutrients, and to rebalance the gut microbiome with probiotics and healthy eating habits. As with any protocol, however, it is recommended to consult with your doctor before starting on your journey of reversing leaky gut syndrome.

 

 

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440529/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24898698/

https://www.nature.com/articles/ncpgasthep0259

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23709068

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531712001595

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23851019/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25543046/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1434087/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11383597/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384703/

 

 

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