Although it may sound made-up, “leaky gut” is in fact a real condition.
Do you find yourself with unexplained fatigue, bloating, brain fog, or nagging aches and pains? Perhaps you’re experiencing symptoms of a leaky gut.
This article will explain what leaky gut is, it’s causes, and ways to treat and prevent it.
Scientists have been studying the causes and impacts of increased intestinal permeability – which is essentially just a more scientific way to say leaky gut (1).
So yes, “leaky gut” is actually a real thing.
Although modern medical providers may not officially recognize “leaky gut” as being a legitimate medical diagnosis, it’s definitely gaining momentum as research continues and more people are talking about it.
So, what exactly happens when we have a leaky gut?
First, it’s important to have an understanding of how the intestines work.
Nutrients from the food we eat are absorbed through the intestines and into the bloodstream. The intestinal walls serve as a very important barrier to control what enters the bloodstream.
There are tightly packed cells that line the intestines called tight junctions. When these tight junctions are loose it creates a potential opportunity for harmful substances – like toxins and bacteria – to get through.
It’s understood that a leaky intestinal wall most often stems from an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria, or a condition otherwise known as dysbiosis (2).
The toxins and bacteria that are now in circulation cause inflammation and a triggered immune response, leading to a wide range of possible symptoms.
Not everyone with a leaky gut will have the same symptoms. Similarly, not everyone presenting with symptoms has a leaky gut.
The symptoms of a leaky gut present differently in different people, which can make it challenging to know if a leaky gut is something you’re dealing with.
There are certain tests that some holistic providers can provide to determine if leaky gut is something you’re dealing with, but unfortunately, these tests aren’t too reliable.
Some common symptoms of leaky gut include digestive irregularities like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or indigestion. Others may experience brain fog, fatigue, headaches, and inflamed joints.
If left untreated, it’s even believed that leaky gut can lead to autoimmune conditions and other chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, food sensitivities, and even mental health challenges like depression and anxiety.
Luckily, there are many ways to heal a leaky gut or prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Given that the root cause of leaky gut is an imbalance of healthy gut bacteria, many of the lifestyle interventions target ways to build and support a healthy balance of gut microbes.
There are various ways to nourish your body and your gut by utilizing supplements, foods, and lifestyle interventions. Here are some of the best practices to prevent leaky gut:
Consider using these gut-healthy supplements to strengthen the intestine walls:
- Naked Gut: Naked Gut contains the perfect blend of gut-healing ingredients. It contains probiotics, natural fibers from inulin and pectin, as well as glutamine which is an especially important amino acid to reduce inflammation and strengthen the gut barrier (3).
- Probiotics: In addition to consuming probiotic-rich foods, taking a daily probiotic supplement provides a more potent dose of healthy bacteria to help support a flourishing and varied environment of gut microbes.
- Omega-3s: Omega-3s are especially great at reducing inflammation. When there is less inflammation, the intestinal walls are stronger and more intact.
Aim to include some of these foods in your diet:
- Probiotic-rich foods: Regularly consume probiotic-rich foods to promote a good balance of healthy gut bacteria. Yogurt, kimchi, miso, kombucha, and tempeh, are all great sources of probiotics.
- Fiber-rich foods: Aim to include a variety of fiber-rich foods from vegetables, fruits, whole grains like oats and quinoa, and nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds or chia seeds. A fiber supplement like Naked Fiber could also work well.
- Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables: Antioxidants are particularly great at preventing cell damage. To help strengthen the cells of the intestines and prevent leaky gut, include antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, dark leafy greens, beets, carrots, garlic, and onions, for example.
Diet and lifestyle tips:
- Ensure adequate sleep: Poor sleep can negatively impact gut health. Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night to support the health of your intestinal lining.
- Aim to reduce stress: The gut and the brain are closely connected. High levels of stress have been shown to contribute to leaky gut. Aim to reduce stress by incorporating meditation, yoga, or journaling, for example.
- Include regular exercise: Not only is regular exercise healthy for everyone, but research suggests that exercise can positively impact gut bacteria, which in turn promotes a healthy intestinal lining and helps prevent leaky gut (4).
Leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, is a real thing.
It happens when there is an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria, leading to weakened intestinal walls that allow for potentially harmful substances to get through.
Unfortunately, when this happens, we are left with symptoms such as digestive irregularities, bloating, headaches, fatigue, and even autoimmune conditions.
Luckily, leaky gut can be managed and prevented by ensuring a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits.
Taking supplements, ensuring a nutrient-rich diet, engaging in regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress levels are all important things to consider to nourish the gut and prevent “leaky gut” from happening.