• LaurenWallace

Leaky Gut Syndrome: 7 Signs You May Have It

Updated: 3 days ago



By Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN

May 8, 2018

Original article and page source found here.


If you’ve been around the natural health world very long, you’ve probably heard of a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. It sounds pretty gross, but it’s an important enough problem to consider. There are several leaky gut symptoms to be aware of, which is particularly important since leaky gut is associated with dozens of related conditions and diseases.

As more Americans are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance, it appears that the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions. The medical profession is just now agreeing this condition may even exist, which is especially shocking to me because “intestinal permeability” (another name for leaky gut) has been discussed in the medical literature for over 100 years!

Why should leaky gut syndrome concern you? Recently leaky gut has been called a “danger signal for autoimmune disease.” (1) If you’re wondering if you may be experiencing leaky gut, the first thing to do is access your symptoms. Keep in mind that it’s very common for people on a Standard American Diet to struggle with poor gut function and high levels of inflammation — but just because digestive issues and autoimmune conditions are common doesn’t make them “normal”!

In this article, I’ve outlined a brief description of common leaky gut syndrome seen in people struggling with this condition. Can you heal leaky gut syndrome? As you’ll learn about below, there are four steps I recommend taking in order to repair leaky gut, which includes removing trigger foods from your diet, taking beneficial supplements and rebalancing your microflora with probiotics.

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, said, “All disease begins in the gut.” More than two millennia after his death, scientific research has now proven he was onto something all those years ago. For over three decades, study after study has been published (several thousand articles exist to date) discussing our growing understanding of immunity, gut function and how modern diets and lifestyles negatively contribute to overall health by damaging our digestive system.

I (and many others in the medical field) refer to this particular phenomenon as leaky gut syndrome. In the medical literature, leaky gut is also referred to as “intestinal hyperpermeability.”

What Causes Leaky Gut?

The intestines are protected by a single layer of specialized epithelial cells that are linked together by tight junction (or TJ) proteins. Leaky gut symptoms are a consequence of intestinal tight-junction malfunction.

These tight junctions are the gateway between your intestines and your bloodstream. They control what is allowed to pass into the bloodstream from your digestive system. More than 40 different TJ proteins have now been recognized to play a role in gut health. Tight junctions have a very precise job — they have to maintain the delicate balance between allowing vital nutrients to enter your bloodstream, while remaining small enough to prevent xenobiotics (disease-causing compounds from your diet or lifestyle) from passing out of your digestive system into the rest of your body. (1)

Here’s how a report published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology describes the pathology of leaky gut: (2)

The intestinal epithelial lining, together with factors secreted from it, forms a barrier that separates the host from the environment. In pathologic conditions, the permeability of the epithelial lining may be compromised allowing the passage of toxins, antigens, and bacteria in the lumen to enter the bloodstream creating a ‘leaky gut.’

When you have leaky gut, certain tiny particles that should never be able to enter your bloodstream start to make their way through. There’s also commonly abnormalities in the gut stemming from antimicrobial molecules, immunoglobulins and cytokine activities. This presents a major problem, as the vast majority of your immune system is found inside the gut.

The result? A disruption of acute inflammation, and sometimes autoimmune reactions. A normal part of your immune response that serves to fight infections and diseases winds up over-performing, leading to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases.

Some of the underlying causes of leaky gut include:

  • Genetic predisposition — certain people may be more predisposed to developing leaky gut because they are sensitive to environmental factors that “trigger” their bodies into initiating autoimmune responses.

  • Poor diet — especially a diet that includes allergens and inflammatory foods such as un-sprouted grains, added sugar, GMOs, refined oils, synthetic food additives and conventional dairy products.

  • Chronic stress

  • Toxin overload — including high drug and alcohol consumption. We come into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin and NSAIDS. I recommend buying a high-quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and look to natural plant-based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.

  • Bacterial imbalance — also called dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut. A large body of evidence now shows that gut microbiota is important in supporting the epithelial barrier and preventing autoimmune reactions. At least 10 percent of all gene transcriptions found in intestinal epithelial cells that are related to immunity, cell proliferation and metabolism are regulated by gut microbiota.

How Serious Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Well, according to a 2014 review of the facts and research about intestinal permeability (among other sources), the chronic condition of hyperpermeability is linked to numerous symptoms and health conditions.

What are the symptoms of leaky gut? Some of the most prominent signs you may have leaky gut include: (3)

  • Gastric ulcers

  • Infectious diarrhea

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis)

  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

  • Celiac disease

  • Esophageal and colorectal cancer

  • Allergies

  • Respiratory infections

  • Acute inflammation conditions (sepsis, SIRS, multiple organ failure)

  • Chronic inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis)

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Obesity-related metabolic diseases (fatty liver, Type II diabetes, heart disease)

  • Autoimmune disease (lupus, multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes, Hashimoto’s, and more) (4)

  • Parkinson’s disease (5)

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (6)

  • Propensity towards weight gain or obesity (7)