Leaky Gut: what is it? What are its symptoms and how does it affect your health?

Dr. Karishma Shaikh
Dr. Karishma ShaikhFebruary 12, 2022

Did you know that your 80% immune system is in your gut? Your gut health decides the status of your immunity. Like other body parts, there are good bacteria in the gut. These good bacteria help keep us away from various chronic diseases. But, an unbalanced diet and changing lifestyle have a harmful effect on digestive health. In such a situation, gut problems like leaky gut start and negatively affect the whole body. Many people are disturbed by leaky gut syndrome, but they overlook it due to a lack of knowledge. Leaky Gut

The leaky gut syndrome is a poorly understood disease, despite being primarily responsible for various health problems. Let's explore more about the leaky gut, its symptoms, and how it affects your health.

What is a leaky gut?

Leaky gut is a digestive system-related problem. In normal tight junctions, entire small intestine cells are packed. There are minute holes in the small intestine through which nutrients absorbed from the foods move to the bloodstream. The intestine wall is semipermeable, permitting particular molecules and nutrients to pass through. In contrast, the wall traps large food particles, infections, and toxins inside and doesn't let them enter the bloodstream. It acts as border security. But when the tight junctions get broken in your intestinal wall, your internal system becomes vulnerable. Due to this, much larger toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles pass to the bloodstream and harm your health. This malfunction is called leaky gut.

Do you have an idea about protective layers that protect our internal environment from organisms, ingested toxins, and allergens? Basically, four layers protect your internal system from foreign invaders.

1st layer – The first layer includes bacteria, which build the majority of the faecal content of our intestines.

2nd layer – The second layer is mucus coating, lining the intestine's innards.

3rd layer – The third layer includes gut lining cells. The break of "tight junctions" between these enterocytes is the main factor in developing a leaky gut.

4th layer – The fourth layer is the immune system, thickened in the comprehensive Peyer's patches around the intestines.

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

Leaky gut symptoms match with numerous health problems, and it becomes challenging to identify whether you have a leaky gut or another health issue. Let's shed some light on signs of a leaky gut. Join Thyroid Community/

  1. People with a leaky gut have digestive problems such as acidity, bloating, diarrhoea, or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

  2. They can have food allergies.

  3. They might feel hardship in focusing.

  4. They can have depression and anxiety.

  5. A leaky gut syndrome can cause skin problems like acne, rosacea, or eczema.

  6. They can suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma.

  7. The leaky gut syndrome can create hormonal imbalance in women and lead to irregular periods, PMS, or PCOS.

  8. Leaky gut patients can be diagnosed with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, psoriasis, or celiac disease.

  9. If a person has chronic inflammation, it can be due to leaky gut syndrome.

  10. Chronic fatigue can be the reason for a leaky gut.

How does a leaky gut affect your health?

Bacteria and toxins can quickly enter the bloodstream when you have a leaky gut. It can lead to body inflammation and trigger a response from the immune system. The person starts struggling with various health issues like bloating, food sensitivities, fatigue, digestive issues, and skin problems.

When anything happens in the gut doesn't stay in the gut. It starts affecting the overall health, and the body becomes more prone to the following:

  1. Infection: People with leaky gut may encounter chronic conditions.

  2. Mood problems: Bad gut health can cause depression and anxiety and affect your mental health.

  3. Developing autoimmune diseases: Increased intestinal permeability could put you at a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

Children can also be victims of the leaky gut syndrome. As per Healthline media, several studies revealed that children with type 1 diabetes show increased small intestinal permeability, which is basically “leaky gut syndrome.”

What are the leading causes of leaky gut?

There are various leading causes due to which tight junctions get broken in the intestinal wall.

  1. Mental, physical, or emotional stress can cause the leaky gut syndrome.

  2. Drugs like alcohol, hormone pills, and anti-inflammatory drugs, can become the foremost reasons for a leaky gut.

  3. Sometimes environmental impurities and harmful substances play an essential role in developing leaky gut syndrome.

  4. Allergies to food items can cause a leaky gut.

  5. The last reason for leaky gut could be parasitic, bacterial, and fungal infections.

How to diagnose a leaky gut?

Leaky gut symptoms also match with other diseases, so it is pretty difficult to diagnose it based on symptoms only. Cyrex Lab, US, diagnoses leaky gut with Array 2 – Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen test. Don't worry! Cyrex Labs Leaky Gut test is available in India also. Array 2 test's primary purpose is to measure antibodies that appear when the tightness of the intestinal wall is compromised.

Some essential measures to crush the problem of leaky gut

  1. You should take prebiotic or probiotic – prebiotic or probiotic supplementation to support the good bacteria present in the healthy gut. But, take medical advice from a health expert once.

  2. Try to keep stress at bay. Listen to your favourite songs, go for a walk, dance, meditate or do whatever you like. It will indeed relieve stress.

  3. According to research, an increased amount of alcohol in the body can harm your health. So if you have initial symptoms of a leaky gut and are a pro drinker, you must stop drinking.

  4. Around seven to eight hours of sleep is necessary. It keeps your digestion good, and you will feel better and will be able to concentrate on your work easily.

  5. It would be best to add medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) like coconut oil or brain octane oil to your diet. It is considered suitable for the gut.

  6. It's better to avoid processed, high sugar, and high-fat foods. And eat more and more green leafy foods, high-fiber foods like whole grains, sprouted grains, and nuts. At the same time, consuming less protein-rich foods can positively affect your medical conditions. Also, always remember to avoid such foods and drinks which cause you discomfort or allergy. If your body is unable to digest dairy products, it can cause intestinal distress. The regular consumption of dairy products may damage your gut.

  7. As per research, a gluten-rich diet can increase intestinal permeability in people who have celiac disease and IBS. It's better to go for a gluten-free diet.

It is crucial to follow a healthy lifestyle. A clean diet and regular exercise are the mantras to living a healthy life. If you are encountering leaky gut symptoms, contact your medic. Do not start treating it yourself. You know what, serious illness can be cured if diseases are detected early. Sometimes we can ignore the medical conditions and invite some other disease. So it’s better to take medical advice at the earliest.

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