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Leaky Gut Syndrome: What is it and how does it make you feel unwell?

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a very common problem we come across in our clients and if you’re experiencing digestive issues as well as low energy, aches and pains, mood swings, poor sleep and skin problems, it could be that you have a leaky gut.

Leaky gut’s main challenge is that it doesn’t just cause digestive problems and has the potential to make you feel unwell in virtually any area of your body!

In fact, leaky gut syndrome is linked to a whole range of different symptoms and diseases, including fatigue, changes in your mood, headaches, allergies, skin problems, cardiovascular disorders, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

This short video – from my YouTube channel – and the bullet points beneath it, answer some key questions about the condition, including:

  • What is leaky gut syndrome?
  • What causes a leaky gut?
  • What symptoms can leaky gut syndrome cause?
  • Is there a leaky gut test?
  • How do you mend a leaky gut

Enjoy the leaky gut syndrome video and article!

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which the wall, or lining, of your digestive system sustains damage and allows unwanted particles to leak through into your bloodstream.

Doctors don’t really recognise leaky gut syndrome as a term.

Instead, the medical system prefers to call the condition “increased intestinal permeability”, and there’s absolutely loads of research showing that it’s real.

When your gut becomes more permeable, or leaky, undigested food particles, microbes and bacterial compounds called endotoxin (or LPS), leak into your blood.

Your immune system sees these particles and molecules as invaders and mounts a response against them.

The immune response can take place in your gut wall, causing almost any digestive symptom, or in other parts of your body.

When the immune response is occurring elsewhere in your body, it can result in many different symptoms (as explained below).

What causes a leaky gut?

Leaky gut causes are usually pretty straightforward and involve things being in your body that shouldn’t be there, and things missing that should.

Foods such as gluten can cause a leaky gut if you are gluten-sensitive or have coeliac disease.

Cow’s milk, soy, vegetable oils and other foods can also damage your gut and make it leaky.

Chronic infections like H pylori, parasites, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and Candida can cause leaky gut through the irritation and inflammation they cause.

Toxins such as food additives can be highly irritating to the gut, and so can alcohol. In fact, alcohol is a major cause of leaky gut syndrome.

The use of NSAID drugs like aspirin damage your gut lining and may also contribute to leaky gut, as may certain other meds like steroids.

Mercury from dental amalgams can oxidise and be very irritating to your gut lining. Mercury vapour from dental work is a very, very big problem and I work closely alongside “mercury-free” dentists to help clients detoxify this horrible metal.

Stress definitely increases intestinal permeability and results in a leaky gut because stress actually reduces digestive and immune function considerably.

Stress leads to hormone imbalances that can also contribute to a leaky gut. For example, hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue can be involved in leaky gut syndrome as either cause or effect.

Exercise, whilst having many benefits, can cause a leaky gut if you don’t have a proper nutrition strategy (in fact, I’ve worked with several professional athletes whose digestive systems were a real mess).

Finally, nutrient deficiencies ranging from vitamins A, D, C and E to magnesium and zinc can contribute to a leaky gut.

For instance, vitamin D is needed to hold the intestinal cells tightly together and as you may know, there’s an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in Northern Europe and North America.

What are the main leaky gut symptoms?

Leaky gut syndrome is associated with virtually all the main digestive symptoms – heartburn, reflux, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and diarrhoea.

Leaky gut can affect your whole body

A huge problem with increased intestinal permeability is the fact that it can affect other areas of your body. Leaky gut syndrome

Once toxins and bacteria leak through into your blood, they can overwhelm your liver and get into your general circulation.

When this happens, you can begin to develop a whole host of other symptoms, as this diagram from Dr. Josh Axe shows…

The reason symptoms develop elsewhere in your body is because your immune system sees the particles leaking through from your “leaky” gut as invaders.

It mounts a response that can cause problems in virtually any tissue or organ in your body.

As such, symptoms are frequently seen on your skin, in your joints and with your energy level, mood, memory and sleep.

You also tend to leave yourself more vulnerable to common colds and flu.

Is there a leaky gut test?

YES!  You can run a leaky gut test no problem at all.

In fact, a number of different tests can provide clues as to whether you have a leaky gut.

These include:

  • A simple urine test called a lactulose/mannitol test, which looks at the levels of sugars called lactulose and mannitol in your urine over time.
  • Stool tests to check for parasites, Candida, H pylori and other microbes that can cause leaky gut syndrome.
  • An organic acid test, which looks for chemicals in your urine that a stool tests can miss. An organic acids test can give clues about leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, Candida overgrowth and more.

I typically prefer to use the stool and organic acids test to assess what’s CAUSING leaky gut.

If I find H pylori, parasites, gluten sensitivity, inflammation and other markers in these tests, it’s virtually guaranteed that there’s some degree of leaky gut.

How do you mend a leaky gut?

If you think, or find through testing, that you have a leaky gut, it’s wise to follow the 4-R gut healing protocol.

  1. REMOVE the things that are causing your leaky gut (gluten-free diet, remove other poor quality foods, find and remove chronic infections like H pylori, Candida, SIBO and parasites).
  2. RESTORE digestive function by supplementing with digestive enzymes and possibly betaine HCL to ensure your food is being digested (this reduces the number of undigested particles entering your blood and helps you absorb more healthy nutrients)
  3. REINOCULATE your friendly bacteria using foods, prebiotic and probiotic supplements, which helps to reduce inflammation, assist digestion, and improve immune function in your intestine.
  4. REPAIR your gut lining using whole foods, probiotics, vitamins A, C, D and E, L-glutamine, liquorice, zinc, curcumin and other helpful herbs and nutrients as needed.

In most cases this will bring excellent results.

Not only will digestive symptoms melt away, but often times you’ll feel symptoms improving all around your body.

However some cases are more complex and may require additional consideration of hormone health, heavy metal detoxification (e.g. mercury, arsenic, cadmium) and stress management / mind-body.

Getting some help with leaky gut

If you have a bunch of unexplained symptoms you’d like help with, please drop us a line.

A leaky gut can cause a lot of problems, but it’s not that difficult to fix (in most cases!)

We understand your frustration at medicine’s lack of attention to ongoing symptoms and offer a comprehensive case review and 60 minute 1-on-1 session to help you make sense of your situation.

Click here if you’d like to cut through the confusion and accelerate your way to a less bloated, less painful gut and more energised and focused life.

As always, I hope this post helps and look forward to hearing from you!

Best,

Dave.

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