What is Leaky Gut and How is it Treated?


Last updated June. 21, 2018


The gut refers to a section in the gastrointestinal tract, extending from the pyloric sphincter of the stomach to the anus. It is further divided into two segments known as the small intestine and the large intestine.

This part of the human anatomy plays a number of important roles in the body.

It is through their permeable wall that digested food nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed to the parts of the body where they are needed.

Keeping the gut healthy is therefore very crucial in maintaining a healthy body.


What Is A Leaky Gut?

The term ‘leaky gut’ refers to a condition whereby the intestinal walls are weakened and made more permeable so that it allows the passage of undigested food particles, toxins and microbes into the bloodstream, posing a lot of health challenges.


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Causes Of A Leaky Gut

In some cases, this condition is caused by gluten sensitivity; a situation where gluten can cause the gut cells of individuals who are gluten sensitive to release Zonulin, a protein which breaks tight junctions in the intestinal linings. There are some other factors that can cause leaky gut such as infections, stress, toxins, and age.

Leaky gut is a serious health condition that is often overlooked by many. The gut is actually the gateway to health – a healthy gut may not generally translate to a healthy life, but an unhealthy gut will lead to a number of unpleasant health conditions.

Once the intestinal linings are broken and made more permeable, a number of particles which are supposed to be expelled from the body can escape into the bloodstream from the damaged walls and travel into every part of the body through the bloodstream.

The immune system will normally mark these foreign bodies as pathogens and attack them in order to keep the body healthy. If this continuous, the immune system is equally affected and this makes the body susceptible to infections.


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Signs Of A Leaky Gut

Leaky gut, as a medical condition is hard to diagnose. There are signs, however, that are indicative of the condition. Some of the signs include:

  • Hormonal imbalance such as pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in women.
  • Reoccurrence of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.
  • Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
  • Food allergy
  • Reoccurrence of skin diseases
  • Mood swings and depression

How To Treat Leaky Gut

Treatment of a leaky gut is not easily obtained in the same way when managing other health conditions. The process of healing involves lifestyle and diet changes that will enhance digestion, prevent further damage to the intestinal linings and help the gut to heal and perform the basic function of regulating intestinal permeability.


Lifestyle Change

While the emphasis is normally placed on dieting and supplements as a means of healing a leaky gut, the contributions of lifestyle choices to the problem are often neglected. As part of the healing process, it is important to make some lifestyle changes.

Stress is one of the factors that contribute to having a leaky gut. Stress also contributes to inflammation and expanding of the pores created on the linings of the intestine as well as wears down the immune system and inhibit the process of healing.

There are a couple of strategies you can adapt to address stress such as meditation, relaxation, sporting activities, etc. You can equally reduce the use of alcoholic beverages during your healing process.


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 Medication


There are some medications that can create inflammation in the intestinal tract and impede the process of healing. Some common types include antibiotics and painkillers. Talk with your doctor about your condition and let him make the decision that is best for your health.


Dieting

You must have figured out by now that dieting will play an important role in the treatment of a leaky gut. There are food substances that are considered as bad and some good for those who have a leaky gut.

Experts normally recommend a process that has been popularized by many as the “Rs for treatment of a leaky gut”. They are as follows:


1. Remove: As has been expressed before, there are some food substances that cause irritation of the intestinal walls and lead to weakness of the wall. The first major step towards healing is to identify such foods and eliminate them from your diet.

Common irritants may include sugar, gluten, soy, and dairy products. If you do not know the exact food that is causing the irritation, you can start a food journal to determine which food to eliminate.

Just write down the food you eat and how they make you feel. When any food is linked with some of the listed signs of leaky gut, add it to the list of foods to be eliminated.


2. Replace: The damages done to your gut by some food substances can still be corrected by some other food substances. Some very important food substances that will help your gut to heal include whole foods like non-starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole kernel grains.

You can equally take digestive enzymes, supplements like glutamine, omega-3 fatty acid, zinc, multivitamins, and concentrated fish oil. All these will help to restore the gut to its natural form.


3. Reinoculate: Leaky gut does not only lead to penetration of foreign bodies into your bloodstream; it also leads to the loss of important microorganisms (microbiota) that inhabits the gut. This depletion of the flora will need to be fixed because they help to strengthen the immune system.


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Repair and Rebalance

This is the final step in the treatment of a leaky gut. It involves focusing on lifestyle changes and avoiding the habits responsible for the condition.

You have to eat mindfully, avoiding unhealthy foods and substances and sticking to the kind of food that will digest perfectly and contribute to your overall health.  You will also need to make conscious effort to calm your central nervous system.

This is important not just for gut health, but for the overall health of a person.



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