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A guide to leaky gut and what you should do about it

Regardless of its rather belittling name, leaky gut is a very serious problem. That’s because it means the gut’s failing in its primary function – to provide a reliable transportation route through the body for potentially harmful elements in consumed food. If you have leaky gut then, owing to perforations in your intestinal wall, molecules and micro-organisms are able to get into your bloodstream. Does not sound pleasant, right? Unfortunately, because it can play a role in causing many different ailments, it’s often something far from easy to diagnose; resulting in any number of potential symptoms. In which case then, let’s take a closer look at what leaky gut is all about – and how you can prevent and treat it.


How does leaky gut occur?

To understand how and why leaky gut happens, it’s necessary to understand the gut itself. The gut – or the intestines – is an organ of the digestive system; in fact, its largest and most important, boasting a surface area of around 2,700 sq. ft. (250 sq. m) – about the size of a tennis court. Included in the make-up of the gut is its intestinal mucosa (lining), which itself comprises the intestines’ microbial community. So, as digested molecules (micro-, macro and phytonutrients) pass through the gut on their way through the digestive system, they inevitably encounter the gut mucosa; unfortunately, though, should you suffer from leaky gut, the tight junctions between the cells of the mucosa won’t be tight enough, so potentially harmful foreign bodies can slip through the intestine’s lining and find their way into other parts of the body. What foreign bodies? Nasty microscopic pathogens, toxins and antigens; all getting to chance to go where they like, provoking systemic inflammation.

What causes leaky gut to occur?

Evidently, these tight junctions between the gut’s cells are far from a total barrier; they relax and contract often and so their function is disrupted. Factors that cause this include:

  • Diet – of course, your diet inevitably has a big effect on your gut health (and on your health in general); an abundance of the following in your diet is bound to help cause leaky gut:

  • Additives – emulsifiers, glucose, microbial transglutaminase, solvents and even salt can make leaky gut syndrome worse

  • Alcohol – as alcohol makes its journey through the gastrointestinal system, the metabolic by-product acetaldehyde’s created, which can increase intestinal permeability

  • Dairy products – often associated with gastrointestinal disorders, not least for people who are lactose intolerant and those who have autism

  • Gluten – for those who have gluten sensitivity, its consumption is very likely to proliferate intestinal permeability

  • Pesticides – the herbicide glyphosate is great at disrupting gut bacteria, which aids intestinal permeability

  • Sugar – often a cause of inflammation in the gut; so much so that research proves analysis of glucose in urine can indicate the severity of leaky gut.

  • Candida – specific species of this yeast like nothing more than interfering with gut microbiota, resulting in an imbalance known as dysbiosis that can often lead to digestive issues including leaky gut

  • Chronic stress – yes, it’s true, psychological stress contributes to gut ill-health because it boosts levels of inflammatory cytokines (immune-related proteins) that drive up leaky gut; no surprise then that studies suggests stress compromises the intestinal barrier

  • Environmental toxins – as you’ll be aware, the outside world is full of poisonous toxins; mercury, bisphenol A (BPA), fungicides, and insecticides all have the capacity to impair intestinal permeability

  • Medications – it’s well known that over-the-counter drugs, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen, can cause inflammation and drive up intestinal permeability

  • Zinc deficiency – an essential trace mineral for many different parts of the body, zinc is especially important for the immune system and preventing and treating irritable bowel-related conditions; as such, its deficiency can aid intestinal permeability, while its supplementation enhances tight junction activity.

What can leaky gut cause?

Surprisingly leaky gut’s symptoms are varied and they can extend way beyond only digestive disorders. This is thanks to it enabling harmful foreign microbes to enter the bloodstream. Common symptoms then include the likes of allergies, cardiovascular problems and many different metabolic issues. Less obvious – but equally possible – illnesses that may be traced to leaky gut are both chronic fatigue syndrome and depression; research proves they can occur when the integrity of gut mucosa’s been compromised.

Treating leaky gut

Experts agree that managing leaky gut’s best achieved by maintaining a healthy diet; particularly one that features food high in probiotics (yoghurt, kefir, microalgae and even dark chocolate are all recommended). Moreover, nutrients including glutamine and curcumin are great for the intestines because they help to manage the immune system’s overstimulated response to leaky gut (and the resultant escaping microbes) and, thus, the oxidative stress that further compromises the intestinal wall. And you may too like the idea of supplementing an improved diet to mitigate the disorder’s effects with, yes, natural leaky gut supplements. Have a look at a few supplements for a leaky gut:

Restore (for Gut Health)
Restore (for Gut Health)

Restore (for Gut Health) – a unique and ground-breaking supplement that heals the gut mucosa and supports membrane integrity to give your immune system a chance to rest. This is also available in a smaller travel size bottle. This ideal for giving Restore a trial-run or for when you’re in transit.

Slippery Elm Intensive
Slippery Elm Intensive

Slippery Elm Intensive soothes the digestive tract and provides mucilage to support the gut’s mucous membranes.

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