Is this a term you have heard before but are not sure what it means?
Good gut health is the key to optimal health. Gut function is important for good immune health and is a factor in conditions such as hayfever, eczema, food intolerances, poor sleep and mood disorders.
Leaky gut is also known as intestinal permeability. This is a condition where the lining of the intestine becomes damaged (or more open) leading to food particles, bacteria and toxic waste to leak through and enter the blood stream.
This can be the reason that people experience food intolerances, especially to gluten and dairy as these are larger molecules that should be digested further down the digestive system. When they leak they can trigger the body to respond by causing an inflammatory reaction. And this response is what is often seen with food sensitivities.
If you have a leaky gut then your body is unable to properly absorb all of the nutrients it needs, even if you are consuming them. It becomes a faulty process that is not working properly.
What causes leaky gut?
Stress is one of the main contributors along with pharmaceuticals especially anti-inflammatory medications. When we are stressed we trigger our “flight and fight” response. This effectively increases our cortisol production and turns down digestive function. This rise in cortisol increases our inflammatory response as our body thinks it is under attack. The inflammatory response in turn increases our zonulin, which is part of the gut lining. Increased zonulin leads to an opening of the junctions in the gut lining leading to leaky gut.
Signs of a Leaky Gut.
- Irritable bowel symptoms of chronic diarrhoea or constipation
- Bloating, nausea and flatulence
- Headaches and foggy brain
- Poor immune health
- Skin rashes, like eczema and acne
- Cravings for carbohydrates and sugar
- Nutritional deficiency
- Auto immune conditions such as crohns disease, coeliac and fibromyalgia.
- Food intolerances or sensitivities
- ADHD or behavioural issues
This is another term that is often used alongside “leaky gut”. But “Dysbiosis” is a change to the intestinal flora and its activities. This condition is often found with “leaky gut” due to similar causes. Dysbiosis is more often associated with the use of antibiotics as these change the microbiota of the gut.
Dysbiosis will lead to bloating, nausea and flatulence along with the same signs and conditions as leaky gut.
What to do about it?
There is testing that can be done to confirm that you indeed have a leaky gut. But often when taking a thorough case history, the signs and symptoms can also indicate this condition. Every case is different as there may be other circumstances surrounding your situation.
Good gut health is the key to optimal health. This is usually one of the key starting points for my clients because if your gut isn’t functioning then not much else will either. So if you feel you need help with your gut health then book in for a consult to get moving to a healthier you!
This article is authored by Jan Caton – Bachelor of Health Science – Naturopathy. Jan is the Director, Naturopath and Nutritionist at Magnolia Apothecary. Jan practices in the yarra ranges.