What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Do I Have It?

Scottsdale leaky gut doctor

So you think you might have leaky gut.  Its kind of a vague term, so where should you start?

Let’s first start with a leaky gut quiz…

1. Do you have digestive problems?

2. Do you have bowel movements less than 2 times a day?

3. Do you have chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia?

4. Do you have an autoimmune disease or thyroid disorder?

5. Do you have depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD?

6. Do you have gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome?

7. Do you have seasonal allergies or food intolerances?

8. Are you bloated in the afternoon but have a flat tummy in the morning?

If you answered yes to ANY of the above questions, then you may have a “Leaky Gut.”

My most common symptoms I find in the office are gas (flatulence or belching) and seasonal allergies.  For women I find bloating in the afternoon to be very common also.

So What is Leaky Gut?

The gut or intestines pack cells tightly together to keep outside invaders from passing through the lining and getting into the body. Remember that from your mouth to your anus is just a hose-like tube that allows everything in and pushes everything out. At different points along the way, the body decides what to let in and what to keep out.

When the intestines have a break down and develop leaky gut, the body no longer gets to choose what comes in and out. There become gaps or holes in the protective wall and things that the body normally would keep out are allowed directly into the bloodstream.

Normally only very small particles are allowed in, but with these larger “holes” in the barrier, larger and undigested particles are allowed in.

These things include undigested foods and chemicals, toxins and even bacteria. When these larger substances get past the protective barrier, the immune system recognized them as invaders and creates an over-exaggerated immune response, aka inflammation. This inflammation then leads to more “holes” in the intestine and things get worse and worse.

What causes Leaky Gut?

Diet –> Alcohol, Gluten, Casein, Processed Foods, Excess Sugar, Fast Food

Medications –> Steroids, Antibiotics, Antacids, Chemicals, Pesticides, Plastic, etc.

Infection(dysbiosis) –> H. Pylori, Bacterial or Yeast Overgrowth, Intestinal Virus, Parasites

Stress –> High Cortisol, High Adrenaline

Hormones –>Low Thyroid, Low Progesterone, Low Estrogen, Low Testosterone

Neurological –> Head Trauma, Car Accidents, Stroke, Neurodegeneration due to aging

Metabolism –> Processed Foods, Intestinal Inflammation, Autoimmune Conditions

Health Conditions Associated With Leaky Gut

Leaky gut is so popular because it can cause or exacerbate most conditions and symptoms, including:

  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Inflammatory Conditions (arthritis, UTIs, acne, IBD, IBS, chronic pain)
  • Chronic Pain
  • Inflammatory Bowel
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Multiple Food Sensitivities
  • Chronic Yeast Infections
  • Brain Fog

To put it simply, you may be tired, depressed and inflamed! 

Leaky Gut Vicious Cycle

 One of the worst things about developing leaky gut has to do with nutrient absorption. With leaky gut you absorb less nutrients because you are not properly breaking down foods, which leads to malnutrition.   As nutrient deficiencies develop, then the body does not have the adequate nutrients to repair the leaky gut and essentially cannot fix itself.

Leaky gut is not like a cold or flu. It is not a bug that will go away with a little rest and relaxation. Leaky gut must be treated at its root level in order for your intestines to heal.

The section above, “What Causes Leaky Gut?” includes most of the root level problems that need to be assessed and repaired.

How Long Does It Take To Heal Leaky Gut?

I often get the question, how long does it take to fix leaky gut. My clinical experiences say not very long. Some people can heal in less than a week while others take around a month. Many physicians and nutritionists feel it may take 6-9 months to heal, but in my opinion, we are missing something if it takes that long in the majority of patients. There will always be a rare outlier, but I only treat outliers and it seems to be something that can be resolved rather quickly with proper supplementation and dietary changes.

Stopping the Perpetual Cycle

Leaky gut is best dietarily treated with a “real food” diet consisting of vegetables, healthy meats, fruits, and healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil.

Foods that promote leaky gut and must be avoided are processed sugars, grains, dairy, soy, alcohol, lectins, coffee/caffeine and any other processed or canned food.

The dietary regimen for leaky gut is somewhat restrictive, but the benefits of eliminating leaky gut and ALL of its symptoms are countless.

     Supplements

Diet is just as important if not more important than supplementation.  But, do speed the recovery, I find it is more important to treat intestinal dysbiosis than any other  supplement therapy.  The only line of products I currently use are Supreme Nutrition products for the treatment of intestinal dysbiosis.