Leaky gut, also known as “intestinal permeability” is a condition in which the small intestine becomes damaged and as a result, undigested food particles and toxic waste products and bacteria leak though the intestines and flood the blood stream. The prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions as more and more people are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload, and bacterial imbalance. In fact, most people who eat the standard American diet consisting of processed foods likely have some degree of gut damage.
As is the case with most underlying chronic diseases, diet and lifestyle play a large role. In most cases, a leaky gut is caused by diet. Certain foods like gluten, soy, and dairy can trigger an immune response, including diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, and joint pain. In some cases, a leaky gut can be caused by medications, including antibiotics, steroids, or over-the-counter pain relievers which can irritate the intestinal lining and lead to inflammation.
Signs of a leaky gut include food sensitivities, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, nutrient malabsorption, inflammatory skin conditions, and mood disorders. With a leaky gut, the damaged cells in your intestines don’t produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion and your body cannot absorb essential nutrients. This can lead to a host of problems that affect the whole body, including hormone imbalance and a weakened immune system. Other conditions associated with a leaky gut include asthma, infertility, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. A leaky gut has also been linked to over 140 autoimmune conditions.
Diagnosing a leaky gut can be tough because it can masquerade as other conditions and there is not a specific and reliable test for it. A functional medicine doctor will conduct various tests that are not normally conducted by conventional medicine doctors to determine whether you have a leaky gut.
The key to healing a leaky gut is changing your diet and eliminating the foods that your body treats as toxic. Elimination of gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol may be recommended. Eating healthy fats to help restore healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract can also help rejuvenate the lining of the intestinal wall. Certain supplements, like probiotics, fiber, and glutamine may also be recommended to promote a healthy gut.
Dr. Gruber at J. Gruber Health Solutions in Denver is a functional medicine doctor with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating patients with a leaky gut. A leaky gut can lead to numerous other medical conditions and if you think you may be suffering from a leaky gut, contact us today at 303-746-1964 to see how we can help.