What You Should Do If You Think You Have Leaky Gut

You may have heard the term leaky gut used to describe a whole host of gastrointestinal issues that are caused by (as you may have guessed from the name) your gut lining starting to 'leak' toxins into your body through your intestinal wall. The identification of leaky gut often comes from natural health practitioners, while most medical professionals don't consider it a proper diagnosis. There is, however, a growing body of evidence that suggests that something might be happening in your gut if you present with certain symptoms (via Healthline). 

"From an MD's standpoint, it's a very gray area," gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic, told WebMD.  Rather than being a formal term used by doctors, Kirby explains that having a 'leaky gut' means that you're missing a diagnosis as to what's actually wrong in your gastrointestinal system. 

Symptoms of a leaky gut can include digestive and skin issues, bloating, fatigue, and the presence of other autoimmune conditions, since some researchers speculate that the bacteria that leak out of the gut can wreak havoc on your body's immune system. Researchers also found that increased gut permeability, or "leakiness," may also be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome, and can be linked to Crohn's disease as well as celiac disease (via Harvard Health).

What causes leaky gut?

Unfortunately, there are many potential causes of leaky gut, ranging from over-consumption of high-sugar foods to chronic use of NSAID pain relievers to alcohol overuse to stress. Some causes, like chronic inflammation, poor gut health, and yeast overgrowth are harder to pinpoint or correct.

The good news though, is that many causes of leaky gut can be corrected with basic lifestyle modifications that are healthier and more optimal for your overall well-being even without the issue of a leaky intestine. Lowering your intake of processed foods and high-sugar snacks, cutting back on popping pills for every small headache or sore spot, and taking steps to mitigate stress in your life are all good starting points. It's never a bad idea to add more healthy, anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables to your diet as well (via Harvard Health).

If you think you have leaky gut and adapting to a healthier lifestyle isn't helping your symptoms, it's important to find a doctor who takes your pain and problems seriously.