10 Signs You Could Have A Leaky Gut
If you have read my e-book Eat Yourself Healthy In 28 Days, you will know my approach is all about gut health! WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY?? Well I’m talking about that organ that has the surface area equivalent in size to that of a tennis court and contains more good bacteria, than cells in your entire body by a ratio of around 10:1 – that’s a mere 10 trillion!! That may sound like a lot to get your head around, but it’s for this reason alone, that the function of your gut is key to your overall health. I refer to the gut as the body’s ‘central headquarters’ or 'head office'. It’s the governing force over the function of all the other body systems and cells, in conjunction with the central nervous system (but more on that in an upcoming post). It really is as simple as this – Look after your gut and you will look after your overall health and wellbeing.
Now that may sound like a pretty big claim to fame, but it’s a fact that modern medicine and scientific research is starting to discover more about every day. If someone were to ask me what condition I have treated most in my practice, I would have to say by far its “leaky gut” . The patient may originally present with an autoimmune disease, or chronic hay fever, maybe even depression or anxiety, or eczema, ADHD or autism, even heart disease and of course that pesky IBS and Candida, but the actual underlying cause of their condition or symptom, traces back to a leaky gut more often than not.
What is a leaky gut?
The gut is made up of the small and large intestine and the lining of the gut wall is what we refer to as a ‘semi permeable membrane’ - enabling the absorption of very small molecules, like essential nutrients from our food to pass through. But the integrity of that gut wall has come under fire more than ever, thanks to the typical western diet, chronic stress, overuse of pharmaceutical medications and increasing exposure to environmental toxins.
What Causes Leaky Gut
Two of the biggest dietary contributors to leaky gut are gluten and sugar. Nowadays, gluten sensitivity has become more the rule than the exception and you no longer need to be a diagnosed coeliac for your health to suffer the effects of gluten. You can read more about the effects of gluten on gut health in a previous post here. Gluten sensitivity causes the gut cells to release a protein known as zonulin, that causes the break down in the intestinal lining – aka ‘leaky gut’.
The most common infectious causes of leaky gut are candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Pharmaceutical medications, such as antibiotics, the oral contraceptive pill, anti inflammatories, steroids, and of course the dreaded antacid drugs like Losec and Nexium also wreak havoc on the integrity of our gut wall when taken on a regular basis. Environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides and BPA found in plastics can also cause damage to our gut wall and last but by no means least, stress is also a major contributor towards a leaky gut.
It’s this excessively permeable gut wall that subsequently leads to the excessive penetration of toxins, microbes, undigested food particles - like protein, as well as the malabsorption of essential trace nutrients - leading to nutritional deficiencies. The intestinal wall is the first line of defence for our immune system, so the excessive penetration of microbes through the gut wall, sends the immune system into a frenzy, identifying these “foreign invaders” as pathogens, subsequently mounting an attack – and this is where the problem all starts, in the form of INFLAMMATION! This inflammation may present in the form of a wide range of symptoms, depending on your inherent genetic disposition.
10 Signs You Have A Leaky Gut
Digestive complaints such as flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Fatigue or CFS
Food allergies or intolerances
Coeliac or auto immune disease – Lupus, Hashimoto’s, Graves, Rheumatoid arthritis or Psoriasis
Acne or skin rashes such as eczema or rosacea
Allergies, sinus, hey fever or asthma
Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS.
Brain fog, or neurological disorders such as depression, anxiety, autism or ADHD
Thrush or Candida overgrowth
Chronic sugar or carbohydrate cravings
How do you heal leaky gut?
No matter what health problem you may be battling, its essential that you address your gut health first and foremost - whether its difficulty conceiving, PMT, chronic migraines, inability to lose or gain weight, IBS or an autoimmune or thyroid condition. I always start my patients on my eating program in conjunction with my leaky gut repair program to eliminate toxins, pathogenic infection and Candida, restore probiotic colonies and switch off inflammation, by eliminating food intolerances. Remember dietary changes alone will not effectively heal your gut, (although it is essential that you modify your diet as well), and the gut repair process can take some time.