Whenever you make a big life decision, you trust your gut, right? I “listen to my gut” when I weigh all sorts of choices. Your gut can tell you when something feels off, or maybe dangerous … or even when something feels “just right.”
But, your gut can indicate other important things too – things that might be going on inside your body. In fact, your gut could be the source of symptoms or discomforts that seem totally unrelated.
And I bet you didn’t know, your gut has a surface area of almost 200 square meters. That’s like the surface area of a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house – with a 2-car garage! The gut is where your body comes into greatest contact with the outside world.
Your gut also has the biggest number of immune cells, making up about 70% of all lymphoid tissues in the body.1 Lymphoid tissue makes up the system responsible for ridding the body of toxins, waste, and other types of unwanted matter.
So, you can probably guess that things like gas, constipation, regular diarrhea, and bloating could be related to your gut. Did you also know that some other symptoms might stem from your gut as well? Things like
- Allergies (general and food)
- Fatigue and a Sluggish Immune System
- Joint Pain
It’s possible. And doctors and scientists are currently investigating what’s become known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. While physicians haven’t yet agreed to make it an official diagnosis, the medical world is asking …
Just what the heck is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Basically, your intestines are lined with a mucus-like barrier. It’s sort of like a screen or a net. And it’s got lots of tiny holes all over it. These holes serve as protection, allowing only certain substances to pass through. Bigger, unwanted particles are kept out.2
When you experience Leaky Gut Syndrome – also called Increased Intestinal Permeability – the holes in your net grow bigger. This is bad, because all of the particles the net is meant to filter away, are now able to pass through where they shouldn’t.
When the net weakens or becomes damaged, things like viruses or undigested food, waste, and bacteria can literally leak from inside your gut, through the net, and into your bloodstream. This can end up causing strange reactions that feel like they’re coming out of the blue, including headaches, rashes, bloating, fatigue, allergies, and inflammation.3
How Do You Know if You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome can be a bit mysterious. Here are some possible symptoms that could indicate you’ve got it.
Take a look at what’s below. And, if it turns out you’re experiencing a combination of some of these signs, you might want to visit your physician or check out some ways to help take care of Leaky Gut.
Allergies and Food Sensitivities
So, these “holes” in the net or lining of your gut are actually referred to as “tight junctions.” When they grow in size, they allow undigested protein and fats from the food you’re trying to digest to pass through and enter the bloodstream.
But, there’s a problem when that occurs – your body’s negative response. These substances can cause your body to have an allergic response or a sensitivity to certain foods. The allergic responses can then result in varying symptoms like rashes, certain skin conditions, or gastrointestinal health issues.4
It’s important that your body absorbs the proper amount of nutrients from the foods you eat. Nutrients give you the fuel you need, so your body can create energy and grow healthy, new cells. Leaky Gut can impair this process.
Certain nutritional deficiencies could be a result of a damaged intestinal lining. Turns out, the small intestine’s lining isn’t just a wall. It’s made up of a bunch of tiny, finger-like parts responsible for absorbing those important nutrients. When they get damaged, they can’t do their job – and your body suffers.
When foreign particles infiltrate your intestinal barrier, your gut is forced to fight against harmful toxins. The gut’s smart. And so is your immune system. So they fire off their defenses.
This defensive process can cause inflammation. In addition, the process of protecting your body from foreign particles can make your body really tired, slowing down your immune system and causing all sorts of other issues.5
In fact, the more toxic substances that enter the bloodstream, the more your immune system must defend your body, and the more fatigued you’ll feel.
As I mentioned above, Leaky Gut triggers the immune system to get defensive about blocking unwanted materials from invading the bloodstream.
One of the ways in which your immune system tries to help you is inflammation. That’s right, your body actually causes inflammation around a wound or the site of an infection, because it’s trying to heal the issue. The problem is, inflammation isn’t comfortable. And, if it goes on too long, it’s not healthy, either.
Because Leaky Gut results in increased inflammation. If you have a predisposition to inflammation in your joints, this general increase can result in worsening joint pain.6
Your gut is directly linked to your immune system and is responsible for getting rid of most of the things which can make you feel sick or in pain. Your skin, on the other hand, is your body’s largest eliminative organ. So, of course it’s affected when toxins make their way into your bloodstream.
A rash (or even more persistent skin issues) can be a sign your body is trying with all it’s might to shed these harmful toxins. Your body is doing it’s best to get rid of the problem, but it can’t always help but expose the unsightly and annoying side effects of Leaky Gut in your skin.
So, if you see dry, flaky, rosey or bumpy areas, it might just be another sign that Leaky Gut has started to take its toll on your body.
Finally, your stomach might also clue you into the fact that you’re experiencing Leaky Gut Syndrome directly. Symptoms like constipation, regular diarrhea, gas, and bloating are loud and clear indications that you might be dealing with Leaky Gut.
Can you Heal Leaky Gut?
All hope is not lost. If you think you might suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome, there are things you can do to help heal your gut.
First, you can eliminate the foods in your diet that are currently causing harm to your gut. Lots of these foods happen to contain processed sugars, sugar, and dairy. It’s a good place to start. Try eliminating foods from these categories to see if they might be affecting your gut. My hunch is, even if you don’t suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome, you’ll notice a big difference in the way you feel.
Then, you want to do your best to include healing foods in your diet. These foods include, but aren’t limited to –
- Sweet potatoes
- Wild-Caught Fish
- Steamed broccoli
- Coconut oil
Finally, make sure to start supplementing with probiotics that support digestive health and prebiotics, a fiber that sustains probiotics.
For what it’s worth, your body was built to defend itself against all sorts of possible dangers. And with a little help from you, it can clear up a lot of distressing issues. So, be proactive. Talk to your doctor, and make smart changes to your lifestyle. You’ll feel better physically, and you’ll likely be happy that you’re finally in control.
1. Campbell A. Autoimmunity and the Gut. Autoimmune Diseases. 2014;2014:1-12. doi:10.1155/2014/152428.
2. Travis S Menzies I. Intestinal permeability: functional assessment and significance. Clinical Science. 1992;82(5):471-488. doi:10.1042/cs0820471.
3. Vajro P, Paolella G, Fasano A. Microbiota and Gut–Liver Axis. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2013;56(5):461-468. doi:10.1097/mpg.0b013e318284abb5.
4. Fasano A. Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology. 2011;42(1):71-78. doi:10.1007/s12016-011-8291-x.
5. Campbell A. Autoimmunity and the Gut. Autoimmune Diseases. 2014;2014:1-12. doi:10.1155/2014/152428.
6. Orchard T. Management of Arthritis in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. PubMed Central (PMC). 2017.