What is a leaky gut?

Have you ever heard someone say that they have a leaky gut? You may be asking yourself what that is, and what this person has to do to treat it. Well, we are here to lay out everything you need to know about the ominous “leaky gut.”

A leaky gut, at the core of it, is a digestive issue. This condition refers to increased intestinal permeability, which means that bacteria and toxins are able to move through the intestinal wall (1). So, to put it simply, a leaky gut is not doing its job. The intestinal wall is in our bodies to keep the bacteria and toxins contained, so having them “leak” causes issues.

Now, it is important to note that leaky gut is not recognized by many doctors. This is not to say that this condition isn’t something that is experienced by people who claim to have it. Rather, this term is fairly new, so it is not something your doctor will refer to your condition as (2). There has been growing interest in the term leaky gut, or more professionally “intestinal permeability,” so don’t be surprised if you start to hear about it more and more as the studies continue to occur.

Causes

You may be wondering why certain people may be susceptible to a leaky gut, while others never seem to have digestive issues. It’s important to know that all of us have a bit of a leaky gut, as the intestines are never fully blocking the bacteria and toxins that want to get through. So, the better question might be, “Why do some people have a leakier gut than others?”

Since this is a newly studied topic, it’s not surprising that there are currently many different potential causes that a doctor may point to when you are experiencing digestive issues. You could be having issues because of your diet, your drinking (alcoholic beverages) habit, your stress levels, or a handful of other reasons. One of the only causes that is more widely accepted is that people with a few conditions, like celiac disease or Chron’s disease, are more susceptible to having a permeable intestinal lining. This is why people with celiac may have digestive issues if they don’t take gluten out of their diet.

Treatment

If you come to your doctor with digestive issues, like a leaky gut, you can guarantee that they will want you to switch up your diet in order to feel better. Like with many conditions, what you eat can have quite an effect on how you feel. It is more prevalent for issues like a leaky gut, as the whole purpose of the digestive system is to process the food that you eat. At the baseline, your doctor will suggest you take on healthier eating habits. This means less processed foods and more whole foods, with a focus on natural foods. Essentially, you’ll want to swap out the frozen dinners for fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits. This isn’t to say that frozen foods are bad for you, but when your gut is unhealthy, you want to feed your body the freshest foods possible.

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