Leaky Gut Syndrome and What You Can Do About It

Intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome, occurs when tiny gaps develop between the cells, known as enterocytes, that line your intestinal wall.  
These tiny gaps allow substances that should be confined to your digestive tract, such as undigested food particles, bacteria and metabolic wastes, to escape into your bloodstream. 
Once the integrity of your intestinal wall has been compromised, the bacteria, toxic metabolites, and undigested food that escape into blood stream can be recognized as invaders to your immune system. 
Your immune system tags these “invaders,” marking them as a threat to your health.  This causes an immune response throughout your body that can manifest as irritable bowel, fatigue, migraines, brain fog, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, eczema, allergies, and autoimmune disease, to name a few. And every time you are exposed to these substances, your immune system reacts aggressively, inciting an inflammatory response.
What can cause leaky gut syndrome?
  • Food sensitivities
  • Antibiotics
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Infections
  • Caffeine
  • Diet high in processed foods
What Can You Do About It?
1. Get your probiotics on. 

Consume fermented foods like sauerkraut or kombucha on a regular basis, or supplement with a high quality probiotic that has strands of bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species.

2. Find out what foods you could be reacting to. 

Consider getting an IgG food sensitivity panel checked, or do a 21-day elimination diet, and find out what foods you react to once they are reintroduced. Eliminate the most common reactive foods: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, nightshades, caffeine, peanuts, and eggs.

3. Make sure you don’t have a hidden infection.  

A comprehensive stool analysis will tell you if you have a hidden parasite, bacterial infection, or candida overgrowth that could be contributing to intestinal permeability.

4. Eat whole unprocessed foods.  

Not only will a whole foods diet ensure that you are getting a slew of gut healing antioxidants, but eating foods that are high in fiber will also feed your friendly gut bacteria.

5. Get some essential fatty acids into your diet.  

Take a high-quality fish oil supplement or add wild Atlantic salmon or sardines to your plate on a regular basis.

6. Make sure you are getting enough zinc. 

Zinc is necessary in maintaining intestinal wall integrity. 

7. Cook with ghee.  

Ghee is a great source of butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty that helps promote the integrity of the intestinal barrier.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Alejandra Carrasco, M.D. is the founder of NOURISH , an innovative medical practice in Austin, TX that attends to all aspects of an individual’s life, including health, family, community, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, self-care, and renewal.

"Dr. Alex" wants to Revive Primary Care and she is passionate about helping patients tap into the awesome wisdom of the body through integrative and functional medicine. She is board certified in Family Medicine, as well as Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and has spent hundreds of hours studying nutrition, functional medicine, and integrative medicine.  

Her ultimate goal is to give people the tools, inspiration, and information to live vibrant and nourished lives.