Why A Leaky Gut Will Wreck Your Health + What To Do About It

Functional Medicine Practitioner By William Cole, D.C., IFMCP
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr. Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, is a leading functional medicine expert who specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Cole is also the bestselling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.

Mainstream medicine once considered leaky gut syndrome a fake diagnosis given by alternative quacks. But today, research is confirming that a leaky gut, or increased gut permeability, is indeed a major factor in chronic and autoimmune diseases.

So let's start to look beyond symptoms and start seeking the cause. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said thousands of years ago, "All disease begins in the gut." Science is catching up with antiquity. We need to start looking at this foundational system of our health.

What is a "leaky gut," exactly?

Despite its unfortunate name, a "leaky gut" is when your intestinal lining is damaged, allowing undigested food proteins and bacteria to pass into the blood stream, causing an immune response and inflammation throughout the body. The following conditions have all been linked to increased gut lining permeability:

In short, if you have chronic or unexplained health problems, it's possible you have a leaky gut.

What causes leaky gut?

The world we live in today is vastly different than it was even just a few decades ago. From toxins in our environment to our hybridized, modified and sterilized food supply, we've rapidly sped past the simpler world in which our grandparents grew up.

The radical change of our environment and food in a short period of time is affecting our health in ways that we are only beginning to understand. For ages, our genes have evolved and adapted to our environment. The relatively sudden shift of the world around us has caused a mismatch between our surroundings and our genetics. Medications such as NSAIDs and chronic stress can also contribute to a "leaky gut".

Why doesn't my doctor address this if it's so important?

Mainstream medicine trains doctors to diagnose a disease and match it with a corresponding drug. When there is a drug on the market for leaky gut, then my assumption is everyone will be tested for a leaky gut. Today, with industry funding outpacing what the government spends by billions of dollars, it's no surprise that a pharmaceutical drug for celiac disease is in the works, called Larazotide. Something tells me the term "leaky gut" will be making its way into your doctor's office in the near future.

How do I find out if I have leaky gut?

The test I run most often on patients suspected of "leaky gut" is a simple blood test to look for an elevation of two things:

Zonulin: Zonulin is a protein the body makes. Its job it is to open the tight junctions, your gut's "gatekeepers" to the blood stream. If there is an elevation of zonulin, you are at risk for a "leaky gut."

Lipopolysaccharides (LPS): These are toxins given off by some of your gut bacteria. If they're found in the blood, we know there's been a breach of your protective gut lining

How do I heal my gut?

The last thing we need is to wait for the next "wonder drug" to come on the market. There's so much you can do now to naturally start healing your gut.

You can check out my list of things to avoid to allow your gut to start healing, and I wrote about my favorite natural gut-healing tips.

William Cole, D.C., IFMCP
William Cole, D.C., IFMCP
Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, is a leading functional-medicine expert and a Doctor of Chiropractic. He...
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William Cole, D.C., IFMCP
William Cole, D.C., IFMCP
Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, is a leading functional-medicine expert and a...
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