Is Leaky Gut Real? What it is and How to Prevent it?

Although the concept of gut health has been around for thousands of years, it’s a complicated subject and still pretty new to modern research.

If you spend any time looking deeper into gut health, it’s likely that you’ll come across a condition called a leaky gut syndrome.

While some articles point to leaky gut as the blame for a number of health conditions, other sources claim that leaky gut doesn’t actually exist.

So, which claim is true? In this article, we’ll determine what leaky gut really is, if it’s real, and how you can prevent it.

What is Leaky Gut?

“Leaky gut syndrome” is a phenomenon that occurs when the lining of the gut is impaired, making it more permeable.

The epithelial wall that lines the intestines has several tiny openings called tight junctions, which allow water and nutrients like vitamins and minerals to be absorbed into the bloodstream. These tight junctions also prevent harmful substances like pathogens from escaping into the bloodstream.

If a person develops a leaky gut, those tight junctions open up a little more than they should, allowing toxins and pathogens to “leak” into the bloodstream. Those harmful substances then contribute to inflammation and possible damage to organs throughout the body.

However, there isn’t a lot of research on this phenomenon, especially on humans. Therefore, many medical professionals don’t recognize leaky gut as a legitimate diagnosis. Instead, they refer to this as “intestinal hyperpermeability.”

In other words, evidence does exist to connect the integrity (or lack thereof) of the gut lining to a number of symptoms and conditions in the body. This is one reason why the topic of gut health has exploded throughout the wellness industry. There just isn’t enough evidence to determine the exact mechanism of why they’re connected.

What causes leaky gut?

It’s likely that several factors contribute to the development of leaky gut syndrome. Again, this is an area that lacks research and remains a bit unclear. Some factors associated with leaky gut include:

Diet – The typical high sugar, high fat, low fiber American diet may damage the intestinal wall and lead to leaky gut.

Stress – Chronic, unmanaged stress disrupts balance in the gut, which may damage the intestinal wall over time.

Long term medication use – Certain medications are known to cause digestive distress, which may affect intestinal permeability over time.

Excess alcohol – When alcohol is digested, it creates a byproduct that may be damaging to the intestinal wall.

Some experts believe that genetic disposition, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory conditions like fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) contribute to leaky gut. However, the exact cause and effect isn’t known for sure. It’s possible that increased gut permeability actually plays a role in the development of these conditions.

Again, this is a big area where more human studies are needed.

Intestines with Gut Bacteria on Blackboard

How Gut Health Impacts the Body

If you have leaky gut, it’s likely that you’ll first experience symptoms of poor gut health. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Food sensitivities
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin issues

Now let’s talk about the big picture. Since leaky gut also causes long term inflammation, letting it go unnoticed may impact long term health. Here are some ways poor gut health may impact the body.

Immune System – The intestinal bacteria communicate with and help regulate the immune system. When there is imbalance or the gut lining is impaired, this communication may be disrupted. This could impact how frequently you get sick, and how quickly you recover from illness.

Metabolism – Gut bacteria play a role in metabolism, appetite, and how fat is stored in the body.

Inflammation – We know leaky gut contributes to inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation increases the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and cognitive decline.

Mental Health  – Impaired gut health may be related to mood, memory, and concentration.

How to Prevent Leaky Gut

The best way to prevent leaky gut is to optimize your gut health by eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and veggies. Try to limit highly processed foods and added sugar. Finally, keep your stress levels in check and keep alcohol use to a minimum.

Eating probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha, as well as prebiotic foods like garlic, onions, asparagus, and bananas can support the balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. This maintains a healthy environment in the gut.

To make this a little easier, a lot of people prefer to boost their probiotic and prebiotic intake with a supplement. Naked Gut contains not only probiotics and prebiotic fibers, but also other gut-healthy ingredients like glutamine and inulin. All of these ingredients help to optimize gut function, support nutrient absorption, and promote healthy digestion.

Final Thoughts

Although leaky gut syndrome isn’t widely recognized as an official diagnosis by the medical community at this time, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that gut health plays a role in a number of health conditions.

More specifically, the integrity of the epithelial barrier that lines the intestine has been connected to chronic inflammation and related conditions like IBS, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, acne, and others.

The best way to prevent leaky gut is to support a healthy gut. Living a lifestyle with a healthy diet, stress management and limited alcohol use is key. However, you can also boost gut health with a supplement that contains prebiotics and probiotics.

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