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What Exactly is “Leaky Gut” Syndrome?

by Kate Ferguson on April 27, 2016
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Leaky gut is a condition that is also known as intestinal hyperpermeability. It’s a pretty common disorder, although it exists in a bit of a grey area.

According to Linda A. Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center:

“We don’t know a lot but we know that it exists. In the absence of evidence, we don’t know what it means or what therapies can directly address it.”

What we think occurs is that small perforations get made in the digestive system which allow tiny particles of food to slip through and go to other areas in the body. This is an issue because it allows toxins to flow elsewhere, and it can be a cause of inflammatory bowel disease and even food intolerances. It can also cause bloating and just relative discomfort. However there are some things that can be done to manage it.

One thing that you should be doing if you are experiencing leaky gut is to drink plenty of water. When you don’t drink enough water it can lead to chronic constipation, since without proper fluid it’s hard to get things flowing along. Chronic constipation means that waste is staying longer in your digestive system, which means more bacteria remains and has a higher chance of inflaming the lining of the intestine.

Another thing you can do which you’ve probably heard before for other reasons, is to take a probiotic supplement. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that we naturally find in the gut when everything is working properly. However when things get thrown out of whack for some reason sometimes we get low on the good bacteria and high on the bad. Taking probiotics can help repopulate the good, which can help reduce constipation and other inflammation in there.

Taking digestive enzymes might be helpful for some people. Digestive enzymes are taken with a meal and help the gut to properly break down food as it goes through the body. Food needs to be properly digested to cause the least harm and to create the bowel movements. Papaya enzymes are one popular choice.

Some people believe that taking the amino acid L-glutamine can help with digestive issues as well. Some studies have suggested that it could help with repairing some of the intestinal lining, since it can coat the cells and protect them from irritants, thereby cutting down on inflammation.

Another way to reduce inflammation in the body is to eat more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are the healthy fats that are available in fatty fish like salmon. You can can also get them in supplement form if you do not eat fish or worry that you do not get enough.

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