Leaky gut syndrome is a highly unpleasant medical condition. It affects the walls of your intestines, making them more porous than they should be. Because of this, leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability syndrome.
When you eat food, it is broken down into much smaller particles by digestive enzymes. These particles then exit your stomach and pass through your intestinal tract. Over the course of their journey, the food particles pass through the walls of your gut and into your blood so that your body can make use of them. So far, so good!
In leaky gut syndrome, the walls of the intestines become damaged and substance that should remain in your digestive track leak out into your body. This includes toxins, harmful bacteria, and undigested food. These substances pollute your body, trigger an allergic response, and send your immune system into a frenzy as it attacks that it perceives to be invading germs and viruses.
Needless to say, all of this pollution does not do your finely-tuned digestive and immune system any good.
The symptoms of leaky gut can vary from person to person but here are ten common signs that you may be suffering from this problem. Don’t worry though, while leaky gut IS unpleasant, it can be treated by increasing your intake of gut-healing foods and eliminating gut-damaging foods from your diet.
1. Food allergies and intolerances
Not so long ago, food allergies were quite rare. Fast forward to the era of fast food, and processed junk food and a large percentage of people have issues with gluten, lactose, and nuts.
If certain foods make you feel unwell, or cause things like hives, rashes, or bloating, you may have a food intolerance. Undigested food particles may have made their way into your bloodstream, triggering an allergic reaction. If you have recently developed a food intolerance, it’s a good sign that you may have leaky gut syndrome.
2. Autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases occur when your body triggers an immune response when, in fact, there is no disease to attack. This causes pain and inflammation as your body attacks itself instead of some unwanted invader.
Autoimmune diseases that are linked to leaky gut syndrome include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. If you develop these problems, or existing autoimmune diseases get worse, leaky gut may be the cause.
3. Low energy and chronic fatigue
While it is perfectly normal to feel tired at the end of a long day, feelings of chronic fatigue and very low levels of energy are not. If you get enough sleep and still feel tired all the time, you may be suffering from leaky gut.
Leaky gut means that your body won’t have all the nutrients it needs to give you energy, or that it’s using too much energy to deal with the toxins and bad bacteria invading your body.
4. Frequent digestive problems
Most people experience bloating, gas, or an upset stomach from time to time but, if you have more bad days than good, you may be suffering from leaky gut. Other digestive issues linked to leaky gut include:
• Chronic constipation
• Frequent diarrhea
• Stomach cramps
• Decrease in appetite
If you notice any changes in bowel movements or any recurring digestive problems, you may be suffering from leaky gut.
5. Mood swings
Unless you have an underlying medical condition, your mood should be stable most of the time. However, by affecting your gut, increased intestinal permeability syndrome also affects your brain. There is a very strong link between gut health and brain health.
Anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, brain fog, mania, and hyperactivity can all be triggered by a leaky gut.
6. Frequent illness
Your immune system should be more than able to fight off minor illnesses. When faced with viruses and bacteria, your immune system attacks and fights off these invaders so you either recover quickly or don’t even know there was a problem.
Like any biological system, your immune system can only do so much, and if it’s overwhelmed, it may not be able to repel all attackers. In leaky gut syndrome, your immune system is busy trying to deal with undigested particles of food, harmful bacteria, and toxins.
Because it’s already fighting on one front, common illnesses may go unchecked. If you frequently feel unwell, getting lots of cold or flu-like symptoms, for example, your immune system may have been compromised, and leaky gut syndrome could be the cause.
7. Inflammatory skin conditions
Leaky gut syndrome triggers an autoimmune response during which your immune system attacks itself. This leads to inflammation. In many instances, that inflammation only happens inside your body; you might be able to feel it, but you won’t be able to see it.
On other occasions, these inflammatory responses affect your skin and result in redness, rashes, acne, eczema, or rosacea. If you experience frequent skin breakouts, they may be triggered by a leaky gut.
8. Frequent headaches
If you work at a computer screen, do a lot of driving, or read a lot, you may suffer more headaches than usual. In most cases, this problem can be avoided by taking frequent breaks and wearing corrective glasses or contact lenses.
However, if despite taking these precautions, you still experience frequent headaches, leaky gut could be the cause. Leaky gut wreaks havoc on numerous functions and systems in your body, including your blood glucose levels and inflammation. Both of these imbalances can trigger headaches.
9. Hormone imbalances
Low sex drive, painful or irregular periods, PMS, and PCOS are caused by hormone imbalances. Hormones are chemical messengers that tell your cells, organs, and systems how to behave. If hormone levels are imbalanced, you are more likely to suffer from unpleasant and often avoidable symptoms and conditions.
Hormones are in part regulated by your digestive system. With leaky gut syndrome, your digestive system is under almost constant attack. Fix the gut, and many hormone imbalances will correct themselves.
10. Weight gain or trouble losing weight
While losing weight is mostly a matter of calories and exercise, your digestive health also has a vital part to play. Digestive health affects every system of your body, and that includes your metabolism and ability to burn fat.
Leaky gut can cause nutritional deficiencies, bacterial imbalances, hormone levels, and increase the production of certain yeasts, all of which could lead to weight gain or make weight loss harder than it needs to be. Eating more healthily can help repair your damaged gut and will also help you lose weight too.
Doctors don’t yet recognize leaky gut, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. If you have more than a couple of these symptoms, it’s a reliable indicator that you have increased intestinal permeability syndrome. The good news is you don’t need a doctor to help you fix this problem – changing your diet and lifestyle will repair your gut so that these symptoms disappear.