Having a leaky gut can wreak havoc on your system, so it’s important that you understand what it is and what to do about it. If you’re suffering from chronic and seemingly mysterious ailments, there’s a strong chance leaky gut syndrome is a cause.

I grew up in Winter Haven, Florida. It’s a small city just south of Orlando, but just as hot and muggy in the Summer as every other part of that peninsula.

If you’ve ever been to Florida in the Summer, you know about the bugs. It’s a hot, sticky, buggy mess. Thankfully, the house I grew up in had a screened in patio. We could sit outside and enjoy ourselves without being swarmed on.

Without that screen, you’re fair game. During the day the wasps could get you. At night, the mosquitos. Oh, those God-forsaken mosquitos. Trust me, you want that screen.

Your gut is like a patio screen.

Think of the gut as a tube. It’s mission is to transport the food you eat, extract the nutrients from it, and eject the waste.

If it was a solid tube, nothing would be able to leach through it. All the bad guys would get ejected, but so would the good guys.

If it was more like a chain link fence, the good stuff would get through, but so would a lot of bad stuff. Think about sitting on my patio with me in Florida with a chain link fence around you instead of a screen. It wouldn’t do much good to keep out those wasps and mosquitos, would it?

It has to be more nuanced.

The gut is more like a patio screen. It’s great at letting only the good guys through and into the bloodstream while keeping out all the bad guys.

Is your screen working?

There’s a lot of houses in Florida that have old patio screens. They haven’t been kept up with. As a result, they have tears, and in some cases, gaping holes.

If your screen has a hole, you could be drinking your morning coffee one minute and going to battle with Florida wildlife the next. It’s an eerily similar scenario to how your gut works (think about this stuff on a microscopic level—not actually having gaping holes in your gut).

If the screen mechanism of your gut develops tears, things go haywire. The bad guys make it through these openings and into your blood stream. Your immune system immediately recognizes these invaders and attacks. A war breaks out inside you.

Enter Leaky Gut Syndrome. The fancy pants term is “intestinal permeability.”

The consequences of war.

War has consequences. Not everyone survives, which is why it’s best to avoid the war in the first place.

When your gut is leaky, bad guys invade the blood stream. These bad guys are things like food particles, yeast, pathogens, and toxins. When the gut is dysfunctional, the result is a chronic, low-grade poisoning of the body.

The liver — the body’s filter — must spring into action to start ridding the blood of these invaders. But it can’t keep up. The job is too large and the invading forces are attacking in endless numbers. Every time you eat, it’s another battle.

As the liver fails to meet the challenge, the bad guys start to build in numbers inside the body. The immune system tries to provide backup and a chronic inflammatory condition develops.

Sometimes, the war is so complex that the body gets confused about who the good guys and bad guys are. When things go south, the body starts fighting itself and an autoimmune condition develops.

Leaky Gut Syndrome also affects general digestion. The production of enzymes becomes inhibited and food isn’t broken down completely. Not only will food particles now enter the blood stream, but you’ll fail to absorb a full dose of nutrition from the foods you eat.

Avoid the war.

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War     

You don’t want Leaky Gut Syndrome. I promise. If you agree, then you need to know how it happens so you can prevent it and avoid the war before it ever starts.

Here are the main causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome:

  • ANTI Foods. Gut health is the number one factor in total body health. If it’s not first, it’s certainly in the top three. One of the premises of the ANTI food grading system is whether foods attack the gut. Sugar, wheat (this is why I make a blanket recommendation to be gluten-free, even if you’re not Celiac or gluten intolerant), processed foods, and chemicals are examples of foods that harm the gut and lead to the breakdown of the “screen.”
  • Chronic inflammation. Anything that leads to chronic low-grade inflammation can damage the gut. This can be stress, bacteria, yeast, low stomach acid, parasites, environmental toxins, poor sleep, etc. Candida is a particularly nasty yeast overgrowth that can cause intestinal permeability.
  • Medications. One of the most used classes of medications that destroys the gut is over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDs). Of course, there’s a wide range of medications that influence gut health, but you can start by avoiding the pain relievers. Almost everyone reaches for those to deal with headaches and mild aches and pains.
  • Low zinc. Zinc keeps the lining of the gut strong and healthy. Zinc deficiency increases the risk of developing permeability issues.

You can keep your gut functioning properly by following a real food based diet and accounting for all other lifestyle factors. Sleep well, keep stress low — you know, the stuff I always talk about!

What are the symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome?

If you have a lot of “food sensitivities,” there’s a good chance you have leaky gut. Leaky gut isn’t so much about the individual foods that you’re sensitive to, it’s about the state of the gut. Anything that makes it through the screen that’s not supposed to be there will get flagged as an invader and manifest as a “sensitivity.”

Often, people with a damaged gut will see dozens of things flagged on a sensitivity screening. If you heal your gut and get re-screened, the amount of sensitivities will be drastically reduced or eliminated.

That’s just one thing to look at. Leaky Gut Syndrome can manifest in an unlimited number of ways: nutritional deficiencies, headaches, skin issues, digestive disorders, autoimmune conditions, unhealthy poop, chronic sickness, fatigue, and more.

When your gut is leaky there’s a constant stream of invaders hitting your blood stream. Your food is poisoning you over and over again. Imagine how many ways that might show up.

How can I heal Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Healing a leaky gut isn’t easy and there isn’t a proven method that’s universally recommended.

The best way to start is by switching to a real food diet. That may not be enough, though. A very limited real food diet that creates verifiable healing is where I recommend starting. Once the healing process is confirmed, you can start adding more variety back into the diet.

It’s also important to reduce stress. There are a lot of ways to do this, but it has to get done. Stress has a direct impact on the health and function of the gut.

Lastly, special supplementation may be required. L-Glutamine, Quercetin, Licorice Root, aloe vera juice, digestive enzymes, oil of oregano, and collagen may all be beneficial.

If this is something you want help with, check out our online Academy. We provide the guidance you need to confirm leaky gut and begin the healing process.

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Comments

  • Karina says:

    Excellent guide to the basics of leaky gut syndrome. For a while now, I’ve been researching the condition and especially ones that offer treatment advice and recommendations. This is by far the simplest explanation I’ve found on this ambiguous g.i. condition that some doctors even deny is a unique entity.

    The search for a leaky gut cure is urgent, even desperate, among some sufferers and I have a growing list of resources on my website. Will be adding this one to the list, for sure.

  • Shelley says:

    Thank you so much for you articles! They have all been very helpful and I look forward to each one! I have not heard of leaky gut but do have a lot of the symptoms that you are talking about. It has been a very miserable battle of trying to fix things but not sure how to win. Looking forward to your next article.

  • Walter Sobchak says:

    Excellent writing!

  • Laura says:

    I’ve been reading your articles for the last few hours. Very interesting. I eliminated wheat, processed food & almost all sugar (I started 20g or less low carb) 9 days ago. I’m wondering about leaky gut. At 48, I know I have leaky gut because even though I’ve had many periods in my life eating “clean”, I’ve never eliminated the ANTIfoods for very long. I am about 30 lbs overweight. 9 days ago I started a keto-diet and haven’t had wheat, processed foods or sugar (except the sneaky kind I don’t know about which I’m sure I’ve had). My concern is how bad my leaky gut might be due to 48 years of eating sugar, bad carbs, wheat, junk food, and lots of wine. I haven’t eaten red meat and most other meats since 1993, if that matters. I’m worried it might take a really long time to heal my leaky gut before I can actually start losing weight. How can I find out how bad my gut is?
    Thank you!

    • Laura says:

      I’d like to add that other than bad carb cravings, and lethargic all day for last few months (hitting the carbs very heavy lately), I have not experienced other symptoms like mood swings, skin, headaches and I rarely ever catch a cold or get sick. I have though in the last 6 months or so that almost anytime I ate whole wheat bread (Silver Hills brand) or english muffins, etc, I would get this severe pain in my throat like heartburn just at the back of my mouth, start of throat area within first few bites and it would go away after a few minutes. ???

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Not sure Laura — this isn’t really something we can do in the comments section of a blog :/

        If you’d really like dedicated help with this kind of thing, come do Total Body Reboot and we’ll be able to really dig in for you.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Laura,

      Just to be clear, not everyone who eats wheat and lives a modern lifestyle with antibiotics and NSAIDs, etc. has leaky gut.

      It would be a more appropriate angle to look at it if there were many things going wrong with your body/health/etc.

      But, I wouldn’t assume it’s an issue simply due to wheat consumption, etc. Some people just have guts that are more sensitive and some have guts that seem impenetrable.

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