What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome and What Causes It?

By Jennifer Smith, Natural Medicine Practitioner and Certified in Holistic Nutrition

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You may have heard of leaky gut syndrome and it's connection to ongoing stomach and intestinal issues. Were you aware that leaky gut is often the underlying problem preventing you from healing from virtually all diseases and chronic conditions?

This may sound like something that you think you don't have or you may have misconception of what leaky gut actually is. Before you dismiss this as a possible issue you are having, that could explain other related issues you are having; consider the basics of what leaky gut syndrome is and what it means for your body.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and Pores In the Intestine

The clear cut answer to what leaky gut is can be defined in the pores of your intestinal lining. Overtime, with strain and other issues like toxins, your intestinal tract can become more porous. This means that the tiny pores throughout the lining are now becoming more open, and no longer able to close, allowing waste and food particles to leak. This is referred to medically as Hyper-permeable Intestines or leaky gut syndrome.

Immune System Issues

One of the first things that may clue you into have leaky gut issues is actually your immune system. You may find yourself getting sick more often, having bowel issues, or having ongoing issues with digestion.

The reason for this is due to how your intestines work. The lining actually provides a barrier to keep your immune system safe from toxins as they exit the body. If the toxins are leaking out of the now porous areas of the lining, then you are leaching that fluid into your system. It is coming in contact with your immune system and causing you to be ill more often with reduced chances of getting better or moving on from the illness itself. 

Foods Are Not the Cause, However They May Be The Effect

You may be under the misconception that it is the foods you are eating that are causing all the intestinal problems and leakage. The truth is that isn't the case at all. Food sensitivities and allergies are the result of leaky gut syndrome, not the other way around. The foods are simply leaking out.

If you are thinking about diet change then know that the diet changes you can make to improve the issues are simply to maintain what is leaking in your system from being more harmful and to give a more gentle food to your intestinal tract. Food can help, but it wasn't too many fatty or acid based foods that caused leaky gut.

There certainly are a few foods which would be good to eliminate from the diet, but it has more to do with the toxins than with the fact that you are currently sensitive or have a food allergy to it.  

Toxins And The Connection To Leaky Gut Syndrome

The prevalence of antibiotics in our society today has reached epidemic proportions. They are wrongly prescribed for everything from a stomach bug, to yeast infections, to viral illness. They are used as prophylactics when frequently it is not necessary.

Antibiotics should only be used when the risk of infection outweighs a moderate risk of illness. In other words, they should not be used in mild bacterial infections, as there are plenty of other methods and remedies that can be used to heal and prevent minor infections from worsening.

Antibiotics do nothing for fungus and candida infections, parasite infections, and viral infections such as a cold or flu. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed in all of these situations as though they are a panacea for anything that ails you. The unfortunate thing is that in these conditions, the antibiotics weaken the immune systems response which means you often get worse and suffer from long term issues stemming from the damage antibiotics caused to the gut microbiome. 

Over the counter pain medications, also known as NSAIDS, cause gut permeability because that is the exact effect they were designed to have.  These OTC's stop a headache by directly causing small bleeds in the stomach lining which sends signals to the brain that it needs to repair the bleeding holes. This distracts the brain from focusing on the minor concern of the headache and the pain subsides. 

Other toxic culprits include high carb diets and excess sugar, like the standard American diet. The contraceptive pill can cause leaky gut due to the artificial hormones they contain.

Wheat, corn and other grains which are conventionally grown, contain toxic pesticides. These pesticides are created to destroy the digestion system of insects, which kills them and prevents them from eating the crops. Pesticides work slower in humans, however the end result is still the same; complete destruction of the digestive tract and eventual death. 

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO's, cause leaky gut from the inflammation of consuming something that the body does not recognize as food. 

Toxins in personal care products and household cleaning products lead to intestinal permeability from inflammation of tissues and organs caused from chemical exposure.

These are only a few of the major key points regarding what leaky gut syndrome is and how it can affect your overall health. If this sounds like what you are going through, consider contacting your health practitioner to find out more and to see what can be done about your overall situation. 

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About Practitioner

Jennifer Smith, NMP, CHN, FBCC , BHC

Jennifer Smith is a Natural Medicine Practitioner, Certified in Holistic Nutrition, Faith-Based Clinical Counselor and Biblical Health Coach. She has completed advanced certificates in Functional Nutrition, Functional Medicine, Natural Health Consultant diploma, Biblical Natural Medicine and Biblical Eating and Clinical Nutrition.

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