Leaky gut, more formally known as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition characterized by a gut lining with too many cracks and holes that thus allows toxins, pathogens, and partially digested food to reach the tissues beneath that lining. The result is inflammation of the digestive tract and changes in the gut flora or the bacteria that normally live there.
People have an intestinal lining that is supposed to regulate what does and does not reach the bloodstream. Some permeability is normal, but too much is referred to as leaky gut. Researchers have found that leaky gut is linked to gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease. Some studies suggest that leaky gut may also be linked to autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis or lupus, but scientists are still investigating this possibility.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Doctors believe that leaky gut is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. A susceptibility to leaky gut may run in some families. Diet, however, is believed to be the biggest factor. The typical American diet, which is high in fat and sugar but low in fiber, is believed to be one of the main causes of leaky gut. Stress and heavy alcohol consumption are also thought to be contributing factors.
How is Leaky Gut Treated?
The main treatment for leaky gut is a change in diet. The first step is to at least limit consumption of foods that are often linked to inflammation of the digestive tract. Examples include alcohol, processed foods, and anything that causes an intolerance or allergic reaction. Certain medications may also cause leaky gut. Individuals should discuss all medications with their physician and understand potential side effects, risks, and alternate treatment options when applicable.
A diet linked to good digestive health will involve lots of vegetables, including fermented vegetables like sauerkraut that can encourage the growth of good gut bacteria. Cultured dairy products like yogurt or kefir may be added to the patient’s diet. For individuals that do not tolerate dairy, there are many other options to improve gut health and provide support for balancing intestinal flora. Gluten can sometimes exacerbate leaky gut. Many individuals experience improvement when sticking to gluten-free grains like buckwheat, rice, or sorghum. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes can also contribute to a healthier gut, as can many fruits like blueberries, bananas, and citrus fruits.
Other foods that promote good digestive health include nuts, sprouted seeds like chia or flax, and various spices and herbs. The patient’s diet should also include eggs, lean cuts of red meat, poultry, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like tuna or salmon.
Get In Touch with Us to Learn More
For more information about leaky gut, we warmly invite you to reach out and register for a free seminar with Naples Vitality! At our convenient location in Naples, FL, our caring and dedicated team of professionals will be pleased to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today!