Leaky gut doesn’t sound like something any of us would like to have; we all have some degree of it. Your doctor will probably refer to leaky gut as increased intestinal permeability. It’s still a somewhat new area of study, but there is a growing interest in developing medications to deal with the symptoms of this problem.
Find out what leaky gut is and the signs to look out for if you suspect you might have one.
What Is a Leaky Gut
Andrea Benford, a Nurse Practitioner, and Functional Medicine Health Coach explains that a leaky gut is where the tight junctions of your small intestine begin to loosen. Things like toxins, partially digested food, and bacteria can make their way through the intestine lining and into the bloodstream. Once there, they cause inflammation which precedes many chronic and autoimmune disorders.
Damage to the lining of the small intestine also hinders the production of essential digestive enzymes, leading to the malabsorption of essential nutrients.
These are the common signs to look out for if you suspect that you might have a leaky gut.
1. Diarrhea, Constipation, and Bloating
Diarrhea, constipation, and bloating are signs of a leaky gut. Diets high in processed foods or food sensitivities lead to these conditions.
2. Impaired Immune Response
The decreased absorption of nutrients by the body leads to deficiencies in minerals and vitamins. Low Zinc and Vitamin D are important for the immune system and may not be available in sufficient quantities if one has a leaky gut.
3. Autoimmune Disorder
A leaky gut can bring about massive inflammation in the body. This, in turn, can cause our immune system to go into overdrive. A hypervigilant immune system will cause the body to attack itself, leading to a slew of autoimmune conditions.
4. Extreme Fatigue
Inflammation brought about by a leaky gut may cause elevated cortisol levels. The continued activation of the sympathetic nervous system that results contributes to poor sleep and can lead to extreme fatigue and adrenal dysfunction.
5. Skin Rashes
A leaky gut could cause the malabsorption of nutrients. Without enough Omega-3 fatty acids, there will be an increased uptake of Omega-6 fatty acids as they are made readily available to the body through processed foods. An increase in Omega-6 leads to skin inflammation and conditions like eczema.
6. Joint Pain
Joint pain can also be a sign of a leaky gut. Toxic particles making their way through the bloodstream can cause joint inflammation.
7. Mood Disorders Like Anxiety and Depression
Ninety percent of Serotonin, also known as the happy hormone, is made in the gut. A damaged gut could lead to decreased levels of this hormone, directly affecting your mood.
8. Nutritional Deficiencies
Deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B12, and folate due to malabsorption can lead to some commonly seen problems. They include fatigue, muscle cramps, anemia, and problems with digestion.
Gut health is vital for our overall well-being. Seventy percent of our immune system originates in the gut. An unhealthy gut could lead to a myriad of conditions that could compromise our health. On the other hand, a healthy gut improves our sleep, digestion, mood, and general well-being.