Do I Have A Leaky Gut? Signs of Leaky Gut and How to Heal
The term “leaky gut” has been floating around blogs and health sites lately, but I have a gut feeling you don’t know exactly what it is. All puns aside, a leaky gut is a gastrointestinal condition that you shouldn’t mess around with.
Leaky gut – a.k.a. “increased intestinal permeability” describes the digestive issue in which bacteria and toxins are able to leak through the intestinal lining. With more and more scientific studies showing that our gut health, immune system, and skin are all connected – it’s important to start recognizing the symptoms of a leaky gut as early as possible.
What is a Leaky Gut?
In our stomachs, we have an intestinal lining that can cover more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. Yeah, you read that right – 4,000 square feet. When this lining is working as it should, it forms a tight barrier that can control what gets absorbed into our bloodstream and what doesn’t. This is where the problems can start if your gut lining has large cracks or holes.
Without a solid lining, partially digested food and toxins can leak into your body tissues which can cause inflammation and changes in the ~*good*~ normal bacteria in our bodies, leading to problems with the digestive tract (1). As a result, those with leaky guts cannot absorb the essential nutrients they need since the damaged cells in their intestines can’t produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion, ultimately leading to hormone imbalances and a weakened immune system.
Leaky Gut and Our Skin
In many ways, the path to thriving skin can be reached through our stomachs. That’s why it’s super important to get your gut health in check to not only boost your immune system but to see visibly great changes in your skin, too. Studies have shown that there are links between gut health and eczema, acne, and rosacea.
Plus, scientists have proven that those of us with acne or rosacea can be 10 times more likely to have gut issues, and 34 percent of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) show skin manifestations (2). In other words, if you’re experiencing issues with a leaky gut or gut inflammation, one of the first places you’ll notice the problem is on your skin. So, skincare isn’t all black and white with topical treatments. Sometimes, you need to work from the inside out.
Signs of a Leaky Gut
We’re all supposed to have some form of a leaky gut since all of our intestinal barriers are not completely impenetrable, but too many cracks or holes can lead to serious issues. In fact, the more permeable your gut is, the higher the chance you’ll develop celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or IBS.
Don't worry! It isn't that serious for everyone.
Usually, a leaky gut and gut inflammation are linked to our diets – especially if you’re a heavy alcohol drinker. Or, if you deal with a ton of stress on a day to day basis, you could also notice issues with your gut health (1).
If you have a leaky gut, you’ll most likely experience:
- Food sensitivities
- Joint pain
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Poor immune system
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Confusion, brain fog, or memory loss
- Skin rashes
- Acne, eczema, or rosacea
- Excessive cravings for sugar or carbs (3)
Of course, if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to listen to your gut and pay a visit to the doctor. Better to be safe than sorry is my motto!
How to Heal Naturally
When you want to treat your leaky gut naturally, the number one step is to change up your diet. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go crazy with the changes, but you should eliminate all inflammatory foods or foods that your body treats as toxic. You’ll also want to throw out any foods that could affect the amount of good, normal bacteria you have in your gut. This could include eliminating foods and drinks like:
- Refined sugar
- Processed foods
- Foods that can trigger your allergies or sensitivities
Instead, opt for eating a balanced, whole-food, nutrient-dense diet. For many people who suffered from a leaky gut, they reported that within six weeks, a new diet had them feeling like a brand-new person with great energy levels. They filled up on:
- Healthy fats, like fish, coconut, olive oil, flax, and avocado
- Fiber-rich fruits and veggies
- Lean proteins
With a healthier diet, many people with a leaky gut can see massive improvements. But that’s not all you can do to help. You can also:
- Get your probiotics in through supplements or through foods in your diet to restore the healthy bacteria to your stomach.
- Take your vitamins, or give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs with a change in diet.
- Take L-glutamine, which is an amino acid that rejuvenates the lining of the intestinal wall
- Reduce your stress levels as much as possible. This means taking more time for yourself through self-care, getting a healthy amount of sleep, and exercising when you can.
- Reduce your use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen – all of these can increase intestinal permeability (4).
The main takeaway is: your gut needs some TLC, too. When you feel good on the inside, it shows all over your outside. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to see a doctor and find out if you have a leaky gut. You don’t have to suffer in silence – there’s a treatment plan out there for you.
Written by Selena Ponton