Could you have Leaky Gut?

Another week of such intense learning has left me with a bit of brain ache if I’m quite honest, so I did plan on focusing this blog on something simple that wouldn’t take me days to research and get straight in my own mind…

But then I watched a TedMed video by a lady called America Bracho, titled ‘What happens when patients become leaders on the health team’. Firstly, it sparked my interest as health coaching is fundamentally about helping and encouraging clients to take an active role in resolving their health issues or achieving their health goals. And secondly, she quoted something that really resonated with me… “Recruit the heart and train the brain. In that order because the other way doesn’t work”.


photo credit: I via photopin(license)


It made me realise that although I’m not a doctor, I have the passion… I to need to understand and I to want to help other people to understand. It’s in my heart, so I can train the brain!

So this week I’m expanding further on last week’s post… I mentioned then that I’d talk about ‘Leaky Gut’ sometime soon, but as it’s quite quite complex, I didn’t intend for it to be quite this soon but it’s been playing on my mind. There must be so many people out there with this condition and just don’t realise that this is the cause of symptoms and can be fixed.

There are plenty of experts out there who can explain the science better than I ever could, but I’d like to share enough that you are at least informed to a degree that you are able to question what your own body might be telling you.


So what is Leaky Gut?

Leaky Gut is also known as Intestinal Permeability, meaning the intestinal wall has lost some of its ability to filter nutrients. When this happens, particles of undigested foods, toxins, microbes and other waste products leak through and the waiting immune system decides what action to take…. we’ll come back to that.


What are the symptoms?

Depending on the severity of the leak, Leaky Gut can have an effect on the whole body, resulting in common conditions and symptoms such as:

Allergies, Food Sensitivities, Fatigue, Bloating, Asthma, Autoimmune Diseases, Eczema, Psoriasis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and more.

Sadly many medical practitioners are still not making the connection, but functional, holistic, and more modern medical practitioners are successfully identifying and treating the cause.


What causes it?

Leaky Gut develops over a period of time. Stress, medications, poor diet, toxins and birth history are all major contributors to upsetting the population of bacteria in the gut, which leads to this condition.


How does it happen?

These bacteria are in constant communication with the cells that line the intestines and which do a particular job. The cells are just one layer thick and are tightly connected so that anything passing its way must be processed via them in an orderly fashion before being admitted through to the immune system beyond. The immune system then does its job of deciding what is accepted or rejected.

When the bacteria is out of balance, the glue holding these cells tightly together become damaged, resulting in the cells separating a little and working ineffectively. This means that the undigested foods and toxins etc., pass through the gaps to the immune system (see picture below), but these are things that the immune system shouldn’t see and so reacts with a ‘no way josé’ and rejects them. When this happens it causes inflammation leading to a variety of conditions as listed above. The longer the problem is left untreated, the worse it can get with increasing symptoms and severity.

Another problem is that Leaky Gut can cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients, most commonly zinc, iron and vitamin B12.

So whilst these conditions aren’t welcome, do keep in mind that the immune system has done its job correctly – it has rejected the items it sees as foreign bodies….



So what can be done?

This is where doctors will generally treat the symptoms by prescribing medication in the form of inhalers, creams, sprays etc. A functional medicine or holistic approach will treat the cause to eradicate the symptoms.

Think of your immune system as being an ecosystem, it is a living system with bacteria talking to our cells and cleverly working to regulate everything. So when symptoms such as rashes or otherwise appear, it is quite often your immune system sending you a message to say that all is not well and the ecosystem needs to be restored. This is of course a very personalized process, but here’s the gist of what you could expect:

Necessary diet changes need to be made to eliminate all sugars and processed foods, then experimenting with an elimination diet will determine what foods are causing the symptoms. These will be removed from the diet for the time being. Supplements as required may be added in to begin the healing process.

The aim now is to restore the microbiome (the genetic content of all the microorganisms inhabiting the body), kind of like hitting the reset button. This is usually done via several processes – Introducing probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (food for the probiotics). I’ll talk more about these another time… Specific treatments such as anti-fungal or anti-parasite are also often required. It may also be part of the treatment plan to repair the biofilm (a group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other on a surface).

Once the body has healed you should be able to gradually reintroduce the foods that were triggering the allergy symptoms. I’m not including here allergens that cause anaphylactic shock!

This is a very simplistic overview as I just want you to understand that there is a difference between the symptoms and the cause. And what you may be treating, is quite likely only the symptom, so if you want to get off of those meds for good, this is something to consider.

As always I’d love to hear from you on this or any other subject and if you think this will be of interest to a friend or family member, please do share it with them. Thank you.