12 Telltale Signs You Have a Leaky Gut and How to Heal It

12 Telltale Signs You Have a Leaky Gut and How to Heal It

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The leaky gut syndrome doesn’t only cause symptoms in the digestive system. Instead, it can cause uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes harmful symptoms to appear throughout the body. Leaky gut can result from chronic stress, unhealthy dietary choices, toxic overload, and bacterial imbalance.

This syndrome is recognized by holistic practitioners and nutritionists worldwide. However, many doctors still don’t recognize leaky gut as a real medical condition because it isn’t diagnosable. A healthy gut indicates good overall health, but leaky gut syndrome disrupts it and causes many problems.

Leaky gut is a digestive condition affecting the intestines lining, causing gaps in the intestinal walls. These gaps allow bacteria and toxins to get into the bloodstream, causing issues for your entire body. With bacteria and toxins flowing throughout your body, it’s easy to see why the leaky gut symptoms vary in location and severity.

Understanding the symptoms of a leaky gut can help you make lifestyle and dietary changes to overcome the issue. When you know what you are dealing with, you can limit and prevent the causes. Treatment options vary based on the underlying cause, but you can overcome the syndrome.

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What is a Leaky Gut?

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Leaky gut is a syndrome that describes porous intestines and allows toxins and undigested foods to get into your bloodstream instead of passing through your feces. While some porousness in your intestines is normal, too much can cause leakage. The leakages typically occur in the small intestine.

When toxins and undigested food leave your digestive system and enter your body, it causes a wide variety of symptoms. These materials should be confined in your digestive system and lead to widespread complications and symptoms.

In a healthy digestive system, toxins go to a specific area that prevents them from causing damage to areas of your body unprepared for them. With a leaky gut, those toxins can enter your bloodstream and into your organs. These bacteria and toxins cause inflammation and disrupt the immune system.

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The tears and openings in your intestine will get bigger as long as the underlying cause is present. As the size increases, more harmful substances slip through.

Leaky gut symptoms go beyond inflammation and immune problems, though. The longer these materials leak into your bloodstream, the more severe and widespread the symptoms become. Plus, your intestine will likely stop producing enzymes required for digestion, leading to even more issues.

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The causes of leaky gut vary, but the most common cause is your diet. The foods that you consume each day impact your body in ways you wouldn’t expect. Some foods that can trigger leaky gut symptoms include gluten, soy, and dairy because your body treats them as foreign invaders.

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Leaky gut is caused by some medications, including antibiotics, steroids, or over-the-counter pain relievers. These medications cause intestinal lining irritations and can damage protective mucus layers. The irritation and damage then cause inflammation, leading to a cycle of permeability.

A bacterial imbalance can also cause a leaky gut because the ratio of harmful and helpful bacteria is off in your gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, long-term exposure to stress can weaken your immune system and hinder your body’s ability to eliminate harmful substances. When your body can’t eliminate these substances, it leads to inflammation and a leaky gut.

Toxin overload can also cause a leaky gut as your body becomes overloaded with antibiotics, pesticides, aspirin, contaminated tap water, and other sources of toxicity. Because the gastrointestinal tract runs from your mouth to the anus, a leak can cause issues anywhere in between.

Some people have a genetic predisposition to the leaky gut because of a sensitivity to environmental factors. These factors can trigger the body into initiating autoimmune responses when they aren’t necessary.

Twelve Leaky Gut Symptoms

Since leaky gut can cause issues all over the body, the symptoms vary widely and can be confused for other health conditions. Some of the leaky gut symptoms include:

1. Chronic Diarrhea, Constipation, Or Bloating

The toxins that leak into areas they aren’t meant for can cause infectious diarrhea. A leaky gut can also lead to constipation or bloating and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. You might not experience all three symptoms as experiencing only one of them is a symptom.

2. Nutrition Deficiencies

A leaky gut can cause a lack of vitamin B12, magnesium, and digestive enzymes. For these deficiencies, a doctor might suggest whole-food multivitamins and probiotics each day. A leaky gut can cause your body to not absorb nutrients from food, so supplementing can help.

Plus, if undigested food leaks out of the intestines, then your body never gets a chance to break it down and absorb the nutrients. Without essential nutrients and vitamins, you will experience other symptoms such as chronic fatigue and brain fog.

3. Poor Immune System

If you develop autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease, it could be a sign of leaky gut. Other autoimmune diseases it can cause include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or psoriasis. When it causes immune system problems, eliminating gluten and other inflammatory foods can help.

4. Headaches, Or Decrease in Cognitive Function

Being prone to headaches or experiencing brain fog or memory loss can indicate leaky gut syndrome. Plus, bad bacteria and candida can cause an overload of histamine, causing migraines, headaches, and other cognitive issues.

5. Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of the leaky gut syndrome. Not only is the fatigue related to a lack of nutrients, but it also stems from the other symptoms. As your body fights off symptoms, your energy levels will decrease, and you’ll be tired even after sleeping.

leaky gut symptoms
6. Skin Problems Like Acne or Eczema

Leaky gut leads to skin problems such as eczema, acne, or other inflammatory skin issues. A study in Dermatology Times reveals that the gut-skin connection causes skin inflammation when the gut is inflamed. So, rather than treating your acne or eczema, you must treat your leaky gut syndrome to find relief.

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7. Sugar and Carb Cravings

Many people don’t realize that sugar and carb cravings are a symptom of the leaky gut syndrome. This subtle sign occurs because your body is unable to digest food, causing a lack of glucose. When you don’t have enough glucose in your body, the sugar and carb cravings begin.

While sugar and carb cravings seem harmless, they are one of the more serious leaky gut symptoms. It leads to severe health problems if you ignore it for too long.

8. Joint Pains

Leaky gut causes inflammation, a direct contributor to joint pain. If you haven’t experienced a joint injury, inflammation is the likely culprit. Plus, a leaky gut can cause arthritis, leaving you with intense joint pain and other issues.

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Inflammation that causes joint pain can occur because of other issues, so check the other symptoms to see if you have multiple. If joint pain is the only symptom, there’s a good chance that the pain is from something else.

9. Depression and Anxiety

Studies show that having leaky gut syndrome might cause mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. If you notice that you have fluctuating temperaments or unhealthy thoughts, it could be a symptom.

Leaky gut causes depression and anxiety because the toxins in your bloodstream travel to your brain. Once the substance reaches the brain, it causes mental health issues as your brain works to adapt. Typically, you’ll need to have other symptoms along with mental health issues to get a leaky gut diagnosis.

10. Autoimmune Diseases

A lax zonulin passageway can sometimes cause a leaky gut. Zonulin is a protein that triggers widespread damage, causing your body to attack healthy cells and tissues. When your body attacks healthy cells, it is an autoimmune condition.

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Gluten is often the culprit of a lax zonulin passageway. If you have this symptom, you’ll need to follow a gluten-free diet to strengthen the passageways.

11. Seasonal Allergies

The leaky gut syndrome can cause seasonal allergies or asthma. If you start experiencing either of these things and you never have before, it could be a leaky gut symptom. Not only can it cause seasonal allergies, but studies show that a leaky gut can cause food allergies, too.

12. Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalances such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) are leaky gut symptoms. Leaky gut can also trigger the thyroid gland to generate an immune response, preventing it from producing necessary hormones.

If hormonal imbalances are the only leaky gut symptom you recognize, it can be hard to diagnose. Hormone imbalances can occur for a wide variety of reasons, so looking for other symptoms can help.

How to Heal a Leaky Gut

If you have a leaky gut, there are ways to heal it. While it’s hard to know for sure if the leaky gut syndrome is the issue, but once you know, you can try the following strategies:

  • Eat Healthy Foods: Leaky gut can occur when you eat too many unhealthy foods. If you want to heal, you should avoid processed and high-sugar foods. You should also avoid dairy products, gluten, alcohol, and refined oils.
  • Develop and Maintain a Healthy Sleep Cycle: If you can get enough sleep, your overall health improves, and it strengthens your immune system. Try changing your sleep schedule and aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Eliminate Stress When Possible: Stress intensifies symptoms of leaky gut, so reducing the stress in your life is essential to healing leaky gut. Take time off from stressful things, and spend time exercising, meditating, and doing things you enjoy.

leaky gut symptoms
Final Thoughts on Leaky Gut Symptoms and How to Heal It

The leaky gut syndrome is becoming more common, although some medical professionals don’t acknowledge it. Watching for the symptoms can help you make necessary changes in your diet and lifestyle before the leaky gut symptoms get out of control.

Once you’ve recognized the symptoms, you can start doing things to heal your leaky gut. The symptoms don’t only happen in the digestive tract, as the condition affects your entire body. Find ways to alleviate the symptoms so that you can live a better life.

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Sarah Barkley is a lifestyle blogger and freelance writer with a Bachelor's Degree in Literature from Baker College. She is experienced in all things related to parenting, marriage, and life as a millennial parent, but loves to learn new things. She enjoys the research that goes into a strong article, and no topic is off-limits to Sarah. When she isn't writing, she is immersed in a book or watching Gilmore Girls. Sarah loves reading classic novels but also enjoys a good thriller.

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