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Leaky Gut Syndrome Facts

Updated on December 22, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

I spent 22 years in the nursing profession. I enjoy writing, reading historical novels, gardening, and helping people live a healthier life.

Digestive System
Digestive System | Source

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky Gut Syndrome causes the digestive system, which includes many organs, to absorb toxins, bacteria and undigested food. This syndrome causes intestinal permeability, which causes gaps in the intestinal walls that begin to loosen. Then, harmful substances are able to leak into the bloodstream through those gaps.

The healthy intestinal wall is designed to act as a barrier to prevent harmful substances from leaking into the bloodstream. A normal intestinal wall allows absorption of nutrients and water absorption but keeps undigested food, toxins and bacteria out.

My doctor told me I probably have a leaky gut due to having lupus and arthritis. I don’t know if I do, but I have worked on improving my diet. It is too soon for me to know if I have been successful.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

― Hippocrates

Health Problems Caused by Leaky Gut

Several studies have revealed the leaky gut syndrome's effect on autoimmune diseases. While there is not a large amount of evidence to prove that this syndrome is a serious problem, it is being studied. Many alternative medical practitioners believe it is linked to such diseases as; autism, migraines, brain fog, food sensitivities, several skin conditions and chronic fatigue.

Mayo Clinic is currently working on a study that “measures the ability of two non-metabolized sugar molecules, lactulose and mannitol, to permeate the intestinal mucosa,” for people that have reported a gluten sensitivity even when they were on a gluten free diet.”

Mayo Clinic’s goal is to measure glucose intolerance sensitivity. Patients with other diseases, such as; systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s and celiac disease, diabetes type 1 and several other diseases are thought to have leaky gut syndrome even though it is to be a cause of these diseases.

Some other symptoms of leaky gut also include:

  1. Nutritional deficiencies

  2. Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating

  3. Headaches, memory loss, brain fog

  4. Chronic fatigue

  5. Unhealthy immune system

  6. Arthritis and joint pain

  7. Skin rashes (acne, rosacea or eczema)

  8. Excessive cravings for sugar or carbs

  9. Anxiety, Depression, ADD, ADHD

Treatment of Leaky Gut Syndrome

There is a protein that regulates the tight junctions in the intestinal tract called Zonulin. This particular protein actually loosens those tight junctions that increase intestinal permeability. Zonulin is the only known protein that is a physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions. Gluten or bacteria may stimulate a higher Zonulin level.

There are other inflammatory mediators that may cause intestinal permeability, such as interleukin 13, tumor necrosis factor or the long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which includes ibuprofen or aspirin. Low levels of healthy gut bacteria may also be a problem.

You Need to Know About Leaky Gut Syndrome

Foods That May Help

An unhealthy gut is linked to poor health, which includes cancers, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation and heart disease. Some doctors advocate taking probiotics for a healthy intestinal system. Mayo Clinic advises people to eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. You can change your eating habits to include the following foods.

These foods will help grow beneficial gut bacteria:

  1. Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and yogurt

  2. Vegetables: kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, swiss chard, spinach, ginger, mushrooms zucchini, kale, arugula, eggplant, carrots

  3. Healthy fats: coconut oil, avocado, olives, butter, fatty fish and bone broth

  4. Fruit: coconut, grapes, all types of berries, kiwi, pineapple, oranges, lemon and lime

  5. Sprouted seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds

  6. Gluten-free grains: buckwheat, rice (white or brown) aranth, sorghum and gluten-free oats

  7. Fish: salmon, herring and omega-3 fish

  8. All herbs and spices

  9. Nuts: raw nuts, almonds, walnuts, macadamia

  10. Cultured dairy products: Greek yogurt, Kefir and traditional buttermilk

  11. Beverages: bone broth, teas (Ginger), coconut, almond milk, other nut milks



Foods to Avoid

There are foods that cause more inflammation in the body. A diet should promote digestive health by focusing on as listed above.

The foods to avoid include:

  1. Wheat-based foods: bread, pasta, cereal, wheat flour, couscous and more

  2. Grains that contain gluten: oats, barley, rye, bulgur, seitan and and triticale

  3. Baked goods and snack foods: cookies, muffins, crackers, chips, popcorn

  4. Dairy products: milk, cheeses and ice cream

  5. Refined oils: canola, sunflower, soybean and safflower oils

  6. Artificial sweeteners: aspartame, sucralose and saccharin

  7. Beverages: carbonated beverages, alcohol and sugary drinks

  8. Sauces: salad dressing, teriyaki and hoisin sauce

  9. Processed meats: cold cuts, deli meats, bacon and hot dogs

  10. Processed junk foods

How to Heal Leaky Gut | Nutrition Coaching

In Summary

History reveals that people were often healed with particular foods, and there were no processed foods decades ago. Perhaps we have health problems due to poor eating habits. We were raised loving ice cream, Coca Cola, candy, etc.

Think of a farmer in the 1800s, when crops were grown on their land, livestock were bred and bread was baked from scratch. Not only was there diet better, they worked hard. Exercise was a given. Having done genealogy research, many of these people lived to a ripe old age. Now, what we eat is typically not home grown, except for those people that have a vegetable garden in the summer. Eating healthier and stopping smoking could probably heal many diseases.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi RTalloni, It is so easy to eat something that is not heathy, but if you are avoiding the second list than you are eating lhealthy. Writing this article encouraged me to do better also. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • profile image


    2 years ago

    Thanks much for this information. We've let our eating habits slip even though we did so well by avoiding the second list and sticking closely with the first! This is encouragement to begin in earnest with really healthy eating again.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    hi Yves. I have one Paleo diet cookbook, but I may get another. I have been avoiding the foods that probably increase inflammation and it does make me feel better.

    I am glad your found this article informative. I appreciate your comments.

  • savvydating profile image


    2 years ago

    Hi Pamela.....The dietary guidelines you mentioned sound like the Paleo diet. I don't have a sensitive stomach, but I try to eat paleo sometimes. If you're interested, there's a wonderful cookbook out there entitled Against All Grain, by Danielle Walker. The recipes are easy to make and delicious. (She even has a spiral bound edition)

    Most importantly, the book includes all the foods you mentioned.

    I hope you are on the road to recovery. You're article was most informative!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Liz, I would think gluten probably should be avoided. Some people tolerat dairy and some have a bad reaction. I don't use dairy at all.

    Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish, A little humor helps with a tough topic, and I always thought that song was fun. I think that the gut may be a second immune system. I appreciate your comments.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    2 years ago from UK

    I notice that there are known allergens in the list of foods to avoid, such as gluten and dairy. This is a very useful and interesting hub.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    2 years ago from USA

    Oh, how I wish that list of do and don’t eat foods were reversed. I have heard the gut called our second immune system. I love your humor in adding that song!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I would have liked to have some of the diet facts I have learned recently years ago. I appreciate your best wishes and comments.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    A healthy diet is important in so many ways. Thank you for emphasizing this importance, Pamela. Best wishes to you with respect to your health.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ms. Dora, I am glad you found this article helpful. I agree that children are fed processed food early in life, and I don't think that is healthy.

    I appreciate your comments.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    2 years ago from The Caribbean

    Pam, your conclusion needs to be shouted from the rooftop. Even small children and being fed processed foods and can eat their way into early ill-health. Thanks for the explanation on leaky gut. I especially appreciate the list of foods to avoid.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Good morning Maria, I am glad you found this article worthwhile, and I hope the list of foods will be useful.

    Your comments slattering! Thank you.

    I hope you have a great day also. Love, Pam

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Dear Pamela,

    I plan to print out these lists of healthy foods and foods to avoid - an excellent reference even for those of us lucky enough to not have Leaky Gut Syndrome.

    Your articles are always worthwhile and ever so informative - thank!

    Have a great day. Love, Maria

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy, I have wondered if more people have autoimmune problems today due to so much processed food and so much medicine. The milk wasn't pasturized for the farmers, etc. It is a bit of a mystery.

    I appreciate your comments.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    2 years ago from Houston, Texas

    It is true that farming families of old worked hard and had healthier lifestyles than most of us do today. The foods they raised were local and fresh. As to gluten, most of the homemade loaves of bread that they would have eaten did probably contain gluten. The dairy farmers undoubtedly drank milk and consumed cheese and butter. So other factors must have been involved if they lived long and healthy lives. Perhaps it was the exercise and decent amounts of sleep that they had? This is an interesting article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Clive, A leaky brain could be a problem for you Clive. :-) I appreciate your very nice comments.

  • clivewilliams profile image

    Clive Williams 

    2 years ago from Jamaica

    I think I have a leaky brain, but asides from my shortcomings. As usual a very informative piece.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Pop, I am not sure I do either. Since this is a newer diagnosis I imagine a lot of people do, but they just don't know it yet.

    Thanks for stopping by and have a great week.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, i must usually laugh with your commet. I mean riding with the chickens is funny! I am glad you like my health articles. It is good to be a good steward of your body for that precious boy. I believe you will beat that cancer (mind over matter maybe).

    I always appreciate your comments. Wishing you a great week.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill, I agree with you. It sounds horrid, and I am not so sure I have this problem either. I don't have most of those symptoms.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a good week!

  • breakfastpop profile image


    2 years ago

    Interesting article. I could read it without fear because I don't think I suffer from it!

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Men die. With my cancer I promise to not go down easy. And our food will make us live. These o so helpful articles are a blessing. We must be stewards of ourselves, maybe no to much for ourselves but for others. Your writing is first class, I am glad the conductor allowed me to move up to hear it as I ride with chickens.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    2 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I read the first paragraph and thought "thank God I don't have that!" My goodness, there is nothing about that which sounds good. :(


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