Now that we have answered, “What is Leaky Gut?” and “What Causes Leaky Gut?“, it is time to get into the pressing question:
How do I know if I have a leaky gut?
Just as there are causes, there are also symptoms!
- Autoimmune diseases are a symptom of leaky gut! If you have an autoimmune disease you most likely have leaky gut. Auto immune diseases include:
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Diabetes (Type 1)
- Grave’s Disease
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ulcerative Colitis
- and more…
- Allergies – this includes both food allergies and seasonal allergies.
- Digestive problems including gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and/or cramps.
- Skin problems such as acne, eczema, rashes, and rosacea.
- Nutritional deficiencies – if the body isn’t finishing digesting the food, it isn’t pulling out all the nutrients.
- Poor immune system most likely because it’s kept so busy attacking the “invaders” that are passing through the larger openings in the intestinal wall.
- Headaches, memory loss, brain fog
- Fibromyalgia – research is being done to see if this is in fact an autoimmune disorder
- Candida overgrowth. Candida is yeast, and when the number of bacteria in the intestinal tract are lessened, it allows the yeast to grow. These two keep each other in check, helping to ensure neither one overgrows and causes an infection. Antibiotics are a popular cause of yeast overgrowth, as they kill of both the good and bad bacteria in the body.
- Hormonal imbalances Did you know that estrogen is excreted from the body via the intestines? If they are sluggish, inflamed, irritated, not able to move things through as quickly as they should, something called “estrogen re-uptake” happens, which basically means it stayed in there long enough to be absorbed back into the blood stream and circulated through the body again. Yep, that’ll cause some imbalances for us women.
- Joint pain, there are actually a few autoimmune disorders that cause pain in the joints, so this might fall more under the “Autoimmune disorders” cause than one by itself, but it’s worth listing by itself because many do not think “autoimmune” when they feel joint pain.
- Cravings for sugar or carbs (typically caused either by yeast or parasites in the body)
- Mood imbalances such as depression or anxiety.
- Excessive fatigue
Obviously, with all of these various symptoms, there are other potential causes for each one. But if you have several on the list I’d certainly consider that you might be suffering from leaky gut. This brings us to the final question in our series on “Leaky Gut”…. How do I fix it? More on that tomorrow.
If we can have “leaky gut” then something must cause it right? If you don’t yet know what leaky gut is, see my previous post here: “Leaky Gut” – What is it?
What causes leaky gut?
The short answer: Irritation and Inflammation. There are several potential causes, any one of which may be the culprit and multiples put together are even more likely to cause problems.
- Imbalance of gut flora. Our intestines are filled with tiny microbes calling this area of our body home. Both bacteria and yeast set up camp in our intestinal tract, and believe it or not, they are both beneficial and necessary. However; if you have an imbalance – too much bacteria or too much yeast or or an imbalanced ratio of detrimental bacteria to beneficial bacteria, all of this imbalance causes…. you guessed it, irritation and inflammation.
- Parasites. Just like every other animal on this planet, you too can and most likely do have parasites. I know, it sounds strange and gross and horrifying even to think of. But it’s true. And parasites are excellent at causing irritation and inflammation.
- Food. Yes, your food could cause problems. Things like gluten, sugar, alcohol and dairy may cause irritation and inflammation, and if you already have leaky gut, these things may irritate and inflame the intestines even further.
- Antibiotics / Prescription medications. Yes, prescriptions are beneficial and I certainly wouldn’t go telling your doctor to stop prescribing drugs altogether. I prefer to do as much as possible via natural herbal and homeopathic methods, however; there are times the benefits of a prescription outweigh its side effects. Nonetheless, prescriptions, especially antibiotics, can cause irritation and inflammation to the intestinal tract. Plus, they kill off the beneficial bacteria living there and can throw the microflora into a state of imbalance.
- OTC’s otherwise known as “Over The Counter” medications, especially NSAID’s (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) such as acetaminophen and aspirin, can cause irritation and inflammation to the digestive system.
I’m sure there are other causes as well, but these are the most common causes I have found.
Tomorrow’s post will cover how to know if you have leaky gut
Leaky Gut. Yep, sounds like a goofy made-up thing. However; it has been discovered to be one of the leading causes of autoimmune disorders. It does have a slightly fancier term: intestinal permeability. Still sounds a little like science fiction, but it is real.
The short explanation is that the wall of your intestines should be a very close knit area that only allows tiny molecules to pass through it into your bloodstream. In the case of leaky gut, these close knit areas have loosened and they are now allowing larger particles into the bloodstream. Doesn’t sound too major, but the body doesn’t recognize what to do with these larger particles. It isn’t familiar with them because they haven’t finished digesting to their smaller molecules. The immune system sounds the “invasion” alarm and releases antibodies and causes inflammation.
For a more in-depth explanation, I found this video on youtube to be pretty good. While the speaker is obviously reading from text, the information is valuable and the graphics are enjoyable (believe me, you could get some pretty disgusting graphics under the topic of “leaky gut” – LOL)
As a side note, I have not used ImmunoLabs so I cannot attest to their company/products, but I felt the video was very informative. You can find it on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTle8qU3lzg
OK – so we’ve covered what it is, and how it causes problems in the immune system. Over time, if left uncorrected, those problems can become autoimmune disorders. So, we are left with a few questions: “What causes leaky gut?”, “How do I know if I have leaky gut?”, “How do I fix leaky gut?”.
Come back tomorrow for the answer to “What causes leaky gut”.