A hypothetical disease, Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS), has not been accepted as a medically diagnosable condition by doctors and other healthcare professionals.
Researchers, on the other hand, are suggesting that leaky gut may be a medical condition and has a role to play in various other medical conditions.
In this article, we will look at LGS, it’s symptoms, as well as foods to eat and avoid.
Leaky Gut SyndromeThe human GI tract is a tube that connects different organs like the esophagus, stomach, large and small intestines.
Digestive enzymes present in the stomach, as well as small intestine, break down the various nutrients present in the food to smaller molecules which are later utilized by the body for its diverse needs like energy, repair, and growth.
The intestines (both large and small) play a very significant role in protecting our body from harmful toxins and bacteria. This is made possible through the tight junctions in the intestinal walls.
These tight openings allow the nutrients and water to pass through while restricting the harmful substances inside.
In LGS, certain medical conditions causes these intestinal wall openings to get wider that not only allow the nutrients to pass through, but also enables the food particles, toxins, and bacteria to seep into the bloodstream.
Leaky Gut Syndrome CausesThe intestines houses numerous bacteria known as gut microbiota.
These bacteria help in digesting the food, protecting the intestinal walls, and supporting healthy immune function. LGS may affect gut microbiota balance.
This can result in the gut microbiota triggering the immune response, which can result in increased intestinal permeability (IP) and gut inflammation. IP is the ease with which substances can permeate or leak from intestines into the bloodstream.
Leaky Gut Syndrome SymptomsSince symptoms of leaky gut overlap with other medical conditions, doctors cannot pinpoint the exact cause.
Some symptoms that can cause LGS include:
- Nutritional deficiency
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Difficulty concentrating
- Joint pain
- Skin problems (rashes, eczema, acne)
- Widespread inflammation
Foods to HaveSince LGS is not a medical diagnosis, the doctors cannot recommend a specific treatment.
The main line of treatment is food. When you have LGS, there are certain types of foods you should have and certain foods that have to be avoided.
A study has shown that a diet that is rich in foods helps in the growth of useful gut bacteria and can act as a primary step in dealing with LGS. Harmful gut bacteria can result in cancers, heart disease, chronic inflammation, and type 2 diabetes.
The following foods help in improving the digestive health
BeveragesWater, teas, bone broth, nut milk, coconut milk, and kombucha
VegetablesBrussels sprout, cabbage, carrot, kale, eggplant, spinach, zucchini
Animal productsLean cuts of beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and eggs
Tubers and rootsCarrots, potatoes, yam, squash, sweet potatoes, and turnips
Gluten-free grainsAmaranth, buckwheat, rice (white and brown), teff, sorghum, and gluten-free oats
FishHerring, tuna, salmon, and other fishes rich in omega-3
FruitsGrapes, coconut, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, mandarin, oranges, limes, lemon, papaya, and passion fruit
Fermented vegetablesMiso, kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut
Cultured dairy productsTraditional buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, and Greek yogurt
Healthy fatsAvocado, Oils (avocado, coconut, and olive oil(extra virgin))
Sprouted seedsChia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and more
Herbs and spicesAll types of herbs and spices
NutsRaw nuts like almonds, peanuts, and other nut-based products
Foods to AvoidAvoiding certain types of foods goes a long way in healing and improving gut health.
Some types of foods can affect healthy gut bacteria and can trigger digestive symptoms. These include:
Artificial sweetenersAspartame, saccharin, and sucralose
Baked goodsCookies, cakes, muffins, pastries, pies, and pizza
BeveragesAlcohol, carbonated beverages, and sugary drinks
Dairy productsMilk, different cheeses, ice cream
Gluten-containing grainsBulgur, barley, rye, triticale, and oats
Junk foodCandy bars, fast foods, sugary cereals, potato chips, etc.
Processed meatsBacon, deli meats, cold cuts, hot dogs, etc.
Refined oilsCanola, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils
SaucesHoisin sauce, soy, salad dressings, and teriyaki
Snack foodsCrackers, muesli bars, pretzels, popcorn, etc.
Wheat-based productsBread, cereals, couscous, pasta, wheat flour, etc.
Other AlternativesBesides food, there are some other alternatives for improving the leaky gut syndrome. These include:
- Probiotic supplements
- Reducing stress
- Avoid smoking
- Sleeping more
- Limiting alcohol intake
The BottomlineLeaky gut syndrome has not been recognized as a medical diagnosis since there is not enough scientific evidence.
Increased IP, one of the leading causes of LGS, can also occur alongside chronic diseases such as type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. However, there is an increased likelihood of LGS being a symptom of these diseases.
That said, one can take several steps to address the leaky gut.
Eating food that aid in the growth of helpful gut bacteria, avoiding refined and processed junk foods, and living a healthier lifestyle are some of the ways you can treat the leaky gut syndrome.