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Leaky Gut Syndrome

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Written by Gerda Venter

Medically reviewed by Dr. Daniela Steyn

Leaky Gut is an interesting phenomenon being diagnosed more commonly than ever before. If you have ever been diagnosed with leaky gut or wondered if you might have it, this article is for you! For some people, it is obvious that they have a leaky gut. They come to us with abdominal discomfort, bloating or generally feeling blah. Other people have no idea. They might have a seemingly unrelated concern. With testing we might establish a nutrient deficiency in someone with a healthy diet, however, due to their intestines not being able to absorb all the nutrients in their diet adequately, we diagnose a leaky gut. For some people, the only symptom might be a headache or brain fog, other people with a leaky gut experiences fatigue, joint pain or skin issues.

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) refers to the increased permeability of the intestinal wall. The human digestive system includes the gastrointestinal tract that helps the process of digestion or breakdown of food molecules into small components. The intestines are crucial when it comes to protecting the body from harmful bacteria and toxins.

The large intestine and small intestine are two critical parts that form part of your gastrointestinal tract. The Large intestine is around 1.5 m in length. It is also known as the colon or large bowel. The large intestine starts where the small intestine ends. The primary function of the large intestine is to absorb water and salts from digested products and store the remaining product as feces. It cannot absorb nutrients.

The small intestine, on the other hand, measures around 4.5 to 7 m in length. It has a tube-like structure and is the link between the large intestine and stomach. Digestive enzymes within the stomach and small intestine break down nutrients in food and drink. The body then uses these smaller molecules for energy, growth, and repair.

Your small intestine is where most of the absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals happen. Along it is the intestinal wall with small, tight gaps that allow nutrients and water to pass through and combine with the bloodstream while keeping the harmful substances inside the intestines. With leaky gut syndrome, these openings become wider, resulting in hyperpermeability, allowing food particles, bacteria, and toxins to enter the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

It is important to note that a certain level of controversy exists about whether leaky gut syndrome exists. The reason for this is that the symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome generally are symptoms associated with many other diseases, making diagnosing the disorder incredibly difficult.

While many doctors and healthcare professionals do not recognize leaky gut syndrome as a diagnosable condition, current scientific evidence suggests that it may contribute to many medical conditions. Some of the possible symptoms associated with leaky gut include:

  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation, or bloating

  • Nutritional deficiencies

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Difficulty concentrating, confusion or brain fog

  • Skin problems, such as acne, rashes, or eczema

  • Joint pain