The gut or gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) is the long tube that begins at the mouth and ends at the anal passage. It is responsible for processing food from the time it is first consumed until it is absorbed and released by the body as stool.
"Leaky Gut Syndrome" also known as intestinal permeability, is a condition that can disrupt your gut health and pave the path for a host of other medical conditions.
What Is the ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’?
The leaky gut syndrome is a rapidly growing condition that people from the world over are experiencing of late. Although problems begin with your digestive system if you have the leaky gut syndrome, it affects other aspects of your health as well.
Your gut is lined by a wall, which is similar to a net with small holes in them. These small holes act as filters and enable the passage of certain substances only. It acts as a shield to keep out the bigger, harmful substances from entering your body.
When someone has a ‘leaky gut’, it means that the gut lining is damaged and cannot optimally function as a barrier any longer. The smaller holes become larger and allow harmful substances like gluten, bad bacteria, and undigested food particles to enter your system and cause considerable damage to health.
What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
There are 4 main reasons for the leaky gut syndrome:
- Dysbiosis, or bacterial imbalance, is a leading cause of the leaky gut syndrome. It means an imbalance between helpful and harmful species of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract
- Poor diet, comprising proteins found in unsprouted grains, sugar, genetically-modified foods (GMO), and dairy products.
- Prolonged exposure to stress, which can weaken your immune system and inhibits your body’s ability to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses, resulting in inflammation and leaky gut.
- Toxin overload, that can lead to the leaky gut syndrome. We come across more than 80,000 chemicals and other toxic substances on a daily basis. However, the main culprits are antibiotics, pesticides, aspirin, and contaminated tap water.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Here are the 11 signs and symptoms of leaky gut syndrome:
- Digestive system changes like bloating, diarrhoea, gas, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Read more here.
- Seasonal allergies or asthmatic symptoms.
- Hormonal imbalances like PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome).
- Autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.
- Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Learn more about mental health here.
- Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, or eczema.
- Candida overgrowth, which is a fungal infection in humans.
- Food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances.
- A Weak or poor immune system.
- Arthritis or joint pain.
The Leaky Gut Diet Plan - Foods to Eat and Avoid If You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome
There are a number of things you can do to manage symptoms of a leaky gut. There are certain foods to eat and avoid if you have this condition.
Foods to Eat
Eating a diet rich in beneficial gut bacteria can help keep your gut health in check. An unhealthy amount of harmful bacteria is known to trigger conditions like chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and cancers.
The following foods are great for improving gut health:
- Vegetables, roots, and tubers such as broccoli, carrots, brinjal, beetroots, spinach, ginger, mushrooms, potatoes, yams, and squash.
- Fruits such as grapes, bananas, coconut, papaya, lemons and limes, pineapples, oranges, and strawberries.
- Sprouted seeds like chia, flax, and sunflower.
- Gluten-free grains like amaranth, brown rice, and gluten-free oats.
- Healthy fats like avocado, coconut and almond oils.
- Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and other omega-3 rich fish.
- Meats and eggs.
- Herbs and spices.
- Cultured dairy products like buttermilk and greek yoghurt.
- Soups and beverages like bone broth, coconut milk, teas, and nut-based milk and products.
- Raw nuts like peanuts and almonds.
Foods to Avoid
Just how eating the right foods is important for your gut health so is avoiding certain foods that can cause damage to your digestive system.
Foods you should avoid for a healthy gut are:
- Wheat-based products like bread, pasta, wheat flour, and couscous
- Gluten-rich grains like barley and oats
- Processed meats and cold cuts
- Baked products like cookies, pastries, and cakes
- Snacks like crackers and granola bars
- Junk food or fast food
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice creams
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined oil
- Sauces and dressings with soy, hoisin, teriyaki and the likes
- Alcohol and carbonated drinks
The leaky gut syndrome is a fast-growing health condition. Maintaining a healthy diet with the right mix of exercise or physical activity can ensure your digestive system is healthy in the long run.