It can cause so many un­pleas­ant symp­toms. But what ex­actly is it? Here’s all you need to know about...


All you need to know to avoid this con­di­tion


Imag­ine the lin­ing of your di­ges­tive tract as a net, with in­cred­i­bly tiny holes, tiny enough to al­low spe­cific par­ti­cles through – but also to fil­ter out larger par­ti­cles that shouldn’t pass through. Then imag­ine a few breaks in this net. Th­ese dam­aged ar­eas let big­ger mol­e­cules – that or­di­nar­ily wouldn’t fit through the holes – pass through the net. You’re look­ing at a pic­ture of a leaky gut.

Your gut lin­ing is a bar­rier keep­ing large par­ti­cles from go­ing where they shouldn’t go. Leaky gut syn­drome de­scribes a ‘por­ous’ in­testi­nal tract, or one with a per­me­able lin­ing, caus­ing the ‘tight junc­tions’ as they are known (cells lin­ing the gut) to pull apart, which al­lows ma­te­rial to ‘leak’ into the blood­stream. In­creased in­testi­nal per­me­abil­ity or hy­per­per­me­abil­ity is not yet a main­stream or gen­er­ally ac­cepted con­di­tion in the al­lo­pathic world, but it is re- ceiv­ing more and more at­ten­tion. Why? Be­cause it’s be­com­ing so common that it’s almost reach­ing epi­demic proportions.


Well, be­cause undi­gested food mol­e­cules pass through the holes which have formed in the lin­ing of the large in­tes­tine, and go straight into the blood­stream. Re­mem­ber, th­ese mol­e­cules are not sup­posed

to be in the blood­stream – they’re meant to re­main in the gut. The in­testi­nal lin­ing is the first de­fence for our im­mune sys­tem. At the tip of the tight junc­tions are mi­cro-villi: nu­tri­ents are sup­posed to be ab­sorbed and trans­ported through th­ese cells into the blood­stream. Ide­ally, the tight junc­tions re­main closed and screen ev­ery­thing that passes into the blood­stream … they’re like bounc­ers at the door of an ex­clu­sive club. But when you de­velop leaky gut, it’s as though the bounc­ers have left the door open and gone to sleep on the job – any old un­screened mol­e­cules are free to go wan­der­ing di­rectly into the blood­stream. Not sur­pris­ingly, your body im­me­di­ately starts try­ing to get rid of the prob­lem. Imag­ine: var­i­ous tox­ins, bac­te­ria and viruses, waste, yeasts etc go­ing where they’re not sup­posed to go – it has to elicit a re­ac­tion.


The breach in your in­testi­nal wall causes in­flam­ma­tion, and in­flam­ma­tion it­self evokes an im­mune re­sponse. Your im­mune sys­tem is mo­bilised and goes into bat­tle mode – but if it can’t fight the in­va­sion fast enough, and if the in­flam­ma­tory process is not brought un­der con­trol, the bat­tle is ba­si­cally lost. Pretty soon, your body is in full fight mode, and even­tu­ally it will turn on it­self, of­ten man­i­fest­ing in an ar­ray of au­toim­mune dis­eases – any­thing from chronic fa­tigue to mul­ti­ple sclero­sis, ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis, Crohn’s dis­ease, fi­bromyal­gia etc. Th­ese are the most common au­toim­mune dis­eases seen with leaky gut, but there are also oth­ers – like se­vere skin prob­lems, asthma, rheuma­toid arthri­tis, pso­ri­a­sis and many other con­di­tions of ‘a lesser na­ture’. Th­ese are equally dis­tress­ing, but not seen to be as ‘se­ri­ous’ as an au­toim­mune dis­ease. Some other common (yet per­haps not of­ten re­alised) side ef­fects of leaky gut in­clude brain fog, si­nus prob­lems, sore throats and headaches – seem­ingly ‘mi­nor’ ail­ments. For oth­ers, there are more life-threat­en­ing and se­vere symp­toms that man­i­fest in se­ri­ous dis­ease like coeliac dis­ease. Coeliac dis­ease is a bit of a chicken and egg sce­nario: we’re not re­ally sure whether it is caused by, or causes, leaky gut – but we do know that gluten da­m­ages the gut lin­ing, and that coeliac suf­fer­ers may have a ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion to con­tract­ing this dis­ease, given cer­tain cir­cum­stances and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors.

An­ti­bod­ies are formed to fight the in­vaders. All undi­gested food is re­garded as an in­vader which your im­mune sys­tem will wage war on, and will show up as food in­tol­er­ance. The in­vaders can be the ca­sein pro­tein from milk, or the gluten from wheat, or other foods like nuts or eggs – a per­son with a leaky gut will of­ten be sen­si­tive or in­tol­er­ant to a host of dif­fer­ent foods. But that per­son is not truly in­tol­er­ant to those foods; the blood­stream is just not the place for those pro­teins, so the body fights them as it sees them as alien. The mi­crovilli along the in­testi­nal tract lin­ing be­come com­pro­mised, and the di­ges­tive en­zymes needed to break down the last bits of undi­gested food for proper di­ges­tion are no longer able to do this ef­fi­ciently.

Your di­ges­tive tract in­flu­ences ev­ery­thing from di­ges­tion to com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the brain – it’s known as ‘the sec­ond brain’, in fact, that’s how much of an in­flu­ence your gut has on you. By con­tin­u­ally feed­ing your­self in­flam­ma­tory food, you will never al­low your gut to heal. The

Pretty soon, your body is in full fight mode, and even­tu­ally it will turn on it­self, of­ten man­i­fest­ing in an ar­ray of au­toim­mune dis­eases – any­thing from chronic fa­tigue to mul­ti­ple sclero­sis, ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis, etc

anti-in­flam­ma­tory LCHF way of eat­ing is per­fect for this con­di­tion. Chronic in­flam­ma­tion doesn’t stop there. As Dr Alessio Fasano, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Coeliac Re­search and Treat­ment in Mas­sachusetts says, ‘the gut is not like Las Ve­gas – what hap­pens in the gut doesn’t stay in the gut’.


To back up a bit (no pun in­tended!), there are four main causes: poor diet, chronic stress, toxin over­load (ie. an­tibi­otic use, for ex­am­ple) and bac­te­rial im­bal­ance, cou­pled with a lack of zinc, which is needed to main­tain a strong in­testi­nal lin­ing. The four sub­stances which cause the most dam­age in the way of food­stuffs

are dairy, grains, sugar and ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied foods (GMO). Grains and GMO foods have lectins, which dam­age the lin­ing of the gut, and may do a lot more harm than you re­alise. Other lectin-con­tain­ing foods are spelt, legumes, rice and soya. Soya is by far the worst and most dam­ag­ing, on a par with wheat.

Those are the pri­mary rea­sons, but there are oth­ers: med­i­ca­tions such as steroids and anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries, long-term NSAID (non-steroidal anti-in­flam­ma­tory) use, pol­lu­tion, a high sugar diet, stress, nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency, yeast over­growth … any and all of th­ese, and dozens more, can con­trib­ute to leaky gut. Any­thing that da­m­ages the in­tegrity of the in­testi­nal mu­cosa will cause prob­lems, and will also lead to se­vere mal­ab­sorp­tion of vi­tal nu­tri­ents in­clud­ing zinc, iron and Vi­ta­min B12.


It’s pos­si­ble, as it’s so wide­spread and un­der-recog­nised th­ese days. You’ll prob­a­bly have quite a lot of, or at least some of, the fol­low­ing symp­toms if you have leaky gut. Bear in mind that ra­di­a­tion or chemo can cause them too:

• Chronic con­sti­pa­tion

or di­ar­rhoea • Mul­ti­ple food sen­si­tiv­i­ties • Chronic fa­tigue • Some sort of au­toim­mune

dis­ease • Skin rashes; pso­ri­a­sis;

acne; rosacea • Si­nusi­tis/asthma/eczema • Joint pain, mus­cle pain

or arthri­tis • Yeast over­growth

(can­dida) • Crav­ings for sug­ary

car­bo­hy­drates • Anx­i­ety/de­pres­sion • Se­vere hor­monal is­sues • Gas, bloat­ing, re­flux • Thy­roid prob­lems • Over­weight or un­der­weight for

your height • Weight gain • Di­ges­tive com­plaints or

dis­ease con­di­tions

Leaky gut will of­ten man­i­fest in the al­ler­gic re­sponse (of­ten seen in asth­mat­ics, those with eczema, ur­ticaria etc), mal­nu­tri­tion (the lin­ing of the gut is not prop­erly ‘fed’ or pro­tected by good bac­te­rial flora); bac­te­rial dys­bio­sis (an im­bal­ance be­tween ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bac­te­ria, of­ten due to an­tibi­otic use), and he­patic (liver) stress. The liver works over­time to re­move the tox­ins from the body, and de­pletes im­por­tant re­serves needed to keep up the good work.


You ab­so­lutely have to elim­i­nate sug­ars, starches, grains and in­flam­ma­tory pro­cessed food in or­der to starve the yeast and qui­eten the in­flam­ma­tion, which will al­low the gut to heal. While there is no magic bul­let, the low car­bo­hy­drate life­style is ideal for heal­ing the gut. Diet, life­style and some tar­geted nu­tri­ents all work to­gether to cor­rect the prob­lem. Some good sup­ple­ments would be zinc, vi­ta­min D3, omega-3 fish oil (not flax) and a good mul­ti­vi­ta­min. Pro­bi­otics are paramount here too as they are the most im­por­tant part of a healthy in­testi­nal tract. We have tril­lions of bac­te­ria – up to 3kg just in the large in­tes­tine in an adult. Th­ese are the friendly bac­te­ria that pro­tect us and make up 85% of our im­mune sys­tem. In fact, we have more bac­te­ria in and on our bod­ies than ac­tual cells mak­ing up our bod­ies! We are a par­a­sitic heaven, if you like, and most of th­ese are ben­e­fi­cial to us. With­out them we would not sur­vive.

Follow LCHF prin­ci­ples,

be fo­cused and de­ter­mined and don’t slip up.

So: treat your­self to lots of home-made bone broths and fer­mented vegetables – two ex­tremely healthy and tasty ways to re­pop­u­late healthy bac­te­ria while heal­ing the gut. Follow LCHF prin­ci­ples, be fo­cused and de­ter­mined and don’t slip up. Each slip-up sab­o­tages your ef­forts to heal your gut. And get enough sleep, plenty of clean wa­ter and some ex­er­cise to help your body support this vi­tal heal­ing process. Give your­self time, and treat your body with the re­spect it de­serves: it will re­ward you hand­somely and do what it does best – heal it­self when given the chance.

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