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What are the symptoms of a leaky gut, and what causes it?

It’s been linked to all sorts of health problems—here are the symptoms of a leaky gut, and what to do about it.

October 25, 2021
5 min read

Your gut may seem completely separate from your brain, but your digestive system has significant implications on your brain health and your mental health. And many people have no idea that they have a leaky gut. 

In this guide, we’ll explore what a leaky gut is, what the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome are, and how to give your gut the love and care it needs to thrive. 

Article breakdown

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Your gut includes more than 4,000 square feet of intestinal surface area. This intestinal lining creates a barrier between the food you're digesting, and your bloodstream and the rest of your body. 

This intestinal lining can sometimes have holes, breaks, or gaps that compromise this gut barrier. This allows whatever you eat, from toxins to parasites to specific food compounds (like sugar or gluten) to pass into your bloodstream. On a basic level, this is what a leaky gut is.

When these things pass into your bloodstream, Harvard Medical School warns that these substances can trigger an immune response, inflammation, and other negative reactions. A leaky gut is also associated with everything from an increased risk of diabetes to higher rates of food allergies.

And one of the most remarkable parts? According to Harvard’s doctors, “we all have some degree of leaky gut.”

Leaky gut syndrome symptoms

Still, even if we all experience it in some form, it clearly affects some people more than others, so it’s important to recognise the signs of leaky gut.

Some of the most widely reported symptoms of leaky gut, also clinically known as intestinal permeability, include:

  • Food sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance or gluten allergies

  • Fatigue and low energy levels

  • Bloating and feeling full all the time

  • Skin problems, such as allergies, eczema, and psoriasis

There is also a growing concern that a leaky gut is correlated with rising levels of mental health concerns. Your gut is your body’s so-called second brain, and your gut is closely linked with healthy levels of neurotransmitters, brain chemicals, and endorphins.

Poor gut health may therefore have a direct impact on your mental health.

What causes leaky gut syndrome?

Because the traditional medical field still hasn’t reached a full consensus on what causes leaky gut syndrome, there are many conflicting studies. Yet out of this still-growing body of research, a clear picture begins to emerge of what causes a leaky gut.

Causes of a leaky gut can include:

  • Eating too much sugar, which breaks down your intestinal wall

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Poor diet or nutrition, especially a lack in zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D

  • Poorly managed inflammation, with inflammation linked to everything from stress or poor diet

  • A high-stress lifestyle

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How to heal a leaky gut: leaky gut prevention and treatment for leaky gut

1. Improve your diet

A gut-friendly diet can help soothe an injured gut, or prevent more injuries from occurring in your intestinal barrier. It’s one of the simplest forms of treatment for leaky gut. In general, you want to:

While more research is needed, many people experiencing the signs of a leaky gut will often eliminate or restrict the following food groups:

  • Dairy 

  • Refined oils 

  • Artificial sweeteners 

  • Processed meats 

  • Gluten and all wheat-based products 

2. Adjust your lifestyle habits

While you might not be able to see your gut, it responds to your daily, external habits. So for another means of treatment for leaky gut syndrome, consider:

  • Exercising daily.

  • Reducing or eliminating smoking and drinking alcohol.

  • Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and other practices that lower your stress levels.

3. Rethink your leaky gut supplements

Many people immediately run to probiotics when it comes to gut health. And while probiotics are shown to improve gastrointestinal concerns, they’re only one aspect of nutrition.

New research hints that specific vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants may help to support real gut health and heal a leaky gut. These include:

If you’re worried about the health of your gut, don’t forget a daily multivitamin. Supplements for a leaky gut can help fill in the nutritional gaps in your diet, ensuring a healthy and robust microbiome. 

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If you’ve been experiencing the symptoms of a leaky gut, it’s worth thinking about which treatments might be most suitable for you. With the Heights Smart Supplement, you get the highest quality nutrients for better brain health, plus omega 3s and other nutrients that boost your gut and your brain health.

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