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Leaky Gut Syndrome: What It Is And How To Avoid It

Avoiding Leaky Gut Syndrome | Mindful Healing | Mississauga Naturopathic Doctor


Last time, we talked about the health of your gut from the perspective of a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga, as well as how important it is in maintaining overall health.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Improve The Health Of Your Gut

The lining in your gut is responsible for controlling what gets absorbed into your bloodstream and keeping it free of toxins.

Thus, any tears or holes in the lining can put your health at risk.

Today, I want to talk to you about a specific gut issue that can arise when this happens.

It’s known as leaky gut syndrome.

It’s a condition that can occur when the health of your gut is struggling.

But what exactly is leaky gut syndrome?

What does it do?

And more importantly, how do you avoid it?

These are the questions naturopathic doctors such as myself are frequently asked.

Keep reading to find out the answers.

More bacteria live and work in one linear centimeter of your lower colon than all the humans who have ever lived. That’s what’s going on in your digestive tract right now. Are we in charge, or are we simply hosts for bacteria? It all depends on your outlook – Neil deGrasse Tyson

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Your digestive tract is an incredible system made of multiple organs.

These include your:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Anus

In fact, your digestive system is so long that if you unraveled it all and laid it all out, you could cover 250 square metres with it.

Your large intestine accounts for the vast majority of this length.

You can think of it as a long tube.

It extracts nutrients from the food that passes through it, and disposes of what’s left.

Not surprisingly, it plays a major role in your digestive health.

Your digestive system is also full of friendly bacteria which help maintain all sorts of bodily functions, including your immune system and your brain.

RELATED: These 5 Vitamins May Strengthen Your Immune System

The contents of your digestive system are supposed to stay inside your digestive system.

After all, this is where they’re most beneficial to your body.

But when you have a leaky gut, the barrier of your intestines becomes permeated.

This allows undigested foods, toxins, and a whole host of other things to slip through the cracks and into your body, where they are definitely not beneficial.

Conditions Associated With Leaky Gut Syndrome

As things like toxins, antigens, healthy bacteria (at least healthy when it’s in your gut), and other microscopic organisms and particles pass through the gaps in your intestines, they can trigger an autoimmune inflammatory reaction within your body.

RELATED: What Is An Autoimmune Disorder?

This can trigger a range of different health issues, including:

These are serious issues, of course.

So how can you avoid leaky gut syndrome?

To do that, it helps to know what causes it.

After all, you can’t know how to address and prevent an illness before you fully understand it’s causes.

What Are The Causes Of Leaky Gut Syndrome?

When your intestinal barrier is cracked, it’s likely that it’s been under stress for some time.

But why?

After all, it’s not like you can stub your intestinal lining like you might a toe.

Let’s take a look at three of the primary causes.

1. Stress

When you experience high levels of stress, a number of different things happen in your body.

You’ll experience an increase in cortisol and adrenaline.

This slows down your rate of digestion, speeds up your heart rate, and restricts blood flow to your brain and your gut in favour of your muscles.

The end result is a burst of energy that was designed to help our prehistoric ancestors escape from a sabre tooth tiger or some other scary threat.

We commonly refer to this as the “fight or flight” response.

The problem is that this response isn’t always as helpful to us today as it was to our ancestors.

In a 2022 paper written by Chu et al., it’s explain that, when triggered incorrectly, this stress response can cause some major health problems including depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, heart disease, and of course, leaky gut syndrome.

To understand way, consider the differences between your ancestors and yourself.

Once our prehistoric ancestors escaped from the threat, their hormone levels and blood flow returned to normal, and they moved on with their day.

RELATED: Frequently Asked Questions About Hormones

But these days, your fight or flight response is more likely to be triggered during a situation where you it’s necessary to neither fight nor flee.

As a result, your body stays in fight or flight mode longer, which means the blood flow to your gut is restricted longer, which can lead to intestinal permeability.

In other words, leaky gut.

That blood flow is essential for the friendly bacteria in your gut to thrive.

But one of the important roles of these bacteria is to signal your brain with the response it needs to cope with your elevated level of stress.

So, the more stress your body experiences, the less capable it becomes to actually cope with that stress.


Healthy Diet For Leaky Gut Syndrome || Mindful Healing | Mississauga Naturopathic Doctor

2. Diet

As with just about everything health related, dietary factors play a huge role in causing leaky gut syndrome.

But there are a few key offenders that we find in a lot of leaky gut cases.

First, alcohol.

A 2008 study published in Alcohol shows that during the process of digesting and metabolizing alcohol, the chemical acetaldehyde is created, which can lead to leaky gut.

Sugar, similarly, can cause inflammation in your gut which leads to a hostile environment for the friendly bacteria there, and can lead to a leaky gut.

RELATED: 3 Reasons Why Added Sugar Is Bad For You

Research from Yale University found that high sugar diets can affect the composition of your gut microbiome.

But alcohol and sugar aren’t the only thing you should be keeping an eye on.

Some of the other common culprits include:

        • Dairy
        • Gluten, particularly if you have celiac disease
        • Emulsifiers, solvents, and other artificial additives
        • Glucose heavy foods, such as candy or soda

Beginning an elimination diet can help you pinpoint what it is that may be causing leaky gut.

You can also try starting a food journal where you document what you eat each day.

That way, you can start to identify patterns.

3. Pharmaceutical Medications

There is a specific type of pharmaceutical known as non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

You may not have heard that name before, but you certainly know these drugs by their more common names.

Ibuprofen and naproxen might be more familiar.

These drugs are common in just about everyone’s medicine cabinet, and for good reason.

They’re relatively low risk and can help us deal with pain.

Occasional use is nothing to be concerned about.

Many people take an ibuprofen when they’re dealing with a tension headache or migraine.

And so long as it’s not a consistent habit, this is fine.

However, long term use has been shown to cause inflammation in the intestinal tract, as well as increase permeability, according to a 1998 study in the scholarly journal Gut.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid taking these unless necessary.

Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today

If you believe you may be dealing with leaky gut syndrome, there’s a lot we can do to help.

Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic to book your FREE health and wellness session with Dr. Maria today.

You’ll get a chance to ask any questions you may have, Dr. Maria will address your concerns, and from there you’ll walk away with a better understanding of what you can do to address your health issues.

Book your appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today to hear how we can help improve the health of your gut.

Until next time,

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D
Mindful Healing Naturopathic Clinic
Mississauga, ON L5M 1L7
(905) 819-8200

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.