This is a specialism of mine and I wrote the Barrier Plan a few years ago after researching the area fully. (This has now morphed into the Gluten Plan, more on this below..)
In essence, leaky gut is a commonly-used term for what is actually intestinal hyper-permeability – do use that term if you want your mainstream docs to take you seriously by the way!
It simply means that, by various known and unknown mechanisms, your gut barrier is letting stuff through it shouldn’t. That could be foods, internal and external toxins, hormones, chemicals or whatever. Either way, they shouldn’t be getting through and will eventually cause problems depending on the severity, what precisely is going through to the body’s system and your ability to deal with that ‘foreign body’ if you like.
However, despite all the talk about gut permeability, we are effectively full of body barriers and others can become ‘leaky’ too. Think of the blood-brain barrier, lungs, your external skin etc. My approach to this is really about strengthening the body barriers per se, because you can bet your bottom dollar that if the gut is leaky, the integrity of other body barriers will also be in question.
Do you have eczema or other form of allergic dermatitis, for example? How about allergic asthma or rhinitis? What about anxiety, brain fog or migraine too? We do know that multiple sensitivity and autoimmune disorders are definitely related to hyper-permeability too.
Anyway, I could witter on all day about one of my fave subjects, but, thankfully for you, I won’t! What I will do is direct you to some resources…
Leaky Gut Resources
The first thing you might want to do is take the quiz to see if you have leaky gut; that’s usually the first thing anyone wants to do!
So, here is a really good one for you. It’s part of the SCD programme I detail below (and gives you a link to the free 60 minute video which is well worth it) but I’m putting it here at the top of the page because I know you want to…click on the logo to do the quiz…
And here is another on the subject of poor skin barrier and skin conditions:
Gluten is known as a major cause of leaky body barriers and I have written tons about this. And before you think ‘ah, that’s not me!’ be warned that the vast majority have NCGS not coeliac disease so don’t rule it out. In fact, I would have to say that a gluten and dairy free diet is a must for healing a leaky gut anyway. Have a read of my specialist gluten section here and specifically about hyper-permeability in the 3 steps to healing pages.
If you use the search box on this site and put in ‘barrier’ or ‘leaky gut’ etc, you will come up with loads of stuff I’ve written over the years.
Leaky Gut Tests
There are several different ways to test for leaky gut or hyper-permeability. It is a bit of a minefield and I always stress that most tests are covering just one type of marker so a negative result on one type of test does not necessarily rule the problem out.
In essence, my take on it nowadays is that if you have an allergy/sensitivity type problem or an autoimmune condition, assume and treat. Testing can however help with determining that treatment and progress – see more on this below.
This blog post I wrote might help:
I generally keep the Gut Tests Overview page on the shop up to date with my latest test recommendations so do check the whole recommendations page there. Here, though, is what I recommend much of the time:
In terms of leaky gut, a lot of the time you can assume it is present because of the case and just treat. However, I have found sometimes it can help you find what is causing the leaky gut specifically.
For example, if an LPS marker comes up on the results for Cyrex 2, it is far more likely to be a bacterial infection problem than it is food sensitivity. Can help with the detective work.
I also find it useful as a progress marker, but sometimes prefer the cheaper PEG test for that. If fewer larger molecules are getting through, then you are getting less leaky. Nice and simple.
Leaky Gut Treatment
The Simple Approach
The simple approach is to take a really good leaky gut healing supplement such as this one. (Please use my name Micki Rose when registering if this factsheet is helping, thank you). It is not cheap but you only need to take it for a relatively short time compared to many others so is much better value in the long run.
Do it for 3 months and re-test or see how your symptoms are doing. I would always combine this with a good hypo-allergenic diet of course too and use it as part of general gut MOT. I would use the Gut Plan for that.
The More Complex Approach: Grain Free
If you need more a more complex approach eg if you are autoimmune, multiple-sensitive, chronic illness etc (and that is grain and dairy free), use the Barrier Healing Protocol in the Gluten Plan. Ignore that this is for gluten related disorders – the diet and protocols will help you whether you are gluten sensitive or not.
You might also find the Nutrient Therapy, Malabsorption Therapy and Inflammation Therapy protocols will also be useful for you to heal effectively.
Do also check out the ‘What’s Blocking You?‘ section to identify any causes you migt have missed and still need to deal with.
The Structured Healing Programme
Finally, if you need a lot more hand-holding than that and work best with following a structured healing programme, I really rate the SCD Solving Leaky Gut Programme.
It is really comprehensive and is not just about leaky gut really, concentrating very much on solving gut issues generally.
I found the handouts and diet resources really good, liked the way you do a questionnaire to design what you need from the programme so know how to follow it – are you a Mild or Tough case, for example? Also, there are some fantastic videos from guest speakers where even I learned some new stuff.
The supplements are not TGF (ie grain free) but they are gluten free, although I am assured they’ve had no-one react to them yet so your choice. The protocol seems to be based on the gluten protocol from Dr Tom O Bryan, the gluten specialist, but if you need grain free, please use the protocol from my Gluten Plan above instead and I have started you off with the core protocol here.
That said, I still think that the programme has an awful lot of useful stuff even if you have to tweak for grain free supplements.
Do check it out if this sounds like you – I’d at least do their free webinar, which they do every Tuesday (and you get a free transcript if you can’t make it). It’s an hour long and has some useful stuff just in that.
Here’s their blurb on that and just click on the picture or link below to register for it.
(Incidentally, if you register, you get a 50% off 7 day offer too, which saves a lot of money on the full programme). This is an affiliate link for me by the way; I hope you don’t mind that. I paid for it initially to test it (and a ton of other programmes too) so this helps me get a tiny bit of the cost back, thank you!
Do you have any of these signs and symptoms the hidden epidemic is destroying your body?
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic fatigue or low energy
- Weight problems
- Arthritis or other joint pain
- IBS, IBD or food sensitivities
- Skin problems like acne, rashes, eczema and others
- Brain issues like ADHD, depression, anxiety or brain fog
If you answered yes… leaky gut could be at the root of your symptoms.
And, in case you didn’t do it earlier, here is the Leaky Gut Quiz link again for you.
Hope it helps!