Leaky Gut/Hyper-Permeability

Are you suffering with any of these…?

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic fatigue or low energy
  • Weight problems
  • Arthritis or other joint pain
  • IBS, IBD or food sensitivities including gluten illness
  • 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.

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.

Leaky Gut Causes

Here is a quick rundown of some of the main causes of leaky gut:

  • Gluten sensitivity 
  • Sensitivity to other foods (dairy, egg, soy, lectins, etc.)
  • Gut infections—bacterial, parasitic, or fungal
  • Hormonal deficiencies or imbalances
  • Past brain injury; brain development or degeneration issues
  • Blood sugar instability—chronically high or low blood sugar 
  • Low blood pressure
  • Gut autoimmunity
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic sleep deprivation
  • Corticosteroids, antibiotics, NSAIDs, and other drugs
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Glutathione deficiency
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance of bad bacteria)

To address leaky gut and prevent things like autoimmune diseases, you need to go through that checklist and address anything found or relevant to you. 

Leaky Brain, Lungs, Skin etc

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. In fact, we now also know that the higher your antibodies to, say, zonulin or occludin on leaky gut tests (Cyrex 2, for example), the higher your risk of AI diseases developing. 

Anyway, I could witter on all day about one of my fave subjects, but, thankfully for you, I won’t!

Have a read of an article I wrote for FoodsMatter about food sensitivity and leaky gut:

Barrier Breakdown: The Cause of Multiple Sensitivity?

And here is another on the subject of poor skin barrier and skin conditions:

Thinny Skinnies: the Lowdown On Leaky Skin and Allergies

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:

Should You Test For A Leaky Gut?

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 or the Advanced Intestinal Barrier Assessment, it is far more likely to be a bacterial infection problem than it is food sensitivity. Can help with the detective work. The Advanced Barrier test also looks for histamine and DAO levels – which is great because we can check that cause of food sensitivity at the same time.

Leaky Gut Treatment

There seem to be zillions of programmes designed to treat leaky gut, not least my own! I think it really depends on the complexity and seriousness of your case.

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 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 might have missed and still need to deal with.

OK, hope that helps!

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