The gut, or digestive tract, is the new frontier of whole-body health. Recent research has suggested a link between gut health issues and other problems that show up in the kidneys, the heart, or even the brain. It’s easy to spot digestive problems—bloating, nausea, gas, stomach pain, and worse—but sometimes, they’re not so easy to solve.
Chronic, unexplained digestive problems are often caused by something called leaky gut syndrome, which is associated with serious issues like Crohn’s disease. Ahead, learn why leaky gut syndrome happens, and what you can do to prevent it.
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Although it’s associated with a wide range of symptoms, leaky gut syndrome is thought to be linked to excessive permeability in the digestive tract. If you studied the human body in high school biology, you might recall an image of the tightly coiled small and large intestines, which are folded over on themselves to fit inside the abdominal area. When intestinal permeability becomes a problem, it’s because the folds and junctions in the intestines aren’t able to keep various elements in the digestive tract from seeping into the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, the diverse presentation of leaky gut syndrome means that it’s usually just the first step in diagnosing stomach problems, so the best way to handle leaky gut is to prevent it. Simple lifestyle changes, like keeping stress levels low and eating a healthy diet, can be helpful. Plus, you can bolster your digestive system with supplements. Look for options that promote and support your body’s natural digestive health; for instance, Gundry MD’s Total Restore reviews are enthusiastic about the formula’s ability to stimulate a well-balanced gut bacteria biome.
Why Does a Leaky Gut Cause Problems?
The laundry list of symptoms that leaky gut causes, which includes not just the digestive problems you’d expect but broader, whole-body issues like chronic fatigue, joint pain, and recurring headaches, are due to the inflammatory effects of the substances that a permeable digestive tract may allow into the rest of the body. Inflammation is normal and healthy when it’s a part of your body’s response to assaults like injuries or infections, but long-term excess inflammation is associated with strokes and heart attacks, as well as brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. That’s why aspirin is often recommended for maintaining heart health; its anti-inflammatory effects can prevent blood clots.
Most of the things you should do to prevent leaky gut syndrome, like eating plenty of fiber and avoiding excess sugar and saturated fats, are also good tools for preventing systemic inflammation. As with many whole-body health goals, the best medicine is a protective lifestyle. What does that mean? Follow a Mediterranean diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains; make time for about 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of moderate aerobic exercise each week; and avoid smoking, alcohol, and stress.
What Should You Do if You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Even if you eat a nourishing diet that supports gut health, it’s still possible to end up with leaky gut syndrome through no fault of your own. Some cases of leaky gut are thought to stem from genetic predisposition or the degradation of intestinal cells as normal aging progresses, both of which are beyond your control. If you notice that you’re experiencing more stomach issues than usual, or if your symptoms are interfering with your life, start keeping track of when these problems flare up, what you experience, and the conditions around each incident.
A correlation may emerge between flare ups and certain foods or emotionally stressful experiences, and you’ll be able to bring records of these insights to your doctor, who can make professional recommendations for managing these issues. Be sure that you feel comfortable with your doctor; intestinal health is complicated, and having a doctor who listens well and treats you as an active participant in the treatment process can make a difference in your treatment outcome.
Taking care of your digestive health isn’t just important for keeping stomach problems at bay, it’s also critical for whole-body health outcomes. Fortunately, it’s often possible to prevent leaky gut syndrome, but even if you’re already experiencing issues, you can be confident that it’s possible to treat them.