Is Leaky Gut a condition? No. But gut leakiness does exist


If you’ve ever googled gut symptoms, we bet that you have come across the term ‘leaky gut’. 

Leaky gut, means that a gut is more permeable (leaky) than it should be and that this can lead to things leaking from the gut, into the bloodstream. It’s been linked to lots of conditions, and there is a lot of conflicting evidence. It’s also linked to gut symptoms.

But this shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.

Who experiences gut symptoms?

The gut can be a little leaky in lots of conditions, such as Crohn’s or colitis or coeliac. 

Some interesting research suggests that some people who aren’t coeliac, but who have what is called ‘non coeliac wheat sensitivity’ (ie. wheat / gluten causes symptoms but don’t have coeliac), have some degree of gut ‘leakiness’.

Some people with Functional Dyspepsia have also been found to have some degree of ‘gut leakiness’.

So, the term ‘leaky gut’ is not a diagnosis in itself, but leakiness of the gut can be found in lots of different situations. It’s a bit like saying that you have ‘sore toe syndrome’ if you have a sore toe. Whereas in fact, your toe could be sore because you stubbed it on something, or have arthritis in your foot, or gout, or were wearing ill-fitting shoes. Leaky gut is the result of something, not a condition in itself.

There are some specialised tests for gut leakiness, but these are generally not used in everyday practice. And this definitely is not something you can accurately test for at home via the post or mail order. 

Treating any leakiness in the gut involves treating the underlying cause, if possible.

Beware of claims “healing leaky gut”

Many of the supplements suggested to treat “leaky gut” have little or no proof (such as L-glutamine). And a gluten free and/or dairy free diet is generally not the way to go either, except in a small minority of cases. Please be wary of anyone who tells you that leaky gut is a cause of disease, or that you have to take some supplements, or remove foods from your diet to treat “leaky gut”. This is simply untrue.

For most people, a diet rich in plant-based foods and healthy fats, such as a Mediterranean-style diet contains all the ingredients needed to maintain a healthy lining of your gut. If you have a significant underlying condition, then this should be treated.

©The Gut Experts 2021

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