A leaky gut isn't exactly the same as spilling your guts, as the metaphor goes, but it's not too far off as an apt description, either. Leaky gut syndrome still remains somewhat of a mystery to scientists and the medical community, but one thing they all seem to agree on is that it is a condition in which your intestinal wall becomes permeable. In such case, openings, or holes, allow various substances such as undigested toxins and bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
Your Gut Is a Key Component of Your Immune SystemAlthough leaky gut syndrome isn't an actual health diagnosis taught in medical school, per webmd.com, the fact that it involves (obviously) your gut makes it a concern, because it happens to be the biggest organ that is part of your body's immune system. When that intestinal wall is compromised, or weakened, it can produce symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, and various aches and pains. The problem for researchers is that those same symptoms can be indicative of other issues such as celiac disease and Crohn's disease. OK, here's the gut punch you didn't want to read. If leaky gut shows up with those aforementioned symptoms such as bloating, gas, and cramps, that could just be the tip of the iceberg lettuce. Left untreated, leaky gut syndrome could develop into more serious maladies such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, adrenal fatigue, depression, and autoimmune disorder, and so on and so forth, per draxe.com.
Gut Health Influences Your Entire BodyYour gut is so much more than that paunch resting beneath your shirt or blouse just above your waistline, some obviously bigger than others. Per health.harvard.edu, your gut is a vast and complex system that, when leaky, is accused of causing an assortment of other issues ranging from pain to anxiety to an upset stomach. Science continues to find new ways that the gut can influence everything from heart health to keeping our brains young, said celiac expert Dr. Alessio Fasano, quoted at health.harvard.edu. It is the gut's intestinal lining that effectively acts as the last line of defense between what you ingest and what ultimately enters your bloodstream. Per healthline.com, when your gut is healthy, your intestines are able to hold back harmful substances. Problems arise with increased permeability in that intestinal wall, whereby tight junctions in the intestinal tract beak down, allowing passage into your bloodstream of those toxins and unwanted bacteria.
Supplements That Might Help Treat Leaky GutBefore you start playing doctor on yourself when you start experiencing symptoms you believe might be indicative of leaky gut syndrome, it's wise to see your doctor for an examination and possible testing to verify that the leaky gut is indeed your problem. Three such tests used to diagnose leaky gut are the intestinal permeability assessment, the lgG food antibodies test, and the zonulin test – the latter of which measures your body's level of the ZFP antigen, which is linked to the breakdown of your intestinal tract's tight junctions, per healthline.com. Once you've had the examination or at least a consultation with your doctor, following are some supplements that might help you plug that leak in your gut:
- Probiotics. As you might have guessed, this goes to the top of your list. Probiotics contain good bacteria that have a place in the heart of your gut where they can enhance your immune system and thus help with your natural healing process, per draxe.com.
- Zinc. Not only is zinc a leading immune system booster, a study cited at healthline.com reports that zinc supplements have demonstrated success in bolstering the gut lining of Crohn's disease patients.
- L-glutamine. This is an amino acid that can enhance the growth and longevity of intestinal cells (known as enterocytes).
- Fiber. Like probiotics, dietary fiber can strengthen your body's microbiome.
- Turmeric. The key here – and this is typical with turmeric – is that its key ingredient, curcumin, once ingested and absorbed in your body focuses on your gastrointestinal tract in providing powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
- Enzymes. Per draxe.com, digestive enzymes, available in supplemental form, can help break down proteins, complex sugars, and starches that can be toxic once they enter the bloodstream.
- Licorice root. It works to help the natural processes of your body involved in the protection of the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum, per draxe.com, which is especially helpful for anyone whose leaky gut is stress-induced.
- Berberine. This popular plant-based compound has a wide range of uses, to include treating inflammatory bowel diseases, per healthline.com, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties that also make it a potentially effective remedy for leaky gut.