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Is Leaky Gut Real?

Is Leaky Gut Real?

What does Leaky Gut mean?  What causes it, and what can be done to avoid Leaky Gut and protect our health?

Is Leaky Gut Real?

I used to think that Leaky Gut was a hoax made up to scare people into following outlandish diets.

Maybe it was the phony looking ads on the Internet that made me skeptical.  Now I believe that Leaky Gut is a condition that should be taken seriously.


The Role of Gut Bacteria and Diet

The major players in this drama are the gut bacteria who specialize in fermenting soluble fiber from legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables.  These bacteria keep our intestinal wall intact, preventing toxins and undesirable substances from being absorbed into our system.

Without the presence of these bacteria and soluble fiber, the protective wall called the mucosal epithelium becomes thinner and the tight junctions become more permeable and this condition is known as a Leaky Gut.  Toxins and other undesirable substances can then enter our system from this Leaky Gut and cause.


Causes of Leaky Gut

Diets high in processed foods and refined sugars along with an absence of soluble fiber can cause a Leaky Gut and therefore inflammation.  Some medications, radiation, chemotherapy, and too much alcohol can damage the gut lining and promote an inflammatory.


Potential Effects of Leaky Gut

The absence of microbes that ferment soluble fiber correlates with increased inflammatory diseases and obesity.  Diseases related to inflammation include Irritable Bowel Disease and Crohn’s disease, asthma, and food allergies, and a host of other symptoms.

Authors also found in a recent article, that chronic depression was a secondary response to systemic inflammation.


Autoimmune Diseases

A number of autoimmune diseases are characterized by increased permeability of the large intestine.  As a result of compromised tight junctions antigens enter the system from the gut and produce an immune response.

A leaky gut is thought to be one of three pre-existing conditions that can lead to auto-immune disease along with genetic susceptibility and the presence of an environmental antigen. These diseases include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple sclerosis and celiac disease.


Foods for a Healthy Gut

Diet plays a major role in keeping the gut healthy producing an environment where helpful bacteria can thrive.

Foods that are especially helpful in cultivating a healthy gut are foods that are high in soluble fiber like:

  • legumes
  • whole grains
  • fruits
  • vegetables

Processed foods and highly refined sugars create an environment in the gut that can lead to Leaky Gut.




  1. Julia Bollrath and Fiona Powrie, Feed Your Tregs More Fiber. Science, Volume 341; August 2, 2013. 
  2. Robynne Chutkan, The Microbiome Solution, 2015. Avery Books, New York, New York. 
  3. Alessio Fasano, Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases, Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol (2012) 42:71–78 
  4. Michale Maes, et al, Increased IgA and IgM responses against gut commensals in chronic depression: Further evidence for increased bacterial translocation.
  5. Leaky Gut, Journal of Affective Disorders 141 (2012) 5562