Is Leaky Gut Real?


If you have had gut concerns, I’m positive that you have heard of the term “leaky gut”. What is leaky gut exactly? It is a condition characterized by damage to the lining of the gut and it is said to be the cause of numerous gut disorders such as Crohn’s Disease.

Some so-called “experts” have also claimed that leaky gut is to blame for some autoimmune disorders. Basically, it is used as a “catch-all,” umbrella term for almost every intestinal condition out there. Let’s take a look at the scientific facts and findings about leaky gut and debunk some of these claims.

First, let’s start with the term and its definition. “Leaky gut” is a non-medical marketing term, and it has unfortunately been used to push several “miracle” cures, fad diets, and unhealthy “quick fixes” to very real gut health concerns. The medical term for leaky gut is intestinal permeability. The lining of our gut (intestine) controls what passes from the intestine into the bloodstream – intestinal permeability just means that there is loss to intestinal barrier function and large, unwanted particles can “leak” into the bloodstream.

A big claim about leaky gut is that it is the cause of conditions such as IBD, coeliac disease, and other gut conditions. Intestinal permeability can be considered a symptom of these conditions, not the cause. The medical world is indeed on a deeper lookout on how alterations in intestinal permeability are involved in autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease as well as gut conditions such as Crohn’s disease and IBS but nothing is conclusive to date. Please note: attempts to improve leaky gut have not resulted in improvement of overall symptoms. There is also no medical backing to supplements claimed to heal or improve leaky gut.

So…is leaky gut real? Intestinal permeability is very real, however the claims of it being the cause of a number of conditions and all the miracle cures out there are not. Before you start removing food groups from your diet and taking unnecessary supplements to treat your leaky gut and cure yourself of every single gut condition known to man, take a step back, be critical of what you read and consult a professional.

The best way to protect your gut is to eat a diet rich in leafy and starchy vegetables, and to stay away from heavily processed foods. While it would be incredible for one condition to be the cause of numerous food intolerances and autoimmune disease, it is irresponsible for anyone to claim that that is the case.

Do you suspect a “leaky gut”? We’re happy to guide you in the right direction, fad-free! For an appointment with a dietitian, click here or join Switzerland’s first Gut Health Retreat this September! Details can be found here

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