What is a Leaky Gut?


You might have heard of the term ‘Leaky Gut’ but if you want to understand it in depth, then continue reading this article which covers all details about how the gut gets leaky and what happens next!

The gut is a hollow tube that passes from the mouth to the anus. Anything that goes in the mouth and isn’t digested will pass right out the other end. Our intestinal lining is a delicate one-cell thick layer. The role of the lining is to act as a barrier between the outside environment (which is the digestive tract) and the inner environment (the rest of the body), only allowing things to enter our bloodstream that our body needs (like nutrients), and keeping things that are harmful away. When the intestinal lining becomes permeable, or “leaky” it can allow substances from inside our GI tract, to leak into our bloodstream. Substances like food particles, pathogenic metabolites, endotoxins, etc end up in your bloodstream and can contribute to systemic inflammation, which can wreak havoc on many systems throughout the body, cause conditions like autoimmune conditions, acne, eczema, allergies, arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis etc.

A protein called zonulin is responsible for increasing the intestinal permeability. Most studies have found zonulin to be particularly high in most autoimmune diseases. The same factors that disturb the gut flora are also responsible for a leaky gut like use of antibiotics, NSAIDS, birth-control pills, antacids, poor diet high in processed foods and sugar, use of refined oils, stress and hormone imbalances.

Leaky gut and bad gut flora are common because of the modern lifestyle. If you have a leaky gut, you probably have bad gut flora, and vice versa. And when your gut flora and gut barrier are impaired, you will be inflamed.

This systemic inflammatory response then leads to the development of autoimmunity. And while leaky gut and bad gut flora may manifest as digestive trouble, in many people it does not. Instead it shows up as problems as diverse as heart failure, depression, brain fog, eczema/psoriasis and other skin conditions, metabolic problems like obesity and diabetes and allergies, asthma and other autoimmune diseases.

Signs and symptoms of a leaky gut:

  • Joint pains
  • Food sensitivities/ Allergies/ Intolerances
  • Fatigue
  • Nutrition malabsorption and/or nutrient deficiencies
  • Excessive sugar/carbohydrate cravings
  • Bloating, cramping, & gas
  • Skin issues like acne & rosacea
  • Inflammatory bowel issues (IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis)
  • Thyroid/adrenal issues
  • Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Mood issues (anxiety, depression, ADHD)

How to regain a healthy gut?

The most obvious step is to remove the stressors that destroy the gut flora and the intestinal barrier. Other things that should be done are:

  • Identify food sensitivities and remove those foods
  • Consume ACV or lemon juice before meals to increase the ph or the acid levels of the stomach
  • Eat foods with enzymes like pineapple, pineapples, papayas, mangoes, honey, bananas, avocados, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kiwifruit and ginger
  • Eat meals in a relaxed state and chew well. Breathing exercises before meals can activate the digestive process
  • Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kanji, homemade pickles, kimchi and kombuchas
  • Consume gut healing herbs- marshmallow root, slippery elm, aloe vera and turmeric
  • Treat any intestinal pathogens or parasites
  • Manage your stress by actively meditating, yoga, massages, hot and cold showers, journaling and grounding


Get started with us, on your journey to good health: https://www.smritikochar.com/get-started/


Functional Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Smriti is a leading Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner, based out of Gurgaon, India.