What is Leaky Gut?

28 September, 2018

Our gut health has been identified as critical to our overall health. No surprise really given that Hippocrates made the connection stating

“All disease begins in the gut”

A condition that has been highlighted recently is “leaky gut” or in medical parlance “intestinal permeability” i.e. holes in your gut. This disease produces a series of symptoms that many of you will be familiar with, it is unlikely that you will associate some of these symptoms with your gut. Common symptoms of leaky gut can include:

  • IBS
  • Rashes and other skin conditions
  • Allergies
  • Food intolerance
  • Joint pain
  • Inflamed sinus

We are so conditioned to associating our illness with the related body part or organ it doesn’t occur to us the root cause may be a gut problem.

How do we get holes in our gut?

Once we have food in our system it starts the journey to the intestines. By the time food reaches the small intestine it is being broken down into small particles which then travel on to the blood stream. Our gut acts like a net filtering what gets through. There are tight junctions which aid this process when these junctions are compromised they loosen or stay open allowing larger particles to get into the bloodstream. Examples of larger particles include some medications, foods, additives, alcohol and bacteria. When larger particles get through to the bloodstream they cause problems for some of us.

One of the challenges of this condition is that there is no rhyme or reason as to who will be affected or what they might be affected by. The blessing and frustration of our individuality is that we all respond differently to the same substance and worse we may react differently on different occasions to said substance.

How to help yourself with leaky gut

If your gut is weak it is allowing larger particles to enter your bloodstream which can cause unpleasant symptoms for you. Your friend and helper will be bone broth. This nutritious mixture has gained a good reputation for soothing troubled tummies. Bone broth is what it says; a broth made from animal bones. There are vegetable or fish options too. What your body acquires from the broth is collagen and gelatin. These substances are important for cell repair.

Support your gut with slow cooked and braised foods that are easy to digest. Casseroles, soups and stews are perfect! Choose a meat or fish and add some vegetables, gently cooking over a long period. This will ease your stomach so much. This is the ideal time to give it a try as we approach the colder nights, just put your slow cooker on in the morning and return home to a warming, soothing and tasty meal. Perfect!

It is also wise to avoid the potential offenders like:

  • Gluten based foods
  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • FODMAPS (Just to remind you I have given you details below)


In English known as short chain carbohydrates. FODMAPS can cause people a lot of discomfort. What happens is that these carbohydrates are not effectively digested by the small intestine and they travel into the large intestine in an undigested state. Here they become fuel for our gut bacteria as they breakdown they cause bloating, discomfort and wind.

This intolerance is common for anyone suffering with IBS.

Foods that are considered high FODMAPS are:

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Soft cheese
  • Apples

Preferable foods to eat would be:

  • Brown rice, polenta, quinoa, oats
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Courgette, aubergine, tomatoes, bean sprouts
  • Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, rhubarb, orange
  • Chives, chilli, ginger, turmeric saffron

Choose the low FODMAP foods during your first month and then you can slowly introduce the higher FODMAP foods back into your regime.

Supporting partners

To complement the bone broth here are some other products to help your gut:

  • Lecithin – a nutrient you will find in:
    • Oily fish
    • Egg yolks
    • Leafy vegetables
    • Tofu
  • L-Glutamine – this amino acid is really helpful if you struggle with adding collagen or gelatin to your diet. It is available as a powder or in capsule form making it easy to incorporate within your diet
  • Collagen is also available as a supplement. Just add the powder to soups, casseroles or whatever you want!
  • Kefirs and fermented foods can really support your gut
  • Remember it isn’t always a food, sometimes the cause of your stomach disturbance is stress. If this is the case, identify the source of the stress and take steps to address it. A simple strategy of just remembering to take some deep breaths can make all the difference. Often, we need more than that. Review your life and ensure you have a healthy balance of work, fun and friends in your world
  • Check your medications, perhaps a different prescription could make all the difference

Follow this regime for a month or so and then gradually start to broaden your food horizons. Gradually, re-introduce foods you have eliminated, try one at a time so you can be sure how your body is reacting.

Often having a plan can help people enormously; we get very disconcerted when we don’t feel in control of our health. We hope this helps you to identify any issues you may be experiencing and that you use the information to help improve your health. As ever we love to hear your comments!

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