A few decades back, Western medicine didn’t recognize “leaky gut” as a separate entity. However, the condition is now garnering attention in the scientific field with an alternative term called “increased intestinal permeability.” Now, experts are further examining how your gut affects your health.
In short, a leaky gut can give rise to a host of problems within the digestive tract and also beyond. A few chronic health problems linked to leaky gut include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Celiac disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What Causes Leaky Gut?Your gut lining is a complex multilayer system, made up of an outer “physical” barrier and an inner “functional” barrier. On the one hand, the physical barrier works to keep the invading bugs and toxins away. On the other hand, this barrier selectively filters to allow only essential nutrients and fluids into your system.
Tight junctions between the gut cells are the ones that make up the physical barrier. If the function of these tight junctions fail, it causes leaky gut syndrome ensues. 
The term ‘intestinal permeability’ stems from these opposing functions of the gut barrier, allowing a few molecules to pass through while barring the passage of others. Microscopically, the permeability is “normal” if there are no signs of intoxication or gut inflammation. 
There are a number of answers to the question, “what causes leaky gut syndrome?” The interplay of various factors can cause your gut to become abnormally leaky as listed below:
Imbalanced gut microbiomeAre you wondering, what does the microbiome do? The gut microbiome is an integral element and a central regulator of the gut barrier.  Its health should be balanced. If the microbiome health goes off the rails, so does the integrity of the gut lining. Too much of the bad bugs coupled with lower levels of good bacteria can create holes in your gut lining, triggering a leaky gut. So, an imbalanced gut microbiome can cause a leaky gut.
Consuming the wrong dietThe current Western diet which is high in sugar and unhealthy fats and low in fiber can wreak havoc on the microbial harmony. The not so welcomed bugs can then breach the gut lining and finally enter your body.
Gluten is one of the key culprits behind leaky gut. This dietary protein can cause an excessive release of a protein called zonulin. Although this protein regulates the tight junctions, if over-released, zonulin can end up breaking these junctions.  This results in leaky gut. In fact, a surplus of zonulin also serves as one of the links between leaky gut and autoimmune disease.
Genetic predispositionFor another subset of people, their genes are the one to be blamed for their leaky gut. These people are genetically more sensitive to any turbulence in their gut, causing the protective barrier to become hostile and leaky.
A good example of genetic predisposition is that you suffer from a mental health issue like depression because one of your siblings or parents has the same problem. It’s very likely that the same relative has a leaky gut that triggers emotional problems. And because you’re genetically related to this relative, your chances of acquiring both the gut and mental problems rise too.
Alcohol, Stress and Leaky GutDrinking too much alcohol can perturb the gut microbiome balance, and even loosen the tight junctions, causing unnecessary leakage from your gut. Overconsumption of alcohol is linked to leaky gut.
Have you ever wondered, “can stress cause leaky gut?” The answer is yes, stress and leaky gut are linked as well. Chronic stress can make the gut leaky, escalating the levels of toxins in your system. These toxins, in turn, lead to mental problems, in particular, depression.
Can Leaky Gut Be Cured?
Yes, leaky gut can be cured. You see how the gut barrier can go from being tight to leaky just because of a few lifestyle and environmental insults. The good news is that it’s never too late to fix the gut microbiome health and probably the leaky gut barrier. You may be able to achieve this goal by working a healthy diet (gluten-free if required), probiotics, and prebiotic supplements into your routine.
Try our prebiotic and probiotic combination for leaky gut specifically.
- Mu Q, Kirby J, Reilly CM, Luo XM. Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Front Immunol. 2017;8:598. Published 2017 May 23. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.00598.
- Bischoff SC, Barbara G, Buurman W, et al. Intestinal permeability–a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14:189. Published 2014 Nov 18. doi:10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7.
- Fasano A. Zonulin, regulation of tight junctions, and autoimmune diseases. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012;1258(1):25-33.