The support for leaky gut syndrome is picking up. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., leaky gut is when the intestinal lining is damaged, which makes it harder to filter nutrients and protect your insides. This leads to bacteria and toxins, waste and undigested proteins and fats to essentially leak out into the bloodstream, he writes on his website. The thought is that this causes a reaction, which could lead to autoimmune diseases, abdominal bloating, gas, cramps, and a slew of other health problems. While Weil is open to the idea of leaky gut, many doctors are not.
Dr. Robynne K. Chutkan, M.D., writes that leaky gut is in fact a clinical diagnosis, but there isn’t a test that proves you have it with 100 percent certainty. However, she recommends the Intestinal Permeability Test, which shows if there is an association by measuring if two non-metabolized sugar molecules snuck through the lining.
In her article for The Daily Beast, Dr. Daniela Drake, M.D., explains that the name is just one reason leaky gut isn’t taken seriously. Another reason? A few doctors push the diagnosis too much.
“Some alternative medicine practitioners have made claims that are simply ridiculous,” a Harvard celiac researcher who’s looked into leaky gut, Alessio Fasano, MD, explains to Drake. When she pushes him to explain, he offers, “That all diseases of human kind are due to leaky gut.”
Weil says that many try to associate leaky gut to things like headaches, but advises people to be wary of the diagnosis if they don’t have inflammatory bowel conditions, rheumatoid arthritis or asthma.
So how do you fix leaky gut? Chutkan suggests an anti-inflammatory diet that cuts out refined sugar, gluten, alcohol and artificial sweetener. In addition, eating anti-inflammatory foods like fish, nuts, fermented foods and leafy greens can help. If you’re a fan of supplements, the doctor says options like glutamine and probiotics may be helpful too.