What is leaky gut syndrome?
Almost exactly what it sounds like, says David Edelberg, MD, medical director of WholeHealth Chicago. Your gut is naturally porous—that’s how your body absorbs nutrients through the intestinal lining. But should the lining become damaged, larger molecules (called macromolecules) can escape the digestive tract and enter your bloodstream. “It’s like the intestinal lining has a skinned knee,” says Dr. Edelberg. The result can be inflammation, bloating, stool changes, and fatigue. No one’s really sure how prevalent leaky gut is, he says, and it can be very difficult to diagnose. Check out these potential leaky gut symptoms to see if you may be at risk.
You’re grappling with food sensitivity
Leaky gut can trigger inflammation, but it may also be caused by inflammation in the gut. And the one way your gut can become inflamed is through food sensitivities—here’s how to tell if you have food sensitivities. Dr. Edelberg notes that there are few good tests for leaky gut symptoms; as a result, one of the better ways to get nearer to a diagnosis is to eliminate foods that are most likely to cause problems. There are six he focuses on, and he asks patients to try going without them for two to three weeks: dairy, egg, corn, gluten, citrus, and soy. Patients can then reintroduce the foods one at a time to identify their trigger.
You have gluten intolerance
Yes, it’s in the previous list, but gluten is one of the most common triggers for leaky gut, says Dr. Edelberg, and it deserves to be called out separately. If you notice you feel crummy—GI upset, bloating, lethargic—after eating bread, pasta, cereal, or other gluten-containing foods, your body may have trouble digesting this problematic protein. “Gluten is an inflammatory grain,” he explains. These are the signs you might have celiac disease and can’t process gluten.