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What is Leaky Gut?

Published date: September 19, 2023 | Modified date:
by Dr Stephen Wangen

Here’s what we’re going to cover

  1. What is Leaky Gut?
  2. How We Know What Causes Leaky Gut
  3. What Else Can Cause A Leaky Gut?


Leaky gut is a term that is used online and by a lot by functional medical doctors and others. But what exactly is it? It’s real, but it’s also probably not what you’ve been led to believe it is. Let’s do a deep dive into this topic.

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut is a term often used by doctors to describe why you react to foods or why you have digestive problems. But leaky gut is not the cause of those problems, it’s the symptom of the problem.

Leaky gut is not a disease, and more than diarrhea is a disease. They are both problems, but they are symptoms that have causes.

It’s a very ambiguous term often used to convince people to take supplements like L-glutamine or turmeric or any number of anti-inflammatory herbs or products that are purported to treat leaky gut.

But those products will do absolutely nothing if you don’t treat the cause of the leaky gut. But how do you do that, and what exactly is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is really a fancy term for inflammation. Yes, it’s as simple as that. It’s inflammation.  And that inflammation can be relatively subtle, but it’s enough to damage the cells and to cause them to leak, which is exactly what happens in inflammation.

However, that leakiness is not the cause of the problem, it’s the result of the problem.

How We Know What Causes Leaky Gut

What Causes Leaky GutHow do we know that? Because we have some great examples that are well studied. For example, celiac disease. What happens in celiac disease? You react to gluten. And that reaction to gluten causes a leaky gut. And what cures that leaky gut?  You stop eating gluten, that’s what. And then things heal up and you no longer have a leaky gut.

The same thing happens in non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and lots of other food reactions. Because they are causing some form of inflammation, and thus a leaky gut. It’s not the other way around. You can’t just take a bunch of supplements or do something else and solve the leaky gut and then eat gluten. It doesn’t work that way.

What Else Can Cause A Leaky Gut?

Anything that causes inflammation causes a leaky gut. That could be a bacterial overgrowth, a candida overgrowth, a reaction to dairy, or egg, or soy, or any other immune based food reaction, parasites, microbiome imbalances, you name it. There are literally hundreds of causes of leaky gut.

And if you want to solve a leaky gut, then you have to understand the cause of the inflammation and treat it.  Only then will your leaky gut get better.  And only then might those supplements that are supposed to help with a leaky potentially help you speed up the healing process.

So try to get the root cause of your problem. Don’t get sidetracked just treating the leaky gut. I see that happen too often to people. Getting to the root cause is what we do at the IBS Treatment Center, and why we have so much success helping people with IBS.

And if you need that kind of help, we work with patients from all over via telemedicine. So you don’t need to be near us. Contact us for more information about how we do that.

Related Content:

Do You Need Anesthesia for a Colonoscopy
IBS vs. Colon Cancer: Understanding the Differences and Similarities
Can I Eat the Gluten in Europe?
Is Celiac Disease Worse Than Gluten Sensitivity?