Leaky Gut: What is It and How To Restore Intestinal Permeability
Do you struggle with:
- occasional digestive distress?
- Distress like bloating, belching, heartburn, nausea, indigestion, and irregular bowel movements?
- Do you deal with skin issues, joint problems, mood issues, brain fog, fatigue, unhealthy cravings, or sleep problems?
- Have you been struggling for a while and feel like you’ve “tried everything” with little to no results to show?
There’s a chance the problem may be leaky gut. That’s when unhealthy intestinal permeability allows foreign invaders to leak into your body. And that can cause unwanted inflammation and a dysfunctional immune system.
Find out more about leaky gut, what causes it, and how it rears its ugly head. Most importantly, find out how to help restore normal, healthy intestinal permeability.
What is Leaky Gut?
The gut lining—aka the intestinal barrier—serves as a major line of defense for the human body. Under normal conditions, this remarkably complex barrier must maintain selective permeability. That is, it must selectively allow “good” guys (like water and nutrients) to pass into circulation while keeping out the “bad” guys (like pathogenic microbes, proinflammatory compounds, endotoxins, and undigested compounds).
You can think of the gut wall like a security fence. The fence isn’t just there for show. It’s got a purpose, which is to keep “bad guys” out while selectively allowing “good guys” to come and go as needed.
The selective permeability of the gut lining is regulated by specific structures. These structures are called “tight junctions.” Over time, these can become “loose,” resulting in increased intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut).
When that happens, toxins from the gut (as well as little bits of undigested food) can “leak” into the bloodstream. And this can lead to a long list of problems. Most of which are the result of unwanted inflammation and a dysfunctional immune system.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Over time, the gut lining can become weak, leading to increased intestinal permeability, for a variety of reasons, including one or more of the following insults (often a combination and typically persistent presence):
- Psychosocial/emotional stress
- Environmental toxins
- Medications, such as NSAIDs
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Excess/heavy exercise
- Food poisoning
- Bacterial infection
- Dysbiosis (an unhealthy balance of gut microbes)
- Nutrient deficiencies (e.g., zinc, vitamin D)
- Poor diet, particularly one high in processed foods and low in fiber
- GMOs, herbicides, and pesticides
- Food sensitivities (such as wheat and dairy)
What Are Common Signs of Leaky Gut?
Some of the most common signs of increased intestinal permeability are digestive-related complaints, such as:
- Occasional heartburn
- Occasional constipation and diarrhea
- Bloating, gas, and excess flatulence
- Upset stomach
But believe it or not, the signs of leaky gut go far beyond occasional digestive discomfort. The far-reaching impact of leaky gut can largely be traced back to its role in unwanted inflammation and reactivity of the immune system. This highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy gut lining for immune system health.
Take a look at the long list of ways increased intestinal permeability can adversely affect one’s health, well-being, and quality of life:
- Joint problems
- General discomfort
- Skin issues
- Brain fog
- Mood issues
- Sleep problems
- Autoimmune flare-ups
- Respiratory issues (like sniffles and mucus)
- Hormonal disruptions
- Appetite management issues and out-of-control cravings
And even more severe issues. For instance, a systematic review published in the journal Advances in Integrative Medicine found that increased intestinal permeability coincides with a variety of health conditions. In fact, the researchers found that upwards of 80% of folks with certain health problems also had increased intestinal permeability.1
Of course, increased intestinal permeability goes hand-in-hand with food sensitivities. So, in addition to the tell-tale signs above, if you struggle with some of the following foods, there’s a good chance your gut lining is weaker than it needs to be:
- Grains, especially wheat. (Although gluten may not be the devil it’s been made out to be, research has shown that gluten is a strong trigger of a protein called zonulin. Zonulin is the only regulator of intestinal permeability as it has the ability to “loosen” those tight junctions of the gut barrier.)2
- FODMAP-containing foods. (A category that includes many foods typically considered “healthy,” such as many vegetables and fruits.)
- Nightshades (like potatoes, pepper, and tomatoes)
- Food additives, preservatives, and colors
- Histamine-containing foods
- Added sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Tree nuts and peanuts
And the thing is, increased intestinal permeability not only gives way to food sensitivities, it can also be exacerbated by them. In other words, it’s a vicious cycle.
How Can You Restore Healthy Intestinal Permeability?
Although sometimes an arduous, circuitous path, the good news is you can support healthy intestinal permeability, restore gut health, and support a healthy immune response naturally. It starts with addressing the relevant factors mentioned above:
- Follow an elimination-style diet (such as a Low-FODMAP diet) to identify food sensitivities and remove trigger foods (such as gluten).
- Manage stress in healthy ways by:
- setting boundaries
- practicing yoga
- doing deep breathing exercises
- expressing gratitude
- and spending time in nature.
- Limit your exposure to environmental toxins and support the body’s natural detoxification pathways with a healthy diet and appropriate supplements.
- Avoid medications that increase intestinal permeability if/when possible.
- Eat slowly, mindfully, and intentionally.
- Supplement with digestive enzymes.
- Use probiotics and prebiotics to foster the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
- Use antimicrobials (e.g., berberine, sweet wormwood, oil of oregano) to help remove unhealthy microbes.
- Identify and address vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
- Address small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) issues with the help of a qualified health-care practitioner.
- Avoid/limit exposure to GMOs, herbicides, etc.
- Avoid proinflammatory, highly-refined industrial seed oils, such as soybean, canola, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils.
- Eat a whole-foods-based diet that includes the greatest variety and amount of fiber that you can tolerate (this will vary considerably within and between individuals).
- Consume alcohol in moderation, if at all.
If you’re overwhelmed by that long list, I get it. I would be too, especially if you’ve been struggling for a while and feel like you’ve “tried everything.”
And even as good as some of the strategies might be for providing some relief—calming the storm, so to speak—the reality is even these steps may not fully address the root cause of increased intestinal permeability, promote the repair of the gut lining, and ultimately, restore gut health.
In other words, to optimally restore gut health, support healthy intestinal permeability, and promote a strong, robust immune system, you often have to take another step that involves using natural ingredients that help restore optimum gut health and function by helping repair and soothe the gut lining.
That’s where Gut Reg comes into play. It was thoughtfully formulated to nutritionally support the health and integrity of the gut lining by providing a unique blend of gut-soothing ingredients. Designed to comprehensively support normal gut regulation, Gut Reg supports and fortifies the body’s own protective mechanisms of the gut lining—without interfering with normal digestive processes—and helps support gastrointestinal healing and comfort.
How exactly does Gut Reg help support a healthy gut lining and restore gut health?
It starts with PepZin GI®. Not just one but actually two gut-soothing ingredients, PepZin GI has a unique ability to exert its effects directly on the cells of the gut lining. Talk about a true gut-hero dynamic duo.
PepZin GI, a patented complex of zinc and L-carnosine, is three times more effective than either zinc or carnosine alone.3 The gastro-protective and supportive benefits of PepZin GI have been demonstrated in over 20 published studies. These studies have shown that PepZin GI provides powerful support for the immune system to restore gut health by:
- Supporting the gastrointestinal immune defenses†
- Promoting healthy mucus secretions†
- Relieving occasional GI discomfort, including heartburn, tenderness, diarrhea, and constipation†
- Helping protect and maintain a healthy gut lining†
- Supporting a healthy balance of gut bacteria†
- Providing antioxidant properties†
- Supporting a healthy expression of cytokines and a normal, balanced immune response†
And while Gut Reg™ would provide powerful support for a healthy gut lining and promote the body’s natural gastric defenses with PepZin GI alone, there’s more to the story. Gut Reg also contains L-glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the body and a primary energy source for cells of the immune system. In fact, glutamine is regarded as “fuel for the immune system.”4 Along those lines, an inadequate supply of glutamine can impair immune system function, leading to greater risk of infection and poor outcomes.
What’s more, glutamine is essential for supporting gut barrier integrity. Physical, mental, emotional, and environmental stress increase the body’s use of this key gut-nourishing nutrient. A meta-analysis (the gold standard of scientific evidence) found that glutamine reduced markers of increased intestinal permeability. And a research review stated that “glutamine holds great promise” in protecting the gut and for enhancing gut barrier health and function.5,6
Gut Reg provides L-glutamine to enhance immune system function and to support intestinal health, gut barrier function, and a healthy gut lining.
Finally, Gut Reg™ offers ginger extract, which has a long, extensive history of use as a remedy to soothe the GI tract. In traditional folk medicine, ginger is used as a carminative, which means it helps decrease gas production.
Ginger promotes normal, healthy gastric function by encouraging normal intestinal motility. This is important because impaired gastric motility is a well-recognized contributor to a wide variety of GI problems and discomforts. These can include indigestion, nausea, heartburn, bloating, belching, irregularity, and more.
What’s more, ginger can improve digestion by stimulating the body’s production of hydrochloric acid, which helps digest proteins, and bile, which helps digest fats. Ginger may also have prebiotic properties, supporting a healthy balance of gut microbes, and ultimately, an overall healthy GI environment.7
With its strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, ginger also supports a healthy immune system and a healthy, balanced immune response.8
Leaky Gut: A Wrap-Up
If you struggle with occasional digestive distress, skin issues, joint problems, mood issues, brain fog, fatigue, unhealthy cravings, or sleep problems, there’s a chance that the underlying issue may be unhealthy intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). When the gut lining becomes weak, it allows foreign invaders to leak into your body. This can cause unwanted inflammation and a dysfunctional immune system. And that’s when things can go awry.
With the above information and strategies, hopefully you will be able to move the needle toward restoring normal, healthy intestinal permeability.