5 Steps To Heal a Leaky Gut

Leaky gut syndrome has been treated by the integrative and functional-medicine community for years. But now, more of mainstream medicine is acknowledging it, too.

So what’s changed? Our understanding of the microbiome, for one thing.

The discovery that human health and behavior are profoundly influenced by a huge population of microorganisms living predominantly in our guts shook up a lot of docs, says Leo Galland, MD, a conventionally trained internist in New York City who now serves as director of the Foundation for Integrative Medicine. “Western medicine’s acceptance of the leaky gut model has been nothing short of a sea change.”

Leaky-gut symptoms vary. If the leakage is minor, symptoms will generally be confined to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, explains Tom Sult, MD, a Minnesota-based physician and author of Just Be Well. Typical results? Bloating, gas, or cramps.

More significant leaks are more likely to produce bodywide symptoms, he says, including fatigue, joint pain, rashes, respiratory issues, asthma, and autoimmune responses — including psoriasis.

More significant leaks are more likely to produce bodywide symptoms, he says, including fatigue, joint pain, rashes, respiratory issues, asthma, and autoimmune responses — including psoriasis.

As the condition of the gut degrades, notes Sult, the health impacts can be dramatic. So if you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of a leaky gut, it’s wise to address it promptly.

The good news, says Galland, is that the cells of the intestinal lining replace themselves every three to six days. This means that, given the proper support, your gut can repair itself quickly.

Here are the “five Rs” — remove, replace, reinoculate, repair, and rebalance — of leaky-gut treatment recommended by our panel of gut-health experts.

Remove

With leaky gut, the first step is to identify and remove the source of gut-lining irritation, rather than attempting to suppress its symptoms with drugs. Start an elimination diet to help you pinpoint which foods are causing trouble, limit use of gut-taxing alcohol and NSAIDs, and root out infections. Leaky gut can be instigated by any number of pathogenic microorganisms and parasites that thrive in the gut’s warm, mucosal environment. If food-level interventions aren’t helping, find a healthcare practitioner to run tests and treat you. Because “all the nutrients in the world won’t help you if you have a parasite,” explains Liz Lipski,…

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