Bloating & Digestion

What Is Leaky Gut?

What is Leaky Gut?

If your practitioner has indicated you may have leaky gut syndrome, you likely have questions about what that means, what causes it, and how to address it.

Leaky gut is when holes, cracks, and tears appear in the gut lining. This can happen if your diet has too much fat in it or if you have underlying inflammation, which leads to increased permeability (i.e., “leaks”) in the cell lining/barrier of the digestive tract.1

Gut impermeability is simply referred to as “leaky gut,” which compromises absorption of nutrients and normal digestive function and can lead to digestive irregularity, gas, and bloating. These can all be signs of underlying inflammation due to poor-quality dietary practices, lack of diversity of the gut microflora, or even overgrowth of certain microflora or probiotics in the digestive tract.

What Are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut?

Some of the most common symptoms of leaky gut are:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Digestive irregularities and discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

These early signs of leaky gut could also be signs of development of IBS and IBD.

It’s natural for people to experience these conditions from time to time. However, if you’ve been experiencing them for a long time, it may be best to seek a medical professional, who will perform further tests to determine whether you have leaky gut or another underlying condition causing leaky gut syndrome.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Anyone with a compromised immune system can develop leaky gut syndrome. However, several medical conditions can lead to leaky gut and a damaged intestinal wall lining.

Those most at risk of developing leaky gut syndrome are anyone with the following medical conditions:

  • Celiac disease
  • HIV
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Autoimmune conditions

If you suspect you may have leaky gut, you should talk to your healthcare practitioner, who may perform any of these three tests to determine the state of your intestinal wall lining:

  • Intestinal permeability assessment, commonly known as a lactulose mannitol test
  • IgG food antibodies, or food sensitivities test
  • Zonulin test

Once your practitioner has determined that you have leaky gut syndrome, you will be able to address the underlying condition and reduce the symptoms of leaky gut.

How Is Leaky Gut Treated?

There are no FDA-approved treatments specifically for leaky gut syndrome. Instead, your healthcare practitioner will focus on treating the underlying medical condition that may cause leaky gut.

Your doctor may prescribe important dietary changes and menu choices along with appropriate therapeutic protocols to help manage these issues. Supplements such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, probiotics, glutamine, glucosamine, and aloe can help the lining of your gut recover.

One of the easiest ways to reduce the symptoms of leaky gut and help support your digestive system is by including probiotic and prebiotic supplements into your diet.


1. Odenwald MA et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;11(9):1075-1083.