Have you heard of “leaky gut”?

When someone has Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis it’s almost certain that they have a “leaky gut” (which is also known as “intestinal permeability”).

The gut helps to absorb nutrients from the foods we eat, as well as acting as a barrier against things such as bacteria and toxins.

When a gut is ‘leaky’, undigested food particles and thing such as parasites, bacteria, fungi and toxic wastes (that would normally be eliminated), are allowed to pass through the intestinal barrier into the blood stream.  These will then be recognised by the body as an invader and the immune system will attack it.

It is this process that leads to a large number of symptoms and ultimately increases inflammation in the body.

Why does a gut become leaky?

A leaky gut will normally occur due to inflammation (which is obviously normally present in someone with inflammatory bowel disease).  It can be caused by a huge number of factors including:

– medication

– alcohol

– chronic stress (physical or mental)

– non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

– infections

– food intolerances / allergies

– toxins

The inflammation caused by these factors puts pressure on the gut wall, damages it and makes it permeable (i.e. “leaky”).

What are the effects of a leaky gut?

The immune system response to leaky gut can affect various tissues in the body and cause inflammation in that area, resulting in a large number of symptoms.

If that inflammatory reaction occurs within the gut the result may be (depending on numerous other factors, including genetics) Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis.

If someone suffers from joint pain or rheumatoid arthritis (which is certainly very common in those who also suffer from Crohn’s and Colitis), then this can mean that the leaky gut has also led to inflammation in the joints.

Problems with the skin and even mood / emotions / anxiety can all also have their roots in a leaky gut.

In reality, the reaction can take in numerous areas of the body and, therefore, result in a range of symptoms (which is one reason why we often say that all disease starts in the gut).

Additionally, a leaky gut will bring a number of other problems…

  • It will vastly increase the number of foods to which someone is sensitive or intolerant towards
  • It will put a lot of burden on the liver, as it tries to detoxify the antigens that are making their way into the blood stream.
  • Studies have shown that when a pregnant woman has a leaky gut, then the healthy development of her offspring could be compromised.

How to know if someone has “leaky gut”?

As mentioned previously, it is fairly certain (though not 100% ) that if someone has IBD and isn’t in complete, medication-free remission, then their gut is very likely ‘leaky’.  However, there are tests that allow you to be certain…

One good test has the patient drink a sugary solution that contains molecules called Lactulose and Mannitol.  The test measures the ability of these sugar molecules to pass through the intestinal lining.  A few hours later a urine sample is provided and the lab can test for the levels of lactulose and mannitol found in the urine.

This helps someone to understand not just of how “leaky” their gut is but also how well it can absorb smaller molecules that should be able to pass through (thus indicating how well they are able to absorb nutrients from the foods they eat).

While these tests aren’t necessarily something that I would necessarily use straight away with clients, when I have helped someone’s health to dramatically improve, an annual or bi-annual leaky gut test can be worthwhile as it can provide a warning sign of if someone’s health is slowly worsening (it’s been shown that a gut may be ‘leaky’ up to a year prior to the onset of symptoms).

How to repair a “leaky gut”

Hopefully it’s clear that healing a leaky gut is critical for long-term health, and minimal symptoms, when someone suffers from Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. To do that there are a number of factors to take into account…

The first step (as always) is to ensure removal of anything that could be causing the gut to be “leaky” in the first place.  Therefore, things such as problem foods, toxins, parasites, bad bacteria, and stress must all be addressed.

Without doing that it would be completely pointless trying to repair the gut while still damaging it.

However, once all the problems have been removed, then a few things (including supplements) that certainly can have benefits at helping the gut to finally heal include:

It can also be beneficial to help reduce any existing inflammation.  Obviously getting to the cause of that inflammation is the most important step long term, but things such as fish oil, boswellia, and turmeric, in particular, can help here.

For more information on how to do all of the above and more, then you may want to check out this online event where I talk through my 5 step process for transforming someone’s health when they live with Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis.

People who do repair their leaky gut find that not only will a huge amount (if not all) of their symptoms go away, but so will the majority of their food sensitivities. When at that place, the diet can often be much more flexible and someone can eat many more foods without adversely harming their health (which is a wonderful place to be, but one that unfortunately very few IBD sufferers are shown how to get to).

My wife Donna, for a long time, couldn’t eat many foods at all when she was suffering from Ulcerative Colitis.  However, not only is she now symptom and medication free, but she can also eat the majority of foods (in moderation) without there being any kind of noticeable reaction.  That’s because we have healed her leaky gut.  For more on her story, click here and to discover the step by step process we went through to get there, then check out this online presentation.

Speak soon,


I really would appreciate if you could share this article on social media to help as many Crohn’s and Colitis sufferers to transform their health as this is information they arent typically provided with.  Thanks!

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