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Harvard Health Blog
Leaky gut: What is it, and what does it mean for you?
- By Marcelo Campos, MD, Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
What is Leaky Gut? According to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, who created the GAPS Diet program that successfully treated many patients …
Dr Natasha McBride presenting at
The World Foundation for Natural Science
I am currently into my 3rd month of the GAPS Diet (a 1 & half year program or longer) after I was told by my doctor that I had autoimmune disorders, and there’s no effective ways to treat autoimmunity. I don’t want to rely on drugs that ultimately produce side effects like osteoporosis, etc and hence I focus on using the GAPS Diet.
What brand of probiotic and prebiotic are trustworthy? How about yogurts. As I read, some have little or no prebiotic in them.
Hi Mary, Look for “whey” (the liquid that rises to the top of very active cultures). I noticed it in Seven Stars, Brown Cow, Liberte, Greek Gods, Stonyfield sometimes and organic brands you find at the natural food stores. I have an autoimmune condition and was told to avoid thermophillus (which is what most yogurts are made of!!) because it is a “heat” thriving organism and my condition is inflammatory. Who knows if that’s true but to be on the safe side I consume Kefir and it’s great! I know its “alive” because the bottle expands with gas. Every time I open it it releases new gas. I also love Kevita–a probiotic beverage that while expensive–is full of very specific healthy types of probiotics. Its low in sugar which is also good because too much sugar in one sitting also can stimulate the immune system… again… so I was told. In any case its a MUCH healthier substitute for soda and makes us feel wonderful.
I have a problem of chronic constipation, and have been using
an alternate (ayurvedic)medication along with Dulcolax . This has been for 3-4 years, and at times, I get liquid stools for twice .
It has been possibly, dietary habits with less fibre (tho’ a prescribed fibre product, has not been of help)…
I am hoping that it may be due to increased stimulant of laxatives.Rarely, IBS may be part of the problem, tho. I am a rather emotionally well-balanced individual,mostly. How does it,food
in India with spices may be sensitive for bowel, is a possibility.?
Have you ever looked into bentonite clay?
There is a study on which probiotics work for constipation here:
With that in mind a lot of people recommend Bio-Kult, Standard Process ProSynbiotic (USA) and MediHerb Probiota (Australia).
Hope that helps.
How about the fact so few women breast feed their children? My mother didn’t feed me as it wasn’t the thing to do. She regrets it to this day and did breastfeed my brother. Not looking for a debate but there is research comparing GI systems of those breast fed verses formula fed.
I have had some success by following a gluten-free diet and taking a daily probiotic. This has been at the suggestion of my daughter who uses these methods for her son who is autistic,. Worth a try!!
DO YOU HAVE ANY SOLUTION TO LOWER THE SYSTOLIC LEVEL ON HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Weight loss remains the most effective way to reduce blood pressure. That said, omega 3s, COq10 (100-200 mg per day) and 1000-2000 mg of taurine (a diuretic) will also lower your BP.
Is H Pylori considered a form of leaky gut? I have had CFS for 15 years with a diagnosis of h pylori which has been asymtomatic. Just finished triple antibiotic therapy that GI Dr said I must go on which wiped me out! Waiting to get retested in a month and feeling worse than ever with CFS. Was hoping it would help with CFS symptoms.
Did you take a good probiotic with or after your triple therapy to restore your natural good flora after the antibiotics wiped them all out? You might try contacting a functional (or integrative or alternative) practitioner to help you get past the fallout from the triple therapy and also to fix the CFS. You can start with functional medicine institute and like places to find an experienced practitioner to work with you, even in an online relationship. (I did it; it was kind of slow progress, but it helped me fix all kinds of things that were big problems for me but that to my regular doctors wouldn’t qualify as needing medical attention.)
I too have a CFS diagnosis among other things, including development of severe food allergies
I can only share my experience:
Several months ago, I was placed on steroids by my GI MD…it not only did not help, but I ended up with a nasty Candida infection on my skin (neck and chest and other areas ). It required several trip to dermatologist and several meds, and I ended up with constipation, which I didn’t have prior. And hadn’t had in YEARS.
Also, after taking the steroids, I noticed that the CFS has been MUCH worse than it’s been in a long time and now I have pains in-between each bone even in my feet and spine. It makes walking and sitting very uncomfortable at best in the a.m. By night I’m in pain.
I placed myself back on a course of quality High dose multi strained probiotics, chlorophyll capsules, and organic ACV shots, plus gluten-free, low sugar diet, methly-B vitamins, all of which I used years ago (for years as part of an improved lifestyle and chronic illness management plan) with resulting much success for CFS and gastro-issues.
Well this time, once Again I noticed a reduction of all painful, intrusive, symptoms, after a week of switching back.
Through the years a few others who had similar health stuggle have asked what I did to manage. Those who tried similar changes, often came back and also told me of improvement with their pain and fatigue…even positive weight loss and a reduction in sugar cravings.
Again, only my repeated experience and the accounts of other that I can share. No official studies.
Much success and improved health to you!
My allergist diagnosed me with leaky gut or dysbiosis. I am in my late forties and have been developing several food allergies and food sensitivities. He tells me to eat healthier and to eat more probiotic foods. If I look around me my diet seems healthier than most. I did not grow up on American staple food. I feel like more and more foods will be cut out of my diet, because we haven’t found the culprit. It is rustrating
Leaky gut is not theoretical. See http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/70/Suppl_1/A007. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine have been developing an animal model for inflammation-induced hypertension from gut dysbiosis. They just started releasing data that resistant starch (a fermentable dietary fiber found in green bananas, intact whole grains but not refined whole grains, and beans) prevented the inflammation and hypertension. They attributed it to fixing the gut barrier disruption. To date, there are 294 animal studies (that I know of) on natural sources of resistant starch. See http://www.ResistantStarchResearch.com for the clinicals.
Resistant starch is fermented by the microbiota, and produces more butyrate than other fibers tested. (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/2/415s.short). Butyrate is the preferred energy source for colonocytes. Without butyrate, the cells shrink and create gaps in the intestinal barrier. Adding resistant starch sealed these gaps and prevented the resulting health problems.
This is NOT a generic fiber benefit – it’s a resistant starch benefit because of the high levels of butyrate produced. It doesn’t hurt that you can also consume high levels of resistant starch as well.
Thank you for some great evidence-based leads in your post.
I think I’ve had fibromyalgia for many years but was diagnosed approximately 10 years ago. I was working at Walmart and was just exhausted. Not the tiredness that sleep helps. I mean totally exhausted, with muscle pain. My primary doctor diagnosed fibromyalgia. I couldn’t move my right arm with out getting a lot of pain. I was taking Lyrica, it helps but I still have to be careful not to over do things. I was trying to have a child-don’t know if I’ll be able to do it! I lost touch with reality.I started on Health Herbal Clinic Fibromyalgia Disease Herbal formula treatment in September 2016, i read alot of positive reviews on their success rate treating Fibromyalgia disease through their Fibromyalgia Herbal formula and i immediately started on the treatment. Just 7 weeks into the Herbal formula treatment I had great improvements, my right hand pain seized and the stiffed, rigid muscle had succumbed. I am unbelievably back on my feet, this is a breakthrough for all Fibromyalgia sufferers, visit Health Herbal Clinic official website www. healthherbalclinic. net or email info@ healthherbalclinic. net.
Your post reads like an ad for a clinic.
It’s important to remember that leaky gut as a disease is still theoretical. It’s true that the intestinal lining can become dysfunctional, but this is not necessarily the source of disease. In other words, intestinal permeability could be a symptom or a side effect of another problem. Evidence supporting something is not the same as something being wholly true.
Great thoughts, David. Leaky gut has never been proven. It’s a hypothesis and it’s alarming that this article was laid out as fact.
I’m pleasantly shocked that the ‘mainstream’ medical community actually recognizes this. If only more funds were allocated to researching this and other digestive diseases. Thanks for your article.
Yes, need money and research! There is something to this and we need more information to be able to diagnose and treat whatever it is.
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