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Understanding Leaky Gut Syndrome and Its Causes

Every day, your gut is constantly attacked by a complex array of toxins and food that is not well digested, ‘bad’ bacteria, immune stress, and other factors. The result is an ‘open gut,’ which means that the tight junctions that are key to gut health are broken, which leads to a condition called leaky gut syndrome. If you’re concerned about having a leaky gut, read on to learn more about this condition and how you can prevent it.

Leaky Gut Syndrome Explained

Contrary to popular belief, the lining of the gut is not impermeable. This lining is protected with tight junctions, which are the connections between the cells that make the gut wall. These junctions do not allow large particles of food, bacteria, or other toxins to pass through. However, if the junctions are weakened, they can no longer keep the particles out, which results in a leaky gut.

If your gut has become leaky, these particles can slip through the gut wall and cause a toxic build-up in your body. The gut wall can become so permeable that it becomes seriously damaged. This exposure to harmful toxins can lead to a number of health problems, including constipation, malabsorption of nutrients, and diarrhea.

How Do You Get a Leaky Gut?

There are a number of various factors that can weaken the junctions and lead to a leaky gut:

Overuse of Antibiotics

The overuse of antibiotics is a common cause of leaky gut syndrome. This is because when the antibiotics kill off the bad bacteria in the gut, but not the good, healthy bacteria, this can result in a leaky gut. Good bacteria help keep the gut wall intact and healthy, so taking too many antibiotics can lead to a leaky gut.

When you take an antibiotic, they also kill off many of the good bacteria in your gut, however, it will not kill off all of them. If you are taking a long-term antibiotic course, chances are you will develop a leaky gut.

Exposure to Bad Bacteria

The gut is not just exposed to undigested food or bacteria but also to what is commonly known as ‘starving bacteria’. These starving bacteria are the ones you might often hear about when it comes to gut health.

When you don’t eat, your body stops producing the necessary fuel to keep the bacteria alive. As a result, these bacteria take a ‘nibble’ from your gut lining.


Inflammation is caused by a number of factors, including bad bacteria, toxin exposure, food, immune stress, and digestive problems. All of these things can lead to inflammation in the gut, which causes the junctions to become weaker, thus allowing large particles to pass through the gut wall, thus leading to a leaky gut.

Certain Diets

There are a number of common diets that can lead to a leaky gut. The Paleo diet is a common one that can lead to a leaky gut, and it works on the premise that when humans evolved, they had a diet made up of vegetables, fruits, and meats. They didn’t eat grains or legumes.

This is one of the main reasons that Paleo is linked to a leaky gut. The gut is not designed to digest such hard foods.

Lack of Fiber

If you are not eating enough fiber, you are missing out on an essential nutrient that keeps the gut healthy.

The fiber in foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes helps keep the gut healthy, heal a leaky gut and relieve digestive problems. The lack of fiber leads to a build-up of bacteria and toxins in the gut, which can result in a leaky gut.


There are numerous causes of leaky gut, including the ones mentioned above. If you are not aware of your lifestyle and the foods that you are eating, you may unknowingly be putting your body at risk. If you have a leaky gut, you must get to the bottom of the cause and make sure that you do everything you can to prevent it from happening again.

Being concerned about your gut health is a good thing, especially if you have a leaky gut. However, instead of just worrying, it’s best to seek help from a specialist from Balanced Body Functional Medicine. Our resident healthcare provider, Dr. Julia Ward, MD, is here to help resolve your health issues by underlying the causes of your condition. Get in touch with Balanced Body Functional Medicine and experience personalized medical services today.

Ready to look and feel your best? Book a free consultation with Balanced Body Functional Medicine!

Kirista Berry

Author Kirista Berry

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