‘Leaky gut syndrome’: Why it’s not a diagnosis!

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By The Gut Health Doctor Team

Dr Megan Rossi in a lab looking through a microscope

‘Leaky gut syndrome’ is NOT a valid diagnosis so please don’t be fooled. There’s no evidence that sugar causes a leaky gut either…

Here’s the science

Our gut lining is made up of a barrier of tight junctions, like little doors that open and close to control what gets into our bloodstream. We actually all get a slightly more permeable or ‘leaky’ gut lining temporarily, without any health consequences. For coeliacs, eating gluten can lead to your gut becoming leaky longer term (although once you take the gluten out the leakiness starts to resolve).

It can also happen when we drink a little too much alcohol all at once and because of stress (this was shown in a study of people before and after public speaking). So the stress caused by being ‘diagnosed’ with leaky gut can actually lead to more leakiness! De-stress = a happy gut.

The good news is that your gut typically recovers when you take away the cause, like with gluten in coeliac disease. Research hasn’t found any diet or drug therapies to be effective for gut ‘leakiness’. That includes probiotics, as there just aren’t any convincing studies in humans to suggest a probiotic will directly help.

Instead of being a ‘syndrome’ in itself, gut leakiness can be seen more as a symptom or an effect of something else – so if you’re getting ongoing gut symptoms, check in with your GP first to rule out other conditions like coeliac disease, IBS or IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).

If it’s IBS, there are a whole bunch of diet and lifestyle strategies that a qualified dietitian can go through with you – more on that in my book too!


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