How To Prevent Leaky Gut Syndrome
Your intestinal barrier is a complex barrier made up biological, physical, and chemical components. These components have many important roles such as ensuring any potential pathogens remain outside your gut wall as well as components like nutrients are allowed through. Your intestinal barrier also helps remove waste products as well as keeps the needed fluids and electrolytes within your gut cell wall.
If you have heard the term ‘leaky gut syndrome’ this may lead you to think all movement in and out of your gut cell wall is unhealthy. This is not true as evident from some of the roles of your intestinal barrier mentioned above. What is meant by the term ‘leaky gut’ is imbalance of the normal functions and roles. This can allow pathogens in, reduce nutrient absorption, promote electrolyte and fluid imbalance, and reduce ability to remove waste products.
Leaky gut syndrome can be caused by chronic inflammation and disease as well as an imbalanced diet. Leaky gut syndrome is considered a symptom rather than a condition. For example, it is commonly seen in people who have irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, celiac disease, type two diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic inflammatory diseases.
Diet is one component which can influence the permeability and function of your intestine barrier. A typical Western Diet which is low in dietary fiber, high in refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats is linked to leaky gut syndrome.
A healthy gut system includes your unique gut microbiome. Your microbiome is made up of different types and amounts of microbes. These play different roles which help your body to function optimally.
When you include a diet rich in plant-based foods which are good sources of prebiotic fiber, polyphenols, and other components this promotes a healthy balance in your gut microbiome. When there is inadequate fiber or too much refined, processed foods and unhealthy fats and animal proteins this can lead to an imbalance of microbes types and can cause ill health. The types of microbes which live in your gut change with your diet and send out either healthy or unhealthy signals which influence the health and function of every part of your body.
It is shown that dietary fiber plays a positive impact on your intestinal permeability. Dietary fiber is a food for the health promoting microbes in your gut. When these bacteria eat the dietary fiber, they produce compounds such as short chain fatty acids (SCFA) including butyrate. Butyrate is one key SCFA seen to help maintain healthy intestinal barrier function.
An adult needs between 25 to 38g of dietary fiber daily. This can be met by including a variety of plant foods in your meals and snacks. This includes beans and legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains and whole grain containing foods like Corn Thins slices, fruits, and vegetables. To ensure you are giving all the different types of health enhancing microbes the food they need it is a good aim to include 30 different plant foods a week.
Take home message: Your intestine permeability influences your overall health and wellness. By ensuring your diet is meeting the needs of your gut microbiome this may help to reduce your risk of leaky gut syndrome and ill health consequences.
Binienda, A., Twardowska, A., Makaro, A., & Salaga, M. (2020). Dietary Carbohydrates and Lipids in the Pathogenesis of Leaky Gut Syndrome: An Overview. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(21), 8368. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21218368