Dr. MEGAN ROSSI: Do you have a “leaky” gut that needs repairing?

It is not a condition that is taught in medical schools and it is very unlikely your doctor has heard of it, let alone said you have it.

But “leaky gut syndrome” is becoming a very popular “diagnosis” in the world of alternative therapies, and you probably know someone who has been told they have it.

The theory behind leaky gut syndrome is that toxins and bacteria enter the bloodstream through gaps in the intestinal wall, causing all sorts of health problems, from swelling and cramps to eczema, joint pain, fatigue and depressioneven autism.

What is causing this delay? Apparently sugar (and that includes fresh fruit), gluten and lactose are all triggers, damaging the gut wall.

The claim is that you can then heal your gut by cutting off these foods – and, without exception, by buying special supplements (which, without exception, are not cheap).

It is easy to see why some people with such symptoms, many of whom may seem so confused and disconnected, might be convinced by this diagnosis; at least, it gives them a name for their symptoms.

“Leaky gut syndrome” is becoming a very popular “diagnosis” in the world of alternative therapies, and you may know someone who has been told they have it.

Trust me, as a clinician I understand that need for diagnosis, and I believe all patients deserve a valid one.

The problem is that a leaky gut is not a valid diagnosis.

That’s not to say that a leaky gut isn’t real – it certainly is. It’s just not the root of all your problems, as many have claimed.

It is a case that I see too often in the “welfare” world, of some practitioners running away with biology, building a very solid theory of real science.

Science first: our intestinal lining consists of a barrier of tight junctions, like small doors that open and close to control what enters our bloodstream.

It allows the passage of the good ones (for example, foods to nourish your body) and eliminates the bad ones (unhealthy bad ones, or pathogens and toxins such as lipopolysaccharides, produced by certain bacteria).

Did you know

Pure tap water is abundant in bacteria – up to ten million in a cup. Bacteria are really everywhere, and that’s good: the vast majority of us care about them, so stay hydrated. You don’t need the bottled stuff either.

The intestine is the body’s first line of defense. It is the reason that not all of us are bedridden and overcome by infection every time we eat or step out.

Sometimes these tight junctions can become weak or loose, allowing the shit to creep across the intestinal wall. We scientists call this intestinal hyperpermeability; a more usable term is ‘lick intestine’.

In fact, we all get a slightly more permeable or leaky gut lining temporarily, without any health consequences. It can happen when we eat a fatty food or drink a little too much alcohol, for example.

Stress, too, is a common trigger. A 2014 study by KU Leuven University in Belgium looked at students before and after a public speech, and found that those who were more nervous and tense (as measured by the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva) were those whose intestines became leaky.

But after you take off the trigger – e.g. stress – the junctions tighten back, typically without any long-term problems. And it’s also true that if you have celiac disease (which affects about 1 percent of the population, causing the immune system to react to protein gluten), your gut becomes leaky in the long run – even after you take out the gluten, the leak. begins to resolve.

But this reinforces the fact that a leaky gut is a symptom or side effect, not the cause of a disease.

Flare-up in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can also cause a temporary bowel leak. In fact, my team at King’s College London is currently measuring intestinal leakage as a symptom in one of our IBD studies, called the ADDapt test, to see if cutting out certain food additives from your diet can help improve IBD, especially Crohn’s disease.

So what if you get caught outside with a passing leaky gut after a big night out? Fortunately, even if a pathogen passes through this first line of defense, our immune system is prepared and waiting to jump, triggering a cascade of events both inside and outside our gut to stop any invasions.

Now, despite all this science convincing enough to show that leaky gut is more a symptom than a cause of disease, some people still claim that leaky gut syndrome is the root of a range of health problems, including brain conditions like autism, and brain-related disorders. such as ADHD and even depression.

Their theory is that a leaky gut allows toxins to reach the brain. There’s even a meal plan for it: the “intestinal and psychological syndrome” diet (GAPS) – essentially a restrictive diet that recommends people cut out grains, dairy, and starchy vegetables.

In fact, we all get a slightly more permeable or leaky gut lining temporarily, without any health consequences.  It can happen when we eat a fatty food or drink a little too much alcohol, for example.  Stress, too, is a common trigger

In fact, we all get a slightly more permeable or leaky gut lining temporarily, without any health consequences. It can happen when we eat a fatty food or drink a little too much alcohol, for example. Stress, too, is a common trigger

There are some pretty bold claims about the potential benefits of this diet (such as a reduction in “toxicity” and “cure” of autism). But everything is smoke and mirrors. There is no scientific evidence that following the GAPS meal plan has any health benefits. Both a comprehensive and varied diet are important throughout our lives, but especially in childhood (when the GAPS diet tends to be suggested).

Restrictive diets can starve your body and your gut bacteria.

Take just one study, published in the prestigious journal Nature in 2018, which showed that a low-gluten diet followed by healthy people has reduced some beneficial gut bacteria – proving that cutting out foods can have consequences. (If you choose to give up gluten for any reason, just make sure you still include plenty of non-gluten whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and popcorn.)

For a strong intestinal lining and good intestinal health, the goal is diversity, not limitation. Eating a diet rich in a variety of plant-based foods (including those demonized by the GAPS diet) supports the development of a more diverse microbiota (the organisms such as bacteria that live in our gut). And the more diverse our germs are, the better for our overall health.

So my home message of all this is: intestinal leakage, when it occurs, can be seen more as a symptom or effect of something else, not a syndrome.

If you experience persistent bowel symptoms, check with your doctor first to rule out other conditions such as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease.

And rather than thinking about what you might need to cut out, think about what you can add: more plants, more fiber, more flavor.

Try this: Live prebiotic ice cream

No need for an elegant ice cream machine, this combo uses the creaminess of bananas and the richness of thick live yogurt to deliver a gut on a stick. (Makes six to eight lollipops)


1 ripe banana

2 Medjool dates, chopped and mixed into a paste with 1 tablespoon boiling water

240 g live full-fat yogurt

1 tp vanilla extract


50 g pistachios, peeled

10 g baby spinach leaves (chlorophyll in the leaves adds a green touch to the ice cream)

Dark chocolate (optional)

Put basic ingredients in a blender and beat until smooth. Add kernels to the base mixture and blitz roughly to desired texture. Spoon into lukewarm molds and place in the freezer for at least four hours.

Once they are set, heat the dark chocolate in the microwave for 40 to 60 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds until melted. Place the beans on a baking sheet and pour over the chocolate.

Megan asked

I’m about to get my Covid accelerator. Can diet help?

Caroline Walsh, by email.

The simple answer is yes, it probably will. Although the role of diet has not been studied specifically with the Covid-19 booster vaccine (because it is so new) in mind, it has in relation to other vaccines, such as one against pneumonia.

In one study, healthy, older volunteers (ages 65 to 85) who ate two or fewer servings of fruits and vegetables a day were divided into two groups – one group continued their normal, low-fat fruit and vegetable diet while the other ate five. or more parts per day. Both groups received the same vaccine, but guess what? The five-plus day group had a greater positive response to the vaccine.

Admittedly, the vaccine (Pneumovax II) has been tested in older groups, so we cannot extrapolate the results to all vaccines and all people. But this is the whole conviction I need to recommend that everyone consider increasing their consumption of plants before any vaccines.

Contact Dr. Megan Rossi

Email drmegan@dailymail.co.uk or email Good Health, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT – please include contact details.

Dr. Megan Rossi cannot enter personal correspondence. Answers should be taken in a general context; always consult your doctor with any health concerns.

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