Leaky Gut Triggers

Hi, I'm Dr. Marie Starling.

At The Healing Center, we help people like you reach their full potential.

I specialize in adjunctive care for internal disorders, autoimmune conditions, IBS, thyroid symptoms, diabetes, and other complex health issues.


By: Mary Beth Gudewicz CNTP, MNT

You may have heard the term “leaky gut” used at The Healing Center as a diagnosis and still don’t understand what it truly means.  It sounds like a catch term about conditions that people can’t really give you a clear picture.  So let me break it down for you.  Leaky gut, by definition, is “increased intestinal permeability or intestinal hyper permeability that happens when tight junctions in the gut, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don’t work properly.  This leads to substances leaking into the bloodstream”.[1] We have this barrier for a reason.  It is designed to protect the internal environment and to filter nutrients and other biological substances.  When this barrier is compromised, undigested proteins, fats, bacteria, toxins, and waste that is not normally absorbed can leak out of the intestines and into the blood stream. [2]  This increases inflammation in the body leading to an autoimmune reaction.  Some symptoms you may experience are abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes and autoimmunity. [3]  So what leads to leaky gut?  Let’s explore the triggers and some ways to start healing your gut.

Triggers for leaky gut include:

  • Chronic stress
  • Illness
  • Antibiotic use
  • Blood sugar dysregulation such as hypoglycemia
  • Exposure to environmental toxins such as chemicals and pesticides
  • Hormone changes such as pregnancy and menopause
  • Sleep issues
  • Head injuries such as concussions
  • Adrenal fatigue/exhaustion
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Radiation
  • Inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDS – the ibuprofen in your medicine cabinet
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Chronic infections
  • Food sensitivity
  • Gluten
  • Industrial seed oils
  • Cytotoxic/Immunosuppressive drugs
  • GMOs (genetically modified foods)

Some of these triggers can be avoided by eliminating NSAIDS, switching to organic produce, choosing organic and grass-fed sources of meat and limiting alcohol consumption, etc.  Stress is probably one of the biggest triggers and it is everywhere in our daily life.  The key is to start changing your perception of stress.  Meaning, if you are stuck in traffic instead of getting worked up about being late for work or your appointment, just take a deep breath, accept that you will be in traffic for awhile and turn on your favorite music or podcast, or even just sit and be present in the moment.  Other ways to minimize stress is to not over schedule your life, say no if you are tired, turn off your electronic devices an hour before bed, focus on getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night, find moments to laugh, and live with gratitude every day.

Multiple options exist to heal and treat a leaky gut diagnosis.  At The Healing Center, we will design an individual protocol that addresses your needs.  We look at food reactions through testing and dietary modifications/challenging, identifying and eliminating infection and through allergy elimination.

If you are diagnosed with leaky gut, a good place to start is with bone broth.  Bone broth can start healing your gut and contains good fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.  You can create soups, drink it as a snack, include it in your favorite stew recipe, etc.  It is truly a medicinal food.  Check out Jessica Yoche’s November blog about bone broth.

Healing leaky gut is work, but the results can bring back your quality of life and prevent further illness.  This fall we will be putting together workshops to educate you on various nutritional and health topics: Stay tuned for details.  Remember knowledge is power and when armed with the knowledge on how to stay healthy, you will have the access to your best health.  That is our goal at The Healing Center.


Feature, Matt McMillen WebMD. “Defining Leaky Gut Syndrome: Common Symptoms and the Difficulty of Diagnosis.” WebMD. WebMD, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

Weil, Andrew, MD. “Q & A Library.” What Is Leaky Gut? Ask Dr. Weil, 12 Dec. 2005. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

Kresser, Chris. “9 Steps to Perfect Health – #5: Heal Your Gut.” Chris Kresser. Chris Kesser, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

Moninger, Jeannette. “How to Reduce Stress: 10 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress on the Spot.” WebMD. WebMD, 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

[1] Feature, Matt McMillen WebMD. “Defining Leaky Gut Syndrome: Common Symptoms and the Difficulty of Diagnosis.” WebMD. WebMD, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

[2] Weil, Andrew, MD. “Q & A Library.” What Is Leaky Gut? Ask Dr. Weil, 12 Dec. 2005. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

[3] Weil, Andrew, MD. “Q & A Library.” What Is Leaky Gut? Ask Dr. Weil, 12 Dec. 2005. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

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