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Leaky gut syndrome is not real | What's really happening in your gut

30 October, 2017
Leaky gut syndrome

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Health is not immune (forgive the pun) to fads. The ‘theory’ of leaky gut syndrome has recently resurfaced, and with it, a plethora of treatment articles and advice listicles – how much of it is real though? To find out what leaky gut syndrome is, and what health effects it might have, we have to find what the internal experts are saying about it.

The hypothesis

Leaky gut relates to the intestines, organs in your body that turn the nutrients you digest into their basic components, like sugar, amino acids and fatty acids.

These basic components are able to get into the bloodstream and to where they need to go because the intestines are permeable (permeable simply refers the ability of a material or membrane to allows liquids or gases to pass through it). The levels of permeability are controlled by the intestines ‘tight junctions’.

The hypothesis concerning the syndrome proposes that, when the tight junctions are malfunctioning, the intestines become hyperpermeable. This then allows harmful substances, as well as nutrients, through to the bloodstream.

Is it credible?

Like all ill-defined maladies, leaky gut is said to be a causing factor of a lot of problems, from things as mundane as bloating and as serious as autism. However, there are currently little - if any - credible scientific sources that show definitive evidence between leaky gut and these issues.

There is a logic to it – if a healthy gut does not allow harmful microbes through to the bloodstream, it would follow that an irritated or inflamed gut would.

However, experts in the field (gastroenterologists/gut specialists) don’t refer to leaky gut as a medical diagnosis, and the extensive research performed in relation to leaky gut (intestinal permeability) has produced ambiguous results.

The lack of evidence to support the leaky gut hypothesis has not deterred alternative health outlets from giving advice and selling supplements to try and address the 'ailment', none of which are backed by expert opinion or current scientific understanding.

The danger of leaky gut syndrome treatments

As leaky gut syndrome is an ill usually touted by alternative health and medical sites and personalities, their solutions are also ‘alternative’.

The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research warns that products that claim to help alleviate leaky gut are not medically verified, and may actually be dangerous. Further, dietary advice given by unqualified institutions or personalities may lead to malnutrition or a generally poorer diet.

What to do if you think you have leaky gut

The symptoms of leaky gut can be indicative of a range of other health problems related to the gut, like Crohn’s or coeliac disease, or dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria). We recommend you see your local GP or consult a specialist to see what they recommend.


NHS – Leaky gut sydnrome
WedMD – Digestive disorders
The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research – Debunking the myth of leaky gut syndrome
Healthline – Is leaky gut syndrome a real condition? An unbiased look

All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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