What is leaky gut?

You think you have leaky gut because you’re bloated, gassy, achy and crampy. We ask three doctors to define this ‘grey area of medicine’.

What is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is still a grey area of medicine. The term has become popular in the last 10 or 20 years to explain how gut substances literally leak into the bloodstream.

Western medicine says

A complete digestive stool analysis and a urine test can check for leaky gut, says Prof Kotsirilos. “There are some studies to suggest that these [gut substances] can cause symptoms of inflammation in the body as the compounds enter the blood, building up in other tissues of the body, and are then released into the urine, causing a leaky gut syndrome.”

Complementary medicine says

“It’s a funny term because, really, it’s a medical scientific term that some Western naturopaths and trained doctors have latched on to,” says Dr Hunter. Complementary medicine practitioners may test for similar diagnoses but they won’t label it leaky gut.

Integrative medicine says

Dr Dodsworth says a full patient history is taken, including dietary intake, digestive function, past history of antibiotic use, traveller’s diarrhoea, autoimmune conditions, known food intolerances, current and recent stress levels, regular or intermittent medication, herbal and nutritional supplement use and family medical history.

“Investigations might include Immunoglobulin G (IgG) or Immunoglobulin A (IgA) food intolerance testing, gut microbiome analysis, complete digestive stool analysis, intestinal permeability testing, nutrient level assessment and autoimmune disease testing,” she says.

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