Bloating, cramps, migraines? You could have a bowel condition
You may have heard someone complaining about having a 'leaky gut' before but never thought too much about what it actually is. But, if you're suffering from digestion issues, cramps, gas or even migraines and tiredness then it may be worth looking into.
The term essentially means an increase in the permeability or penetrability of the gut wall. 'Inside our gut, we have a lining that forms a tight barrier. This controls what substances enter the bloodstream,' explains Berta Corbera, nutritionist on behalf of Probio7.
'When this barrier is compromised it allows partially undigested food, toxins and pathogens (bacteria) which would not normally be absorbed to enter into our bloodstream.' It's still not widely recognised as a medical term, but the NHS says some medications and certain conditions can cause a gut to become 'leaky' though the individual symptoms aren't agreed upon by all experts.
Sufferers will typically experience varying degrees of bloating, gas and cramps. However, some experts say it can lead to more severe health issues. 'It's thought to be able to cause a whole host of other problems like food allergies and intolerances, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and inflammatory conditions such as asthma and eczema,' says Berta.
A leaky gut and food sensitivities
The undigested food and bacteria getting through the compromised gut lining can trigger an immune response, which some experts say can result in sensitivities or intolerances to certain foods. 'It's been suggested Crohn's and Coeliac disease can arise or be made worse by leaky gut for this reason,' explains Berta.
Some people are just unlucky enough to have a predisposition to a leaky gut regardless of age or gender but lifestyle factors could also be to blame. 'Sometimes an overgrowth of yeast (candida) in the bowel which can build up when our immune systems get compromised due to illness can cause it,' Berta says.
However, the NHS advises some practitioners believe a poor diet, heavy drinking, stress and overusing antibiotics can either weaken your gut's lining or cause the unhealthy overgrowth of yeast or bacteria that can trigger symptoms.