Characteristics of leaky gut

What is intestinal hyperpermeability or leaky gut?

Intestinal hyperpermeability or too permeable bowel syndrome also called “leaky gut”, is a dysfunction of the intestinal barrier which occurs in people with food allergies, food intolerance, intestinal diseases or recurrent infections.

It affects the permeability of the intestinal barrier and allows the passage of unwanted blood, producing a series of symptoms associated with autism, auntoinmunes diseases, intestinal diseases, fatigue, joint pain, migraine or headaches, among other problems.

Intestinal permeability


Intestine allows to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins and food waste.

The intestinal walls must be permeable to allow entry of nutrients in the body.

At the same time, the intestinal wall can not be completely permeable, because it must protect us against microbes and toxins: the gut is constantly in contact with millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, antigens (genetic material from microbes and food), toxic substances (undigested substances,…), or components that may be carcinogenic (nitrosamines, PAHs…).

What is necessary to posses a good intestinal health?

In short, good intestinal state is required to:

  • The proper absorption of nutrients
  • Acting as a defensive barrier against infections, toxic and too large to be absorbed macromolecules.
  • Production of vitamins, especially vitamin K and some B vitamins (microbiota or gut flora)
  • Production of antibodies or defenses

Bad state of intestine is related with many health problems

Today, there are scientific and clinical studies on the close relationship between the state of the intestine and many health problems related to allergies, inflammation, and even intestinal condition may influence mood, due to capacity gut flora to synthesize neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

healthy intestine

Schematic sheet on the proper functioning of the intestinal barrier.

Too permeable intestine

It is natural that sometimes the intestinal wall does not work well and permits substances to go through. In these cases, the intestine produces defensive substances called cytokines or inflammatory cytokines.

It is a problem when alterations that cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal wall consistently occur, for example, in the case of food intolerance.

In intestine too permeable, the cells of the intestinal wall, which is formed by tight junctions between cells increase their separation, allowing the passage of non-adequate substances the bloodstream, which in turn, again cause more inflammation and gut damage.

Externally, it can be seen by the appearance of eczema, flatulence, migraine, recurrent infections, aggravation of arthritis,… etc

leaky gut syndrome

Schematic sheet on how unwanted substances are allowed to pass to the blood stream when the leaky gut occurs.


Improper diet and other modifiable factors

  • Lack of chewing: Non chewing food properly carries longer digestion and greater fermentation or putrefaction of food in the digestive tract, with the production of substances that can irritate or inflame the intestine.
  • Weakened intestinal flora, which can be caused by stress, medication use of antibiotics, dietary changes (travel, per diem, etc.), Laxative abuse, celiac disease, intestinal diseases, etc.
  • Irritants: coffee, alcohol, snuff, spicy food(pepper, mustard,…).
  • Additives and pesticides, particularly those found in processed industrial products. For example, nitrites and nitrates present in sausages, are capable of becoming carcinogenic nitrosamines. Additives and pesticides may reduce the healthy bacterial flora.
  • Food too rich in animal protein and / or low in fiber, increase the putrefactive bacterial flora, which weakens the intestinal health. The protective microbiota is that one that leads to the fermentation of vegetable fiber, therefore, you need to eat plenty of vegetables to promote its growth in the colon.


    Bread and wheat flour contain a protein called gluten, which is broken down in the intestine into prolamin and gliadin. It is believed that gliamina increases the separation among enterocytes (intestinal cells) in all people. That is, consuming gluten may increase the permeability or “holes” of the intestine. For this reason, some experts always recommend to avoid wheat in case of intestinal diseases, at least temporarily.

  • Antiinflammatory drugs NSAIDs such as aspirin

Diseases or intolerances producing intestinal hyperpermeability

Infections that could cause intestinal hypermeability

  • Food poisoning from salmonella, listeria, etc. or contaminated water
  • Infections of intestinal parasites

Symptoms of intestinal hyperpermeability

Having some of the following symptoms may indicate intestinal hyperpermeability:

Leaky gut diagnosis


Having migraines, recurrent infections or chronic constipation may be symptoms of intestinal disorders. It is recommended to consult a dietician to work together with your doctor

The hyperpermeable gut is a disorder that often goes undiagnosed. It is observed when other digestive diseases, intolerance, intestinal diseases or autoimmune (study, study) are studied.

It can be detected with an analysis of urinary lactulose and mannitol.

In the following study intestinal hyperpermeability can be seen, observed in digestive diseases as irritable bowel syndrome. Enterocytes (intestinal cells) have a higher than normal separation between them, called intestinal holes. These are holes that allow unwanted substances pass through the intestinal barrier. In this case, in individuals with irritable bowel when gluten is consumed.

People with frequent migraines, recurrent infections, bloating after eating, or other symptoms described above, may may have the microbiota and / or intestinal mucosa weakened.

In blood tests, an increase of IgE and IgG immunoglobulins is observed, although these values ​​are not specific and may indicate other damages. It is always recommended to consult a specialist doctor to determine if there are alterations of the intestine after an overall assessment.

Natural treatment of intestinal hyperpermeability

The natural treatment of too permeable bowel syndrome consists of:

leaky gut treatment

Summary sheet with the basic guidelines for treating leaky gut or too permeables syndrome Produced by © Botanical-online

1- Treat or remove the cause / causative agents:

  • In case of intolerance, eliminate the causative component, if milk lactose intolerance, certain fruits and foods rich in fructose, etc.
  • In case of infection, see a doctor and treat it appropriately. You need to follow antibiotic treatment, accompanied by diet and tips that are recommended below.
  • Reduce consumption of gluten: Some experts recommend eliminating wheat temporarily in case of intestinal diseases.
  • Eliminate or reduce the use of substances that irritate the intestines: alcohol, snuff, spicy, coffee.
  • If possible, avoid antiinflammatory medications such as aspirin (consult your doctor)

2 – Proper diet for intestinal hyperpermeability

  • Coffee, snuff, alcohol, highfat foods and spicy foods are irritating the intestine and it is recommended to avoid them.
  • Chew all food properly and eat in a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Avoid stress. Stress affects our emotional state and our intestinal health. This relationship is clear in cases of irritable bowel syndrome, although in healthy people is more difficult to establish relationship, because there is no such exaggerated pain or digestive disorders.
  • Proper diet rich in fruits, vegetables, gently cooked (boiled, steamed, baked, roasted, pureed). Not suitable are fried, spicy, too rich or varied meals, etc.
  • Avoid constipation, through a diet rich in fiber and very moisturizing food. Laxative use is not recommended.
  • Avoid certain foods that stimulate the secretion of bile (mostly fried, citrus and too fat meals).
  • In some cases, it is recommended to avoid or reduce the consumption of gluten and dairy products.

3- Improve the digestive function:

  • Probiotics: bacteria probiotic supplements that provide lot of lactic bacteria (Lactobacillus) or Bifidobacterium bifidus (Bifidobacterium) are recommended.. (Yogurts do not contribute enough, you should take supplements)
  • Digestive Enzymes supplements that help improve digestion and disintegrate food because the more decomposed are food, the less allergens components they contain.
  • Increase in certain foods: foods contaning glutamine, antioxidants, quercetin, betacarotene, and other components that help improve the intestinal condition.

4- Supplements and nutrients that help repair the intestines: Prebiotic supplements, glutamine, some medicinal plants and essential fatty acids. They posses anti-inflammatory effects.

punto rojoMore information on remedies and diet for intestinal hyperpermeability.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

5 July, 2019

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Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.