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Scary Side Effects Of A Leaky Gut

Written by: Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


While October is the month of cinnamon spice and all things pumpkin nice ‒ it's also Halloween month. But what I'm sharing this month is far scarier than anything I've ever seen in a movie because it is not only real but also really common. I'm talking about the scary side effects of a leaky gut that so many Americans are living with. This article will also show you 3 easy ways to start showing your gut the love it (and you) deserves.

Surprise woman at the beach on a beautiful weather.

What is a leaky gut?

When talking about leaky gut we're referring to a term recently popularised known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. This syndrome is also referred to as gut permeability. While not a diagnosable disease, research has proven this is indeed a real problem, especially amongst high-performing individuals in a highly-stressed culture. It develops from a damaged and thus very permeable intestinal barrier, which allows tiny particles of food and toxins to leak out of your intestines and into your bloodstream. This unfortunate event triggers an immune response, typically autoimmune, leading to excess inflammation despite the immune system's great effort to fight potential infection. This cascade of symptoms, in turn, further damages the intestinal barrier, creating a dangerous cycle ‒ leading to dangerous lifestyle-related diseases.

How do we damage the intestinal barrier?

More everyday causes include regular use of common things like alcohol and NSAIDS (think aspirin and ibuprofen.) Dysbiosis (bacterial overgrowth/imbalance which we test for via a comprehensive GI Map stool test at the Gut Health Agency) takes the lead for the top everyday cause of leaky gut – though dysbiosis itself typically has a root cause as well. But a rather scary and common cause of leaky gut in Western culture includes a poor diet. A Standard American Diet (SAD) high in processed sugar, low in fiber, and containing many processed foods and GMO products is often seen associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome. (According to Medanta)

Top 3 Scary Side Effects of a Leaky Gut

1. Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia

The most common complaint we hear both in our practice as well as amongst strangers today is "I'm exhausted all the time." The problem is we assume we need a quick fix to address our energy levels(queue that 4th cup of coffee per day.) When in reality, chronic fatigue is a much deeper issue. Fatigue feels like you're heavy all the time. No amount of sleep is enough. And even your most motivated days ‒ exercising or doing things you KNOW are good for you – just feel too hard. You're emotionally exhausted from living this way and often find yourself irritable, snappy, and harsh – even with the people you love the most. If this sounds familiar, you might not be tired, you might be fatigued. And if you can't rememberNOT feeling this way – it's chronic.

2. Mental Health Issues: Depression, Anxiety, ADD/ADHD

This one really gave me shivers down my spine. To think of how many people have lived most of their adult lives thinking they have to live with depression, anxiety, or AD(H)D as something they were born with or developed, is simply shocking. It's even scarier to think how many people are on personality-altering drugs just to cope ‒ with no logical answer ‒ as to why they are feeling this way. What's truly terrifying is to think of the lives that have been lost to anxiety and depression that could have been saved by fixing their leaky gut syndrome and overall gut health. Remember ‒ gut health and mental health are one and the same. The connection is a two-way street that communicates via the vagus nerve. We'll return to this in just a moment.

3. Autoimmune Diseases: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Lupus, psoriasis, Celiac Disease, Chrohn's Disease, and more.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: The body's confused immune system attacks its own tissue, like joints, and, in acute cases, even its own organs.

  • Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Here the immune system attacks the thyroid, which initially allows in too many thyroid hormones (resulting in rapid, often unhealthy, weight loss and/or an irregular heartbeat.) Later, this results in not enough thyroid hormones being produced or released. This affects your heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism ‒ resulting in fatigue, weight gain, cold sensitivity, and dry skin.

  • Lupus Similarly to rheumatoid arthritis, this is where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. But worse yet it can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. This shows up as joint pain, rash, fever, and fatigue.

  • Psoriasis: When you see this word you should also see chronic, long-term, and incurable. This is a skin disease that causes a rash with itchy, dry patches on the scalp, knees, elbows, and the trunk of your body ‒ as well as your nails and joints. Psoriasis has been shown to affect everyday life for the person suffering, as the symptoms can disrupt sleep and concentration and lead to poor body confidence.

  • Celiac Disease Probably the most well-known of these conditions, thanks to the rise in awareness of gluten. Celiac disease is an immune response to gluten affecting only 1% of the population. If diagnosed with Celiac disease, eating gluten would cause inflammation and damage to the small intestine. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing nutrients. An ineffective or damaged small intestine causes malabsorption of essential nutrients.

Remember: Digestion is not about what you eat ‒ it’s about how well you absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins. These are really scary to imagine ‒ let alone live with. But I won't leave you on that note. I'm going to share 3 effortless ways to start taking better care of your gut.

Easy ways to improve gut health in order to prevent a leaky gut

Work on Stress Management:

This seems basic, but often our stress levels are one of the last things we turn to when considering how to prioritize our gut health. The link between chronic stress and inflammation is well-researched. Gut specialists like me and the team at the Gut Health Agency understand that when our central nervous system is in a sympathetic "fight-or-flight" response, digestion completely turns off. This is why we systematically teach our clients not only the science and connection between stress and gut health but also coach them through subconscious healing tools and embodiment practices in order to become more resilient to daily stressors. This system, combined with addressing underlying infections in the gut with a GI Map test is exactly why our clients are getting real results really fast.

Include a diversity of fruits, vegetables, and herbs:

Fiber is your gut bacteria's favorite food. One of the easiest ways to combat an overgrowth of "bad bacteria" is to ensure that our good bacteria have the proper nutrients they need. Focusing on incorporating polyphenol and prebiotic-rich foods that are high in fiber like beans or legumes, green bananas, and even cooked and chilled potatoes into your weekly routine is a great place to start. Aiming for a diversity of at least 30 vegetables per week is also a fun game to play. The great news is that ALL whole plant foods contain fiber. That means any serving of fruits and veggies is also a serving of fiber.

Work with a professional:

The first thing anyone should do if they think they have symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome is to talk to a professional. Consider a leaky gut to be a symptom of a much deeper problem. The Gut Health Agency was created to help high-performing people experiencing these symptoms. We're a team of Gut Health Coaches and Registered Dietitians dedicated to helping you improve your gut health with a systematic approach that combines functional testing, clinical nutrition, habit change coaching, and embodiment practices.

Think you might be dealing with Leaky Gut Syndrome? Take our free Gut Health Assessment now to determine if it might be true and opt-in to receive more in-depth and personalized steps to begin healing now.

I know a lot of this post was scary – but I want to remind you that it is never too late to take control of your health, heal your gut, and digest your life.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website for more info!


Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Recently featured "The Gut Health Coach" by Yahoo!, Chelsea Haines has a unique way of helping high-performers heal. She doesn't claim to know best. Her mission: to remind you that YOU are the expert on your body, only you know precisely what you need, and you are not "crazy" for feeling how you feel. Her expertise stems from personally healing autoimmune disease paired with formal degrees in psychology, gut health, and mindfulness. She’s the Founder of The Gut Health Agency, where a team of health coaches & Registered Dietitians merge health coaching with clinical testing for increased patient compliance and lasting habit change ‒ a needle-moving combination not otherwise seen in the gut health space.



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