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The Most Common Leaky Gut Symptoms and How to Heal Leaky Gut In 3 Steps
9 minute read time
Leaky gut is a serious problem that causes inflammation and health problems throughout your body. You can fix a leaky gut by:
- Increasing nutrient absorption and assimilation.
- Healing and sealing the gut lining.
- Re-balancing your microbiome.
Leaky gut is one of the MOST common health issues out there right now. You can’t visit any health website without seeing information on leaky gut at this point.
After nearly 7 years of helping others heal their guts, I have found that the steps in this article are the most essential to follow.
Healing the gut is the first obstacle we have to go through in order to heal any chronic illness, and it is one of the biggest parts of our foundational care programs. There is a direct connection between our gut and brain – our gut flora influences brain chemistry.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
You might be wondering why leaky gut is so widespread and how people end up with gut dysfunction. There are many reasons why we’re seeing leaky gut more and more these days. The most common causes of leaky gut include:
- Standard American diet (a diet filled with processed foods, fake foods, artificial ingredients, excess hormones and antibiotics, sugar, and GMOs)
- Nutritional deficiencies because of poor diet
- Overuse of antibiotics (which disrupts the gut microbiome)
- Chronic stress
- Medications that can lead to nutritional imbalances
- Overexposure to toxins like heavy metals, parasites, fluoride, and chlorine
While sadly things like stress and toxin exposure can be unavoidable, we can definitely adjust our diet and provide our leaky gut with what it needs to heal. But, before you can fix a leaky gut, it’s important to know…
What Is Leaky Gut and How Does It Affect Your Digestive Fire?
Leaky gut is when the walls of the intestine become inflamed and porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, toxins, and other antigens into the bloodstream.
This creates inflammation in the body and brain. Since the gut influences the rest of our body, it is so crucial to focus on gut healing for better health. Gut issues can lead to some serious illnesses if not healed in time, such as autoimmune diseases, IBS/IBD, cancer, SIBO, obesity, depression, cognitive issues, and so much more.
Leaky gut also affects our digestive fire, which is the overall strength and volume of stomach acid, bile, and digestive enzymes in our gut.
We need stomach acid to break down food correctly. We need bile to utilize fat-soluble nutrients, protein, and fats. Digestive enzymes are proteins that our bodies make to aid digestion.
Years of poor eating, stress, and depletion of important minerals lead to a decrease in overall digestive fire!
Symptoms of poor digestive fire, often caused by leaky gut, include:
- Bloating, belching, and flatulence immediately after meals
- Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation
- Undigested food in stools
- Hair loss
- Food allergies
- Iron deficiency
- Weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails
- Adrenal fatigue
- Dry skin
- Autoimmune disease
Additional Problems Caused by Leaky Gut
Leaky gut causes gut lining inflammation as well. Signs of gut lining inflammation include pain from acidic foods (tomato sauce, citrus fruits, vinegar), hiatal hernia, and unexplained gut pain.
Some people don’t even have gut complaints when they have a leaky gut. Their symptoms could just include things like eczema, psoriasis, joint pain, or headaches. The most common leaky gut symptoms do tend to be more gut-specific, but some people never even have gut-related symptoms.
While it’s true that leaky gut can cause a wide variety of problems, there are some leaky gut symptoms that are more common than others.
The 5 Most Common Leaky Gut Symptoms
Leaky Gut Symptom #1: Your Appetite Is Weak or Strong
I’ve seen both extremes of appetite issues with those that have gut problems.
Some people are constantly hungry because their bodies are desperate for food. Since they are having issues breaking food down, their bodies just keep asking for more so they can attempt to get the nutrients needed. BUT some are on the other end of the spectrum and have very poor appetites. Since the body can’t digest food efficiently, it’s NOT asking for a lot of food.
Either way, high or low appetite is a symptom of needing gut support.
Leaky Gut Symptom #2: Your Hair Keeps Falling Out
We need stomach acid to digest and utilize our protein, and we need protein for creating healthy hair. If you are dealing with hair loss or even thinning hair, it is a huge sign that your digestive fire is low.
It’s not a commonly known correlation, but when I see my clients heal their guts then their hair starts growing back! Beauty starts from the inside out.
Leaky Gut Symptom #3: You’re Constipated
When we’re lacking digestive fire, it is very hard to break down and utilize our food correctly. This can lead to a sluggish GI tract which leads to chronic constipation.
Leaky Gut Symptom #4: You Have Food Intolerances
If you are constantly needing to cut foods out of your diet just to feel better, this is a HUGE sign that your gut needs to heal. Cutting the foods out only stops the symptoms – it doesn’t actually let your gut heal.
Leaky Gut Symptom #5: You Have Nutrient Deficiencies
We need stomach acid to properly utilize our nutrients. If you are finding that you’re deficient in several vitamins and minerals, supplementing with them isn’t going to solve the true underlying issue – low stomach acid!
When you heal your gut, you can increase the absorption of ALL nutrients at once, which is much more effective than supplementing 10+ isolated nutrients.
Tests for Leaky Gut Syndrome
There are 2 easy ways to test yourself to determine if you have leaky gut and digestion issues.
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis is the best place to start. It measures life-sustaining minerals at a tissue level rather than at the blood level, while also testing for toxic metals like mercury or arsenic. Perhaps even more importantly, it looks at the ratios of all these minerals and metals to define trends in blood sugar levels, adrenal status, hormones, and more.
A properly read hair analysis can give insight into how well your digestive system is working. The biggest sign that we have gut issues is when many of our minerals are very low. Hair analysis can show you exactly which nutrients are imbalanced and what you need support with most when it comes to gut healing.
The other amazing test is GI Map, which tests for bacterial, parasitic, and viral pathogens. This GI test gives us a lot of insight into what good bacteria might be low and what bad bacteria might be elevated.
It can also show issues like parasites, H. pylori, immune issues, and so much more. This test is the gold standard in GI testing right now since it tests for the DNA of these pathogens.
How to Fix a Leaky Gut In 3 Steps
In my years of training, I’ve seen that gut healing is only possible when you:
- Increase nutrient absorption and assimilation
- Heal and seal the gut lining
- Re-balance your microbiome
These are the three most important aspects to work on if you want to improve your gut function. Also, these are the three biggest steps we focus on in our HTMA programs, and we see the best improvements when our clients commit to working on them.
Step 1: Increase Nutrient Absorption and Assimilation
Improving nutrient assimilation is absolutely 100% essential if you want to fix a leaky gut.
You can take all of the supplements and eat all of the food in the world, but if you are not assimilating it properly it’s not going to help much. You are what you absorb, not just what you eat.
Natural Remedies to Increase Nutrient Assimilation
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the easiest and most popular ways to help increase stomach acid and utilize your nutrients better.
Most people dilute 1-2 Tablespoons of ACV in 4-8 ounces of water about 15 minutes before meals. This helps prep your stomach for incoming food, and it will help with digesting your food better immediately. If you can’t stand ACV on its own, try making switchel, a fermented drink made with apple cider vinegar!
Bitter herbs stimulate the production of stomach acid, digestive enzymes, AND bile flow!
We have bitter taste buds on our tongues for a reason – we are meant to use bitter foods to aid our digestive processes. Current diets tend to lack that bitter taste.
Replenishing sodium levels is crucial. Sodium plays a big role in stomach acid production and it also helps keep our metabolic rate more balanced (when we’re sluggish).
You want REAL unrefined sea salt though – not table salt!
Pink Himalayan, Redmond’s Real Salt, and Celtic Grey are all great ones to go for. Use HTMA to determine your personal mineral imbalances as well so you know how much sodium you might need to heal. Salting your food to taste is helpful, as well as salt water sole and using mineral foot baths.
Step 2: Heal and Seal the Gut Lining
Healing the gut lining is the actual “leaky gut” healing side of things.
Natural Remedies to Heal your Gut Lining:
Collagen or Bone Broth
Collagen and bone broth are both popular options for gut healing. Collagen is a protein that strengthens your body’s connective tissues and keeps them elastic, and it also is a great source of amino acids. Bone broth is made by simmering bones and connective tissue, both of which contain vital vitamins and minerals.
They are both amazing, so it really just depends on what is easiest for you.
Collagen can be added easily to drinks, soups, or other foods as it’s tasteless. Making bone broth can be time-consuming but isn’t hard, and it’s an easy way to make a base for soups.
Aloe vera is one of my FAVORITES for overall gut healing. It helps soothe gut inflammation and heal the gut lining, and it can help with histamine/mast cell issues as well. I love George’s brand Aloe – dosing depends on age, but most adults can use 2 ounces twice a day for the best benefit.
Marshmallow root is ideal for healing and sealing the gut lining and reducing inflammation in the gut. The BEST way to get the benefits of this root is with a cold infusion. Marshmallow helps to soothe and calm what is inflamed- the gut lining, the entire GI Tract, bladder, and all mucus membranes. It helps to heal the colon, especially long-term constipation issues and can help to feed good bacteria in the gut.
Fill a Mason jar ¼ of the way with dried marshmallow root and fill the rest with cool water (not hot; best to use a smaller jar for this particular infusion). Let it sit for at least 4 hours and then strain. You can see sometimes see how gooey it is when making it this way- that is what makes it amazing for healing gut inflammation. Get the loose marshmallow root here.
Step 3: Rebalance Your Microbiome
“Microbiome” here means all the good bacteria that live in your digestive system.
Gut bacteria are crucial for many reasons: creating certain vitamins, keeping harmful pathogens under control, and playing a role in keeping many illnesses at bay, especially colon cancer. There are MANY symptoms associated with an imbalance in the microbiome: constipation, bloating, food intolerance, brain fog, thyroid issues, and so much more.
One dose of antibiotics can alter your gut flora forever, and many of us were put on antibiotics nearly every year of our childhood.
Fortunately, there are several natural ways to renew and replenish that good gut bacteria and heal your microbiome.
Natural Remedies to Heal Your Microbiome
Belly Mend is my TOP choice for those needing microbiome support. It helps with all aspects of gut healing: it increases nutrient assimilation, heals and seals the gut lining, and helps the good bacteria stick better where it belongs.
I have seen countless clients and followers have significant changes in their gut function after just one month of Belly Mend.
ION for Gut Health
ION for Gut Health (previously RESTORE) is another popular overall gut healer. It can also help with healing the microbiome and healing and sealing the gut lining, as well as helping to undo the damage of glyphosate.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, or pickles are the best foods to go for to replenish the largest variety of gut bacteria. Please note that if you have histamine intolerance, it’s better to use the other remedies in this section and not this one, since those with histamine intolerance can’t tolerate fermented foods!
For most people, probiotic supplements are the easier option, but just adding in the strains from probiotic supplements isn’t going to actually help your gut to repopulate itself over time. Fermented foods offer a lot more effectiveness, and they are MUCH cheaper.
Getting a wide range of good bacteria is the best way to ensure you are feeding your gut well. Rotate through your favorites to get a good variety! I personally love Lifeway Kefir, Lucky Foods Kimchi, and Bubbies Pickles.
Fiber is another crucial part of microbiome support that most people tend to forget about. Be sure to get a good amount of fiber each day. You can go for the typical awesome foods like beans and oats, as well as something like Olipop soda (use the code SASSY15 for 15% off!), XO Chocolate, or psyllium husk.
The Not-So Bitter End
Leaky gut causes numerous immediate and long-term symptoms, so it’s very important to take gut healing seriously. When we learn how to fix a leaky gut using natural remedies to increase nutrient absorption, heal and seal the gut lining, and rebalance our microbiomes, we improve our health now and for the rest of our lives.
Ready to Learn Even More About Gut Healing?
I have an entire course on gut healing that outlines ALL of my major tips and tricks!
You will learn more about increasing your digestive fire, how to heal your gut lining effectively, how to fix histamine intolerance, how to heal your liver and colon, and so much more. You can read all about the gut healing course if you click right here.