There’s been a lot of talk lately about a condition called “leaky gut”. Some common signs and symptoms may include chronic congestion, eczema, and ongoing digestive discomfort. So if it is leaky gut, what’s going on? And what can parents do about it?
When the gut is healthy, it is selectively permeable, or porous. This means that nutrients can be absorbed, but it doesn’t allow toxins, pathogens (i.e. bacteria, virus, fungus), or large food particles to pass through it into the bloodstream.
With leaky gut syndrome (more formally called intestinal hyper-permeability), this mechanism is compromised, and these undesirable elements may pass through the gut into the bloodstream and cause symptoms.
While the term leaky gut is controversial, the importance of intestinal impermeability and intestinal hyper-permeability is not.
There are a number of factors that may lead to a leaky gut. Some of the most common triggers in children may include:
When particles pass through a leaky gut, the immune system may be triggered. The tissues most often affected are in the gut, lungs, ears, nose, and skin.
Symptoms associated with leaky gut may include eczema or rashes, mucous congestion, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain/colic.
The best path to healing the gut depends on the cause, but the guiding principle is to identify a trigger that may be irritating the gut and add elements that can help the gut heal itself. Some ways to do this include:
One of the best ways to advocate for your child’s health (and your own!) is to empower yourself with a deeper understanding of how the body works. Making small changes to diet and lifestyle can result in big health wins.