Does Leaky Gut Cause Weight Gain?
In short yes it can, and often is the mysterious missing cause. Read on to find out the specifics as to why, and what you can start to do about it. Continue reading up on this condition from someone who actually has it, and has already done close to 3 months full time study on the subject, and what actually works to heal it.
If you want to jump ahead easily, here are the key areas of this article, or you can simply go on reading below:
What Is Leaky Gut?
Take This Quick Quiz To Find Out If You Have Leaky Gut
How Intestinal Permeability or LGS Can Cause Weight Gain
How Leaky Gut Can Lead To Much Worse Than Just Weight Gain
What's The Proper Testing For Leaky Gut?
How To Go About Healing Leaky Gut
If you've been experiencing weight issues, or more specifically you are holding more weight at the moment than you would like, then there is a chance that you may be suffering from Leaky Gut, otherwise known as LGS (leaky gut syndrome) or even more scientifically as intestinal permeability.
If you are suffering from leaky gut, you're certainly in good company, with some estimates being as high as 80% of people The US having leaky gut to some degree (this would also be true in other western countries such as Canada, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand).
Leaky Gut is often now recognized as the regularly misdiagnosed or undiagnosed cause of so many different health issues, and symptoms that can often otherwise seem mysteriously unrelated. Leaky gut and weight gain, are correlated for a few different known reasons, and that's what we're going to help you discover, and we'll also take a quick look at some of the things you can start to do about it to get on the track to better health.
Not only that, but even if you're relatively healthy otherwise, but you don't get a handle on your leaky gut, you're putting yourself at risk of developing much more serious health problems, such as an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Rheumatoid arthritis.
Okay, So Hang On, What Is Leaky Gut, Or Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Before we get onto that, let's give you a very brief, and simplified understanding of what leaky gut is. Basically, to make it easy to understand, think of your gut lining as a “netting” that is designed to allow certain things through from your food (like nutrients) into your blood stream, and therefore the rest of your body and brain, and then also to block certain other things from getting into your system (like pathogens, or other food particles that aren't supposed to stay in your system).
Again this is a simplistic overview of what LGS is, as we really don't need to get into the science of it right now in order to help you move forward.
Here's a quick video from the Dr Oz show, where he discusses this analogy in a little more detail, so there's no way you can not understand the basic idea of what leaky gut is and how it works to disrupt so many systems in your body and brain (more of which we discuss in other pages on this site)
What Are The Common Symptoms?
This is a harder area to summarize on without spending literally days writing about, due to the fact that leaky gut is just so intertwined with so many different symptoms and illnesses, all the way from headaches to auto immune disorders.
Having said that, here's the commonly reported list of warnings signs that you may have leaky gut:
- Obvious intestinal/bowel issues (chronic constipation or diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc)
- Frequent common colds, low immune system function
- Food intolerances and reactions
- Brain issues, memory and cognitive dysfunction (brain fog)
- Mood issues and disorders: anxiety and depression, etc
- Skin issues: eczema, acne, etc
- Weight issues – unideal weight – overweight or underweight
- Overly tired, fatigued
- Sleep issues
Do I Even Have Leaky Gut?
Here's an excellent and simple quick quiz, that will make it pretty obvious to you if you are at high risk for LG or LGS. (link opens in a new window so you can come back and continue reading here)
So Just Why Does leaky Gut Cause Weight Gain?
Well! there are a few different things going on here, and at Health Vibed, our job is to keep it simple for the common folk who are interested in getting to ideal health, but not scientists, with degrees in functional medicine, nutrition or anything else (maybe you are, and in that case we do apologize 🙂 )
So… we'll try to keep this reasonably simple, but here's the breakdown of what's going on in your body “under the bonnet” which causes leaky gut to lead to weight gain, and if you're one of the body type who reacts to leaky gut or intestinal permeability in this way, it can then make it difficult, if not near impossible to shed the pounds/kilos until you've solved the underlying cause (that being LGS!)
Possible Reasons Leaky Gut Is Leading To Your Weight Gain Issues:
Chronic inflammation is a big problem, and lies at the root of many different illnesses, and has even been linked with the predisposition to developing cancer in various studies. It's no surprise then, that chronic inflammation has also then been linked to weight gain in numerous studies, here's just one example on Pubmed, you can find many more with a simple search in Google.
Leaky gut causes inflammation, and if it's not sorted out, will lead to chronic inflammation, and as a byproduct, your body may store more fat, causing you to put on unwanted weight. That's not to mention all the other possible issues you could be in for by exposing yourself to chronic inflammation.
This process also works the other way too. Due to the fact that fat cells can create signals that lead to more inflammation in the body. Then of course, if you are gaining more weight, you have more fat cells, and this can create a vicious cycle, where inflammation is creating unwanted weight gain, and this added weight is bringing on even more weight gain. Yikes indeed! Something we'd all definitely like to avoid, so keep reading to find out what you can do if you see yourself as a likely candidate for this problem.
Put simply, having a leaky gut increases the likelihood of insulin resistance, and when you have insulin resistance you are either at risk of, or already suffering from unwanted weight gain issues. This will quite often happen especially when there's a gut dysbiosis issue. Gut dysbiosis will increase the chances of overwhelming your carbohydrate metabolism, because of the decreased function of insulin, and this has been shown to lead to weight gain.
Also the gut is a less friendly place for beneficial bacteria when you have LGS and the associated inflammation in this area of your body, and this will lead to carbohydrates not making it to the cells they're meant to, and when that happens, they get stored in the body, and you get more fat stored, thus adding to your unwanted weight gain.
Leaky Gut and Leptin
Leptin is responsible for creating the feeling in your body that you associate with “being full”, and so as you can imagine, it's pretty important in managing your weight. If you're someone who's had a large amount of sugar (including and especially processed fructose) and grains in your diet, this will mean that the sugar will be metabolically transferred into fat (which will get stored as fat = weight gain), this will also create large increases in leptin.
What happens over time if this continues, will be that your body will enter a state of what's known as leptin resistance, and therefore put simply, will make you feel like eating when you don't actually need to. This is impacted by leaky gut syndrome, because in this state your gut will be allowing through all sorts of junk that shouldn't be there, and ultimately will cause you to hold higher levels of fat, which will lead to the problem we just talked about.
So these are the various ways in which leaky gut syndrome can cause and setup a weight loss resistance within your body.
If you really want to make some changes, but have found that leaky gut is making you unable to lose that weight, then you'll definitely need to address this issue before expecting to have any success with your weight loss goals.
But Wait, It Could Get Much Worse! (If You Don't Treat It Soon…)
Not only does leaky gut cause all the gazillion other symptoms and issues that we've discussed up until this point, including all the symptoms in the listing above, and putting on more weight, but it gets worse… Leaky gut syndrome is starting to be found to be linked more and more with the DEVELOPMENT of autoimmune disorders (where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's very own cells). Again, not to be too much of a health nerd, but here's another link to an example study on pubmed, highlighting this very factor.
If I didn't already make it clear just how much misery autoimmune disorders can cause you by saying your body is virtually creating warfare against itself, then let me be quite blunt here, you REALLY don't want to allow the effects of leaky gut, and the chronic inflammation associated to carry on in your system, otherwise you're opening yourself up to a world of pain by way of autoimmune issues.
Proper Lab Testing For Leaky Gut
It is certainly possible to get some proper lab testing done to determine if you actually have leaky gut, but (or should I say “and”) after studying up on this a lot here's the basic consensus on this..
Now the thing is, with many health issues, testing is actually the very first thing you should be doing, basically at the point you suspect you have anything serious going on, the proper lab testing is absolutely vital, so you can actually work from real data, and not just your “gut feelings” pardon the pun.
Here's the choices you have at the moment, for laboratory testing to determine if you're suffering from leaky gut or LGS:
A) Lactulose/Mannitol Test – the most common lab test for intestinal permeability
B) A newer test from the people over at Cyrex Labs, called the Array 2 Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen.
Both of these tests are obviously based on different methods for determining whether your “gut is leaking” and have different ways of determining your current gut status, and both have their validity. The Lactulose/Mannitol test method is the industry standard at the moment in this area, whereas the Cyrex panel is more related to the immune response aspect of your gut's health.
The thing is, without going on too much about it, these tests may not really be worth spending your money on if you do actually already have Leaky Gut Syndrome, and mentioned previously, having this health issue is very very common, so it's likely that if you do have a lot of the symptomology, then you do in fact have it. Remember, certain experts on this topic have been quoted as saying that up to 80% of people in the united states are suffering from this!! That's a huge amount of people, obviously!
Without going too much into this area, and answering the question of WHY so many people in the modern world have leaky gut, and how that could possibly happen on such a large scale, just think about the fact that much of our food is processed these days, many people cannot or choose not to eat organic, without even mentioning GM foods, etc.
With LGS, it can be complex, and stated earlier, many non gut/GI/bowel related symptoms are in fact caused by this condition, AND the leaky gut does not necessarily show up with any of those symptoms, for example, maybe your fine on the loo, but you have serious brain fog or anxiety/depression issues that have no seemingly life situation related cause.
When it comes down to it, if you're reading this, and if you have some or ANY of the common LGS symptoms, then it's highly likely that you are suffering from this (remember the 80%?!)
Onto the important stuff – how to heal leaky gut and lose weight
Okay, Maybe It's Time To Do Something About This, But Where To Start?!
So, you've decided that you are a highly likely candidate for LGS (take the quiz if you want a more specific idea of how likely you are), what are some useful steps you can actually begin taking today, or this week to begin to deal with this serious issue?
Remove gut aggravating foods completely. What foods? that really goes beyond the scope of this particular article, but some of the really commonly problematic foods for many people are gluten (nearly goes without saying), dairy, nuts, eggs, and too much sugar in your diet, including too much fruit (crazy right, everyone knows fruit keeps you healthy!)
GI Infections and gut Dysbiosis. Proper lab panel testing showing your gut flora balance, or imbalances will tell you exactly how much good or bad bacteria you have in your gut, and also your yeast levels revealing Candida if that's a problem you're dealing with too.
Private companies like (examples are uBiome in The US, and Bioscreen in Australia) will perform this test for you and deliver a personal report, it's usually not exactly cheap, but well worth the money to know exactly what's going on down there.
If you don't know what's happening in your gut (as in, actual real life data of the bacterium levels) then you're really just guessing, and that's not a good thing in this case.
(Now we realize we said earlier that testing to find out whether or not you actually have LGS is probably not necessary, but this is a little different, because it's a much more specific type of testing, and it will give you a clear cut pathway to healing – for example, if you have too high a level of a certain type of bacteria in your gut, like the author, then you'll know that, and can work with your practitioner to balance that out with other bacteria to achieve a more healthy balance)
Begin a supplement plan to add to your new healthy gut diet. There are many supplements you can begin to take that will help you return your gut to better health and eventually overcome LG.
For example, bovine colostrum has been show to signal the body to close off the gut lining after it's been opened (leaky gut) and in fact colostrum via breastfeeding is directly associated with this as a natural process that happens after birth, so that infants can close off their gut lining (as it was opened during some of the time within the womb). You can read our full feature guide to colostrum and how it's been used with success to heal leaky gut here!
Probiotics. Nearly everyone uses probiotics these days, but are you using the right ones? and how are they affecting the balance of your existing gut flora? It's worth spending some time educating yourself in this area, and getting the right type of probiotic supplementation. All probiotics are not created equal!
Hopefully this gives you a good overview of just how leaky gut is connected with your weight gain issues, why leaky gut may be creating an inability for you to lose weight, and some things you can start to do as soon as today or tomorrow to get on the path to fixing this issue, and getting back to your ideal health! We love your feedback, so comment below, or hit us up via the site's contact form.