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  • Writer's pictureAlison Cowell

Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is still not widely recognised or acknowledged by conventional health advisors, and indeed when I first started studying nutrition it was dismissed out of hand. Sixteen years and 10,000 clients later, let me tell you, LGS definitely exists! More importantly, it can be treated.


Think of your digestive tract as a fine-meshed tube running from your oesophagus to your bowel. After you have thoroughly chewed your food (because you know how important that is 😉), it passes through this wonderful ‘tube’ and nutrients are forwarded onto your cells. However, sometimes, the lining of the ‘mesh’ can become damaged. Like a pair of tights getting snagged, it’s not good to have larger holes appearing! Damage can be caused by undigested food (told you!), food intolerances, alcohol, aspirin and common anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. When the holes become too big, particles of undigested food, bacterias and toxins which would otherwise have been expelled out of your system naturally, instead are allowed to enter your bloodstream.

Symptoms can include painful, debilitating digestive issues, fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches, skin issues and insomnia (to name a few) and is often the trigger for auto-immune conditions such as fibromyalgia.


My first advice to anyone who's experiencing ongoing digestive issues is to get tested for food intolerances (spoiler alert it's not always gluten and dairy). Once you know your food friends from your food foes, you can start to eat foods that will be nourishing and not harming you.

Secondly, reinstating healthy gut bacteria is paramount. When you have had digestive issues for a while, many species of healthy bacteria will become depleted so I recommend a nice anti-inflammatory and calming species like S. Boulardii.

Next, introduce fermented food to your regular daily intake. Fermented food encourages production of healthy bacteria and also aids absorption of nutrients. Examples include kombucha, kimchi sauerkraut and kefir. Many supermarkets are offering great choices, so no special trips to the health store required (unless you want to!)

Whilst I mentioned earlier gluten dairy are not always the culprits for food intolerances, it needs to be acknowledged that they are a challenge for weak digestive systems; so if you really want to improve your symptoms more rapidly, then I suggest cutting out gluten and dairy products for at least a couple of weeks to give your system a rest.

The nightshade family of foods (including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, aubergines and chillies) are known to cause inflammatory responses for many, so these are best avoided until your symptoms have subsided.

Natural remedies include:

· Slippery elm powder, to soothe inflammation and help restore the mucosal lining (repairing ‘the holes!)

· Probiotic and fermented food, mentioned earlier

· Glutamine, an amino acid to repair the digestive tract and ease painful symptoms

If you've been on long term medication of any sort, do take a moment to read all the potential side effects. Many of them cause digestive issues. Whilst they might be very well taking care of heart, diabetes, cholesterol and pain, they could be having a detrimental effect on other areas of your body.

For personal advice, please email or book in for consultation. You do not need to suffer!

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