Episode 83: Is Leaky Gut a Real Thing?
As a natural health practitioner, there are certain things we know to be true. Just because something doesn’t tick a medical box (and has an equivalent pharmaceutical waiting to be prescribed) doesn’t mean it’s not real.
If you’ve ever been told that everything is “normal” and yet you have ongoing unexplained symptoms, it could well be something that is commonly seen and successfully managed by a nutritionist or naturopath.
Leaky gut is just one of these conditions and today we are joined on The Hormone Hub by Prajakta Apte, a Registered Dietitian, Yoga teacher and a gut health expert. She practises functional medicine and Ayurvedic practices, an ancient medical system originating over 5000 years ago in India.
Prajakta is a firm believer that Good Health starts in your gut and a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle practices can help a person connect their mind and body.
This was a great conversation and we dived right into:
🥑 What exactly is a leaky gut?
🫑 Potential causes of leaky gut
🥝 Common signs and symptoms
🥑 How we treat a leaky gut
If you have digestive issues, I hope this episode gives you some answers and inspires you to get curious about putting an end to the guessing game to fix your gut.
It is totally possible to heal your digestive issues and begin NORMAL in your body again. and find long-term results by treating the root causes to your gut issues.
Tune in HERE or listen on your favourite podcast platform!
#83 Is Leaky Gut a Real Thing?
[00:00:00] Welcome back to episode of the Hormone Hub Podcast, where we talk all things perimenopause, menopause, and have the conversations no one else is having. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this episode.
Kylie: Hello, hello and welcome back to the Hormone Hub and today we have a very special guest. Now you, those who have been with me for a very long time, and sorry, it’s Kylie. Pinwill, your host. I forgot that bit. Now for those of you who’ve been with me for a long time, you know that I bang on about good gut health, digestive health, and the importance of having a very good functioning digestive system.
So, just so you know it’s not just me. Today I have invited on the show Prajakta [00:01:00] Apte. So she’s a registered dietician, a registered yoga teacher, and a gut health expert. So she practices functional medicine. She’s has a special certification and training at Ayurveda. Ooh, I love that. Which is, you know, an ancient medical system which, you know, goes back sort of, you know, it’s Indian goes or originated in India, goes back 5,000 years.
And she does implement some of those Ayurvedic practices in her nutrition consulting business as well. So I love that blend of, of ancient wisdom and science. Um, so Prajakta works closely with people who are struggling with digestive issues, and she helps them reconnect with their gut through the healing power of nutrition and healthy lifestyle modifications.
She has a very holistic approach in helping her clients achieve their health goals and strongly believes in the root cause of her client’s health problems. Prajakta is a firm believer that good health starts in your gut and [00:02:00] a balanced diet, healthy lifestyle practices can help a person connect with their mind and their body.
Now, this is a lady who is speaking my language. Welcome Prajakta I, I am so excited to have you on the show.
Prajakta: Thank you so much, and I am super excited as well. Thank you for inviting me and, um, I can’t wait to, uh, get our conversation going here.
Kylie: Absolutely. So today we’re gonna talk about leaky gut. So I think, you know, this is, there’s a lot in, the health and nutrition and fitness world that gets thrown around.
I often sort of think, leaky gut is one of those terms that does get, thrown around. So when we’re sort of like talking about leaky gut, what exactly do we mean?
Prajakta: Sure. So I am going to make it as simple as I can so that listeners can really, understand this concept. And I know people, my clients have asked me whether this is really true [00:03:00] or this is something kind of made up diagnosis.
And if you ask me, this is a true diagnosis. This is not made up or something. And I have seen, I have worked with many people who are struggling with leaky gut. So, let’s talk about it.
So, I would like you all to imagine your intestines as a long tube that helps your body digest food, and absorb nutrients.
So normally when the walls of this tube have a tight junction, they have a tight lining, which only allows the useful, nutrients to pass through and keep all the harmful substances out. Now, when someone is dealing with leaky gut, which is also known as increased intestinal permeability, which is a very clinical term, but let’s say leaky gut all the time.
But, when leaky gut happens, the lining of your [00:04:00] intestine becomes more porous or leaky. And what I mean by that is these tight junctions between your cells in the intestinal wall become loose, which allow things like undigested food particles, toxins, or bacteria to escape from your intestine into your bloodstream.
And normally these things should stay inside the intestine and they should not be entering your in your bloodstream. Now this happens when these unwanted substances get into your bloodstream, your body sees them as foreign invaders, or a trigger that happens as an immune response. And this can lead to inflammation and it can also lead to a lot of health problems.
Kylie: Oh, and you explained it so well. And that’s the thing. And quite often, as holistic, [00:05:00] practitioners, what we deal with and what we see every day, isn’t necessarily a medical diagnosis. You know, and I think that’s sort of the frustrating thing that we come up against all the time is we know what’s going on, but just because it’s like adrenal fatigue.
I see it in 80% of my clients, but, it’s not a medical, medically diagnosed condition. But it is, you ask, any exhausted woman walking down the street. Yeah. It’s a very real thing. So, yeah. So I think you gave, a really good explanation there of leaky gut. And that’s the thing. And ideally, when we eat food, you know and digest our food, it goes through our intestines, the things that we don’t want get passed through our liver, and then we literally poop them out.
But yeah, it’s, it’s when they get absorbed back into our bloodstream that things start to go wrong. So what, what are some of the, the causes of leaky gut, you know, ’cause we don’t just wake up one day and all of a sudden we’ve got a leaky gut.
Prajakta: No, [00:06:00] no, you’re absolutely right. This doesn’t happen overnight.
It is a process. And that process in the background, I always say, Could be starting a few days before person actually start to notice symptom or realize that something is wrong with my health, or it could be happening for a few months, or even for few years. And there are definitely more than one causes for leaky gut.
Now, what I feel strongly as a dietician or when I help my clients, that it is very, very important for you to understand and pinpoint the exact root cause of your leaky gut problem, and only then you will be able to help yourself, or if you are getting help from a pro professional, they will be able to help you in the right direction because this is not a cookie cutter approach.
Nice. So going, going back on some of the [00:07:00] causes, nutrition or diet plays a big role. Diet that is high in processed foods, added sugars. Unhealthy fats. If you are relying more on, meats and potatoes and processed foods all the time, and if your diet is not enough with fiber, then that can definitely contribute to the inflammation and some damage to your intestinal lining.
So diet definitely plays a big role. Yeah, the now other cause what I feel and I see these days is chronic ongoing stress. And this is not a stress for a short period that I’m talking about, but when someone is dealing with long-term, ongoing stress for various reasons, that can certainly get your cortisol elevated in the blood.
And that becomes a perfect environment for the bad bacteria or bad microbes to grow within your gut microbiome. It can then definitely weaken the [00:08:00] intestinal barrier, which can definitely put you at a higher risk for leaky gut. Excessive alcohol consumption is also another contributing factor, which can damage your gut lining and can lead to, permeability, which is increase permeability. I would say excessive use of antibiotics and, again, I’m not against antibiotics. Antibiotics are important when they are absolutely needed, but when, antibiotics are overprescribed or if someone need to be taking antibiotic for a long time, that over- prescription antibiotics or overuse of antibiotics or even prolonged use of antibiotics can disrupt the balance between your good microbes and bad microbes, and which can impact your gut lining, which can lead you to develop leaky gut.
The, other contributing factor is, infection. So certain infections like parasite [00:09:00] infection that can damage the intestinal lining. The use of, overuse, I should say overuse of, anti, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. And that can cause intestinal lining damage and can cause leaky gut. The other contributing factor is food sensitivities, and I have seen at least
85 to 90% of my clients dealing with food sensitivities, and they are definitely, that means dealing with leaky gut. So repeated exposure to the foods that you are sensitive to. And I’m saying that that happens, unknowingly, that can definitely trigger inflammation and affect the gut barrier function.
Yeah, so food sensitivities is another contributing factor to leaky gut. And, last thing I wanna talk about as far as the contributing factors or causes for leaky gut is environmental toxins. We all know, and if you [00:10:00] don’t know, realize it now, but we are living in the pool of toxins. We are surrounded by toxins.
So exposure to. Pollutants and toxins in the environment can contribute to gut inflammation, which puts you at a higher risk for leaky gut. So definitely, identifying the exact root cause for yourself is extremely important so that a tailored treatment plan can be designed by your healthcare professional.
Kylie: Yeah, really, really salient points there. And I think, the clients that I work with, the very first thing we do is a food sensitivity test. And we just go straight in, do the food sensitivity test and it brings up, and it’s always fascinating to me because it often brings up, and I’ll get women sort of saying, oh, I eat that every day and I’m like, yeah, I know.
And your body just doesn’t like it. And these are foods that could be otherwise considered healthy. So, you know, we might have broccoli come up or apples [00:11:00] or (Prajakta) Oh yeah, you know, chicken or eggs or, you know, but you know, just, I think if you’ve got, if they’re triggering that low grade inflammation, then that has a cascade effect throughout your whole body really.
Prajakta: Absolutely. I agree with you and what you just said is right, because many of my people say, oh, but I eat avocado every day or very frequently in my diet, and bummer now I cannot eat it. Yes. Well, in my opinion, one theory of food sensitivity also suggests that if you eat the same food, frequently or over and over and over again. There is a pretty good chance that you will be dealing with a food sensitivity for that food, especially when you have a imbalance gut. And that’s why, adding diversity in the diet is very, very essential.
Kylie: Yeah, yeah. No, I agree. And I think you tend to, or what I’ve sort of seen, because. Like I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and, and what I see is, you know, they women [00:12:00] or people almost crave the things that are doing them harm.
So, it’s sort of, oh, but I can’t, I can’t live without tomatoes. And it’s like, well, you can, but I have tomatoes every day. And it’s like, yeah, well we just need to mix it up and yeah, like you said, get that variety in the diet for sure.
Prajakta: Absolutely. Yep. Correct. Mm-hmm.
Kylie: So what are the, the signs and symptoms of leaky gut?
So what does it sort of look like if someone suspects or quite often that’s not, because we’re not, we don’t talk about leaky gut. We don’t always know what it is. So how would someone know or suspect that, that’s what could be going on? I mean, we’ll pick it a mile away, but what, what they like be experiencing.
Prajakta: So, uh, definitely there are some signs and symptoms that your body will give out to you, letting you know that something is off. And I’m going to talk about some signs and symptoms here, but again, you may not experience each one of them that I [00:13:00] am, going to say. But, definitely you want to be more mindful.
You want to start listening to your body so that you can pick up those symptoms at early stages, and that way the treatment can be started right away. But, some of the common symptoms, for leaky gut is digestive issues, frequent bloating or gas, diarrhea, constipation that may indicate a problem with your gut health. Again, This is a digestive symptoms that typically will call for leaky gut, but there could be some other causes for these symptoms too.
So, just don’t rely completely on this. And if you are dealing with any one of these, don’t assume that you have leaky gut. Your constipation could be simply because you’re not drinking enough water or your diet is not high in fiber, and that could be the cost for your constipation. So look for other signs and symptoms as well.
So some other, signs and [00:14:00] symptoms include food sensitivities, so developing new food sensitivities or if your food sensitivities are worsening to certain foods, especially after eating, that can be a sign of leaky gut. When people, my clients come to me and say that I really don’t know what to eat or when I go out to eat with my friends.
I am terrified because I really don’t know what to order, and I am afraid that that food may cause any symptoms later. So you probably have come to a point where you are really struggling and your inflammation is high, and definitely that could be a great sign for leaky guts. So watch out for the food sensitivities.
Yeah, and just so everyone knows that food sensitivities can be developed at any age and any stage of your life. Yeah. Even if you have been eating that particular food for years, if you grew up on eating that particular food. There is a [00:15:00] pretty good chance that you could develop a sensitivity for that food also.
Yeah. The the other sign is fatigue and weakness. So a constant, feeling tired or experiencing low energy, not just physically, but even the mental energy, where we call it as brain fog. That might be a cause for, leaky gut. Skin problems that another thing I see really, you know, percentage-wise, really high percentage people struggling with skin problems and conditions such as acne.
So acne when you are not a teenager is. Is a sign that something is off in your gut. Um, eczema that comes and goes because putting the, sub topical, lotions and creams to relieve eczema is just masking the symptoms. You’re still not addressing the root cause. So if you see that your eczema comes and goes, that is not a healthy sign.
Something is definitely off within your gut microbiome or rashes that [00:16:00] may result from body’s immune response. They can be. Sign for Leaky Gut. Some people have, joint pain. So inflammation is, caused by leaky gut and. That can lead to develop a joint pain or just joint stiffness in general. So if you do not have a official diagnosis of arthritis, if you have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, or if it’s interfering with your exercise, that is not a good sign and that joint pain or stiffness.
Could be an indication that you might be dealing with leaky gut. The autoimmune disorders is a big one, and leaky gut is believed to be linked to some of the autoimmune conditions where your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s. Tissues. So that is another sign that you probably have leaky gut and many times, correcting the leaky gut, balancing [00:17:00] your, gut microbiome.
You can certainly keep your autoimmune conditions in remission. The other, other signs and symptoms are frequent infections. A weakened gut barrier can make it easier for harmful bacteria and harmful viruses to enter into your bloodstream leading to more frequent infection. So if you’re catching cold frequently, that is a sign that your immune system is weak.
And while your immune system is weak, because probably you’re dealing with imbalanced gut and leaky gut. Brain fog, we already talked about that, but, you know, not having a clarity of your mind, or if you wake up in the morning and you still feel kind of, unclear about what’s going on around you, and if it is taking you a longer time, to kind of, you know, put yourself together and start your day or you’re forgetting on little things.
These are the signs that, you are probably dealing with some gut problems, mood swings and anxiety. That’s another sign and symptom for possible leaky [00:18:00] gut because unhealthy gut can impact your neurotransmitter production and it can potentially lead to mood imbalances. So these are some of the common signs and symptoms.
And as I said, not everyone will be experiencing everything, but you really want to be, mindful and kind of see what is going on with your body, because I always feel that our body talks to us and if we pay. Really good attention. Yes, we can catch these signs and symptoms early on. Absolutely.
Kylie: Listen to the whispers before they start screaming.
Mm-hmm. I like that. Yeah, and it’s really interesting. So, you know and it’s great to hear your perspective on this as well, because I, working with, women going through perimenopause and menopause, I always get asked, oh, what, what supplement should I take? Mm-hmm. And, you know, and, what’s going on?
And, they’ve got that, that whole gamut. So everything that you talked about, they’ve got the fatigue, they’ve got the brain fog. Yep. They’ve got the moods and inability. [00:19:00] They’ve got, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, both IBS, they may or may not have an autoimmune condition.
I see a lot of women who have, things like Hashimoto’s is, is very common in my sort of group of women and, and joint information. So, not necessarily rheumatoid arthritis, but there, there’s definitely, they can feel that inflammation in their body and there’s no supplement that fixes that.
So, we need to work with, women holistically. And this is something I talk about all the time and I’m so glad that, you are coming from the same place unless we address those root causes. We are just putting a big bandaid over it and you know, you, you can’t put a bandaid over your intestines.
You know, we need to, that’s true. We need to work with the gut and we need to, support our gut health. We need to address that problem and that will resolve a whole bunch of, inflammation, hormonal issues, you know, because in, and [00:20:00] I actually, forgive me for not knowing this, but I know in a lot of cultures, and I’m not sure about India, but you know, menopause and menopause issues was, is not a thing.
It’s menopause is a problem, is very much a western lifestyle. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So all of those things, we link it back, what are we doing? We have, taken our diet so far from, what real food is and we, we’re stressed to the hill, to, you know, all of that. So, when we look at, and we had this menopause as a big, scary, horrible thing that we all have to go through, it’s actually not like that in a lot of cultures.
Right. So I think that we need to sort of step back and go, okay. We need to address the underneath, layers, the causes, and that will resolve a whole bunch of things.
Prajakta: Absolutely. And I feel that, early you start with all of this, like making changes in your diet or managing your stress better, exercising regularly, sleeping better. You’ll see positive changes happening within your health [00:21:00] pretty quickly. But if you wait too long, Then it’s going to get more complicated. And again, I’m not trying to scare here anybody, but longer you wait, wait on this, more difficult it gets
Kylie: No, scare them away because ladies, you need to take some action.
Alright, so Prajakta. So how, if someone suspects that they have leaky gut, how, what, how would they go about it? What does the treatment look like?
Prajakta: Sure. So first of all, I want to, start off by saying that, leaky gut is a condition that can be fixed. It is not something that you’ll have to deal with it for rest of your life.
(Kylie) Yes, however, more customized approach is essential. So, as I always say, with any person walking to my office having digestive problems, it is not a cookie cutter approach. It is not something that you can Google and follow that protocol and feel [00:22:00] better because everyone’s gut is unique. Gut microbiome is unique.
It is like a snowflake. Each snowflake is unique. It’s just like everyone’s gut Microbiome is unique, so you really need to have a very customised approach to what you want to achieve as far as your health goes. And that’s why, just don’t follow anybody’s protocol. The, some of the, treatment or strategies that I’m going to share with you, you can certainly try those, implement those.
You’re gonna feel better, but what I’m going to be discussing right now is more of a, general guidelines. Again, the guidelines will little bit change depending on what other conditions you’re dealing with. How is your lifestyle, what kind of stress you have in your life, whether your body is getting exposure to toxins every single day, and how much is the [00:23:00] toxicity in, in the body?
So all these factors. Will be taken into account when, you are working, on fixing your leaky gut or if your healthcare professional is working with you, he or she will be taking care of all these factors. But some of the things that you can start right away is you can start changing, making changes in your diet.
So focus on, gut friendly diet, which is, whole food based diet. Unprocessed foods. And I always say that make your diet 75% plant-based because these friendly bacteria microbes in our gut, they’re vegetarians and they love to eat plant-based foods. So, eat more of plant-based food. Does that mean that you need to become vegetarian?
No, you don’t need to be vegetarian. You can still continue to have your meat, but focus more on adding variety of fruits, variety of vegetables, variety of fiber in your diets, eat seasonal fruits. Stay away from refined [00:24:00] sugars, processed foods, anything that comes in a package, try to minimize, using those products. Unhealthy fats need to be out of your diet. Good prebiotic foods such as garlic or onions or bananas. Those will be, good sources of prebiotic foods, which essentially is a food for the, good friendly microbes in your gut. Some of the probiotic foods you can include in your diet, which will help improve the overall.
Count of your good bacteria like yogurt or fermented foods, kimchi and all these things will definitely support a healthy gut microbiome. So making changes in the diet, you can take smaller steps one step at a time, but make a change And, stick with it. That’s most important. Yes. The, other, other thing is identifying and removing the triggers.
So work of course for this, you probably will have to work with the healthcare professional to [00:25:00] identify and eliminate the potential food sensitivities and, you do a food sensitivity test for that, right? So food sensitivity test essentially will tell you what foods you’re sensitive to. So take those foods out of your diet.
Even if they are healthy foods, they are not healthy for your body and that is the reason you will be removing those. Foods from your diet temporarily until you heal your gut. So removing the food sensitivities and allergens from your diet that could be contributing to leaky gut is important. Yeah. And that’s why many times it’s a good idea to go on temporary elimination diet.
Yeah. The other thing is supplements. I feel that, supplements will be important along with, your diet and lifestyle changes. Absolute. The certain supplements supplement a bad diet. Yeah, definitely. I agree with you. So certain supplements, may help support gut health and, [00:26:00] these may include. Good type of probiotics to promote the growth of your beneficial gut bacteria, l-glutamine to support the intestinal lining, omega three fatty acids or fish oil to reduce the inflammation.
However, I, again, I’m encouraging you to check with your healthcare professional before starting any supplements because, this is a generic guidance I’m giving and, you definitely want to start with the supplement that is, Needed for your gut healing. Yes. So, supplements will play a role in healing your leaky gut.
Stress management is huge. Yeah. Because chronic stress definitely, affect your gut health and, engaging yourself in any kind of stress reducing activities that you enjoy. Maybe yoga for some people or meditation or. Deep, belly breathing exercises or, just involving yourself with some kind of hobbies to relax.
Those will definitely get your [00:27:00] stress level under control. And of course, doing these things, not just periodically, but more consistently will give you long-term results. So stress management is huge because these days, Everybody’s under stress. There’s no person probably out there who has zero level of stress, in my opinion.
So we all need to be practicing stress management every single day, just like we brush our teeth and take shower every day, just like that. Yeah. The other thing I wanna talk about, as, Other important strategy is, sleep and exercise. So, prioritize regular physical activity and ensure that you get enough quality of sleep, at least seven to eight hours.
So developing a good sleep schedule, getting. To bed at certain time will be helpful. Not being on your electronic devices at least one hour before your bedtime will Definitely, yeah, yeah. Will definitely help you, have a better, improved quality of sleep. So, being physically active and developing a [00:28:00] good sleep schedule is very, very important.
And these. Both things play essential roles in maintaining your, healthy gut lining and your overall wellbeing. So again, going back to what I said earlier that. Treating leaky gut is a holistic process, and individual responses may vary. So it is really, really important to work with your, healthcare professional who is qualified, who knows what leaky gut is, and how, it can be treated, that individual.
Can help you tailor the treatment plan to your specific needs and, your healthcare provider will even monitor your progress to see whether you are going in the right direction or you need any additional support.
Kylie: Yeah, yeah. Look. I just love everything that you’ve said because this is, you and I are totally on the same page about, everything, all of it, the sleep, the movement, eating a variety diet, [00:29:00] seeing a qualified, healthcare professional.
You know, your PT at the gym does not know about leaky gut. Just saying. Got it. (Prajakta) No, absolutely. He’ll be telling you he does, but he doesn’t. True. (Prajakta) Oh, very true. So thank you so much, Prajakta. Now, Prajakta has been so kind in giving us a free fix your gut guide. So I’m gonna put the link to that in our show notes.
And I’ll also put, how you can, get in touch with Prajakta through Facebook, Instagram, her website. She also has a podcast. Your Gut Health Puzzle Made Simple.
So yeah, we’ll be definitely hearing more from Prajakta very soon. So thank you so much for coming on.
Prajakta: You are very welcome, Kylie. And it was my pleasure to be here as a guest on your podcast and I really enjoyed this conversation.
Kylie: Very much so. Okay. Thanks for listening everyone, and thank you so [00:30:00] much Prajakta and we will see you in the next episode.
Thank you for taking the time to listen today. You can head on over to the show notes at kyliepinwill.com/podcast where you’ll find all the links. Now, before we go, it would mean the world to me if you’d head on over to your favorite podcast channel, subscribe and leave a review. Don’t forget to share it with your friends.
Then stay tuned for next week’s episode and I can’t wait to see you then.