Can Leaky Gut Cause Anxiety?

Do you have leaky gut? A lot of people turn to asking this question when they begin having seemingly “weird” symptoms for which they have no explanation. And actually, that makes sense, as leaky gut can explain some pretty mysterious health issues. It can also contribute to mood issues, including anxiety.

If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, it may be worth looking into leaky gut – it could be impacting your mental health.

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What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It means that the intestinal wall has become porous or permeable, allowing bacteria, waste, and undigested food particles to pass through into the blood stream.

But how does this happen? Some foods – especially the very processed, refined, inflammatory foods, irritate the intestinal wall. When this irritation goes on for long enough, the lining of the intestine becomes spongy and penetrable.

This same effect is seen with gut dysbiosis (when the gut microbiome goes out of balance – not enough good or more bad than good bacteria is present). Interestingly, some studies have even linked gluten to intestinal permeability – however it is important to note that these were not human studies, and these results were never replicated in human trials.

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What are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut?

Increased intestinal permeability can present with all sorts of symptoms including:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating
  • Fatigue (in some cases extreme)
  • Pain and inflammation
  • Lack of attention, brain fog

How can you Heal a Leaky Gut?

If you suspect that you have a leaky gut, it’s worth investing the time into fixing. Here are some tips to help you get that leaky gut patched up.

Say Farewell to Refined, Processed Foods!

Highly refined, processed foods are really tough on your digestion. Our bodies don’t recognize this type of food, due to how much it’s been altered from it’s natural form. On top of that, they are usually high in sugar, which promotes the growth of bad bacteria. This type of food also typically lacks in fibre, which can promote constipation. Normally these foods are okay in moderation, but if you have leaky gut I recommend steering totally clear until you’re feeling better – at least 8 weeks.

Increase Collagen Intake

Collagen is actually a protein – a very efficient amino-acid builder. Collagen is found in your eyes, bones, skin, organs, and inside your digestive tract. It builds and maintains a healthy gut barrier!

Naturally protein-rich foods are higher in collagen. Bone broth is another great source. Nuts, seeds, beans, and soy are all high in the top 3 amino acids that make up the collagen protein. If you’re plant-based, pair them together to ensure you’re getting enough so that your body can make it’s own collagen.

Eat More Probiotic-rich Foods

Probiotics are healthy bacteria, and this bacteria is essential to a healthy gut! A healthy microbiome (balance of bacteria in the gut) is essential not just for the intestinal wall itself, but it also influences metabolism, immune function, mood, nutrient absorption, and more.

Although the underlying mechanisms are still being uncovered, scientists know that if you want to have a healthy, strong gut lining, healthy bacteria is key. An easy way to add more healthy bacteria to the gut is eating probiotic foods. Examples are things like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar, miso, fermented vegetables, and sourdough.

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Aside from the foods you can use to heal your gut, there is another tool you want to keep in mind as well: consistency. It’s important to stay consistent with your gut-healthy habits – if you waffle and waiver, it may prolong the healing process!

Leaky gut can’t cause anxiety, but it can be a contributing factor. Just remember: having a healthy gut has been shown to promote better mental health – whether you have intestinal permeability or not. You don’t have to wait until leaky gut becomes an issue – you can also be proactive. Limit refined foods, up your collagen intake, and enjoy probiotic rich foods regularly for a strong, healthy gut.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30340384

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27339216

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5964481/

https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(01)90326-9/fulltext#s0135

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Welcome to Standing Strong Wellness, where we embrace how much a strong body supports a strong mind! I'm Jen Standing - Certified Nutrition Consultant, Blogger, Food Lover, and CEO behind SSW. I'm a wellness-nerd who loves sharing my knowledge with others on all things food, fitness, nutrition, and mental health - stick around for tips on all of those topics!

2 thoughts on “Can Leaky Gut Cause Anxiety?

  1. I’ve often wondered if I suffer from leaky gut. When I stick to my probiotics and a junk food free diet, my anxiety seems to be way less. I think they’re correlated. But I also wonder if it’s leaky gut or Celiac Disease.

    1. It could definitely be related to leaky gut, or even just your microbiome! New science shows that the bacteria in our gut “talks” to our brain – perhaps why the probiotics help so much! Of course that means that either way, they are a good idea. You could also have a gluten sensitivity, and not necessarily be celiac. So many different possibilities! Thank you very much for sharing.

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