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Is Leaky Gut Real? {A Nutritionist Spills All!}

Is Leaky Gut Real, Functional Medicine, Nutrition

Is Leaky Gut Real? {A Nutritionist Spills All!}

Okay, you’re here because you may have heard of leaky gut and may be thinking “what is this shenanigans? Is leaky gut real?” I can confirm that it IS real. And I want to educate you on what it is. Starting with the scientific name is actually intestinal permeability.

Remember, the gut’s 3 main jobs are:

-Extract nutrients from food + absorb it

-Phase 3 detoxification

-Maintaining balance in microbes + immune function

How Leaky Gut Happens

Of course, we are still learning about the gut + it has a lot more power than previously understood. Now inside the intestinal tube, the lumen contains things that should never make its way inside the blood or lymph system -> large food particles, microbes, toxins, harmful metabolites. Along the lumen, there are little cells with villi (finger-like projections) to help the absorption of nutrients. In-between those cells are tight junctions that also transport the small ions to go into the blood stream, BUT it should NOT transport the large molecules.

Pathogenic buggies trigger a change in these tight junctions causing intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut!).

They can bind directly to the cell or they can secrete toxins. The cell will produce inflammatory mediators (cytokines) that will further cause disassembly of the tight junction. Now, pathogens or big food molecules are making their way inside the bloodstream becoming a source of systemic inflammation.

Causes of Leaky Gut

Don’t Forget About The Mucosal Lining

While we have to address the root cause of the leaky gut, we also must support one of the most important factors of our “gut army”. Our intestinal mucosal lining.

In this intestinal mucosal lining, we have mucus from goblet cells and antimicrobial peptides from Paneth cells and sIgA. The goal of this concoction is to protect the intestinal cells from harmful pathogens and toxins.

Now the mucosal layer is not one simple single layer. There are TWO types of layers of mucus:

1) Dense layer that is attached to intestinal cells

2) Loose layer that gets hit by pathogens easy (and overtime if these gut imbalances are never dealt with, this loose layer goes away over time. If that happens, it’s one less supportive feature in the gut.)

Supporting Leaky Gut

Support depends on the microbes that are in your gut – stool testing is vital to understand what exactly is calling your gut ‘home’. Support for your mucosal lining and tightening up the tight junctions can be soothing herbs like, marshmallow root, aloe vera, slippery elm or amino acids, such as l-glutamine.


You can’t out supplement a poor diet, high stress, environmental toxin exposure, etc. While supplements are super helpful during the healing process – you need to work on deep rooted habits in your diet, thoughts, emotions, and lifestyle.

If you’re needing help on this journey, make sure to reach out to us and schedule your free intro call with our team here! We’re here to make this process simple and personalized for YOU.

Lahana Vigliano
Avatar for Lahana Vigliano
Lahana Vigliano

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).