What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Was ist das Leaky Gut Syndrom?

In leaky gut syndrome, the intestinal wall is no longer properly intact, which leads to inflammatory substances entering the organism. The disease often develops gradually through primary diseases. The actual protective mechanisms of the intestinal mucosa can no longer recognize what should be absorbed and what should not, which means that inflammatory substances enter the body. Fortunately, leaky gut can be cured through dietary adjustments - because the intestinal lining is constantly renewing itself. 

Briefly explained: What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The intestinal mucosa has a huge surface area that contains small passages for nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream. There are barriers at the passages so that only the desired substances actually get there. These ensure that no potential inflammation and disease promoters enter the organism. However, it is possible that the intestinal barriers are damaged by various influences and the intestine becomes permeable to foreign substances. So it is what is popularly known as a leaky gut.

A brief excursion into the digestive system

Digestion begins in the mouth: We chop up the food with our teeth, enzymes are mixed into it from our saliva, which, for example, partially break down more complex carbohydrates. Fatty acids are also pre-digested and the probiotic bacteria contained in the oral flora protect us from pathogens 1 .

The mixture then passes through the esophagus into the stomach, where the high acid content destroys any remaining pathogens and important enzymes such as pepsin break down the proteins.
In the small intestine, all fatty acids are then emulsified with bile and carbohydrates are completely broken down into simple sugars. Indigestible carbohydrates, known as fiber, are passed on to the large intestine and nourish probiotic intestinal bacteria.

Proteins are also broken down into smaller units, the amino acids, in the small intestine. What remains are fatty acids, amino acids and simple sugars. These are ultimately the forms of macronutrients that our intestinal lining can absorb 2 .

The intestinal mucosa: protective shield and bridge for the Nutrient absorption at the same time

The small intestine, or rather its inner surface, has a total area of ​​over 300m 2 , which is the size of a tennis court. Its special shape – consisting of microscopically small protuberances – makes this possible. These are popularly known as wrinkles intestinal villi called, the biological medical term for it would be villi.

Each of these intestinal villi contains even smaller protrusions, which are also due to their shape brush border to be named. The brush hem is basically the surface of the Epithelial cells on the inside of the intestine, these cells are responsible for the transport or absorption of nutrients into the blood 2 . The epithelial cells adhere to each other, their contact points are called Tight junctions designated.

intestinal mucosa

On the one hand, the tight junctions serve mechanically by connecting and stabilizing the cells. On the other hand, they are useful as a barrier so that no parasites and pollutants can enter the bloodstream 3 . Another one protective shield is located directly in front of the intestinal wall because it is surrounded by a special one Mucus layer . This consists of special antibodies that prevent pathogens from penetrating. In addition, a healthy intestine has probiotic intestinal flora that contains numerous good ones Intestinal bacteria contains which destroy pathogenic microorganisms 4 .

To put it simply, you could say the following: On the inside of the small intestine there are small passages through which vital nutrients from food enter the bloodstream. The passages are controlled by various mechanisms such as protective microorganisms, a mucus layer and the structure of the passages.

In leaky gut syndrome, the intestinal barrier is no longer properly intact

The intestinal barrier, which was described in the last section, can be damaged by various influences. This then destroys some of the protective mechanisms or, in the worst case scenario, all three. Without natural protection, substances can enter the bloodstream that do not belong there. Especially if the function of the tight junctions is weakened, this has fatal consequences for the health of the intestines. This is exactly when we talk about Leaky Gut Syndrome; the intestinal wall is permeable or perforated.

Causes of Leaky Gut

Especially potential ones Allergens from daily food can irritate the intestines. gluten , lactose Fructose, industrially processed fats as in legumes and Grain Antinutrients contained in it promote inflammation 5,6,8 . Lectins, for example, are among these antinutrients. They are particularly found in beans, lentils, peanuts and grains containing gluten. They inhibit digestive enzymes, which prevents macronutrients from being completely broken down.

So they remain as components that are too large and cannot be absorbed properly. However, you can avoid this problem by soaking legumes overnight in water with a squeeze of lemon and rinsing them well before cooking the next day.
In addition, exposure to toxins, heavy metals, a lack of immune defense cells and noxious substances such as alcohol can promote the development of perforated intestines 5 .

Even long-standing chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis or even pancreatic insufficiency can attack the intestinal mucosa, the microbiome and ultimately also the tight junctions 6 . Bacterial toxins, parasites and medications can unbalance the gut microbiome 6 . Antibiotics in particular have a serious negative impact there because they not only destroy the pathogenic bacteria, but also those that protect us 7 .

It is also clear that chronic stress, long-term or recurring inflammation in the mouth and amalgam fillings, as well as diet, have a major influence on an intact intestinal barrier 9 .

What are possible symptoms of leaky gut syndrome?

Because the intestine now becomes permeable to pathogenic and inflammatory substances, the immune system has to constantly react. The body has to absorb the substances that now enter. At some point, the immune system can no longer regenerate due to the overload: chronic inflammation occurs 6 . This can lead to weight gain, but also weight loss and fat-like deposits in the tissue.

Actively noticeable symptoms also include diarrhea, flatulence, migraines, constipation and lymphedema. The skin on the outside of the body is also prone to symptoms of illness, acne and neurodermatitis being the most common. It can also happen that micronutrients are absorbed more poorly, which can also lead to anemia as a result of iron deficiency. Cramps and weakness are common companions. Other food intolerances or allergies can also arise 7 .

Furthermore, a connection has been established between leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases, depression and diabetes mellitus 8 .

Diagnosis – how can it be determined whether leaky gut syndrome is present?

The diagnostic tools for typical intestinal diseases from traditional medicine, such as sonography and colonoscopy, are not helpful in diagnosing perforated intestines 7 . There is the possibility of one blood sample to the doctor, who can determine whether the body's own regulatory protein zonulin is overactive.

This protein causes the tight junctions, i.e. the intestinal barrier, to open. If there is a noticeably increased concentration in the blood, this is an indicator of gluten intolerance. However, according to current scientific studies, the reference ranges are not yet sufficiently decisive, which makes this test rather unusable. In addition, celiac disease is not a necessary companion of the perforated intestine 5 .

The best way to diagnose leaky gut disease is to use one Stool sample 5 . In Germany, you actually don't even have to go to the doctor for this; you can order a home kit directly from specialized laboratories and then send the sample yourself. You can then view the evaluation online and receive a detailed diagnosis via your personal account.

There it can be determined directly whether the intestine is permeable. In addition, precursors or potential leaky gut syndrome promoters can be identified in good time. For example, an imbalance in the intestinal bacterial composition Text Microorganisms Link or various inflammatory markers can be seen in the evaluation of the stool sample.

Treatment, prevention and diet

Leaky Gut Syndrome can be treated primarily through proper nutrition. When you provide the body with the right nutrients, it is able to heal the gut and repair the leaks in the gut. The intestinal cells are constantly renewing themselves. Adjusting your diet is the best and most sustainable therapy for a leaky gut:

Potential allergens such as cow's milk, grains containing gluten, industrially processed fats and convenience food link article Convenience food with many unnatural additives should be avoided if possible.

The following Groceries support the intestinal mucosa or the intestinal barrier during therapy, but are also recommended as a preventive measure:


Meat stock is traditionally made by boiling the bones and cartilage of chickens and cattle. Boiling releases certain amino acids and minerals from the animal bones.
The most important of these amino acids are proline and glycine. Proline and glycine are crucial for the production of collagen.

When the body doesn't produce enough collagen, the skin becomes sagging and wrinkles appear. The same thing happens to the tissue in our intestines, it becomes flabby.
Proline and glycine help repair the intestines so that they don't let unwanted molecules through. Meat broth also contains the amino acid L-glutamine. This acts like a bandage for the intestines. Meat broth is a natural therapy for leaky gut syndrome.


Kefir is one of the most powerful probiotic foods around. To cure leaky gut syndrome, goat's milk kefir should be preferred over cow's milk product because goat's milk is most similar to human breast milk and cow's milk intolerance is common. The completely vegan version would actually be even better: coconut kefir, which can now be found in selected organic markets.

Kefir contains specific probiotics such as Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus expels bad bacteria, yeast and fungi from the intestines and helps the good bacteria multiply. A deficiency in probiotics should definitely be compensated for in order to heal a leaky gut.

Fermented vegetables

Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, also contain bacteria that eliminate bad bacteria in the intestines and restore the balance of the microbiome.
In addition, the organic acids are the optimal breeding ground for the “good” bacteria in the intestine. They create, so to speak, an optimal intestinal environment in which the intestinal probiotics can sprout.

Psyllium husks

They consist of fiber that cannot be absorbed by the intestines and can be used as an energy source or storage medium for our bodies. To do this, they rub the intestinal lining, which causes it to produce more protective mucus. On the other hand, they serve as food for the good intestinal bacteria.

bitter substances

Grapefruit, bitter herbs, artichoke and chicory salad contain various bitter substances. These stimulate enzymes in the mouth, which have a positive effect on the oral flora. Above all, it stimulates the bile to produce more bile acid, which is crucial for the emulsification of fats. It is important to chew bitter foods well because only when they are perceived by the taste receptors in the mouth are nerve impulses transmitted to the brain, which stimulate the production of bile.



1 Nischwitz, Dr. Dominik (2019): On everyone’s lips – biological dentistry. Munich: Mosaik Verlag.

2 Campbell, Neil A. and Reece, Jane B. (2015): Biology. Munich: Pearson. 8th updated edition. pp. 1228-1233.

3 Doccheck Flexikon: Tight Junction. [https://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Tight%20junction; October 30, 2019].

4 Irritable bowel syndrome: intestinal barrier. [https://www.reizdarm.net/lexikon/darmsperre; October 30, 2019].

5 Schmidt, Karlheinz (2015): The leaky gut syndrome - basics and laboratory diagnostics. Stuttgart: Hippokrates Verlag MVS Medizinverlage Stuttgart GmbH & Co.

5 Rüffer, Andreas; Eckert, Michaela & Martin, Miriam (2015): Is the intestine still tight? The leaky gut syndrome.

7 Spiller, Wolfgang & Oldhaver, Mathias (2015): Using high-dose probiotics to combat imbalances in the intestinal flora.

8th Mutschler, Dr. med. Rainer (2013): A rethink in medicine is necessary - focus on mitochondria: The paths of mitochondrial medicine. Speyer: OM & Nutrition. No. 142. F70-F72.

9 Nischwitz, Dr. Dominik (2017): Leaky Gut - the basics - chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6ClAPCoUNA; October 30, 2019].

Ines Schulz
Ines Maria Schulz, born on December 1st, 1992 in Basel, Switzerland, also completed her Master of Education in Biology and WAH there, laying the foundation for the understanding of physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition. She is also a trained primary school sports teacher. For two years she has been a coach at MTM Personal Training, the most successful personal training studio in Berlin. There she supports customers every day who want to exploit their maximum potential in terms of mental and physical health and performance. In cooperation with doctors like Dr. Dominik Nischwitz and a laboratory for intestinal health as well as the constant exchange within the team, she can provide her customers with optimal advice about training, nutrition, micronutrients and lifestyle. She has already written a breakfast book and a large part of a lifestyle booklet for MTM. She also writes the weekly newsletter, which publishes nutritional tips and recipes she has created. Ines has completed seminars and certificates with a variety of successful coaches and specialists and is constantly expanding her skills. The young trainer has been writing blog articles for Supz Nutrition since January 2019.

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