What Is Leaky Gut?

The mind and body are inextricably linked. A modern understanding of health tells us that both affect each other in ways that can’t be ignored. When it comes to behavioral issues in kids such as ADHD and autism, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that physiological issues influence a child’s mood, energy levels, and ability to feel calm. One of the biggest culprits of behavioral problems is a gastrointestinal condition known as leaky gut syndrome. 

What is Leaky Gut?

Right below everyone’s stomach is a complex and surprisingly long series of intestinal tracts that digests and absorbs nutrients from the foods we eat. How well this intestinal tract functions largely determines how much nutrients we are able to transfer into usable energy, so any problems with our gastrointestinal health can lead to noticeable symptoms.

Now, every person actually has a small degree of leaky gut, and a minute, healthy level of this actually benefits the body. However, some people have larger gaps in their intestinal tract that cause small particles of food, nutrients, and toxins to leak through. This condition is officially known as “increased intestinal permeability” and its effects are becoming morewell-documented and studied. Leaky gut leads to a reduction in healthy gut bacteria and prevents the body from making the most of the food you eat.

Leaky Gut and Behavioral Issues

For one, the body can’t make the most of the food it receives with a leaky gut, which can lead to consequences like irregular energy levels. On the other hand, the contents that leak from the gut often contain substances that would otherwise have a chance to be processed by the liver, which detoxes the body. Instead, these substances enter the bloodstream and, consequently, the brain.

To be clear, leaky gut doesn’t cause ADHD or autism, but it is often comorbid with these conditions and it can exacerbate the existing symptoms, such as inattention, anxiety, and problems with verbal communication.

Combating Leaky Gut

Genetic factors are the primary causes of leaky gut, but dietary factors also play a major role. So, making adjustments in your child’s diet can begin to ease the symptoms associated with leaky gut. Identifying common food sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and nut allergies, and eliminating the corresponding foods from your child’s diet is an important step in combating leaky gut. Generally, eliminating excess sugar and saturated fats from your child’s diet and focusing on complex carbs, lean proteins, and green vegetables will go a long way. Foods that are high in probiotics, Omega-3, and fiber all work wonders for the digestive system and can help fight leaky gut syndrome. And as you help your child fight leaky gut, you can expect to see improvements in mood, energy, and focus.