Bloating. Gas. Cramps. Food sensitivities. Without a doubt, you are reading every page on WebMD about celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome looking for clues. But here’s one lesser-known possible reason for these symptoms: leaky gut syndrome.Leaky gut syndrome (also known as LGS) isn’t actually an ‘official’ disease or diagnosis but rather “a proposed idea as to what might be the cause of a constellation of various vague symptoms,” according to Richard H. Bone, MD, a gastroenterologist in Chicago.

It’s thought to be due to damage in the intestinal lining, according to “The theory is that the spaces between cells become inflamed and injured, and allow various substances to leak into the blood stream through the GI system,” Dr. Bone explained.The symptoms of leaky gut syndrome are similar to other digestive disorders such as Crohn’s and celiac diseases. For this reason, it’s difficult to distinguish leaky gut sundrome from any other stomach problems. Doctors don’t know for sure why leaky gut syndrome occurs, but many think people with chronic GI diseases may have it as well. Dr. Bone suggested that if your gastro symptoms continue longer than usual, and aren’t resolved with usual treatments, it may be a sign of a leaky gut.It’s thought that factors such as stress, poor dietary habits, and toxins (such as alcohol) can both cause and aggravate a leaky gut.

It is important to remember, though, that because it’s still somewhat a medical mystery, leaky gut syndrome is “more of a diagnosis of exclusion,” and getting to the bottom of it “depends on how [aggressively] the physician and patient work to pursue a working diagnosis,” Dr. Bone said.There are suggested remedies on the Internet of how to treat leaky gut, but because there aren’t any studies that have proven it as a real disease, Dr. Bone warned, the remedies can’t really cure it. “I would beware of any guaranteed cure,” he explained. “Someone is out there trying to make a dollar off of someone else’s discomfort.” A better way to treat the symptons is be to reduce stress in your life, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid toxins (all good ideas anyway!).

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