Can Leaky Gut Lead To Autoimmune Diseases?

Here at Healthpath, we’re proud to offer evidence-based advice. However, we’re aware that science can seem a bit impenetrable and dry. Boring, even.

We also believe that education is the first step to regain control. We read a lot of scientific papers, so we thought it would be a good idea to create a digest (no pun intended) of some of the key research.

We hope these plain-English versions bring the science to life and—even more importantly—help you address your symptoms for good.


“Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases”


What’s the title in plain English?

Leaky gut may be a sign of autoimmune disease


What did they do?

In this 2017 literature review, the authors discuss the evidence in support of intestinal permeability—otherwise known as leaky gut—in the development of autoimmune disease.


What are the take-home points from the study?

1. In healthy people, the digestive tract and gut wall is a physical barrier held together by our gut bacteria, immune cells and mucous. If the gut lining becomes weak, toxins, antigens, and bacteria can ‘leak’ through this barrier into the bloodstream. This triggers an immune response.

2. The authors suggest that infection, alcohol consumption, a poor diet and stress are potential triggers that disrupt the gut barrier. These can lead to leaky gut and immune dysfunction.

3. Type-1 diabetes and systemic lupus erythematosus are two conditions that are discussed in detail. The authors speculate that leaky gut may contribute to the development of these autoimmune conditions, as well as others. The authors then suggest that prebiotics and probiotics could be a good choice for those with leaky gut.

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The Healthpath view

Genetic and environmental factors can play a significant role in changes within the gut microbiome. Addressing gut health could be especially valuable for those with leaky gut and/or those at risk of autoimmune conditions.

Read the full published study here.

Tegan Philp BA PgDip MSc is a Registered Nutritional Therapist. Passionate about all things gut-related, her master’s dissertation was on the role of the microbiome in cardiovascular outcomes. Tegan has over eight years’ experience working for leading nutrition colleges in both Australia and the UK. You can learn more about Tegan on her practitioner page or connect with her via LinkedIn.

Ref: Mu, Q., Kirby, J., Reilly, C.M., Luo, X.M. and Rizzetto, L., 2017. Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. 8(May), pp.1–10.

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