What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
By Dr. Mercola
When you think of body fat you most likely think of cellulite and love
handles (subcutaneous fat), but there's another type of fat in your body
that is much less visible and actually far more dangerous.
Unlike subcutaneous fat that lies just under your skin and is
noticeable, visceral fat lies in your abdominal cavity, under the
abdominal muscle, and often surrounds your vital organs.
Visceral fat, together with elevated blood pressure, unstable blood
sugar and unhealthy levels of cholesterol make up what we call
"metabolic syndrome," which in turn increases your risk of heart
disease, diabetes and stroke. Like all body fat, diet and exercise will
help keep your visceral fat levels to a minimum, however there appear to
be other factors involved as well, including the health of your
Leaky Gut May Increase Visceral Fat
New research from Sweden has uncovered a novel connection between
intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut) and visceral fat. Women with
higher markers of leaky gut also had higher levels of visceral fat and
liver fat, and larger waist circumference, which suggests that this
condition may promote the accumulation of visceral fat, as well as
impact the related metabolic dysfunction.
So what exactly is leaky gut?
It is a condition that occurs due to gaps in the membrane lining your
These tiny gaps allow toxic substances that should be confined to your
digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream – hence the term leaky
gut syndrome. These toxic substances can come from numerous sources,
such as Candida yeast overgrowth, undigested food particles or waste
products, and they basically irritate your intestinal lining, eventually
compromising its integrity and allowing a flow of toxic particles to
"leak out" into your bloodstream. The leaking particles, in turn, prompt
an inflammatory reaction from your body that can cause a wide variety of
Most often leaky gut syndrome is associated with inflammatory bowel
diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, but
even healthy people can have varying degrees of intestinal permeability.
In fact, the aforementioned study involved healthy women, not those with
a health condition that would normally signal a problem with leaky gut.
Why is this important?
Because it means you, too, could have a leaky gut that is predisposing
you to carry higher levels of visceral fat, which in turn could increase
your risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases.
What's the Secret to Avoiding Leaky Gut?
Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria -- more than 10 times the
number of cells you have in your entire body. It's now quite clear that
the type and quantity of micro-organisms in your gut interact with your
body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of
Virtually anything that can upset the balance of bacteria in your
digestive tract can encourage damage to your intestinal lining that can
lead to leaky gut. It's a very fragile system, and it's important to
realize that your gut bacteria are very vulnerable to lifestyle and
environmental factors, such as:
One of the simplest and most profound steps you can take for your health
and weight is to limit your intake of sugar, including fructose, and
grains, as this will have a cascade of beneficial effects. These sugars
serve as fertilizer for pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi, which
crowd our your good bacteria and upset the delicate balance in your gut.
What's more, if you eat a diet that is high in sugar, fructose and
grains, the sugar gets metabolized to fat (and is stored as fat in your
fat cells), which in turn releases surges in leptin, which sends signals
that reduce hunger, increase fat burning and reduce fat storage. Over
time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become
resistant to it (just as your body can become resistant to insulin).
And when you become leptin-resistant, your body can no longer hear the
messages telling it to stop eating and burn fat -- so it remains hungry
and stores more fat.
Leptin-resistance also causes an increase in visceral fat, sending you
on a vicious cycle of hunger, fat storage and an increased risk of heart
disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and more. Ditching sugar and
grains isn't necessarily as hard as you think, especially when you
replace them with satiating healthy foods like grass-fed meats, raw
dairy and fresh produce. This is the key to beating your sugar addiction
in the long run, as it will help you feel full and satisfied without
dipping into the cookie jar.
Exercise: Another Key to Zapping Visceral Fat
Exercise not only lowers inflammation in your body and normalizes your
leptin levels, it is also one of the best weapons to fight visceral fat.
A comprehensive program is best, as strength training, acceleration
training and Peak Fitness can all help you burn body fat, including
There's good news for those of you who feel you don't have time to
workout, as there is a growing body of excellent scientific research
showing that you can perform a significantly SHORTER workout, at a
greater intensity, and get BETTER results than the usual, time-consuming
The reason for this is because high-intensity exercises like my Peak
Fitness program engage type II muscle fibers that you cannot engage
through aerobic cardio, and engaging these muscle fibers causes a
cascade of positive health benefits, including improved fat burning.
Peak Fitness exercises will also boost your body's natural production of
human growth hormone (HGH), which is a vital hormone that is key for
physical strength, health and longevity.
During these high-intensity exercises you raise your heart rate up to
your anaerobic threshold for 30 seconds, followed by a 90 second
recovery period. The cycle is then repeated for a total of eight
repetitions. Including a three-minute warm up and two-minute cool down,
your total time investment is a mere 20 minutes as opposed to your
regular hour-long treadmill session, and you are really only exerting
yourself for four minutes.
So while the dietary approaches mentioned above will be key for
preventing and recovering from leaky gut, a comprehensively healthy
lifestyle that includes high-intensity exercise will be best for keeping
away dangerous visceral fat.
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