Is Leaky Gut Causing You to Gain Weight?

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Thyroid & Hormone Balance Leave a Comment

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS), also known as intestinal permeability, is a condition that leads to widespread inflammation and hormonal disruption throughout the body. Inflammation, imbalance in gut flora and hormonal imbalances can create a state of disharmony in your body that may be one of the reasons for weight gain.

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Between the cells of your intestinal lining is a tight junction that regulates what gets in and out of the intestinal wall. When you are exposed to food you are intolerant or allergic to, stress, gut infections, NSAID or antibiotic use (to name a few) the spaces between the cells begin to break down, allowing partially digested food particles to escape.

When larger food molecules make their way past the gut barrier, the immune system immediately recognizes them as non-self. The result? An inflammatory attack by your immune system that can lead to an array of symptoms.

This is also how food intolerances or sensitivities develop.

How Does Leaky Gut Lead to Weight Gain?

Intestinal permeability can lead to low grade inflammation and has been cited as an important preventable risk factor in obesity prevention.  In addition, doctors associate leaky gut with increased insulin resistance.

When your cells are unable to take up the sugar they need due to a poor insulin response, the result is an increase in fat deposits, especially in the liver. Insulin resistance is heightened when there is an imbalance in gut flora.

The gut is a less friendly place for good bacteria when there is inflammation present. Disruption of your microbiome along with leaky gut lends itself to poor carbohydrate metabolism resulting in weight gain.

Fat Cells Increase Leptin

Additionally, the increased number of fat cells release a hormone called leptin. When your leptin levels are high your brain receives a message that you are full and do not need to eat anymore. Over time, the body can become resistant to consistently high levels of leptin, known as leptin resistance. This leaves you feeling hungry, even if you just ate.

So you're left with an increased appetite, which alone would cause you to want to eat more. But leptin also plays a role in the perception of food as a reward. When you reach for that second serving you feel rewarded.

The result?

You continue to eat, which builds more fats cells and creates more leptin. But your brain can't get the signal leptin is sending so you continue to eat and gain weight.

How To Find Out If You Have Leaky Gut.

Urine Test:

After drinking a carbohydrate solution you will need to collect your urine for 6 hours. Urine that contains high amounts of the sugar is considered a positive for leaky gut.

IgG and IgA Food Intolerance Testing:

Food intolerance testing can reveal leaky gut and provide information regarding which foods to avoid to help heal your gut. Learn more here. 

If you're interested in having these labs ordered and finding out if you have leaky gut, schedule a chat with our clinic to learn more.

How Can I Begin to Heal My Leaky Gut?

Avoid Aggravating Foods.

Have food sensitivity testing done or follow Dr. Brighten's Elimination Diet to remove inflammation driving foods. 

Treat Gut Infections or Dysbiosis.

Stool culture testing can reveal the level of good or bad bacteria, as well as yeast, that may be present in your gut.  To heal your gut, address imbalances and pathogenic bacteria.

Use Repair Nutrients.

L-glutamine, zinc, N-acetyl glucosamine, quercetin and aloe vera are some of the nutrients that have been shown to be beneficial in healing leaky gut.

Gut Rebuild is a combination gut repair supplement that I use in my clinic.

Balance Gut Flora.

Probiotics can be helpful for many people suffering from leaky gut. For others, they can become aggravated by certain probiotics.

Choose dairy free, high-quality probiotics that need to be refrigerated. If you experience gas, bloating or discomfort when taking probiotics you should consult with a healthcare professional as this may be a sign of other gut conditions.

Women's Probiotic is one of the best probiotics on the market for repopulating your digestive tract with good bacteria and healing leaky gut. You can learn more about and purchase Women's Probiotic at our shop.

What to do next?

Leaky gut can contribute to many symptoms, including weight gain. If you believe that leaky gut may be contributing to your inability to lose weight or other symptoms, contact our clinic to have a thorough evaluation of your health.

During our chat, we can discuss what a customized treatment approach might look like for you and what important lab testing you should consider.

With time and a customized treatment plan, you can heal your leaky gut!

Photo Attribution: By Pastorius (Own work ( – my own work)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.