moody? flat? it could be your leaky gut

Posted on October 24th, 2012

This post has been updated.

This is one of those straightforward posts I sometimes do when I come across information that I feel is important to share. It will involve factoids and a list. You’ve been warned! Basically I’m going to outline some interesting stuff that explain why problems with your gut are causing the mood and energy issues you might be having.

What’s a leaky gut?

You have a barrier protecting your abdominal wall. When this barrier is weakened (it quite literally gets holes in it, ergo the “leaky” descriptor), it reacts to external toxins – peptides from gluten and dairy and antibodies we make to food or infections or bugs. The cytokines that this triggers then enter our body and wreck havoc.

How does it get leaky?

Your abdominal wall can get weakened (leaky) from:

  • a crappy diet high in sugar and low in fibre
  • nutritional deficiencies of zinc and omega-3 fats
  • overuse of antibiotics and hormones
  • environmental toxins
  • massive stress

How’s the gut linked to the brain?

Both the gut and brain originate early in embryogenesis from the same clump of tissue, which divides during fetal development. One section turns into the central nervous system, and the other becomes the enteric nervous system (the gut’s brain – our second brain – so to speak).

Stay with me now!

These two nervous systems later connect via a cable called the vagus nerve – the longest of all the cranial nerves. Vegus means “wandering” and it meanders (all across your torso) from the brain stem, through the neck, and finally ends up in the abdomen.

The gut has a brain? Let’s unpack this a little. 

  • the gut’s brain is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.
  • the gut brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.
  • it’s packed with neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins that send messages between neurons or support cells like those found in the brain.
  • it contains a complex circuitry that enables it to act independently, learn, remember and produce gut feelings.
  • one hundred million neurotransmitters line the length of the gut, approximately the same number found in the brain.
  • nearly every chemical that controls the brain in the head has been identified in the gut, including hormones and neurotransmitters.
  • equipped with its own reflexes and senses, the second brain can control gut behavior independently of the brain. While the central nervous system is needed for swallowing and for defecation, from the time the food is swallowed to the moment it’s remains are expelled from the anus, the gut is in charge.

This bit you need to know in case you skimmed the bit above: the gut brain is very similar to our head brain in complexity and function.

So is this why a crook gut makes us cranky?

Yep! Foods, pollen, chemicals, dust etc can cause inflammatory reactions in our skin, lungs, digestive system…which can make us cough, give us hives, or diarrhea. But allergies also create a host of ‘mental’ symptoms… fatigue, brain fog, slowed thought processes, agitation, aggressive behavior, anxiety and depression and there have been links made between gut-related allergies and mental disordersincluding schizophrenia, bipolar, hyperactivity, autism, learning disabilities, and even dementia.

The crankiness (or not) of your gut will certainly impact your neurological and psychological health. Ninety percent of the fibres in the vagus nerve carry information FROM the gut to the brain – not the other way around.

Here’s how just a few things are affected:

  • emotions. A large part of our emotions are influenced by the nerves in our gut. ‘Butterflies in the stomach’ is a signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response. Gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour our moods, and everyday emotional well-being certainly relies on messages from the gut brain to the brain above.
  • sleep. The brain and gut are so much alike that during our sleeping hours, both have natural 90-minute cycles. For the brain, this slow wave sleep is interrupted by periods of rapid eye movement sleep in which dreams occur. For the gut, the 90-minute cycles also involve slow waves of muscle contractions but, as with REM intervals, these are punctuated by short bursts of rapid muscle movement. The two affect each other – people with bowel problems (IBS etc) tend to have abnormal REM sleep.

So, you take antidepressants…

Well,  you might also be reporting gut issues, too? IBS, perhaps?

Most antidepressants are serotonin reuptake inhibitors – they prevent uptake of serotonin by cells to enable the depressed person to have more serotonin in the brain. BUT, it also means less is available for use by the cells of the gastrointestinal tract.

Problem is, serotonin calms the gut, too, and also helps peristaltic and secretory reflexes. (95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels). So long-term use or the wrong dosage can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea, and – ironically – anxiety, insomnia, and fluctuations in appetite.

Or depression of the gut brain.

PS: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also arises from too much serotonin in our guts, and could perhaps be regarded as a “mental illness” of the second brain.

Which would suggest getting our guts sorted might be the anti-anxiety salve we seek?

It certainly does. Personally, I have lots of issues with my gut. It’s part of the AI condition I have, and also a result of the high anxiety I’ve carried with me since childhood.

What do I do?

Here’s a rundown of my gut protocals: here and here.

I also ferment my vegetables, and make my own sprouts. I’ve researched this and I feel this is a far better way to get probiotics into my system than store-bought tablets.

What about you? Any tricks?


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  • Emma

    Thank you Sarah!
    Leaky gut and gut disorders is one of the most common things I see in clinic and by treating the gut, a host of symptoms are able to be alleviated – from sleeping, to menstruation, anxiety, learning difficulties, eczema and even bed wetting!

    I think it’s also important to note that if there is a leaky gut there is a whole lot more “sh*t” entering in the blood stream – literally if you have bacteria and parasites residing in there (very common particularly if you have had antibiotics!) – and even in the form of food particles which haven’t been broken down. This taxes the immune system greatly and impairs the bodys natural ability to eliminate toxins.

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we view the gut as the most important organ of the body. When the body is unable to derive nutrients from “the earth” or our food every system in the body is affected. On an emotional level if the gut is healthy then we feel nurtured and centered (in a western sense – we have plenty of serotonin!).

    Thank you again! I can never emphasise how important this stuff is to clients and I will be passing your article on.



    Lu Reply:

    I’ve been wondering about this. I’ve been on antidepressants in the past, but my ibs seemed to be better when I was on them. Been basically GF for a few years now.

    Have been off antidepressants for 8months, finished a long stressful holiday through multiple countries, and have now got horrible eczema and mood swings. Have started to cut out sugar, cut back caffeine and eat no grains, been at it for 5 weeks now. But the PMS seems worse, and eczema is worse too. Any suggestions out there?

    Currently taking evening primrose oil. I’m hoping it will eventually get better if I stick it out.


  • Two Modern Cavewomen

    I can tell you too that my gut (and for me, also phase 2 of my liver because of the strain the gut puts on it) are deciding factors in many things to do with my health.

    I can be eating all the right things and stress alone can tip me over the edge, so learning to control stress is a big one.


  • Holly McBride

    I think it is safe to assume that most of us have some form of leaky gut in this day and age. While in some people this manifests itself as a chronic digestive issue, others may experience only mild allergies or general lethargy – often accepted as the norm.

    I am so passionate about getting people to listen to their body and seeing how their ‘everyday’ complaints need not exist if they eat to nourish! As with most health issues, every one’s body reacts to different foods in different ways and trying to offer blanket advice on ‘leaky gut’ is nigh impossible when one person’s food elixir is another one’s poison. Your rundown on general culprits (particularly the emotional side) is timely and relevant

    Thanks Sarah.



  • Mickey

    Great article, Sarah.

    I have Hashimoto’s and Celiac and have been on quite the leaky-gut-healing adventure. I was doing pretty well with paleo/bone broth/ferments but it wasn’t quite the ticket. I have found that the autoimmune protocol does the trick for me – no dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades, in addition to paleo. Its super strict, but i’ve been on it for a couple of months now with great results. My inflammation is so much better than it used to be – in the 6 years I have worn a wedding ring, I have never been able to get it off without a massive lotion/yanking/prying session. About a month in to the autoimmune protocol it started falling off my finger, I was STUNNED. Not to mention having less bad days with the thyroid BS, and it is getting better every week.

    The basic premise of the protocol is to remove anything that could irritate the gut for long enough to heal (1-2 months at least) and then start reintroducing. I tried nuts this week and my wedding-ring-inflammometer let me know that I’m not ready for them. I don’t mind that much, since I have been feeling better and better. I’ll take a super strict diet over hashi-drama any day!



  • Dave

    Congratulations on becoming a medical doctor, and neurologist – of course I joke. You are neither.

    Unfortunately the truth is far from what you say. The enteric nervous system does have some of the traits that you suggest, but you suggest it in such a crude way and you take that conclusion way to far. Suggesting that whole psychological aspects are due to this system is not just a downright lie – its very dangerous peddling pop-science in this way.

    I know you make a living from sitting at a typewriter and come up with a load of post-hoc reasoning and flawed logic – effectively making connections where there are none, but this is not good for the public and obfuscates the real work being done in the frontier of medicine and science to understand this. Now we have comments like:

    “I am so passionate about getting people to listen to their body and seeing how their ‘everyday’ complaints need not exist if they eat to nourish” – not from a doctor, and nutritional pseudo-science leaks into popular medicine in this way a lot now

    “there is a leaky gut there is a whole lot more “sh*t” entering in the blood stream” then talks about the link between parasites and antibiotics which is counter intuitive to the mechanism of action of antibiotics.

    “probiotics” – no data suggests this is health / healthier

    “In Traditional Chinese Medicine” – LOL

    Oh and the link between the gut and depression is possible, being studied, but by no means clear, and the gut doesn’t overrule the brain in as much of a way as possible.

    … and so on.

    What you and other “columnists” type is dangerous to science and the public understanding of science. You should be ashamed at degrading civilisation in this way.


    Mickey Reply:

    I find your comment pretty rude considering the context of this blog. I don’t come here expecting science, and I don’t take what Sarah writes as such. There are other blogs, however, that have talked about this topic with the analysis of relevant studies. Chris Kresser has a great podcast on the topic here:



    Two Modern Cavewomen Reply:

    Dear Anonymous Dave. It takes a brave man to use a christian name and nothing else to come in here and sling insults like you are. If you want to stand by your remarks, how about telling us who you are and what your qualifications are.

    It’s bluntly obvious that you have no respect for alternative medicine, nutritional healing and TCM. That’s your right, of course, but what you’re doing here is just rude. Traditional Chinese Medicine is either a wonderful tool to help in healing or the best placebo on the planet, because I take many vitamins & herbs, and see both doctors and a naturopath, and my GP, who specialises in my disease, CFS, is completely supportive of using TCM and nutrition for healing. Without it, I’d no doubt be bedridden or dead.

    When you place words like “columnists” in ” ” like you have, you’re just going out of your way to be insulting for the sake of it. If you disagree with Sarah, fine. But do it respectfully, or respectfully, please go away and troll somewhere else. Like Mickey says, we’re not here reading a science journal. Sarah is using her own research and own personal experiences to start a conversation.

    We’re all different and there’s no ‘one solution fits all’ when it comes to nutrition. How about you show some respect or go and play somewhere else.

    Just out of curiosity, I think the sky is blue on a clear sunny day. What colour do you think it is?


    Rachel Reply:

    I find your take on Dave’s comment interesting. While certainly definite in his opinions, I can’t see that he was rude or disrespectful. Provocative, yes. Rude, no. Healthy, robust debate is always a good thing and I think he raised some interesting issues that are worth discussing.

    And as for the comment about the brave man hiding behind his Christian name? Seems a bit odd coming from someone whose full name is probably NOT Two Modern Cavewomen.

    Bring on the healthy, vibrant discussions I say.


    Two Modern Cavewomen Reply:

    Rachel, click on the link behind the Two Modern Cavewomen and you’ll find out who I am. I’m Cavewoman Jo if you’re at all interested. I am a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferer (since 1994), and am well read, but I don’t hold any formal qualifications on anything. When I respond here, it’s to share my own experiences with the isuses that are being discussed.

    Dave’s comments were sarcastic. In some contexts, that’s comedy, in others, it’s rude. I found it rude. The opening sentence set the tone for the rest of it.

    Sarah wrote (in part):-
    “But allergies also create a host of ‘mental’ symptoms… fatigue, brain fog, slowed thought processes, agitation, aggressive behavior, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, hyperactivity, autism, learning disabilities, and even dementia.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, she’s not saying that this is the ONLY cause of autism or the other things mentioned, but I think she’s correct that, in some people, in can manifest in these symptoms. I have personally had the fatigue, brain fog, slowed thought processes, agitation & anxiety but have not personally experienced the others. When I alter my diet and get stress out of my life, I improve greatly.

    At least one other commenter has mentioned that diet and autism has had a link in their child. I’m sure there’s plenty of others where it’s not, and a medical doctor is the place to go.

    I use this blog as a starting point to do my own reading and ask more questions. I certainly don’t use it to diagnose myself or to recognise the existance or cause of any disease or illness. There’s conflicting information from qualified health professionals on virtually EVERY topic going around. BPA is fine in small doses vs BPA is banned in Canada because of the dangers. Certain food colouring is banned in the UK because it’s dangerous vs chuck some in Aussie Tim Tams because our government thinks it’s fine. CFS is real vs CFS is all in your head.

    I could get writers cramp here. There’s always more than one side to a story. Healthy debate is great, but comments like “Congratulations on becoming a medical doctor, and neurologist – of course I joke. You are neither. ” are just mean spirited. Sarah has never claimed to be either, and Dave is well aware of this. If he has such strong opinions, there’s a pile of free blogging services around to start his own.

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    @Two Modern Caevwoman – autism is not a “symptom!” That is exactly the problem with this article. Schizophrenia is not a “symptom” either, neither is dementia. They are all serious and legitimate disorders/illnesses with are complex and varied, and Sarah has no right to comment on them because she obviously does not have a basic understanding.

    Experiencing brain fog and slowed thought processes when you eat junk food does not give you any understanding whatsoever of autism, and I really am saddened that you insinuated as such.

    I agree with the rest of what you said, and think Dave’s comment could have been a lot better phrased. He sounds like a mean person. But claiming to understand autism having done zero research in the field nor having any personal experience, is an insult to those living with and suffering from such disorders. Same goes for dementia, schizophrenia etc mentioned above. So he was half right in my opinion, even though I would most certainly have said it differently.

    Two Modern Cavewomen Reply:

    Hi Mia Bluegirl, I think perhaps the message that was trying to be conveyed is that symptoms of these diseases can manifest with leaky gut, and quite often, a mis-diagnosis happens, and these cases can be improved with diet. That was my interpretation of the message. I read around it. I tend to do that.

    I’m the first to admit that I have virutally no knowledge or experience in the area of autism or dementia or the long one I can’t spell :) !!

    My only experience with mental illness has been that which has been induced by living with chronic illness and having my hormones throw me a giant curve ball when I stopped taking the pill. I have no understanding of what it’s like to have a chemical imbalance that does this, nor what it takes to live with it or try to cure it.

    My experience with mental illness vs autism (for example) is like comparing one of my headaches to a migraine or for the average person comparing their tiredness to the Chornic Fatigue Syndrome I’ve been living with since 1994. All comparisons are a little insulting. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve responded to my ‘I have CFS’ in the past with ‘Yeah, I think I have it too’ and then they smile at me like their big night on the town is a disease.

    If any of my comments came across as offensive to you, I do sincerely apologise. Once, Hamilton Island had a bunch of billboards up at airports. It featured someone laying on a blow up mattress in the middle of the ocean – a beautiful and peaceful scene. Underneath, in giant letters was this:-


    Needless to say, I hit the roof, and between a few chat rooms (it was old school technology – No Facebook or Twitter) we flooded Hamilton Island with emails, along with the ad agency and various government bodies, and they were forced to pull them down and change their email addresses. There were thousands of us writing in from all over the world.

    It sounds like you have some experience in the autism field, and I really am sorry if my comments have offended you. Truly.

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Hi Two Modern Cavewomen.

    Hope this shows up in the right spot, these reply shenanigans are confusing me.

    Just to clarify, the part where serious illnesses are brushed off as just a “symptom” was the only part I disagreed with. And that was as much aimed at Sarah as you, so apologies if I was overly blunt (I try not to do that but often fail.) These are legitimate illnesses we are talking about, that can’t be reasoned away easily or blamed on allergies or the like. I dont have autism, but have known people who do & have children who fall on the autism spectrum, and it is incredibly complex. That is all I will say. I’ll leave it up to those more personally affected than I to explain – which is exactly what I think Sarah should have done!

    That is awful about chronic fatigue. It really is. I’m sorry you have to suffer that, and people’s reactions to it too. I have thyroid disease so I suspect some of our symptoms overlap, but I truly have no idea what you must go through. To be honest, even others with CFS probably only understand you slightly better than the average person, as these illnesses affect everyone so differently.

    I totally agree that food issues can cause mood problems, and a healthier diet can increase mental clarity and the like. I have no problem with people talking about their personal experience in this matter. But when we start getting into serious diagnoses like schizophrenia, and people who have never had it/ researched it/ worked as a psychiatrist or pharmacist that understands how medication affects it are giving recommendations, that’s where I draw the line.

    Also, my skepticism that bowel problems are the cause of everything that could possibly be wrong mood-wise is founded in my own personal experience. I have experience with mental illness, and celiac disease, and collitis. So it’s safe to say that both my poo shute and my brain are pretty messed up. But interestingly, I have the CT scans and bowel biopsies to prove that, in my case, bowel health has absolutely nothing to do with mental health. My brain was worst when my gut was healthiest. So it certainly isn’t true for everyone, and I suspect a lot of people are blaming their gut because they aren’t ready to delve into the real cause of their mental problems.

    I get where you are coming from, though. Thanks for the clarification.

    Two Modern Cavewomen Reply:

    We’re all good Mia. Poo chute. Cute :)

    I’ve had the opposite experience, mine are usually linked. My mental issues are tied up with the fact I don’t feel I can trust my body to do what I need it to, and then anxiety and then irritable bowel – blah blah blah, you get the idea.

    I’m a big believer in us all being different and what works for one may not work for another.

    Shannon McM Reply:


    That’s a lot of unnecessary aggression, mate. Perhaps you have a leaky gut!

    But seriously, I don’t need you or ‘science’ to tell me that my leaky gut wasn’t the cause of extreme food allergies, migraines, depression and anxiety. Nor that it wasn’t a factor in my 3 year old son’s diagnosis of autism and severe language delay.

    After resolving our gut issues – by following the GAPS diet – both I and my son are perfectly happy, healthy and diagnosis FREE.

    Our personal experience is a lot more compelling to me than your vitriolic post that offers zero evidence to demonstrate your argument. Seriously, I don’t know why you bothered…


    rachel Reply:

    hey dave, its a shame to have your post disrupt the vibe on this site, like others have said – if you disagree please do so respectfully and without aggression and insults because that’s just a nice way to treat people and it preserves peaceful vibes which is important to our wellbeing. it is important to voice disagreements so that everyone can be exposed to various veiwpoints. however, it is equally important for each voice to be heard – expressing your voice in the manner in which you have is more likely to prevent your voice from being heard. sorry, mate, that’s just human behavior!

    (first off: i apologize for the lack of grammer in my response, i don’t feel like editing)

    this is not a science blog so I doubt any of the readers hold it to such standards or use sarah’s posts as authoritative sources.

    i’m guessing you don’t have ibs or fms or anything like this, or if you do, i strongly urge you to reconsider your perspective if you want any hope of healing. I think I can speak for the rest of us who struggle in reclaiming our health that we must do what our body’s respond to and listen to our bodies over that of western science. and i will not go into defending Chinese medicine or arguing for “alternative medicines” except to say that alternative methods of healing are a whole lot older than western methods so which one should be called alternative?

    the material point to remember in reading sarah’s blogs is an opening statement she made once in how its our personal responsibility to research and blend the information that helps our health the best, we know what works for our body’s through trial and error. our doctors are extremely limited in their understanding of our syndroms and they cannot tell us what will work best for us. my doctor told me himself that his patients make their own best doctors and we tend to be better informed on FMS than our doctors are simply because of its relevance to us that we spend the amount of time becoming experts that the average doctor cannot in their general practice. I myself feel competent in process research for myself as I have a degree from Johns Hopkins – the leading research uni in America where all graduates, regardless of the college, are well trained in critically processing information and research. but the average person does not need to be a trained researcher to know how to critically read and process information, checking facts and opinions.

    the bottom line is – what works for our bodies is what we go with.


    Kim Cook Reply:

    Dave, I think you should read the book : “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD. Not only is she a doctor (specialising in Neurology), she also has a child who suffered with Autism. Then you can come back and comment on Sarah’s post with a little more knowledge under your belt.


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    Well, good afternoon all. Not loving the tone on here at all. I reckon most of the above can be said in a more generous way. I’m going to put up my hand here and say that some sloppy wording on my part has caused a bit of this angst. I did not mean to refer to “schizophrenia, hyperactivity, autism, learning disabilities, and even dementia” in the same “category” of symptoms as fatigue, brain fog, slowed thought processes, agitation, etc. And I will now re-word accordingly. However, I stand by my assertion of a causal link between diet/gut issues and mental illnesses. There are countless studies out there, for those who need those. I was alerted to this link today which has some good further reading:
    This one has some “studies” in the various links
    A paper on gluten and bipolar:
    This read here is interesting and makes the point that modern science focuses on fixing mental illness, not always looking at the cause


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    I’d also add to this: has there been ANY study that’s been able to categorically “prove” what causes mental illness? Or should be more interested in understanding more and debating different ideas? For me, I very personal reasons for believing the causal link.

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    The initial post didn’t encourage debate, though. You presented your opinion as fact, which was justified later on with information that didn’t appear in the initial article. And now you seem upset when people point out (rightly) that you don’t have the facts to back up those opinions.

    The study you linked to says in it’s conclusion: “Individuals with bipolar disorder have increased levels of IgG antibodies to gliadin. However, such antibody increase is not accompanied by an elevation in IgA antibodies to gliadin or the celiac disease-associated antibodies against deamidated gliadin and tTG. These results warrant further detailed examination of the molecular specificity and pattern of reactivity of the antibody response to gluten antigens in bipolar disorder.” This is FAR from a causal link. If you have any relevant studies, though, please feel free to post them. I would be interested. I am not going to comment on the blog posts you linked to, as they come from blogs that contain disclaimers stating they are not medical advice.

    You should not be giving advice on prescription medication, nor should you be advising on side effects which have not been conclusively proven. If you had trained as a medical professional or even an alternative health practitioner, you would know the very strict rules surrounding this.

    The term “mental illness” is complex, there are many clinical diagnoses which fit under this heading, all of which have different symptoms and treatments. To assume that all will have one simple solution is incredibly over-simplified, and invalidates the experience of an already marginalised group of people, which I find kind of mean. Your question “has there been ANY study that’s been able to categorically “prove” what causes mental illness?” is never going to have a convenient answer and depends on which type of mental illness you are referring to, as some can have environmental causes.

    Also, learning disabilities like autism are not technically mental illnesses. Some would argue they are not even disabilities, but that’s an entire post in itself.

    Forgive my bluntness, but you seem to be cherry-picking science to support your pre-concieved ideas about mental illness, as opposed to approaching your “research” with an open mind. Just because you have a personal reason to want to believe something is so, doesn’t make it true.

    You may not realize it, but by telling people their mental illness it is their fault/ the fault of their diet, you are putting their lives in jeopardy and discouraging them from seeking proper care. It simply isn’t true, even if there is a link that is proven in future, this will not be causal in 100% of cases, as mental illness has been around since the dawn of time and across all cultures with all different diets. I hope you take this issue more seriously in future.

    Stu Jones Reply:

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information,
    which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” – Herbert Spencer. This area you have written about interests me, I am on my own journey with this very topic. It is a pleasure to see the humility and example you led with your response to impassioned feedback. In consideration of the dualistic approach by the respondents – I would like to mention, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). It is not too far away from the direction you have taken and may also help Dave (who seems to be a doctor of western science – Intuitive I know…) to consider a GP’s and Neurologists personal Journey with this including her research, findings, mapping and successes with her own child in the first instance…her names is Dr Campbell-McBride and her website is

    So Whats is GAPS – Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAP Syndrome or GAPS) is a condition, which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain. This term was created by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (human nutrition) in 2004 after working with hundreds of children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD), schizophrenia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, obsessive –compulsive disorder, bi-polar disorder and other neuro-psychological and psychiatric problems.

    Be well.

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Actually, GAPS is a made-up syndrome with no scientific relevance. Dr Campbell-McBride has recieved significant criticism for not including the appropriate amount of research into her claims and some nonsense involving anti-vaccine paranoia, which have been completely debunked.

    All of her work is based on testimonials, NOT proper trials, studies or peer reviewed evidence. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, necessarily, just that is hasn’t been proven.

    I have some friends who have tried GAPS and by anecdotal evidence it has merit for some, so if this works for you by all means go ahead! But be aware that none of this has actually been proven.

    Also, as impressive as her credentials sound, she no longer works in neuroscience or as any kind of doctor. She is a “nutritional consultant” (read: quack) and blogger who runs an online store. I am always deeply suspicious when natural health practitioners make broad, illogical-sounding claims that defy medical science, and try to convince people the REAL answer lies in products sold on their website, then offer no proof whatsoever apart from testimonials.

    Why would someone with qualifications such as hers work in a job that requires none? Why, if she believes in her claims, not put the relevant double-blind studies behind her reasoning? If it were really true, she could change the world – and with her background, she knows how. Instead, she flogs supplements and books online. Something in there seems really fishy to me.

    Molly Reply:

    K, I guess I don’t have any – my perception is based on my own life experiences. My long term boyfriend was bi-polar and schizophrenic, also had severe seasonal depression. He was on medications for years and killed himself in December 2011 – so my views on their effectiveness may be slightly skewed.

    I still wholeheartedly believe that we shouldn’t just stop finding solutions just because we have medications. Why discount alternative therapies or lifestyle changes just because there aren’t scientific studies proving their effectiveness?

  • Cosi

    Great post Sarah, thank you. I’ve had IBS for 5 years, it’s been a learning process…finding what works over time and being adaptive and responsive….and accepting that my gut is not always a happy camper.
    Aside from the strict diet, there are some other things I find can make it ‘happier’:
    Probiotics- bioceuticuals brand, or making my own kefir- you can get kits to do this at home from some organic shops (Clay in North Carlton, Melbourne has them).
    On bad days- ginger in everything- freshly grated in whatever I am eating. And lots of ginger tea- I brew my own up and store in the fridge, or Pukka 3 Ginger tea with galangal, tumeric and ginger.
    Exercise, yoga and laughter (yes, seriously) always helps.


  • Hayley

    Looks to be an interesting post Sarah, however before I could read any further I felt the need to comment on the statement that allergies create autism – this is definately not true!
    Autism is a developmental disorder (not a “mental symptom”) which at this point has an unknown cause. While there are many theories regarding the cause of autism, allergies are definately not one of them. Parents often find that a low-allergen and preservative free diet may assist which the reduction in challenging behaviours displayed by their child (as with many children without an autism diagnosis), however, to reiterate again, allergies do not create autism.


    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Agree. And don’t even get me started on the schizophrenia, dementia etc part of the post. The way Sarah is illegitimizing mental illness here disgusts me, I really wish she would stick to talking about what she knows – which, clearly, is NOT medicine.

    Also new research on the low-allergen diets for autism you mentioned showed they have limited effectiveness. While they can reduce symtpoms in autism sufferers, they do not completely eradicate symptoms or “cure” autism.

    Frankly, there is enough BS about mental illnesses and developmental disorders out there without articles like this adding fuel to the fire.


    Hayley Reply:

    Yes I agree, while some families have found a difference anecdotally, there is by no means conclusive evidence for a low allegen diet.
    The dementia and schizophrenia comment frustrated me as well, but i did not feel i had the expertise in those areas to comment.
    It is frustrating that the many people who follow Sarah’s blog now have such incorrect information. It makes me wonder about the validity of other posts and suggestions I have taken on board, due to my lack of knowledge in the area and therefore inability to make informed evaluations of the information provided.


    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    +1 to people questioning what Sarah has written before. Which is a shame, as many of her previous articles brought me a great deal of comfort. But I just can’t get past some of the conspiracy theories and pseudoscience that is being presented as fact.

    Especially in the area of mental health and learning disabilities, where not much is known about the causes of certain diseases/ disorders, even amongst those researching in the field for decades. I feel deeply uncomfortable with the idea of anyone without qualifications making suggestions for others on mental health and mood altering medication. I feel boundaries of responsibility have been overstepped.

    I also hope that anyone suffering mental illness who is considering taking Sarah’s advice speaks to a professional first. I wonder how she would feel if one of her readers came off their medication based on her advice and harmed themself or someone else.

    K Reply:

    Mia, I have to agree. I knew someone with paranoid schizophrenia. I won’t comment further, other than to say that I’m guessing those who believe it can be ‘fixed’ by diet probably have no direct experience with this condition.

    Naz Reply:

    I agree with Mia Bluegirl re the Autism and other mental health issues raised in this post. As someone who has worked with many families with children who have Autism I think it’s just not right to be putting statements out there like:

    “But allergies also create a host of ‘mental’ symptoms… fatigue, brain fog, slowed thought processes, agitation, aggressive behavior, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, hyperactivity, autism, learning disabilities, and even dementia.”

    I don’t doubt that leaky gut can lead to things like fatigue, brain fog, moodiness – I’ve suffered from IBS for many years and suffer from all of these symptoms. Diane Sanfilippo – author of Pratical Paleo has a whole chapter in her book re leaky gut, am yet to read it but after reading this post I’m curious to see what she has to say.


  • Sascha

    I came across this research from this month (10/3/12) One sentence struck me as the key “The effects of curcumin in moderating hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal disturbances, lowering inflammation and protecting against oxidative stress, mitochondrial damage, neuroprogression and intestinal hyperpermeability, all of which are compromised in major depressive disorder, are also summarised.” How many individuals with phase 2 gene variations could benefit?
    Multiple antidepressant potential modes of action of curcumin: a review of its anti-inflammatory, monoaminergic, antioxidant, immune-modulating and neuroprotective effects.[J Psychopharmacol. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI


  • Rachael

    I’ve been reading this and comments on earlier posts with interest.

    Whilst I’m concerned with knowing the actual science behind things and prefer results to be proven and validated by rigorous scientific standards I also recognize that whilst we wait for scientific proof it’s ok to exercise common sense and listen to our bodies.

    Food is the one thing we all put in our bodies day after day – it is not great leap to suppose it has innumerable and untold effects on our health. Food science and processed food have changed rapidly in the last 50 years – if you eat the bulk of your food from the middle aisles of the supermarket you are a walking experiment for the faux foods that now masquerade as nutrition.

    As a parent I use common sense, as well the power of observation. Wheat makes my son erratic and emotional so it’s out. Milk gives my daughter a permanent sniffle so we limit it and stick mostly with yoghurt. Should I wait for science to catch up before making these changes? To my child’s possible detriment? There is nothing to lose by eating real foods and skipping to processed stuff, and everything to gain.


    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Common sense isn’t exactly that common when it comes to mental illness, though.

    If you have the sniffles, and notice you feel better without dairy, it is ok to listen to your body. If you are so depressed that you have the overwhelming urge to drive your car off a cliff with your children in the back seat, is a low allergen diet and some “common sense” going to cure you? Hell no.

    I believe authors have a responsibility to PROVE what they are saying, before questioning the validity of lifesaving medication.


    Bex Reply:

    Wheres that ‘Like’ button? Like!


  • Rachael

    I’m not here to defend or deny the blog post – but I do think there are going to be cases where food is the difference. With my son it has been. The changes have been dramatic. I don’t think suggesting diet can help is the same as suggesting its a cure-all in every case.


  • rachel

    I have fibromyalgia and leaky gut and have been on a journey to heal the leaky gut using probiotics and an eating schedule while eliminating problematic foods. While I too ferment veggies for probiotics, I also recommend making your own kefer out of goat’s milk rather than milk or I use water kefer as a good source of probiotics 20 min before meals.

    All the focus on problematic foods is important but there is another factor that contributes to leaky gut that I think is remise here: the habit of drinking liquids together with food. While leaky gut is caused by holes formed in the weakened barrier by all factors discussed here; the condition is also caused simply by drinking and eating at the same time.

    The way my doctor explained it is quite simple and logical, what happens is this: flaps naturally open in the digestive track when liquid goes through. However, if there is food already in the digestive track or comes through soon after while the flaps are still open the the food is flushed out and wreaks havoc of the leaky gut syndrom. Also, if the food is flushed out of the stomach to soon then the food does not complete the digestive stages in the stomach.

    There is another negative consequence to flushing out partially digested food: the nutrients from what we eat remain unavailable so over time we continue to eat but become malnourished.

    The GOOD NEWS is, once you’ve healed your leaky gut or for people whose leaky gut is not due to diet but simply because they’ve been drinking with meals all their life: this will correct itself after three days of eating/drinking separately. Also, my doctor is convinced that a body with a healthy gut over two years can process the nutrients we need from our healthy diets in order to operate its natural restorative processes and eliminate most health issues naturally.

    Recommendation: drink 20-30min BEFORE meals and then wait 1.5hrs AFTER meals. Chew slower and leave food longer in mouth to prevent thirst while eating. 100ccs of fluids allowed with meals to take any pills needed with meals, etc.


    Two Modern Cavewomen Reply:

    This is wonderful advice. I’ve been told this too by a doctor and a naturopath and have read it in more than one place before. I may swallow a pill or two just before a meal, but I don’t drink a whole heap of it. I try not to anyway. When you’re out to dinner and talking a lot while you’re eating, it can be hard :)


    grace b Reply:

    Woah that is a loooooong time to wait to drink again! I am getting into the habit of not drinking water any sooner than 15 mins before or roughly 15-20 mins after. Hmmm your doctor would definitely say otherwise?

    Also, everytime I read about these types of issues I have to wonder how other established cultures (such as the French or Italian) think about them in regards to cultural eating habits?

    Just a thought.


    rachel Reply:

    yes, it is a long time to wait after a meal and it required me establishing a routine and schedule; which isn’t such a foreign concept or necessity to those of us recovering our health from IBS, FMS, ect. These are his conservative timings. But if its a light meal/snack just soup or veggies that digest quickly then you can wait one hour. Anything less than 1.5 hrs after a full meal is going to have the same effect. Period.

    My doctor is Dr. Hwon from Taichung, Taiwan. He is the leading preventative medicine doctor in Taiwan and of the top in the far east. He is not a chinese medicine doctor but I can tell you his modern medical practice is unlike any seen in the west, integrating an ancient understanding of the body and healing practices with modern technology and advances in knowledge. I have close ties to the far east and several of my family members’ health have improved since coming under his care. I traveled from the middle east to taiwan specifically to see him, I am still in the early stages of my recovery. People go to him from all over the region. I would definately encourage you to extend the period between meals and drinking according to his advice.

    Yes it is difficult not to drink during a social meal; which is why its helpful to know that leaky gut caused by drinking repairs itself after three strict consecutive days.

    It is an interesting theory going around regarding cultural eating and how, over time, social conventions for eating has developed around the specific genetic needs of a people group. I think it is interesting but unlikely. I also think that there is a whole pool of factors contributing to the general health of a cultural and genetic people group – of which their eating habits are just one factor. So it is a misconception that it is enough to mimic the eating habits of a healthy culture…that being said, I myself, scavenge good eating habits from all healthy cultures and see what combinations work best for me within the broader environment of my life.


    grace b Reply:

    Thanks for the thorough reply Rachel! I typically have a cup of tea roughly an hour before breakfast–any thoughts from your Dr. on this?

    I recently watched a talk about the wisdom of a traditional foods diet found in various isolated cultures around the world. Give a look-see if you want! It’s put out by UCSF on youtube. Great lecture!

    Thanks again–good food for thought!

    rachel Reply:

    grace, he tea or coffee is fine up to 1/2 hour (20 at the most but he recommends 1/2hr) before breakfast. he doesn’t recommend more than a couple of mugs of green tea a day. he told me to have cream in my coffee rather than milk but this I don’t know if was specific to my blood analysis or if its general advice he gives like the drinking/eating issue. its quite funny, during my trip i met several people who turns out to have also been to him (he is quite well known) and they all complained about this one piece of advice he requires from all under his treatment! but i find after establishing a routine i have noticed poor digestion when i end up drinking too soon or together with a meal. there are also so so many benefits to eating on schedule.
    Another pointer, because fruits are full of water these also count as fluids so this means a fruit salad should not be your choice appetizer (unless you can arrange the meal to be served 20-30min later) and should wait 1.5hrs before eating fruit salad or any fruit desert 😉 dense fruit like apples/guava/bananas he says is OK, which is a relief cos i do love apples in my tuna salad :)

    btw, could you send me the link?

    K Reply:

    So soup (ie watery soup with ‘chunks’ in it) wouldn’t be any good?
    And stews with a lot of liquid?

    rachel Reply:

    yes liquid soups with chunks in it or watery stews are problematic. make a thick stew. problem sovled on that count. soups happen to be one of my favorite foods so I despised having to give it up so i simply blend my soups and make em thick! probably cheating but it seems to be OK. try it and see if it works for you. i suggest leaving eating/drinking together as you would an elimination diet for food sensitivities…then try the blended soups. listen to your stomach (i definately feel the subtle discomfort when i put food and liquid together into my stomach) but also listen to your body and energy levels starting in about 2 days’ time after eating the blended soup and see if its symptomatic of leaky gut.

  • Nicky

    Sarah, you’re certainly not making anyone’s life sweeter or better by attributing serious mental illnesses to such trivial causes. Ridiculous.


  • grace b

    Sarah thanks for highlighting your feelings on probiotic supplements. When I started reading “whole/real foods” (a la WAPF and Sally Fallon–big fan of Nourishing Traditios) I was BOMBARDED with big pitches for probiotic supplements that really flumoxed and overwhelmed me! I am trying my best with new-to-me fermented veggies (like sauerkraut and carrots—even yummy cherry tomatoes!) and sprouts as often as I can which for now is about 1 – 2x a day. My boyfriend and I have also tried sprouting but are at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the sprouts! I rarely crave salads these days (instead I prefer greens cooked up in some coconut oil!) so hoping to try sprouted bread? Not sure.

    Anyways, we are also on roughly day 9 of no-sugar and it is going well! I haven’t cooked this much in forever!

    Thanks for the outlining of leaky-gut. This was mentioned by Dr. Robert Lustig (a new hero of mine) during the panel at his national health conference w/ Dr. Weil and Michael Pollan. So hopefully it is gaining popularity. Love the blog! Can’t wait to hear more about no-sugar stuff coming up and the no-waste; we are working on that also!


    VE Reply:

    Hi grace b, yes I too have a house full of sprouts and no ideas. I though I might try boiling some of them and then roasting them so I can munch later on…like I do with activated nuts.
    Sarah did a blog on snacks:
    and this link for roasted chick peas was there:


  • Karli

    Sarah, you have definitely made my life sweeter, by encouraging me to listen to my own body. If I followed what my GP told me, I’d be feeling just plain rotten still (and still on the pill, and pumping my body with chemicals instead of nourishing it with good old plain food).

    You’ve made my life sweeter with your delicious recipes and your IQS program. Thanks to your thoughts, I’m not falling asleep at 6pm after work (or 3pm AT work for that matter!) with study still to do.

    My guts feel much sweeter too. So does my brain. I know now that when I eat allergen foods, I feel depressed and anxious. So actually, that’s not a giant leap to make.

    Ironically, (perhaps trivially), I am sitting here at work with my stash of teas (green, peppermint, dandelion) and nuts (activated, naturally), and an avocado and little container of coconut oil and thinking about all of the sick days I’ve NOT taken this year.. then seeing my colleague’s desk covered in sweets and baked goods and wondering when they’ll be back from being sick. Hmm.

    So Sarah, thanks for your article today! And you keep doing what you do (not that you need us to tell you that!)


  • Lil

    Great post Sarah!
    I’ve been on the GAPs diet for a few months now, I did a lot of reading about the gut / brain connection before deciding to change my diet & for me the change has been a positive one.
    Four Corners recently aired “the autism enigma” which may be of interest


  • Angie

    I found Sarah’s blog a while ago when I googled “infammation”.SInce then, I have quit sugar, started eating Paleo, which eventually led me to the “whole 30”, a programme which encourages you to give up dairy,sugar,additives,bad fats and grain.

    After years of IBS,eczema,aches and fatigue,and a positive ANA result (which means I am a likely candidate for an auto-immune disease, but don’t have one yet), I have finally managed to get rid of what ails me. I really think,ultimately, doing the 30 days of that “Diet” (for want of a better word) has started to heal my leaky gut. I just don’t have the IBS anymore. Even when I gave up sugar and adopted the Paleo diet, I was still eating dairy,and still experiencing some IBS symptoms occasionally. I had to be quite restrictive to get rid of it for good. I now know how important my gut health is.

    I don’t have any scientific proof, but I do feel so much better,and that’s proof enough for me.

    So, thanks Sarah, I love what you do, and I love what you have done for me.


    Theresa Reply:

    The health of your gut is very important, since its responsible for up to 80% of your immune system. It also produces the main chemical substance needed to fight depression. So if your gut is suffering, then mood swings are definitely going to occur. This can be an indication of leaky gut, since mood swings and depression are one of its symptoms.

    As angie mentioned above, the paleo diet is great in alleviating this condition since you’re eliminating foods that irritate your gut. I also want to mention that adding probiotics to your diet is important, because it helps in restoring the “good bacteria” back into your gut, which speeds up the healing process.

    There is a pretty good book I read thats all about leaky gut. It contains some great info about “food allergies”, “inflammation”, “constipation” (I know, gross) and a host of other symptoms related to this condition. You can check it out here:


  • Ms Jane

    Far out! What a ruckus you’ve caused Sarah. As someone who has suffered from depression on and off I have to say that I certainly didn’t take your comments in the context that a lot of people have. I also appreciate that everyone is entitled to an opinion and have enjoyed reading the comments that ensued. I have to agree with some of the points you raised as my depression has been greatly alleviated since I commenced a program to heal my gut (with a GP). She suggested at the start that I may need a mild antidepressant but over the last few months I have gradually been starting to emerge from the ‘fog’. Everyone is different. Do what you need to do. Relax. :)


  • Lesh@TheMindfulFoodie

    Wow, a heated topic, indeed! I’ve been learning a lot about holistic health through IIN and other experts in the field. Even Hippocrates has said “All disease begin in the gut”.
    I’ve written about gut bacteria on my blog and have linked to some resources (including the GAPS book by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride) in case anyone is interested :)


  • Claire T

    I have just been diagnosed with IBS D in the last month. I am overwhelmed at the moment as everything is making my gut unhappy at present. I have found this blog really interesting and it has given me some ideas on the direction to take next. My Gastroenterologist is not that bothered about food but would rather medicate me to normal first. As I am currently living in Asia I am starting to think TCM might be the way forward. Thank you for giving me some sunshine in a very dark time.


  • Jess

    Like some other readers, I have clinical depression and have struggled with it for a number of years. There are a number of factors – upbringing, environmental, genetic disposition – but I don’t know if there is singularly one main root cause, perhaps it is a combination.
    I do know that feeling healthy physically helps me to keep my depression under control. That includes listening to my gut and keeping it healthy. I know that my medication affects my gut, but it’s something I am trying to manage as long as it keeps my suicidal thoughts away.
    Anyway, Sarah’s writing is journalism. You take it with a grain of salt. Okay, she didn’t word things well with regards to the depression, autism comments. But I am choosing not to be offended by it because I know my own truth. Besides, getting upset brings turmoil to my tummy.
    I, too, am virtually anonymous behind my computer screen dropping by every now and again to draw out of Sarah’s posts what appeals to me and leaving anything that doesn’t here on her blog.


  • Emma

    You don’t need to be a doctor to understand nutrition, in fact I have spent many, many more hours learning about nutrition than any medical school in this country spends teaches its doctors about nutrition.
    for people skeptical of what Sarah is saying, go do your own research on the gut-brain connection. Read up about GAPS diet, SCD diet, paleo, gut-skin connection, probiotics, fermentation etc.
    There is nothing to be offended by the suggestion that mental illnesses and nutrition are linked.
    I think one of the issues about linking nutrition and mental illness is that it makes people feel blamed for having these illnesses. It’s not meant to do that, no-one should be made to feel guilty. Society in general promotes such a twisted, disordered way of eating that any small foray into eating a different way results in negative reaction (‘Oh, but are you sure you don’t want some of that chocolate cake, it’ll make you feel so much better! And I made it especially for you’)
    Instead, look at this information as an opportunity. When the drugs only work so much, and conventional medicine is at a standstill, it should be empowering for people to know they can take control of their own lives, understand their bodies, and make changes that will literally make them feel better.

    (I speak as someone who is 9 months through the GAPS protocol for adult ADHD -inattentive type, depression and anxiety. Of course I can only speak for myself, but GAPS has done for me what no medication or doctor has ever been able to do. My anxiety and depression have lifted completely, and my ADHD has improved dramatically, I’d say about 80%.)

    Sarah keep on going girl! Although I would say information like this needs to have some references, or at least you should be pointing people towards further reading – I’m so excited this is starting to get into the mainstream however skeptics are ready to pounce!


  • C. Cohen

    Sarah and everyone,

    Several years before I “found” Sarah and the IQS e-book, I had been told (and thoroughly read) Dr. D’Adamo’s “Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type” and I’m curious if any of you have explored that nutritional philosophy. I’m trying to do both (IQS and ER4YBT) which is tricky and feels rather limiting but the two sort of contradict each other in some ways and compliment each other in other aspects so I’m trying the journey. The anecdotal results of the blood type thing are pretty stunning. Thanks all!


  • Jo @ Shop Naturally

    You’ll drive yourself bonkers if you try to merge too many diets together. The blood type tells me not to eat chicken, but for many many years, it’s been the only animal protein I never had an issue with. It’s an interesting read, but I don’t live my life by that one.

    My nathropath has an ElectroDermal testing machine and every few weeks we test me for food intolerances. The list of food doesn’t match the blood type diet.

    If you merged enough diets, there would be nothing left to eat :)

    Exploring different diets is great, and reading about them all is fascinating (which is what I’m doing now), but we’re all different and you have to figure out which one works the best for you. Over at my Two Modern Cavewomen blog, both of us have CFS, but our guts couldn’t be more different. If we swapped diets, we’d both be incredibly ill.

    I’m a big believer in good quality fresh produce (meat, vegies, some fruit & I can tolerate dairy) very few grains & rice. When I take the grains out of my diet, which are harder to digest, I feel a lot better. Sugar is a ‘sometimes’ food I enjoy once in a while, and I try to do it organically when I do. You learn to not crave these things (bread, sugar etc) once you get them out of your body. The IQS philosophy is a good one to apply to gluten too if you have issues with it.


  • Steph

    Thanks for finally explaining this in terms easy to understand. Many naturopaths have told me I have a leaky gut, at least now I know what it means! And I can read up on how other people treat theirs!


  • Angelia

    Wow Sarah you have certainly caused a robust debate, I love it! I just wanted to say this it adds a whole new dimension to the statement “gut feeling” !


  • Justine

    Hey Sarah, isn’t it wonderful the debate that can arise from a few words on a screen. you have managed to push quite a few buttons which is always a good thing for people to work out what they do and don’t want in their lives. Well done. I have just finished the 21 day Clean program put together by Cardiologist, Dr Alexander Junger. His book is fantastic and certainly supports many of the points you have raised. The program has been a fantastic tool for me to reset my digestive system, and deal with a whole of emotional detoxing along the way.
    What a great world we live in where people are beginning to obtain easy access to a variety of opinions and beliefs so easily that they can sift through for themselves and go with what feels best for their own bodies.


  • Jane

    Hi Sarah
    You have managed to push quite a few buttons.
    i have just finished day 10 and am finding it a little hard but am persisting.
    Love Jane



  • Monica

    Someone in the comment thread linked to an article on my blog and thus I found this post and thread…

    Since people seem to be doubting the author’s claims about the health of the gut influencing mental health, I thought I’d share a page on my site that gets into this issue rather extensively.

    Nutrition and gut health, Mental health and diet

    there is actually quite a lot of scientific evidence backing this up at this point.

    Kudos to Sarah Wilson for covering it.

    I make fermented veggies too, something I’ve not yet covered on my blog…they’re delicious and Sarah is right…a far better way to get probiotics into our guts…though for people with long-standing and severe issues I think it’s good to use a really good probiotic pill for some time as well. I cured a long-standing case of severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with probiotics…and later many other dietary changes too.

    I also freed myself from all psychiatric medications. I’m not one to say that diet and a healthy gut is ALL that is involved in psych issues, but it sure as heck is a major component for many people.

    Attending to diet and gut health is very often a part of a comprehensive holistic approach to total wellbeing. That most psychiatrists don’t even consider this is nothing short of criminal.


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    thanks for the link and support!


    erin Reply:

    Hi Monica, can I ask what brand of probiotics you used? Thanks! Erin


    Monica Reply:

    Hi Erin,
    I’ve always used Primal Defense by Garden of Life. There are a couple of others that are supposed to be equally good but I don’t know what they are.

    I do know that not all probiotics capsules are created equal however and that these are very potent…

    When I was recovering my gut I slowly increased the dose from one a day to 8 a day…there can be die-off of bad bacteria that can make one sick if they’re introduced to quickly.

    Maintenance can be a very small dose of one or two a day and if you learn to make and eat lots of your own fermented foods a lot of people can stop taking them altogether.

    good luck


  • Rose

    Really interesting post Sarah and brave of you to post it. i’ve read lots of nutritional articles over the years and I think there is some sort of link between the health of the gut and a whole host of issues. i am no expert so i wont comment further. i would like to add though that i’ve had ibs for goodness knows how long and the leaky gut i’ve had for a couple of years was supposedly healed. thinking all was good i’ve reintroduced a number of foods on and off and this seems to have been the final straw with my gut. It’s gone haywire with spasms and had awful lower back pain. I’m now back to a rwally basic diet in the hope of settling things down.


    Rose Reply:

    Sorry my point was to say to anyone one new to ibs and leaky gut just be careful when you think you may have healed and sorted your food intolerance issues, just be really careful with what food you reintroduce and do it slowly.


  • Amanda Church

    I have Rhemotoid Arthritis and I have been trying to heal my leaky gut for 8 months now to send my arthritis into remission. I have been getting ALCAT allergy tests done every 3 months and rotating my food groups. I just finished reading the Gut and Pschology Syndrome book. I have only just introduced my own goats yogart and I have a coffee now once a week with raw goats milk. I also just tried 2 weeks of gelation to remove heavy metals its has made my gut and arthritis worse. I liked Mickeys comments about removing nuts, eggs etc has made a huge improvement. I have only just started eating eggs again after 9 months. I find it all gets so confusing one book tells you to eat fermented kiefer and yogarts to put good bacteria in your gut and another books says don’t have any.


  • Amanda Church

    Can someone tell me how long it took them to heal there leaky gut?


    chris Reply:

    Amanda, it took me one month to ‘heal’ my gut.

    And I had a chronic problem for a very long time.


  • Lauryce Moore

    Thank you for a great post, I was meant to stumble along it. I have Lupus and fibromyalgia and have had leaky gut in the past. I have had some symptoms creep back up and I think It is time to get serious!!


  • Constance

    This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
    almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more
    than that, how you presented it. Too cool!


  • Simone

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for such a great website and providing much needed information to so many of us out there.
    I wondered if I could ask what thyroid hormones you take – and what your thoughts are on thyroid hormones.

    Many thanks,



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  • Leaky gut research

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  • Marie

    I agree diet is a major cause of concern for auto-immune sufferers, some recent also shows that air borne pollutants play a massive role in our health, include blood pressure, immune function, sleeping ability and so on. The results show that HEPA and HVAC air filters significantly improve sleep for many people, even normal healthy people. Something to ponder on :)


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  • Lynn

    Love the way you explained this issue. And as a long time sufferer of chemical sensitivities, I can tell you things started getting better throughout my body after I stopped eating gluten. Now I’m on a journey of healing through better eating. And I am very excited by the prospects!


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  • Sheena

    One of the best blogs I have seen on the website. Thanks for sharing this post on leaky gut. I have suffered for long. Not much help from my docs. But, through helpful folks like you and others on the web I have found a community that is willing to help and share their experiences. Over the years I have changed my dietary habits and adopted a simple and relaxed life which has helped immensely.


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  • Vasiliki Didaskalou

    Hi Mickey, are you contactable?


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  • Mich

    Schizophrenia and autism are conditions which are symptomatic of a problem in the gut, and have been reversed or improved dramatically in sufferers using the GAPS protocol for gut healing, and coming slowly off medications. It is well documented in Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, and yes it’s new information but just because other people mightn’t have caught up on it that doesn’t make Sarah (or anyone else who has), wrong or irresponsible or profiteering or any other slanderous titles being thrown around. It is “real” medicine, “real” science, and speaking of modern science… I’m pretty sure Sarah isn’t using a typewriter to ‘peddle her column’ about it to the Internet. 😉


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  • Sabine Bannard

    Hello Sarah,
    I believe the gut/brain connection and since I studied Ayurveda for a few years, I learned that the two are connected. Amazingly so, three years on, there is scientific proof for it, that ‘an unhappy gut and depression are often linked’ (in a nutshell).


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  • Cheryl Bryson

    As a nutrition student and also a sufferer of both poor gut health and previous severe depressive disorders I found this an incredibly interesting blog and very on point to the state of the western worlds health. Thank you Sarah – you continue to inspire.


  • Suzanne Peterson

    Hi Emma, I know you posted this years ago but if you are still having issues I have some supplements that could help you feel better and be healthier by healing your gut and stabilizing your blood sugar. Most health conditions stem in the gut.

    A probiotic is so important for general health of your body. But just adding a good probiotic isn’t enough. Because of the American diet most of our guts are over ridden with bad yeast. This bad yeast feeds off sugar and processed foods and secretes toxic waste that seeps to our other organs and our joins and can cause a plethora of ailments. The probiotic my company provides is the only one that has an anti-fungal and digestive enzymes that help breakdown the exoskeleton of the bad yeast and kill it off. We pair that with a BioCleanse that gently helps flush all the toxins out of your system. Without this anti-fungal just taking a probiotic is like sending more and more troops to war without any weapons and hoping that their good influence will rub off on the enemy. You should have 80% good bacteria and 20% yeast but for many people those numbers are flip flopped. So you would have to take a lot of probiotics to swing the numbers in the right direction without also killing off the yeast.

    Message me if you have any questions


  • Suzanne Peterson

    Hi Cosi, I know you posted this years ago but if you are still having issues I have some supplements that could help you feel better and be healthier by healing your gut and stabilizing your blood sugar. Most health conditions stem in the gut.

    A probiotic is so important for general health of your body. But just adding a good probiotic isn’t enough. Because of the American diet most of our guts are over ridden with bad yeast. This bad yeast feeds off sugar and processed foods and secretes toxic waste that seeps to our other organs and our joins and can cause a plethora of ailments. The probiotic my company provides is the only one that has an anti-fungal and digestive enzymes that help breakdown the exoskeleton of the bad yeast and kill it off. We pair that with a BioCleanse that gently helps flush all the toxins out of your system. Without this anti-fungal just taking a probiotic is like sending more and more troops to war without any weapons and hoping that their good influence will rub off on the enemy. You should have 80% good bacteria and 20% yeast but for many people those numbers are flip flopped. So you would have to take a lot of probiotics to swing the numbers in the right direction without also killing off the yeast.

    Message me if you have any questions!


  • Suzanne Peterson

    Hi Rachel, I know you posted this years ago but if you are still having issues I have some supplements that could help you feel better and be healthier by healing your gut and stabilizing your blood sugar. Most health conditions stem in the gut.

    A probiotic is so important for general health of your body. But just adding a good probiotic isn’t enough. Because of the American diet most of our guts are over ridden with bad yeast. This bad yeast feeds off sugar and processed foods and secretes toxic waste that seeps to our other organs and our joins and can cause a plethora of ailments. The probiotic my company provides is the only one that has an anti-fungal and digestive enzymes that help breakdown the exoskeleton of the bad yeast and kill it off. We pair that with a BioCleanse that gently helps flush all the toxins out of your system. Without this anti-fungal just taking a probiotic is like sending more and more troops to war without any weapons and hoping that their good influence will rub off on the enemy. You should have 80% good bacteria and 20% yeast but for many people those numbers are flip flopped. So you would have to take a lot of probiotics to swing the numbers in the right direction without also killing off the yeast.

    Message me if you have any questions


  • Suzanne Peterson

    Hi Amanda,

    I know you posted this years ago but if you are still having issues I have some supplements that could help you feel better and be healthier by healing your gut and stabilizing your blood sugar. Most health conditions stem in the gut.

    A probiotic is so important for general health of your body. But just adding a good probiotic isn’t enough. Because of the American diet most of our guts are over ridden with bad yeast. This bad yeast feeds off sugar and processed foods and secretes toxic waste that seeps to our other organs and our joins and can cause a plethora of ailments. The probiotic my company provides is the only one that has an anti-fungal and digestive enzymes that help breakdown the exoskeleton of the bad yeast and kill it off. We pair that with a BioCleanse that gently helps flush all the toxins out of your system. Without this anti-fungal just taking a probiotic is like sending more and more troops to war without any weapons and hoping that their good influence will rub off on the enemy. You should have 80% good bacteria and 20% yeast but for many people those numbers are flip flopped. So you would have to take a lot of probiotics to swing the numbers in the right direction without also killing off the yeast.
    My products can help you!

    Message me if you have any qu