Leaky Gut Syndrome — the Big Reveal

Research is sometimes funded by, and influenced by, parties that might receive undeserved profit from the results. In other words, the Food-Industrial Complex could have a reason to promote a theory like “Leaky Gut Syndrome causes obesity.”

If confusion can be sown in the public mind, attention is diverted, and the interrogator’s light might not shine so brightly on the often questionable ways of Big Food. It stands to reason that they might make up something with a silly name, and then blame it for the obesity epidemic.

On the other hand, there are reasons to believe that LGS is not only “a thing,” but a serious and damaging condition. Michael Pollan describes the danger to the digestive tract’s epithelial barrier and by extension, to the entire body:

Bacteria, endotoxins — which are the toxic byproducts of certain bacteria — and proteins can slip into the blood stream, thereby causing the body’s immune system to mount a response. This resulting low-grade inflammation, which affects the entire body, may lead over time to metabolic syndrome and a number of the chronic diseases that have been linked to it.

Intestinal permeability is fine in its place, which is conveying properly broken-down units of nutrition into the bloodstream. But there appears to be such a thing as inappropriate intestinal permeability, which admits substances that don’t belong in the bloodstream, causing great harm. In ways that are intriguing, indirect, and not yet fully understood, LGS seems to be a causal factor in obesity.

But what causes LGS? Childhood Obesity News has either mentioned or discussed several probable causes including alcohol abuse, mold, infection, radiation, antibiotics, parasites, Candida, lecithin, glyphosate, H. pylori, and Bacillus thuringiensis. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are also under suspicion of making the gut lining more permeable than it is supposed to be, or than is good for us.

Among the pharmaceuticals, opiate-based medications like Vicodin and Oxycodone are also accused. So are proton pump inhibitors, a class of drugs used to treat stomach ailments and digestive discomfort. (PPIs have come to be regarded as quite hazardous for a number of reasons — heart attack, dementia, and kidney disease being only a few.)

What about junk food?

As we discussed, genetically modified crops that are processed into snacks and other recreational so-called food products are full of Bt toxin, which has been indicted as a Leaky Gut Syndrome villain. Guess what else is pointed to as the cause of LGS? Excess sugar, and especially high fructose corn syrup, which is of course a prime component of junk food.

Evidence shows that a healthy, properly diverse, exquisitely balanced microbiome does not like junk food. Probably the vast majority of junk food ingredients are not good for the healthy, diverse microbiome. One reason why the gut bugs might react against junk food is that chemicals in it wreck the walls of their home.

Michael Pollan describes research from the lab of Dr. Patrice Cani of Belgium (the Université Catholique de Louvain) who fed his mice a high-fat, junk food diet. Pollan writes:

The community of microbes in their guts changed much as it does in humans on a fast-food diet. But Cani also found the junk-food diet made the animals’ gut barriers notably more permeable, allowing endotoxins to leak into the bloodstream. This produced a low-grade inflammation that eventually led to metabolic syndrome. Cani concludes that, at least in mice, “gut bacteria can initiate the inflammatory processes associated with obesity and insulin resistance” by increasing gut permeability.

The Big Reveal

It is unlikely that a corporate cabal would invent Leaky Gut Syndrome to take the fall for its obesogenic practices. The evidence so far indicates that the stuff in junk food is exactly the same stuff that causes LGS. To set up LGS as a straw man to take the blame for the obesity epidemic would be impractical and futile, because the most cursory look at LGS shows red flags and warning signs that lead directly to the doorstep of Big Food, Inc.

Another factor to consider is the sheer number of researchers working to tease out the secrets of the gut and what goes on within it. If the whole Leaky Gut Syndrome notion is a scam, the corporations would be paying an astonishing number of scientists and institutions throughout the world to promote it. If there is a link between LGS and obesity, it stands to reason that Big Food would keep quiet about it, because the link between their products and LGS becomes clearer every day.

RELATED VIDEO (4:48): “Dr. Patrice Cani: The vicious cycle of gut permeability and inflammation”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs,” MichaelPollan.com, 05/15/13
Source: “Episode 31 with Mike Mutzel,” SigmaNutrition.com, 2014
Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via Visual hunt/No known copyright restrictions

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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