I was fortunate in my life to have an amazing community college health center and instructor for a health class I took, but my leaky gut condition beforehand was a disaster, and doctors were trained not to even consider intestinal permeability as an option: they wanted to find the end problem, not the root cause.
Not everyone has the time or interest to seek out medical attention, let alone take a course and hope it helps them, when it comes to leaky gut. However, not everyone’s able to successfully design their own diet, know which supplements to take based on what their body needs, or understand their exact digestive profile. I wrote an article on testing available for intestinal permeability. Doctors and nutritionists can help take those results further with a deeper understanding: they went to school to understand the human body. I know how frustrating seeing doctor after doctor is without finding solutions, but sometimes the effective trick is knowing what questions to ask them. As long as they’re not dismissive of your specific ideas and concerns (some are, in which case, find a new doctor who listens), you can brainstorm together to try different options.
So, when is it time to see a doctor or nutritionist about your leaky gut? The answer depends on your comfort level: how well do you know your body? Are you more likely to carry out changes in your diet or lifestyle if they’re recommended by someone other than yourself? Are your symptoms getting worse, despite your attempts to heal?
The following list covers when you should see a doctor, beginning from optional times, and building up to when you are risking your life by not seeing a health care professional.
1. You Feel Completely Lost: If you feel you may have leaky gut, have taken quizzes to establish the likelihood (such as the one I’ve developed), or have many of the symptoms, yet you are not sure how to begin the healing process, or want to know the specifics on how your body is functioning and what you, personally, need to change: seeing a health professional can help you understand and develop a plan.
Hopefully my website, among others, will provide useful tips and information. But I know many people who work best in teams, face to face, and are overwhelmed with internet research. When discovering new information, knowing what applies to you, how your body is functioning, and prepping yourself to change your lifestyle, sometimes drastically, can be intimidating. Health practitioners should be like a life coach: there to inspire you.
2. Your Symptoms are Controlling You, Always: If following a self-developed plan isn’t providing relief, and if you’ve given an honest attempt at removing foods, avoiding harmful medications, reducing your stress levels, and other common symptom triggers without any results, then finding a medical practitioner to run tests, talk to you, and establish what you personally need in life, is critical.
The same is true for mood; if you cannot reduce stress, anxiety, or depression, then you are wearing your body down. Especially with depression, never having relief only worsens the condition. As far-fetched as your gut relating to mood may seem, the body works together at all levels. No one part of you is isolated or independent from every other function. Keep in mind that the digestive tract is the second largest receptor of nerves.
3. Chronic Conditions that Send You to the Doctor Anyway: Fatigue, continual yeast infections, parasite symptoms, low adrenal glands: even if you’ve received medication to reduce the symptoms, you’re not addressing the root cause. However, if you’re not feeling much better even with changes in your lifestyle and prescriptions (which can often irritate the gut lining), or if you’re worried about long-term effects: it’s time to seek professional medical advice.
4. When the Bad Gets Worse: Or if the worst is already present. People with autoimmune diseases must often check in with their health care practitioner to help formulate a diet, and so taking the visits a step further to heal your gut with someone who knows your body is a strong start. If you’re developing allergies, and continuing to develop them, it’s time to find a health care practitioner who will listen, and work with you to stop, and potentially reverse, the problem(s) in your digestive system.
IBS, Crohn’s, and other digestive disorders are all reason to step up your game plans and relationships with the medical field, as well. If you can get any allergies, autoimmune disease, and other conditions under control with occasional flare ups, why not seek to heal the root cause?