Your “strainer” is broken…

Many people suffer with a leaky gut, unfortunately, they don’t know what a leaky gut is. I decided to find out how many of my new patients knew what a leaky gut was, so I asked 12 of them. Every one of them said they had heard of it but did not really know what it was or which part of the digestive system it affects. This article will give you the information you actually need to know…not all the complex anatomy or physiology involved. Just the useful stuff. As a functional medicine doctor, I work with this every single day and it causes a lot of health problems for my patients. It is my hope for you, that after reading this, if I or anyone else asks you what a leaky gut is, you will be able to explain it with confidence.

Where is it?

This condition occurs in your small intestine. This does not occur in your stomach or your large intestine. The small intestine connects your stomach to your large intestine (also called the colon). The main function of your small intestine is to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat. Your stomach breaks down the food, you absorb the food in your small intestine, and whatever you don’t absorb (fiber) moves into the large intestine. So where does leaky gut occur? The small intestine.


What is it?

Your small intestine does not and should not absorb everything that enters it. It should be selective. It should only absorb things that are good for your body; the only good things for your body are nutrients. These nutrients should also be broken down (digested) as much as possible. For example, if you eat a protein source such as chicken, it should be broken down into its building blocks or what we call its smallest parts. In the case of chicken, that would be amino acids (food proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids). If you did not digest the chicken down into amino acids, then it would still be “chicken.” Now this is where a leaky gut can cause problems. Remember when I said that the small intestine should be selective? The only way it can be selective is if the layer of cells that line your small intestine are healthy and intact. If they are damaged or if the “glue” that holds them together is damaged, then it becomes “leaky.” Look at it this way…have you ever used a strainer to separate tea leaves from your cup of tea? You did this because you didn’t want those large pieces of tea leaf in your cup of tea. You used a strainer to “selectively” separate the liquid from the large particles (the tea leaves).

This is what a healthy small intestine should do; only let the small/digested particles pass into your blood stream and keep all big or undesirable pieces contained in the strainer (inside the small intestine and not pass into your blood stream).

Now what would happen if you poked big holes in your tea strainer? Big pieces of unwanted tea leaf will end up in your cup. This is what happens with a leaky gut, your small intestine is a strainer with big holes poked in it. I use this as an analogy, you don’t actually have big holes in your small intestine, but your small intestine is no longer an effective strainer.

Why is it a problem?

Having a leaky gut is a problem because undigested food particles (like the chicken we were talking about) toxins, bacteria and yeast can now pass through the “holes in your strainer” and gain access to your blood stream, immune system and liver. This triggers unwanted immune system reactions, increases body inflammation, puts stress on your liver…etc. The bottom line is that is can cause all kinds of health problems, not only in the gut but anywhere in the body.

How do I fix it?

There are many factors that can lead to a leaky gut. I have written other articles that explain how you get a leaky gut, so for more information on this topic, please see my blog page on our website. The purpose of this article is to explain where it happens, what is happening and why it is a problem for your health. If you think you have a leaky gut or if you don’t know how to fix it, the help of a functional medicine doctor can be very beneficial.


Your small intestine should work like a good strainer, only letting the good stuff pass into your blood stream and your body. When your “strainer” has holes in it, bad stuff in your small intestine such as undigested food particles, bacteria, yeast and toxins can gain access to the inside of you body wreak havoc. You need a good strainer if you hope to have good health.

I hope you found this article helpful.

The purpose of functional medicine is: 

Understanding how the body works, knowing how and where to investigate health issues, knowing what to look for, understanding the significance of what is found and creating a plan of action to reverse and correct the root cause the health problems.

My wish for you…health, happiness and a better quality of life! 

If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to

Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations. 

This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. This article is for information purposes and is not a substitute professional healthcare services. Contact our office for more information.