A Guide to the Five Leaky Gut Types

Leaky gut is a condition that millions of people are struggling with and a recent national study even noted that72 percent said they have experienced at least one of the following gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms a few times a month or more: diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain, frequent bowel movements, unexplained weight-loss and non-specific GI discomfort.” 

In this article, we are going to break down the five leaky gut types and explain the implications of each in the big picture of your health.  

First, let’s take a look at one of the most common forms of leaky gut heavily influenced by our diet and medications today. 

Candida Gut

In Candida Gut, excess dampness, yeast infections and fungal overgrowth cause an imbalance of flora throughout the body. The yeast and fungus produce toxins that cause inflammation of the small intestine, leading to a leaky gut.

More often than not candida gut is caused by:

  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Excess cold foods
  • Birth control pills 
  • Antibiotics/Pharmaceuticals 

Other major causative factors of leaky gut can include a stressed spleen and small intestine. For those with Candida Gut, the good-to-bad bacteria ratio may be off-balanced, with bad bacteria generally winning the gut war.

Once harmful bacteria rises above the 15% mark, they can slow down or stop the immune system from working properly and set off a chain reaction — promoting disease, adversely influencing gene activity and expression and even messing up the proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.

Immune Gut

In Immune Gut, inflammation of the gut takes place followed by an immune or autoimmune reaction. This may include food sensitivities — especially to gluten and dairy — as well as to other foods sometimes considered healthy.

The main cause of Immune Gut usually starts with a history of taking prescription antibiotics, birth control, steroids or taking other things that may have wiped out good bacteria in the gut. 

Oftentimes, this condition is correlated with problems that begin in the colon or respiratory system (sinus/lungs) and cause:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Inflamed skin
  • Neurological disorders
  • Chronic pain 
  • Autoimmune diseases

The most commonly eaten foods contain wheat, soy, corn, dairy and additives to which many people have food sensitivities or allergies. 

If you are sensitive to any one of these foods, they can cause chronic inflammation in the small intestine and large intestine — which will eventually lead to an immune leaky gut.

Gastric Gut

Low stomach acid, antacid use, poor chewing or overeating can lead to impaired stomach and pancreas function. Other major causative factors of leaky gut can be a stressed stomach, spleen and pancreas.

The biggest symptoms you have with Gastric Gut can include:

  • Acid reflux
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Feelings of constantly being full
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) 

During digestion, everything is assimilated in the stomach, while the spleen transports everything along. In short, the stomach and spleen work to absorb and move along nutrients, giving us the energy we need for life. 

Likewise, the pancreas plays an important role by producing important enzymes and hormones to help break down food and to assist with digestion. When one or more of these organs becomes distressed, gut issues can follow suit.

Stressed Gut

Causes of Stressed Gut include emotional stress, thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, high cortisol and high estrogen levels. Here’s an interesting fact: 90% of serotonin is released in your GI tract. 

Emotional Stress 

Emotional stress directly affects our intestines and the microbes that line our gut wall. If we are frustrated by a traffic jam, worried about a loved one or building up tension on a busy day, our bodies release stress hormones (such as cortisol or norepinephrine). 

These are the same hormones we need in dangerous fight-or-flight situations, but for our everyday stresses, they’re usually overkill. They can throw the ecology of your gut out of whack. When stress hormones are released, this essentially shuts down our digestive system and our immune system. 


In case we need to run for our lives, all of our energy goes to different systems of the body that heighten awareness and physical strength. It’s a normal response to have, but it’s not sustainable for long periods. And every time it happens, we are left unprotected from infection and an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.

Toxic Gut

One of the major causative factors of leaky gut can be a stressed liver and gallbladder. When your liver is both overloaded and backed up, this puts more stress on your small intestine to break down fats. 

If such a scenario continues over time, then it can lead to malabsorption of fats, intestinal inflammation and leaky gut

Gallstones Role in Toxic Gut

 A diet high in toxins, such as pesticides from conventionally grown food, will continue to make this condition worse and can lead to the development of gallstones. If you have had your gallbladder removed, then you’re likely to develop a toxic gut.

Gallstones can pave the way to a toxic gut, too. In 70% of the cases, gallstones form as a result of the body’s bile becoming supersaturated with cholesterol. A slow-moving intestinal tract and constipation can also contribute to gallstones. 

Overall, an estimated 20 million Americans have gallbladder disease and can be caused by obesity, rapid weight loss, oral contraceptives, constipation, high-fat diets, high-sugar diets, low-fiber diets, food allergies and heredity.

Do You Know Which Gut Type You Are?

You may have strong inclinations as to which gut type you are. Or you may be asking yourself the question “ can I have multiple gut types?” 

The answer is yes! 

You can in fact portray multiple gut types. The good news is that Dr. Josh Axe has developed a series of protocols that addresses each of these gut types at the root cause for impactful healing. 

Our Healing Leaky Gut Program

If you want to learn more about healing your leaky gut today and take a leaky gut quiz, click HERE for more about our Healing Leaky Gut Program.

Abi Fernandini

Abi Fernandini is a a clinical exercise physiologist and holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. She also holds a functional nutrition certification and has relevant working experience in functional nutrition for the past 6 years.