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A host of medical problems may have a single cause.

Issues with digestion, skin breakouts, rashes, redness, poor immune system, frequent headaches, brain fog, fatigue, weight gain and poor mood are some of the symptoms that could be connected to "leaky gut," according to Dr. Steven Gundry, director of the The International Heart and Lung Institute Center for Restorative Medicine.

"Leaky gut is a term used to describe a simple problem with a devastating result," Gundry said. "Your lining, while very long, is also very strong. However, there is one thing that can make it through and potentially destroy your gut lining. These are called lectins. These are proteins found in certain kinds of food that aren't supposed to be in your body."

A lectin that many people are familiar with is gluten, but other foods have lectins, as well, including wheat, eggplants and tomatoes, Gundry said. As whole wheat foods became more common, starting in the 1950s, obesity and diabetes increased.

Lectins break down your digestive lining, leaving a hole in that protective layer and allowing in other substances. For example, endotoxins — bacteria that are microscopic pieces of human waste — also create holes in your gut lining and can affect, weight, skin and mood.

All of these endotoxin attacks cause your brain to react as if you have a virus, sending healing cells to the aid of the afflicted parts of your body. That would be great if it didn't wear out the cells in your brain from constant reactions. When brain cells start to die, headaches, brain fog and loss of mental sharpness are the first signs of damage.

Leaky gut may also be the culprit behind various mental and physical health issues.

“It doesn't matter if you've had 20 doctors tell you it's all in your head," Gundry said. "I've got news for you — it's all in your gut."

An amazing discovery

Being 70 pounds overweight and feeling terrible no matter his diet or exercise regimen, Gundry took it upon himself to discover the cause of his ailments. After much research, he discovered that eliminating lectin-rich foods and over-the-counter antacids, painkillers and anti-inflammatories reversed the effects of his weight gain, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, high cholesterol and insulin resistance.

The belief that ailments were tied to the stomach used to be common, but it was dismissed after microscopes that could see bacteria and viruses came into use, Dr. Marcelo Campos explained in an article for Harvard Health Publishing. However, he said gut health should be a consideration of good health. In fact, many cultures first prescribe changes in diet and lifestyle before using medications to treat health problems.

“A common initial step some practitioners take is to remove foods that can be inflammatory and could promote changes in the gut flora," Campos said. "Among the most common are alcohol, processed foods, certain medications, and any foods that may cause allergies or sensitivities. In my practice, I often see patients improve significantly when they start eating a healthier diet."

After Gundry began implementing diet changes with patients at the International Heart and Lung Institute, he noticed a 72 percent reduction in endotoxins in most of them, only a short time after their first visit. Additionally, Gundry found 15 supplements that not only keep endotoxins from entering the body, but help heal existing holes in the intestinal lining.

“Lifestyle modifications, such as those that reduce stress and improve the diet, may be among the best ways to treat leaky gut, particularly when no underlying condition is identified," health writer Matt McMillen said on WebMD.

If you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, this new approach may help. By taking care of your digestive system’s needs, you can take the first big step to feeling well, again.

“Disease begins and ends in the gut,” Gundry said.

Click here to view a video with more information about Gundry's research.