Bethenney Frankel diagnosed with ‘leaky gut syndrome’ which isn’t a medical diagnosis


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Bethenny Frankel has been open about her severe fish allergy and how she has to avoid enclosed spaces where they are cooking fish. She went into anaphylaxis a few months ago after eating a soup that had hidden fish in it and had to be hospitalized. Bethenny tweeted recently that she was diagnosed with something called “leaky gut syndrome” and that she also has a wheat allergy. She didn’t specify whether she was given a test for gluten intolerance or not, although I suspect she wasn’t. Many wholistic health practitioners claim that people have “leaky gut” and gluten and diary intolerances just based on patient symptoms and history. That’s not to say that they’re always wrong, just that it’s not a widely accepted diagnosis and it’s often used to sell supplements and services, as one of the top voted commenters mentioned. Here’s part of that thread on Twitter.

In the article linked above, published by the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, they point out that intestinal permeability, where larger particles can pass into the bloodstream than usual, is a real condition that is seen in people with disorders like Chron’s disease and with damage from taking too many NSAIDs for instance. However the potentially negative effects are thought to be overblown and it is a not a medically recognized condition. It’s thought to be a fad diagnosis. People with various conditions do say that they have been helped by going on an elimination diet meant to treat it, for whatever reason.

I’m surprised that Bethenney tweeted this given how controversial the diagnosis is, but she likely just wanted to get attention and it worked. She did ask for help and she definitely got answers on both sides. At least she’s open to them.

I think this tweet sums it up:

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60 Responses to “Bethenney Frankel diagnosed with ‘leaky gut syndrome’ which isn’t a medical diagnosis”

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  1. NYC_girl says:

    My best friend has celiac disease. She had a positive blood test, and then had an endoscopy. That is necessary for biopsy of the intestines to confirm diagnosis. If she eats food that has been touched with a fork or knife that was used on pasta or anything else gluten, she becomes horribly sick. We went out a few months ago and she asked for Tito’s vodka and she was given some other crap, and she threw up on me an hour later and couldn’t drive home. “Leaky Gut” sounds like another umbrella term for IBS, which I have dealt with for at least 20 years. Stress and diet exacerbate it, and I am still trying to deal with it. I hate reading about #quackery!

    • Caela says:

      I have recently started on a (very expensive!) experience to sort out my unmanageable IBS. Look up SIBO – they think about 85% of people with IBS have it. Many GPs do not recognise it but a specialist consultant will. There is about 10 years of evidence behind it.

      I think IBS and gut health is just brushed aside in medicine and that’s why people want these diagnoses of “leaky gut” because it’s simple to understand and cutting out refined sugars will help with a variety of gut issues. I read the article linked in the tweet saying you shouldn’t give up gluten or refined sugar as it’s not bad for you – so I’m not really sure I trust that link!

      • NYC_girl says:

        SIBO sounds a bit like leaky gut – with the bacteria migrating elsewhere. I found this website but it’s exhausting: https://gundrymd.com/… I definitely have tried to cut down on sugar, and although I bake a lot, I go organic as much as possible. Unless a doctor tells me to stop, I don’t think I can cut out all gluten especially since I don’t have an allergy to it. I know stress makes it all worse for me; I wish I could find something to soothe my belly when I’m having a “flare” (I don’t have colitis or Crohn’s either)… I am starting a new job Wed after being unemployed for quite a while, and I’m hoping I hold it all together (literally LOL)…

      • Caela says:

        @nyc_girl I feel you about worrying about holding it together!

        It’s not really like leaky gut in that there are definitive tests you can do to objectively measure if you have SIBO. There’s good info and links to all evidence here http://www.siboinfo.com

        Good luck with your new job :)

      • Christina says:

        I’m eating the Gundry/Plant Paradox program. All I know is that I started it to lower my cholesterol since I’m allergic to statins. Not only did it lower my cholesterol, but all the joint, hip, and back pain I’ve had for years vanished. I eat starches, but they I use arrowroot and cassava and almond flours instead of corn starch, and I buy foods that don’t have corn, wheat, or other items withthe proteins called “lectins”. Wheat is the most famous “lectin” because of celiac disease. I’m not allergic to corn and wheat, but it does cause some serious inflammation in my body. My stomach never bothers me anymore. I don’t need laxatives or Metamucil anymore. My face was swollen and I didn’t realize it until I started eating this way. No more painkillers. I went from feelin 70 to feeling about 30. And I am 50, and have been seeing neurologists for my back since I was 17.

        Gundry believes in “leaky gut”. You have no idea if it’s real or not. All I know is that I can walk and stand and sit without issues again, and all of my pain vanished within days of starting the program 10 months ago. I will never go back.

  2. Clare says:

    Ok, but what’s happened to her face? She looks more and more like Courtney Cox every time there is a picture of her…

  3. Kitten says:

    The botox she’s had in her masseter muscles has completely changed the shape of her face. I really like her outfit in the second picture…love that skirt and the jeans jacket too.

    I’ve head of leaky gut before but didn’t realize that it was just a general way to describe a condition and not an actual diagnosis. Interesting.

  4. Megan says:

    I find that as I age I tolerate processed foods less well. Processed grains and refined sugars really do a number on my tummy.

    • BCity says:

      Same!! I finally realized what the issue was after noticing that I felt miserable the day after birthday parties (a non-booze-related misery, they’re different 😂). I love, love to bake so I already have an arsenal of not-crazy-sweet recipes that I do for my stepkids, but honestly I miss occasionally digging into those sort of terrible, yet delicious cakes kids’ parties are renowned for. My gut may not leak, but my eyes do weep 🎂😭

  5. Jan says:

    Dear God, is this woman EVER going to stop trying to get attention 24/7??? Shut up already! I could smack Andy Cohen in the face for giving this yahoo a start!

    • Littlefishmom says:

      Oh my goodness EXACTLY. I loathe this woman. Such a narcissist. She will use anything for attention. Her child, her mother, her father, her dead ex, her health. She’s rotting from the inside out because she’s such an awful human.

    • Ader says:

      Hear, hear! She is the absolute worst! I don’t even derive an ounce of “hater-tainment” joy from her antics. She’s made enough money; now just exit stage left off the public stage…pretty please!

      • Littlefishmom says:

        I have seven autoimmune diseases and going pescitarian and gluten free have been a game changer. I hope all who are on this thread and feeling their best. Without our health there really is nothing. For Bethanny to say this isn’t funny or cute. Again, anything for attention and the fake tears.

  6. bobafelty says:

    Sometimes people with disordered eating look for reasons to avoid food. Celiacs, allergies, etc. are good excuses for not eating a lot of the food on your plate, especially out in social settings. When a woman dresses up in her 6 year old’s outfits and posts it to social media to showcase her thinness, it’s hard not to assume there is some unhealthy body image/food issues going on.

    • Elena says:

      Yes, and when I watched RHONY her allergy always flared or was an issue when someone else was getting attention. She can be hateful. I’m sorry she has this condition, and she can’t help that, but she could change her attitude and treat people better.

    • Tw says:

      I commented below before reading your comment. I know several women who have histories of eating disorders who are now “allergic” to nearly everything. I’m not saying they don’t have symptoms, but it could be that they are more conscious of normal changes during digestion. Example, I get bloated from beans due to the fiber and some gas. Or it could be an excuse to avoid certain foods, like carbs.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      I think that’s true. Some people with eating disorders will also use “vegan” as their excuse.

      • Maiglöckchen says:

        Couldn’t agree more on these comments. I’m a very avid practitioner of Jivamukti yoga, and find that a lot of my fellow yogis have long histories of disordered eating and use the vegan yoga lifestyle to justify their continued issues.

    • Christina says:

      Agreed, BobaFelty. So Gwnyth Paltrow…

      I’ve never been a dieter or underweight, but I know people like that, especially in Los Angeles where there is a lot of pressure to be thin.

  7. Tanguerita says:

    I love Jennifer Gunter so much. She fight the fight, day in, day out, tirelessly informing people, debunking health myths, never giving up.

    • Nanea says:

      I am so happy people like her actually find the time in their busy lives to debunk esoteric quackery and call out pseudo-scientific methods of treating serious medical conditions.

      If only business like Netflix or Delta Airlines stopped giving any room to Goopers, anti-vaxxers, homeopaths and other people not actually qualified to dispense medical advice.

      • Tanguerita says:

        so.much.this. And I am in awe of her ability to keep her cool in the face of all the stupidity that gets hurled at her on a daily basis.

  8. gw says:

    As someone with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, all I have to say to Bethenney is she might want to see a new doctor. “Leaky Gut” might not be a real diagnosis, but if she has the symptoms then it might be something more serious like IBD, or less so like Chronic Fatigue. Maybe she tweeted for attention and we can make fun of her but it can be frustrating to not know what’s actually wrong with your body. It took me years to figure out what was going on with mine. Also it’s interesting to point out that digestive diseases like Crohn’s are more prevalent in Jewish people. I am half-Jewish like Bethenney and I wonder if she has a genetic predisposition for this? A couple of my friends who are of Azhkenazi descent like myself also have IBD.

  9. Constance says:

    I have ulcerative colitis and during a flare, it is the worst. It is honestly difficult to even describe how painful and terrible it is. Thankfully, my body has responded well to remicade infusions and the handfull of pills I take daily to stay well. The one thing I wish for is that a less disgusting colonoscopy prep would be developed. I really feel for anyone that has gut issues.

    • minx says:

      My husband had horrible ulcerative colitis for years. About 15 years ago he got Remicade administered through an IV and it was a miracle. He’s had very little recurrence since.

    • NYC_girl says:

      I have had several colonoscopies – the last two had the least offensive prep. One was a mega dose of Miralax, and the last one 5 years ago – I forgot what the solution was that I drank, but it was two large glasses of a tasteless liquid. It seems there is a different option each time I have it – I hope you’re OK!

      • Constance says:

        @nyc_girl my most recent colonoscopy was last Friday. The prep didn’t taste as bad as others I’ve had, but all of the preps make me vomit 😩. It’s just something I’ll always have to deal with. Thanks for your kind words – remicade has truly been a miracle. I’ve been symptom free for almost a year, thank goodness.

      • Christina says:

        NYC girl and Constance, bless you!!! Hoping that you feel better and that your road becomes easier for you.

      • jan90067 says:

        Best prep was my last one (a couple of months ago): noon, I had to take 2 Ducolax. Then at 6 pm, 1/2 c. Miralax in 32oz. of (sugar free) Gatorade. Then at 3 pm repeat the Miralax in Gatorade again (my procedure was wet 9 am). Frankly, by the 2nd dose, I was almost clear already. NO cramps, NO nausea, NO bloating, NO … well… you get the idea. It was the EASIEST colonoscopy I ever had.

  10. Tw says:

    I wonder if there’s a psych study on the correlation between history of eating disorders and allergies to gluten, dairy, everything.

    • Scylla74 says:

      This is offensive. I do have a Morbus Crohn (in addition to another autoimmune disease) and because of this I developed gluten sensitivity and also can no longer eat any milk products. As someone who can no longer eat cheese and lots of yummy stuff I feel actually more sorry about myself this very moment then I felt all week. So please do not randomly connect this. This is also the reason why we are often the butt of jokes or in restaurants it is not taken seriously. Which is really shitty because nowadays I only dare to eat out on very rare occasions because I never know how serious they take my instructions….

      • Erinn says:

        That’s not AT ALL what is being said, Scylla. Nobody is talking sh-t about people with real food sensitivities and allergies.

        But there are a LOT of people who will claim they have a sensitivity or allergy to something as an excuse to cut it out and hide an ED.

        This comment isn’t the reason why actual sick people are the butts of jokes – the idiots who go out there and claim they can’t eat gluten or dairy or whatever other food when they CAN but are just weight obsessed are the reason it’s become a joke.

      • Christina says:

        SCYLLA74, I’m sorry that you are sick. I’ve been dealing with similar issues for years, but getting diagnosed is a big deal. I haven’t been, and my doctor had been recommending that I eat foods that were “healthy” for many years, but it turns out that those foods were slowly killing me. I tried the Plant Paradox out of desperation, and it worked. It’s worked for friend of mine, too.

        Elimination diets can sound like eating disorders to people who don’t understand, and a ton of people are sickly and say they aren’t when they are popping tums and pepto bizmo to feel more normal. When someone like you gets diagnosed, they figure you can just take a Tums, and that isn’t true.

    • Tw says:

      Sorry you were offended. My brother has Crohns and it’s brutal. I wasn’t being facetious. There is a link between “clean eating” and ED and I’m guessing there is also a link between “allergies” and ED.

      • Scylla74 says:

        I normally do not react offended so easily. But I see it so often, that people make fun of this or do not take it serious that sometimes I tend to get defensive about it. The orthorexia is something I have heard about years ago. But I think this is just a small subgroup.

        I also think that more people are sensitive to a lot of food than they are aware of. So many people think that farting and constipation/diarrhoea are normal. They are not.

        Anyway. Let me just say that it is relatively disheartening when you avoid so much stuff and cook mostly from scratch… and you still have problems and even so I also take a tnf blocker it is not “under control”. So yeah: even as a relatively positive person, sometimes it just help myself that I feel attacked even so I also know this is not was this was.
        End of self pity rant. 😬🙋

    • Christina says:

      TW, there should be a study. So many women have disordered eating because of social pressure.

    • Anne Call says:

      I have a friend that has always had an obsession with being thin and barely eating. Now she has become unbearable at restaurants and parties because of all the allergies and illnesses she insists she has and we all have to cater to. I have another friend who has had two bouts of cancer that removed parts of her digestive tract. She can’t eat any raw vegetables, fruits, seeds etc and she never says a word about it. Finds something to eat and doesn’t want to bother anyone. Sigh. A tale of two personalities.

      • scylla74 says:

        @Ann Call

        Wow… And because of this other friend, and how you probably trash talk about her, your friend with the cancer operation tries not to be a nuisance even so she risks, for example seeds in a salad, because she does not want to ask the waiter…. nice…. so either she very much limits herself to few dishes that feel “safe” (and even there she can find surprises) or she just risks it to not come off as difficult. You are such a good friend *sarcasm*.

        See… I hardly go out anymore because even asking about the food does not guarantee that everything is ok for me. Normally I feel “off” after eating out for two or three days. But I do not want to totally avoid having a normal social life. But at least my friends do no expect me to “not say a word” about something that , not by my choice, has such an huge impact on how I will feel in the next days.

      • AMAyson1977 says:

        The poster didn’t say that she *expects* her friend who survived cancer not to say a word, she said that she *doesn’t* say a word. In contrast to the friend who seems like she is using allergies/sensitivities to cover for an eating disorder, and who expects the rest of the world to accommodate her preferences to the detriment of others in her social group.

        You are assuming she “trash talks” the second friend and that that is the reason that the first friend keeps quiet. Nothing the poster said indicates that at all. Many of us were raised to find something to eat, quietly and politely, in social situations such as parties, and to avoid making special requests.

        Restaurants, of course, are ideally supposed to cater to customer requests, and most are happy to! However, nobody, the waitstaff included, likes it when someone is “unbearable” or overly demanding. I managed a well-known and very busy restaurant for a decade, and we always bent over backwards to accommodate special requests of any kind, but it was especially appreciated when the requestor was polite and not rude.

        People have legitimate allergies, sensitivities, and dietary needs, and they should feel free to advocate for their needs from food-service providers. Other people use the prevalence of allergies, sensitivities, and dietary needs to cover for foods they don’t like or are avoiding for other reasons. My years of experience demonstrated to me that people in the first group are almost uniformly polite and apologetic (although there is no need to be!) while people in the second tend to be rude, demanding, and overbearing.

  11. Ksweet says:

    I’ve never had an eating disorder and don’t like getting attention. But I developed leaky gut from taking too much Aleve and Motrin witha neck injury. It’s a real thing and has made my life very difficult. It’s also probably the reason I have Hashimotos now, which is a “real” diagnosis. Giving up the foods you love to feel half normal isn’t a “fad”; it’s just reality for me and lots of others. It’s not simple bloating after eating beans, etc., it’s living with joint pain, migraines, severe gastric distress, etc. that is alleviated by eliminating many of the foods you enjoy. Why would anyone do this to get attention? I know I wouldn’t

    • Scylla74 says:

      Exactly!! It also quite expensive to replace products with special products.

    • Lithe says:

      Thank you for posting this. You made me realize I shouldn’t have tuned out my sister last week when she announced a “leaky gut” as her latest diagnosis. I’ll have to look into this some more. Wishing you the best.

    • Bee says:

      I too am on the boat of gut issues since childhood. I have Autoimmune atrophic gastritis, IBS-C and saw my 3rd gastro doc last month. He was the least helpful one to date! He wouldn’t do a breath test for SIBO (which a past doctor requested, but we moved before I had it). I take medication that doesn’t actually heal the damage to my stomach lining. It only alleviates symptoms a little. I do not eat much red processed meats because (odd enough) from hot dogs to ham, I will break out in horrible hives. I can not tolerate dairy products anymore, last time I had cheese pizza I vomited 20 minutes later. It’s truly disheartening to hear people accuse those of us with true medical diagnoses with ‘eating disorders’. Some foods cause our immune system to attack our own bodies, it can be very isolating at times.

      • Christina says:

        Bee, try the Plant Paradox. The statins I was taking caused an autoimmune response. You might get relief. I now eat grass fed dairy products only if I have them, and I never eat meats with nitrates anymore. I also avoided pesticides in food as much as possible. I got results that I didn’t expect. The neuropathy in my feet even went away after about 6 months.

    • Mich says:

      ❤️

    • Erinn says:

      https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/leaky-bowel/ I can’t recommend this website enough.

  12. Shannon says:

    There is no test for gluten intolerance. Allergies and intolerance are different concepts. There is a celiac test which is a test for allergy to a specific protein in wheat and general wheat allergy tests. Gluten intolerance can only be diagnosed through a monitored elimination diet. It took over a year for me to be diagnosed.

    I’m really sick of both people who self-diagnose without consulting a real MD and the judgment I get from people who are not medical professionals and don’t know what they’re talking about. I was hospitalized because I couldn’t stop vomiting blood at one point.

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, Shannon. I was in the ER at Thanksgiving two years ago. People don’t understand, and they tell you that it is “in your head” when YOU know something is very, very wrong.

      The doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong. They told me that, “older women just get constipated”. It’s happened for so many years. My diet is weird to people, but I don’t care. It’s expensive to eat this way, but I feel normal now, and I can walk and stand and sit, and I can tie my shoelaces without throwing out my back. I feel like I’m in my late 20s/early 30s again. It’s been completely worth it to change what I eat. Replacing potatoes with cassava/yucca, getting rid of nightshades, and avoiding corn and wheat have CHANGED MY LIFE. I don’t know what to call it. All I know is that stuff doctors couldn’t fix is gone. The stuff they told me didn’t work. If I knew in my 20’s what I know now, I could have avoided two surgeries.

  13. Valerie says:

    I think leaky gut is real, it’s BF who’s full of shit.

  14. Mich says:

    There actually is such a thing as non-celiac wheat sensitivity. And wheat allergy is as real as any other food allergy. So she doesn’t necessarily have to have “celiac disease” to be reacting badly to wheat.

    The “for whatever reason” people with autoimmune diseases avoid foods known to cause an inflammatory response in the body is because autoimmune diseases are all about the inflammatory response. When it comes to wheat, for example, gluten is only one issue. There is also a group of proteins called ‘amylase-trypsin inhibitors’ that have been shown to trigger inflammation well beyond the small intestine.

  15. MD says:

    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2017 and it is hell. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I am sorry she is feeling unwell, but “leaky gut” is not a disease. IBS and IBD are also two very different things. For years I thought I had “IBS” and I ended up actually having Crohn’s.

  16. raincoaster says:

    The only surprise in this is that diagnosis wasn’t made via that “Medical Medium” who is so big with the tabloids.

  17. EMF999 says:

    I had breast cancer a couple of years ago and went to a holistic nutritionist who recommended a modified paleo regime to help cut down inflammation. Since then I can tell if food has gluten just by how my fingers feel and removing dairy has really helped my sinuses. Am I allergic? No but I do feel better without gluten and dairy in my diet. And I lost 20 lbs almost immediately.

    I’ll add that I feel so badly for those with a true gluten/dairy allergy. Dairy/gluten is in everything and almost impossible to avoid completely.

    • Christina says:

      EMF999, thank you for sharing. Thank you to all of you. I’m learning a ton from you. It was scary when I didn’t know what was wrong. My doctors and the medical profession needs to catch up.

  18. Mego says:

    Yeah naturopaths diagnose people with this often. I don’t believe in naturopaths or their bogus diseases such as leaky gut and thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s disease). Pseudoscience enrages me to no end.

  19. shouldawoulda says:

    Maybe she does have GI and other symptoms. We need to shut down the snake oil salesmen though, especially those who are catfishing that they are medical doctors and scientists. Leaky Gut Syndrome is not a medical condition and we all should run from anyone who is saying this to us, or we can start reporting these nutters.

  20. Beer&Crumpets says:

    My husbands ex wife tried for years to get my stepdaughter diagnosed with Celiac disease- subjected that child to endoscopies and elimination diets, and put her on an extremely restrictive diet… for no reason. Once that horseshit got demolished, she decided that this little girl needed more psych meds, since parent-as-historian is a major diagnostic tool. But then that got dismantled (mostly, anyway- shes on lamotrigine for bipolar disorder, but at least the dose has come down and shes not on a cocktail of psych meds anymore). Then it was Autism, and the kid has the nerve to not be anywhere on the spectrum.

    So guess who has Celiac Disease now? If you guessed the mom, you get a gold star. Of course, it’s not so much an actual diagnosis as it is her having diagnosed herself. But it’s practically the same thing, right? Deciding you have Celiac disease is exactly the same as when you go to a doctor and have tests and shit, right?? That’s why this gluten shit pisses me off. There are real people who have to put up with that shit FOR REAL, and all this snowflaking around makes it harder for them to be taken seriously.

  21. Scylla74 says:

    Wow… And because of this other friend, and how you probably trash talk about her, your friend with the cancer operation tries not to be a nuisance even so she risks, for example seeds in a salad, because she does not want to ask the waiter…. nice….

    See… I hardly go out anymore because even asking about the food does not guarantee that everything is ok for me. Normally I feel “off” after eating out for two or three days. But I do not want to totally avoid having a normal social life. But at least my friends do no expect me to “not say a word” about something that , not by my choice, has such an huge impact on how I will feel in the next days.