How to Heal Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It’s when the cells lining our intestines (gut) separate a bit from each other. They’re supposed to be nice and tightly joined to the cell beside it; this is to allow certain things into our bodies (like nutrients), and keep other things out. When the tight junctions between intestinal cells weaken it can cause the gut to be more permeable – leakier – than normal. When this happens, it allows things into our bodies that should not get in; things like large pieces of protein, toxins, or even bacteria and waste.
When substances that shouldn’t be there get into our bloodstream through the “leaks” in our gut, our immune system kicks in. These leaked bits mimic a food allergy, and our body reacts accordingly. It mounts a response to try to attack the invaders, and this causes inflammation.
Leaky gut is associated with a number of issues including food allergies, celiac disease, autoimmune diseases (Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hashimoto’s, asthma, type 1 diabetes, acne, eczema), joint pain, and neurological problems (multiple sclerosis). But you could also have much less severe symptoms that also point to a leaky gut.
There are “sneaky” symptoms that I believe many affected people have, but may still go undiagnosed for years:
Low sex drive
Hives around the buttocks or neck
Tingling in your hands or feet
Loss of menstruation and infertility in women
Impotence and infertility in men
Weight gain or inability to gain weight
In children you will also commonly see behavioral disturbances, including depression, anxiety, irritability, anger, sleep disorders, sadness and poor school performance.
Some research shows that leaky gut might contribute to or worsen these conditions. While some of our gut permeability may have a genetic factor, there are lifestyle habits that contribute as well. Too much sugar or alcohol, and not enough fiber can make things worse. And certain compounds in foods (gluten, lectins, casein) and food additives (MSG) can weaken tight junctions.
So, what should we eat, and remove, for optimal gut health?
Avoid or reduce these. There are certain foods that irritate the gut or can cause those loosened junctions to get even looser. Some of these include:
Gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye)
High-lectin foods (e.g., grains, legumes)
Dairy (which contains casein & lactose)
Foods that you know you’re allergic to
Foods with added sugar
Foods containing MSG
Foods with sugar alcohols (sorbitol)
It’s a good idea to reduce these foods and if leaky gut is a confirmed issue for you, avoid them until the leaky gut has been addressed.
Eat more of these.
There are foods that support gut health, including the intestinal cells themselves, as well as our friendly gut microbes. Many of these also reduce inflammation.
Probiotic-rich fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi)
Prebiotic fibre-rich foods which help our gut microbes produce butyrate (leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds)
Glutamine-rich foods (bone broth, meat)
Zinc-rich foods (shellfish, organ meats, and pumpkin seeds)
Quercetin-rich foods (citrus, apples, onions)
Indole-rich foods (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens)
These are all nutritious foods that can help with gut health and overall health.
But, it’s not just what you eat that can affect your gut. Other lifestyle habits can help too.
Eating slower and chewing better to help break down food better
Eating when hungry, and stopping when satisfied
Going to the bathroom when you need to (don’t hold it for longer than necessary)
Getting more high-quality sleep
Better stress management
All of these are great healthy habits to get into, gut problems or not.
To help keep our guts (and our bodies) in optimal condition, there are a lot of foods we should eat (and lots we should reduce). Sticking with nutrient-dense unprocessed foods is always a good plan, whether you have gut issues, other concerns, or feel completely healthy.
And, don’t forget the importance of a healthy lifestyle like good eating habits, sleep, and stress management.
If you have leaky gut and want a step-by-step plan to help you reduce your symptoms then be sure to join the 28 Day Lifetime Program here. I will show you EXACTLY how to eat to beat leaky gut! We start on Friday April 13!