Have you been experiencing frequent bloating and constipation along with confusion, fatigue, joint pain, and headaches these past few days?
If so, you might be experiencing this leaky gut condition.
Also known as increased intestinal permeability, this intestinal tract problem can affect up to 23% of the world population.
Fortunately, getting a healthy leaky gut diet can help you manage this GI issue.
In this article, you will be provided with some top-notch information about the foods you must take and avoid if you have a leaky gut.
Here's What's In Store For You...
- What Does it Mean to Have a Leaky Gut?
- Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Leaky Gut Symptoms and Signs
- What Foods Should You Eat & Avoid If You Have Leaky Gut?
- Foods You Should Eat
- What Meals Should Be Avoided
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Does it Mean to Have a Leaky Gut?
If you have a leaky gut, it simply means that the bacteria in your gastrointestinal system are imbalanced.
Take a look at this principle:
Every food, nutrient, water, and waste you take and remove is processed by your digestive system.
And, according to a study in California, in a human’s gastrointestinal system, there is this intestinal lining.
This gut lining acts as a barrier between your gut and bloodstream so that no bacteria or other harmful substances can enter your body.
So, when the permeability of your gut lining is high, the tendency is that the undigested food particles, harmful bacteria, or toxins in your GI system may enter your bloodstream.
You see, from the word “leaky” itself, having this condition means there is some leak problem in your gut lining.
Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome
It is not fair enough to say that having increased gut lining permeability is the only cause of making the harmful substances enter your bloodstream.
There are other causes or factors why this lining’s permeability is high.
According to a study in Virginia, the leaky gut syndrome is an intestinal inflammation that can lead to certain chronic health issues such as the following:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Food sensitivities
- Skin conditions
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
In this section, the other reasons why this syndrome occurs will be elaborated.
Leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability might be a sign of an underlying health condition.
According to a study published in the American Diabetes Association, when you are having this syndrome, you can acquire diabetes, specifically, DM type 1.
In this study, it was reported that patients with a leaky gut were found to have a high sugar absorption in sugar permeability tests.
This means that the sugars lactulose and mannitol are highly absorbed in the bloodstream.
2) Celiac Disease
Celiac disease or increased immune reaction to gluten might also be one of the underlying health conditions associated with a leaky gut.
According to a study in Australia, when patients with celiac disease consume gluten, the patient will have increased intestinal permeability.
So, if you think you are having this syndrome, you might want to check your gluten sensitivity because you might be one of those people with celiac disease!
Additionally, if you have this health condition, you might want to consider a gluten-free diet for a while.
3) High Levels of Zonulin
Moving on to the next factor, let us talk about the protein Zonulin.
This protein is synthesized in intestinal and liver cells and is responsible for regulating tight junctions.
According to a researcher in Maryland, when the levels of Zonulin are higher than normal, tight junctions may loosen and this may cause increased intestinal permeability.
4) High Levels of Inflammatory Mediators
Inflammatory mediators like the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 13 (IL-13) can also increase intestinal permeability.
According to a study in Chicago, this increased intestinal permeability occurs when these mediators are activated.
Furthermore, anti-inflammatory drugs can also affect gut lining permeability.
In another study published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen can also increase the risk of a person having a leaky gut.
5) Gut Dysbiosis
As mentioned above, when there is an imbalanced gut microbiota, the gut lining permeability can increase, affecting digestive health.
According to a study in Belgium, this condition is called gut dysbiosis and alcohol-dependent patients are more at risk of having this condition.
For this reason, it is highly advised to keep your gut bacteria balanced by taking probiotics or gastrointestinal supplements like Multi GI by Unify Health Labs.
Leaky Gut Symptoms and Signs
Now, let us move on to the gastrointestinal symptoms of this health condition. How will you know if you are experiencing this gastrointestinal problem?
Some of the leaky gut signs and symptoms include the following:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food sensitivities
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Difficulty concentrating
- Brain fog
- Skin problems like acne, rashes, and eczema
- Joint pain
It is important to know your digestive symptoms because this is where you will base the foods which you must take and avoid.
What Foods Should You Eat & Avoid If You Have Leaky Gut?
Foods You Should Eat
Sometimes, this syndrome is considered a “quack” diagnosis.
Thus, what patients can do is adjust their diet and go for a healthy leaky gut diet plan to manage their symptoms and improve the health of their digestive tract.
Some foods and diet plans like the paleo diet and gluten-free diet that leaky gut patients can take will be discussed in this section.
Veggies are nutritious, making them always included in the paleo diet. But, did you know that these foods are helpful for patients with leaky gut?
According to researchers from Italy, vegetables can improve gut microbiota composition and prevent gut infections. Some of these vegetables include the following:
- Brussel sprouts
- Swiss chard
In the same study, vegetables can also balance the healthy and bad bacteria in your gut.
It can increase the number of good gut bacteria like lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria while it regulates the number of bad bacteria like Clostridium.
2) Roots and Tubers
Roots and tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes may also help you gain a healthy digestive tract.
According to a study in Malaysia, these foods can cause an increase in the lactic acid bacteria colony in the gut.
Other roots and tubers aside from these include:
If you are not a fan of eating these foods raw, you can turn these healthy foods into your snacks by cooking them into chips!
3) Fermented Foods
If you enjoy fermented Korean foods like Kimchi, you are indeed lucky because these types of foods are considered an anti-inflammatory diet that can also improve your digestive health.
According to a study in Portugal, these foods contain vibrant probiotics that can cause significant positive changes in balancing intestinal permeability.
Moreover, these foods such as tempeh, miso, and sauerkraut can also heal leaky gut, barrier function, optimal health, and overall wellness.
Might as well add these to your leaky gut diet plan!
As we all know, fruits can enhance the immune system.
Thus, they will never be out of the list when it comes to treating a leaky gut.
They are included in the low FODMAP diet or elimination diet that can manage leaky gut syndrome symptoms.
Some of these fruits include the following:
- Coconut milk
Take note that a low FODMAP diet helps in eliminating inflammatory foods that can worsen your leaky gut signs and symptoms.
If you wish to take a supplement or alternative medicine that includes a low FODMAP diet, you can consider Bio Complete 3 by Gundry MD.
5) Sprouted Seeds
Personally speaking, sprouted seeds like flax seeds were introduced to me as anticancer agents and as I search more about them, I have learned that they can also heal leaky gut.
According to a study in the Middle East, sprouted seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria and heal leaky gut.
6) Nuts and peanut butter
When it comes to nuts, we mean raw nuts.
According to a study in the UK, aside from improving your mental health and immune function, raw nuts such as almonds can improve gut functions and gut symptoms.
Moreover, in the same study, it was reported that these raw nuts mainly affect the balancing of the gut microbiota called Parabacteroides.
7) Healthy Fats
If you have a leaky gut, it is about time to choose healthy fats.
Take note that when you take a high-fat diet, this can lead to imbalanced gut microbiota.
But, when you choose to go for fats like avocado, avocado oil, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil, your gut microbiota will be modulated.
According to a study in Spain, these fats do not only focus on your gut health.
Instead, they help you maintain your weight and prevent weight gain or obesity.
A fatty fish can also be considered as an anti-inflammatory diet and there are a lot of healthy recipes for this food which you can add to your elemental diet.
According to a study in Italy, fish contains the fats EPA and DHA that positively affect the human gut microbiota.
Moreover, fish can improve your gut health by reducing your gut inflammation as this food has anti-inflammatory properties as well.
So, if you want to consider adding this to your diet, the best choices would be salmon, tuna, herring, and other omega-3-rich fish.
9) Meats and Eggs
It is good news for meat-lovers to know that meats and eggs can truly help you improve your gut health.
However, the following meats should only be consumed:
- Lean cuts of chicken
Take note that when preparing or cooking these meaty foods, you must also use healthy fats such as coconut oil and olive oil!
10) Herbs and Spices
All of your kitchen herbs and spices can also help you improve your gut health.
One of the best herbs is called Triphala and according to a study in Poland, this herb contains mild laxatives that can alleviate gastrointestinal distress.
This means that like the other herbs, Triphala can manage your bloatedness, constipation, and abdominal pain while healing your intestinal lining and enhancing its gut barrier functions.
What Meals Should Be Avoided
A leaky gut diet plan is certainly important especially when the symptoms become frequent and too disturbing.
If there are foods to be taken when the quack diagnosis is present, there are also foods to be avoided.
1) Wheat-based products
If you are wondering why you always wake up bloated and feeling full after eating your favorite alfredo pasta, one reason is that you might be having some food allergies.
As mentioned above, having food sensitivity is one of the signs of leaky gut syndrome.
Thus, a strict-foods diet is needed and you might want to avoid wheat-based products for some time. Some of these include:
- Wheat flour
According to a study in Austria, wheat-based products can increase chronic inflammation in the gut and gut permeability.
2) Gluten-containing grains
Since foods that contain gluten can increase and worsen your leaky gut syndrome, it is highly advised to refrain from these foods.
Some of these include the following:
Instead of these, you can go for gluten-free whole grains such as buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum, white rice, brown rice, and teff. These gluten-free grains are way healthier, though!
3) Processed foods and meats
Although we already know that consuming lots of processed foods like meats is unhealthy, it must also be learned that these foods can make the gut unhealthy. Some of the processed foods and meats include:
- Old meat cuts
- Deli meats
- Hot dogs
If you are experiencing frequent leaky gut, you might want to turn your favors to cheese and eggs and avoid processed food for a while!
4) Baked goods
Baked goods such as cakes, muffins, cookies, pizzas, and pies are a must-eat during parties. However, if you have a leaky gut, you might want to avoid foods like these.
According to a study in Denmark, these foods contain refined sugars which the unhealthy or bad bacteria loves to consume.
Thus, what will happen is that the healthy or good bacteria will be reduced while the bad ones will increase in number.
5) Snack and junk foods
Snack and junk foods are generally healthy but did you know that these foods can worsen the condition of leaky gut syndrome patients?
So, if you want to snack on something while on a trip, you might want to consider healthy homemade chips like sweet potato chips and carrot chips.
6) Artificial sweeteners and food additives
According to a study in the United States, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin can cause gut microbiota changes that can lead to inflammation and liver damage.
Thus, patients suffering from a leaky gut might want to consider natural sweeteners such as raw honey.
7) Certain sauces
Who would not love sauces? Of course, no one! However, certain sauces are not for all. According to a study in France, some sauces can increase gut permeability and gut inflammation.
If you wonder what these sauces are, these include:
- Salad dressing
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Hoisin sauce
If you want to improve your gut condition, better say no to these taste-adders for a while!
Indeed, leaky gut syndrome may cause lots of discomfort to patients suffering from it.
It occurs when the intestinal lining’s permeability is high making the intestinal wall vulnerable to becoming loose.
Although there are many causes why this condition occurs, one must understand that the signs that may show up might be considered as underlying health issues.
Furthermore, leaky gut syndrome is considered a “quack” diagnosis.
So, quitting a poor diet and choosing a healthy eating plan might be the best choice because considering an elemental diet can provide adequate nutrition that can solve some digestive issues.
If patients opt to use supplements, there are probiotics and other gut products that can be considered.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What health illnesses are associated with leaky gut?
Celiac disease, diabetes, joint pain, chronic disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome are sometimes associated with leaky gut. Thus, a patient experiencing the signs and symptoms of leaky gut syndrome might want to consider getting a diagnostic test regarding these health issues.
What supplements can help in managing leaky gut symptoms?
Bone broth, probiotics, and prebiotics are the best supplements that one can use to manage the symptoms of a leaky gut. However, before taking one, it is highly recommended to seek medical advice beforehand.
What are the beverages that can increase intestinal permeability?
If you are experiencing the symptoms of leaky gut, alcoholic and carbonated beverages must be avoided. These drinks contain sugars that can increase the bad bacteria and reduce the healthy ones. Instead, you can go for coconut milk, bone broth, or nut milk.