Leaky gut syndrome, also called “intestinal permeability,” is a chronic gut health issue that many people suffer from. Most people with leaky gut are unaware of it, but if untreated, leaky gut syndrome can lead to even further health issues. When someone has leaky gut syndrome, gaps form in their intestinal walls, allowing bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream. This can lead to numerous other ailments as toxins in the bloodstream are then distributed to other organs and tissues in the body.
In this article, we will talk about dietary management and leaky gut repair. For more general information about leaky gut syndrome, check out our article “Leaky Gut: Everything You Need to Know.”
Understanding the Causes of Leaky Gut
For any form of health treatment to be holistic, it must do more than address the symptoms. It also needs to focus on removing the cause. Suppose you only focus on symptoms without understanding the cause. In that case, you are bound to have the same issue recur again and again until the underlying cause is altered.
Symptoms are language. They are a way for the body to communicate that something is out of balance. You don’t want to suppress and get rid of symptoms. Instead, you want to listen to them. What are they trying to tell you about how you’ve been living, eating, or thinking? What areas of your life be out of balance? Suppose you can look at symptoms in this way. In that case, you can go much further with your health than you ever could by suppressing your symptoms without inquiring into their underlying cause.
When it comes to leaky gut syndrome, many possible causes can lead to it. Remember, the leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which small gaps form in your intestinal lining. The intestinal lining is a semi-permeable barrier that allows broken-down nutrients to pass through into the blood while keeping out bacteria, undigested food, and other toxins.
When gaps form in the intestinal lining, these toxins can enter the bloodstream. The blood delivers nutrients to all of the organs and tissues of the body. If the blood is contaminated with toxins, these will be delivered to the tissues and organs. Thankfully, the liver filters much of our blood. Still, even our liver function can be impaired by poor dietary and lifestyle practices (though this is another topic of discussion).
The leaky gut syndrome can be caused by anything that creates small gaps in the intestinal lining. The most common causes are:
- Poor diet — If your diet includes common allergens and inflammatory foods such as GMOs, refined oils, added sugars, synthetic food additives, conventional dairy products, pesticide-grown produce, and un-sprouted grains, it can lead to leaky gut.
- High toxic load— Every day, we are exposed to numerous toxins, some much more than others depending on lifestyle and environment. The toxins most likely to lead to leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin, NSAIDs, and alcohol.
- Chronic stress— Stress is a major cause of illness and is especially harmful to the gut, where significant parts of the autonomic nervous system exist. Chronic stress can lead to various health issues, including leaky gut syndrome.
- Genetic predisposition — A genetic predisposition can also make people more prone to a leaky gut because they are sensitive to environmental factors that trigger their bodies into initiating autoimmune responses.
- Bacterial imbalance — an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut, also called dysbiosis, can be a contributing factor to the leaky gut syndrome. A large body of evidence shows that gut microbiota is essential in supporting the intestinal lining and preventing autoimmune reactions.
- Candida overgrowth— When Candida cells begin to grow hyphae – the long branches that grow out of the fungus can invade the cells in your intestinal lining, creating inflammation and permeating the membrane that prevents harmful substances from leaking out. (Read our article “How to Heal Leaky Gut & Candida Overgrowth” to learn more about this.
There is no one specific cause of the leaky gut syndrome, as the leaky gut syndrome is more of an effect resulting from gut inflammation and weakening of the intestinal walls. Any number of things can cause this.
To get to the root of a leaky gut, you must address the possible factors contributing to it. For example, do you eat a healthy diet, or is your diet full of toxins? Do you eat healthily or have unhealthy eating habits like overeating, eating too frequently, or not chewing your food well? Are you often under stress? Do you suffer from digestive issues? All of these factors need to be considered.
Leaky Gut Syndrome Diet
In terms of the leaky gut syndrome diet, there are a few different components to consider. For one, the leaky gut diet addresses one of the major underlying causes of leaky gut—inflammation. Therefore, the diet for leaky gut involves consuming more anti-inflammatory foods while reducing the number of foods known to cause inflammation.
Additionally, a genuinely healing leaky gut diet will include specific foods and nutrients that repair the gut lining.
Remember that a leaky gut diet is not a diet that promotes a specific way of eating, such as being vegetarian. Still, it encourages you to remove certain foods and include them in your diet—regardless of your other dietary preferences.
Leaky Gut Diet Food List
As mentioned above, there are a few categories of food to consider for the leaky gut diet. First, you want to ensure you are eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein.
That being said, here are the three main categories of foods to consider.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
First and foremost, you will want to cut out all foods that are potential causes of inflammation. Some foods cause inflammation, while others are common food allergens that may cause inflammation in sensitive groups. Some of the recommended foods to avoid include:
- Fried foods
- Fast food
- Processed foods (chips, junk food)
- Processed sugar
- Processed meats (bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, bologna)
- Red meat (burgers, steaks)
- Refined grains (white bread, white pasta, white rice)
- Gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye)
- Industrial oils (vegetable oil, canola oil, palm oil, safflower oil)
- Soda and other sugar-filled beverages
Additionally, cigarette smoke and chronic stress are known to cause inflammation.
On a leaky gut diet plan, one of the most important things to do is to add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, such as:
- Leafy greens
- Nuts (especially brazil nuts, walnuts, and almonds)
- Seeds (especially chia seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds)
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
- Healthy oils (olive oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil)
- Wild rice
- Brown rice
- Steel-cut oats
- Most fruits and vegetables
Foods That Build the Gut Lining
In addition to avoiding inflammatory foods and eating more anti-inflammatory foods, it is also beneficial to eat more foods and nutrients that support the integrity of the gut lining, such as:
- Raw dairy
- Bone broth
- Butyric acid
Leaky Gut Diet Plan
An example of a good leaky gut diet plan could be:
Leaky Gut Diet Breakfast Options
- Fruit salad (berries, banana, mango)
- Fruit smoothie
- Chia pudding
- Steel-cut oats
Leaky Gut Diet Lunch Options
- Salad with leafy greens, avocado, tomato, hemp seeds, olive oil, and lemon
- Stir-fried vegetables with brown rice
- Quinoa bowl with sweet potato, kale, and miso dressing
Leaky Gut Diet Dinner Options
- Salmon, wild rice, and asparagus
- Stuffed peppers
- Steamed vegetables and brown rice
Of course, there are many more leaky gut diet recipes and meals that you can create using the food list above. There are also many more anti-inflammatory foods that you can include in your diet. The important thing is to focus on eliminating foods that cause inflammation or poor gut health while focusing on anti-inflammatory foods that rebuild the gut lining and overall gut health.
Repair Leaky Gut with Our Complete GI Protocol
In addition to following a leaky gut diet, you may be able to repair leaky gut with our Complete GI Protocol. This protocol was created to help you restore your gut health and integrity with crucial nutrients. The protocol includes:
- butyric acid (helps to lower gut inflammation and repair the gut lining)
- colostrum (helps to heal damaged intestinal tissue)
- probiotics (colonizes the gut with beneficial bacteria)
- a free PDF guide including dietary and lifestyle recommendations
The Complete GI Protocol provides the essential tools for improving the terrain in the gut, recolonizing the gut with beneficial bacteria, repairing the intestinal lining, and fighting inflammation in the gut.†
The leaky gut syndrome is a common gut health issue characterized by small openings in the gut lining that allow toxins to pass through the bloodstream. It is often at the root of many other health issues.
To repair a leaky gut, it is essential to take a holistic approach to treatment and to focus on removing potential causes of inflammation, as well as to focus on dietary and lifestyle practices like eating more anti-inflammatory foods, supplementing with nutrients that rebuild the gut lining and overall gut health, and finding ways to keep your stress levels low.