The Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan
by Dr. Eric Snow on Mar 15, 2021
Got Leaky Gut?
The term "leaky gut" can be confusing and even controversial, as the name is sometimes used to describe a specific medical condition related to intestinal permeability. However, the term is also used to discuss so-called "leaky gut syndrome."
There are general dietary guidelines that can help you manage the underlying condition that causes a leaky gut, and although not recognized as a medical condition, “leaky gut syndrome” does contribute to ill-health and suggested nutrition measures are warranted.
Benefits of a proper diet
Leaky gut caused by an inflammatory gastrointestinal disease may benefit from specific dietary changes. For example, research has shown that when people with celiac disease stop eating gluten, it can help restore the mucosal barrier of their intestinal wall. Those individuals with Crohn's disease may be able to reduce flare-ups by following a diet that doesn't increase intestinal inflammation and promotes digestive healing. Whether these changes specifically act on intestinal permeability or not, they have been shown to help improve symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders.
One of the primary jobs your intestines have is to absorb water and nutrients from what you eat. At the same time, your intestines provide a protective barrier to keep bacteria and byproducts from getting into your bloodstream. The process is regulated by the size of the gaps in the wall of your intestines.
If these gaps get too big, your intestines can't absorb as well, and that protective barrier is compromised. If waste substances from your intestines enter your bloodstream, it can cause problems throughout your body. People with certain gastrointestinal conditions are more likely to experience increased leaky gut syndrome, which can create "brain fog," mild to moderate inflammation, and a host of other symptoms.
Why diet matters
An eating plan to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms and improve digestive health can take cues from diets used to treat irritable bowel syndrome and food allergies. Dietary considerations for people with type 1 diabetes might also be useful, as altered gut permeability may be linked to the condition. However, everyone can benefit from a balanced and nutritious diet, but what you choose to eat is of even greater importance if your digestion isn't functioning optimally.
When you're considering a leaky gut diet, focus on foods that provide energy and nourishment without straining your digestive system. If you're using a leaky gut diet to help treat a digestive condition, adopting permanent changes might help you manage your symptoms better, and following a particular diet that avoids "trigger" foods can help prevent flares of symptoms.
Compliant foods for leaky gut syndrome
- Fruits and veggies (cooked if not tolerated raw)
- Chicken or turkey breast
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring)
- Soups, bone broth
- Cultured dairy products and dairy alternatives (as tolerated)
- Nuts and smooth nut butter
- Almond flour products (as tolerated)
- Flax, chia, other seeds (as tolerated)
- Probiotic rich fermented foods (fermented veggies, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir)
- Water, hot or iced tea
Non-Compliant foods for leaky gut syndrome
- Beans, legumes, corn
- Raw fruits and veggies with skin and seeds (if having symptoms)
- Bran, cereal or granola with nuts/fruit, dried fruit
- Greasy, fatty, spicy, or fried foods
- Lunchmeat, processed meat (hotdogs, sausage)
- Processed dairy products
- Pastries, cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate
- Sugar substitutes such as xylitol and sorbitol
- Whole-grain bread, pasta, crackers (if having symptoms)
- Tough, fatty, cuts of meat
- Brown, multigrain, or wild rice, rice pilaf (if having symptoms)
- Processed snack foods and desserts, refined carbs and sugar
- Soda, energy drinks
- Caffeinated coffee and tea (as tolerated)
Fruits and Vegetables: Raw fruits and veggies are packed with fiber, which could be ok or could be a problem for you if you have digestive issues. If you have symptoms when eating them raw, try peeling, chopping, and cooking fruits and veggies to improve their digestibility. Veggies like potatoes soften up easily and are versatile in terms of consistency and taste.
Fruits that are already low in fiber can be popped in a juicer or puréed for smoothies. You might want to restrict or avoid high-fiber fruits and veggies such as corn, broccoli, and prunes, which are known to cause gas.
Grains: Choosing gluten free grains over glutinous grains is usually the healthier option, but if you have a hard time digesting grains, you may want to avoid them altogether. If you're having digestive symptoms choosing bland carbohydrates that are easy to digest can be soothing and gives your digestion a chance to recover.
Dairy: Some people with digestive disorders find dairy products tend to make their symptoms worse even if they aren't strictly lactose intolerant. You can experiment with dairy alternatives for milk, cheese, and yogurt. Kefir is especially useful if you are trying to improve your digestive health, as it is a rich source of probiotics and encourages a balanced gut flora, which helps improve intestinal permeability and a leaky gut.
Protein: Lean protein such as chicken or turkey breast is a simple to prepare and digest option. Fatty fish like salmon is another choice that can be cooked in ways that work well for a leaky gut diet. Just be sure not to overcook the meat, as this can make the fibers tough to chew (and digest). Eggs are another protein source that can be cooked in a variety of ways and pair well with other nutritious foods.
If you don't eat animal products, beans and legumes are a significant protein source for plant-based diets, but they are more likely than other sources to cause gas. Similarly, some people with digestive disorders find that the high-fat content of nuts and nut butter makes these protein sources harder to digest. You can experiment with small portions of specific nuts and smooth butter to see which ones work for you.
Desserts: Most basic dessert ingredients are high in fat and sugar, which means cookies, cakes, pastries, as well as dairy-based desserts could be irritating. If you're trying to cut back on your sugar intake, keep in mind that popular sugar substitutes like sorbitol and xylitol cause digestive distress in some people. Using a product like stevia to make a sweet treat may be your best option.
Beverages: Proper hydration is essential for digestive health overall, but especially so if your intestinal permeability is not working as it should be. Some individuals find caffeine from coffee and tea to be irritating and choose to avoid or limit these beverages. Carbonated drinks like seltzer might be OK if they don't cause uncomfortable gas. Alcohol has a tendency to increase leaky gut syndrome, so you may want to limit or completely avoid any alcoholic beverages.
Better yet, stick to water. You can dress it up with sliced fruit and sprigs of digestion-soothing mint or ginger. Warm beverages like bone broth are another nutritious and gut-supporting option.
Some people with digestive health ailments find that eating on a regular schedule helps control their symptoms. You may feel better eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day rather than having three larger meals. If your intestines have issues with leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability, they may be absorbing too much fluid—or not enough. You may need to adjust your daily intake of fluids accordingly.
Regarding nutritional supplements for leaky gut syndrome, there are a variety of options on the market, however these three products work wonders for recovery and instilling stability within your intestinal lining:
- Gut Restore Probiotic https://drericsnow.com/collections/frontpage/products/leaky-gut-restore
- Gut Revive Tissue Support https://drericsnow.com/collections/frontpage/products/gut-revive
- Gut Rescue Anti-Microbial https://drericsnow.com/collections/frontpage/products/gut-rescue
You might not realize it until you need to make changes to it, but your diet and supplementation can be about more than what, when, and how much you eat. Your role at home, school, or work can influence how easy or difficult it is to follow a nutritious meal plan and healthy supplement regimen. Likewise, your social activities and lifestyle also influence your choices.
You might already be eating in a certain way to deal with a health concern, such as avoiding gluten if you have celiac disease or an intolerance to it. You may also have personal preferences about your diet, such as not eating meat. It’s important to pay close attention to how foods are prepared, what types of foods are considered less inflammatory, and to supplement with leaky gut support products when needed.