Following a leaky gut diet plan is no longer a guessing game today. Find out the best and worst foods for amazing gut health.
In this article:
- What Is Leaky Gut?
- What Are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut?
- What Are the Best Foods to Eat in a Leaky Gut Diet?
- What Food Causes Leaky Gut?
Leaky Gut Diet Plan: Eat This, Not That
What Is Leaky Gut?
Before you learn what makes it into your leaky gut diet shopping list, it’s best to explore leaky gut syndrome. What is it?
“Leaky gut” is the term used to describe the increased permeability (IP) of the lining of the small intestine. This is the intestine that helps in the breakdown of nutrients and their absorption to the bloodstream.
The lining or the wall has a junction, which serves as the intestine’s gatekeeper. It allows nutrients to pass through but prevents unwanted ones from getting into the bloodstream.
When a person has a leaky gut, this junction loosens or weakens, allowing some microorganisms in the gut flora to pass. Sometimes so do food particles and toxins.
It then makes leaky gut a risk factor for many conditions including:
- Food allergies
- Food sensitivities or intolerances
- Autoimmune diseases
- Digestive problems such as bloating, poor bowel movements, and gas
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Mood or mental disorders such as anxiety
Leaky gut syndrome is not a recognized medical diagnosis as other experts believe it is not real. A growing number of studies, though, acknowledge issues affecting the gut barrier function.
A 2017 study in Frontiers in Immunology cited how it may increase the likelihood of autoimmune diseases. The immune system works as the body’s defense against “invaders” like viruses and bacteria.
About 70% of the cells that comprise it are within the walls of the gut. This is because the gut’s microbiome trains these cells to identify good and bad microorganisms.
A leaky gut, though, can overstimulate the immune system, leading to chronic inflammation. It will also end up attacking the organs it is trying to protect.
What Are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut?
Learning how to heal leaky gut is challenging for two reasons. Besides not being an official medical diagnosis, the symptoms can be vague.
Usually, the symptoms of leaky gut include:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Changes in the bowel movements
- Increased frequency of food allergies
- New food sensitivity or intolerance
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Skin problems such as acne
- Changes in the metabolism
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
- Nutritional deficiencies
What is brain fog? It is a term that denotes poor memory, lack of clarity and focus, and difficulty in concentrating.
What Are the Best Foods to Eat in a Leaky Gut Diet?
The secret to learning how to cure leaky gut is your diet, but what foods help leaky gut?
Here are the best foods to include in your leaky gut diet plan:
1. Fermented Foods
These are tangy or sour foods whose composition changed by adding lactic acid bacteria. They are among the best foods for a diet for leaky gut because they are rich in probiotics.
Probiotics refer to foods that introduce live microorganisms into the intestines. Their purpose is to improve the diversity or number of good bacteria in the gut.
Some examples of fermented foods are:
- Kimchi, a popular Korean side dish
- Sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage
- Kombucha or fermented tea
- Kefir or fermented dairy (sometimes kefir may be from fruit or vegetable)
- Miso, which is from fermented soybeans
Note: While probiotic-rich foods are healthy, they may have only one or a few strains of bacteria. Since diversity is essential for an excellent microbiome, supplement your leaky gut diet with BIOHM Probiotics.
2. High-Fiber Foods
Foods that are high in fiber are great for gut health because they promote a consistent bowel movement. The longer the foods linger in the large intestine, the higher are the risks of fermentation inside that leads to digestive symptoms like bloating.
Some examples of foods high in fiber are:
- Romaine lettuce
You may also want to focus on foods high in resistant starch (e.g. beans, peas, lentils). This is the type of starch that “escapes” digestion and goes directly to the large intestine.
It directly provides food for the colony there, and it may improve insulin sensitivity based on a 2015 research.
3. Gluten-Free Grains
Grains, especially whole or not instant, make it to the leaky gut diet food list because they are complex carbohydrates. They are known to:
- Provide plenty of fiber for a healthier bowel movement
- Feed bacteria, especially those found in the colon
- Fight fat buildup that leads to obesity
Many kinds of grains, though, contain gluten, a type of protein. It helps keep food together and gives bread its stretchable quality.
A 2012 research showed that gluten can activate another protein called zonulin. It is a well-known cause for IP or leaky gut, opening the tight junctions.
Gluten is also a no-no for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition characterized by digestive symptoms when they ingest food with the protein.
There’s much debate on whether you can eat gluten or not. If you are sensitive or have celiac disease, it’s best to find gluten-free grains.
Among the best foods for a leaky gut diet are mushrooms. These fungi can provide a wide variety of benefits, depending on their kind.
- Some can contain andosan which regulates the makeup and the activity of the gut flora.
- Ganoderma lucidum, like Lingzhi mushrooms, can decrease Firmicutes which raises the odds of obesity by negatively impacting metabolism and glucose levels.
- Agaricus bisporus or white button mushrooms increase the diversity of the microbiome.
What Food Causes Leaky Gut?
Now you know what foods to eat, you may ask, “What foods should I avoid with leaky gut?” Here are some of them:
1. Added Sugar
The body needs sugar to help provide fuel for cells, but it doesn’t need artificial ones or added sugars like fructose or corn syrup.
In a 2018 study, it can influence the activity of the microbiome, increasing the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A malfunctioning liver means your body, especially the gut, cannot metabolize fat properly.
2. High-Fat Foods
Another no-no in your leaky gut diet plan is food that’s high in fat. One of the studies that revealed its effect in gut health is published in BMJ.
The researchers worked with more than 200 people who followed different types of fat diets. They learned that such diets may not change the volume of bacteria.
They, though, discovered that those who consumed a low-fat meal plan produced more of an SCFA called butyrate. A high-fat diet could also trigger inflammation.
Not all fats are bad for leaky gut syndrome diet. The likes of avocados, olive oil, and many nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fatty acids that help reduce inflammation.
These foods can also improve your satiety, which then helps in managing your food intake and calories. You only need to control your consumption, limiting it to up to 78 grams a day depending on your ideal calories.
As much as possible, you must also avoid fried foods. If you’re looking for crunch, consider baking them instead.
Limit your intake of red meat as well. Most of all, stay away from processed foods such as deli meat.
In a 2017 research in Gut, many of these processed foods have additives like emulsifiers. These can directly change the composition of the microbiome, which raises the risk of intestinal inflammation.
Foods such as chicken or turkey are better alternatives to dark meat since they have less fat. The problem with more mainstream poultry is antibiotics.
About 80% of antibiotics sold in the market end up in poultry farms, according to an NPR article. These drugs can keep the animals free of illness, but humans may also ingest them in the process.
Antibiotics can potentially wipe out microorganisms in the gut, including the good ones. It also increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, which makes the treatment of disease a challenge.
How long does it take to heal a leaky gut? It depends on many factors.
If you want to accelerate the process, you can add supplements like Reset Regimen to your leaky gut diet. Either way, you can never go wrong with eating the right foods for leaky gut cure.
What are your tips on how to heal leaky gut? Do you have other foods we didn’t cover in your leaky gut syndrome diet? Share your ideas in the comments section below!