Leaky gut is believed to be a common problem caused by unknown factors and worsened by stress, alcohol, and a diet high in saturated fat and sugar but low in fiber.
Leaky gut syndrome allows large particles like bacteria and partially digested food to escape the digestive system and enter the bloodstream where they can cause widespread inflammation and gastrointestinal problems.
A leaky gut diet is designed to relieve symptoms of the condition and help heal the damaged intestinal lining.
The diet focuses on foods rich in anti-inflammatories and fiber but low in refined sugar, processed foods, and preservatives. Learn more about the leaky gut diet now.
Brief Overview of Leaky Gut Syndrome
A brief overview of leaky gut syndrome is important before discussing the leaky gut diet. Also known as intestinal permeability, this condition is caused by damage to the lining of the small intestine, allowing waste products, bacteria, and undigested food to leak through the intestines and into the bloodstream.
The body has more than four thousand square feet of intestinal lining that creates a barrier to control what can enter the bloodstream.
When a damaged or unhealthy intestinal lining allows undigested food and bacteria to penetrate the lining, it can cause inflammation and changes in the bacteria in the intestine that may cause widespread issues.
It isn’t known exactly what causes leaky gut syndrome as there may be a genetic predisposition but the typical American diet high in sugar and low in fiber may contribute.
Purpose of the Leaky Gut Diet
It’s believed leaky gut syndrome is caused by a number of factors such as excessive sugar intake, excessive alcohol consumption, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, inflammation, stress, and poor gut health.
Nutrient deficiencies like zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin A also play a role as all have been implicated in increased permeability of the intestinal lining.
The purpose of the leaky gut diet is removing triggers that cause inflammation and worsen intestinal permeability.
Adopting the leaky gut diet can help the intestinal lining heal from past damage, ease inflammation, and potentially restore normal permeability to the intestinal lining.
Best Foods to Eat
A diet for digestive health focuses on healthy fats, lean, unprocessed meats, fermented vegetables like kimchi, fibrous vegetables, and cultured dairy products.
Healthy fats in avocados and avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil can soothe inflammation. Lean fish like salmon provides a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which research has shown may improve irritable bowel syndrome.
Gluten-free grains should be chosen over gluten-rich flour. Grains free of gluten include rice, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, and gluten-free oats.
Fibrous root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, and turnips offer an excellent source of fiber which supports digestive health.
Probiotic yogurt is also beneficial because it supports healthy gut flora. One recent study even suggests a diet high in fiber and probiotics can help heal a leaky gut.
Foods to Avoid Eating
The leaky gut diet focuses on natural, fiber- and probiotic-rich foods, including vegetables, lean meat, fruit, and cultured dairy.
Foods to avoid eating on this diet include anything heavily processed, gluten-rich foods, and foods high in sugar or saturated fat. This includes junk food, red meat, fried food, and wheat-based products. Alcohol and fruit juice should also be avoided.
Fruit juice is high in sugar, while alcohol is believed to contribute to damage to the intestinal lining that can cause or worsen leaky gut.
Conventional milk should also be avoided as it can cause digestive sensitivities. Instead, choose nut or soy products and get dairy from kefir or yogurt, which offer probiotic benefits.
Effectiveness of the Leaky Gut Diet
Leaky gut isn’t a medical diagnosis and research is only beginning to study the phenomenon. In fact, many physicians do not even recognize leaky gut syndrome yet, although research is growing on the truth behind the condition.
While the leaky gut diet hasn’t been well studied, research suggests the foods on the diet do support healthy digestive function and fight inflammation, a problem at the root of many of the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.
A new study also confirmed the effectiveness of the leaky gut diet by indicating a diet rich in probiotics and fiber can help fix leaky gut syndrome.
The study found good gut bacteria need fiber as a nutritional source to maintain the mucus layer in the colon. This layer protects against increased intestinal permeability, which can cause leaky gut syndrome.