The Ultimate Guide to Healing a Leaky Gut

Perhaps no condition is more common than Leaky Gut Syndrome. After all, Harvard says that all have “some degree of it. [*]” Leaky Gut Syndrome is a vague term used to describe increased intestinal permeability. That’s when undigested food particles and toxins leave the intestines and enter the gut biome.

Left unchecked, leaky gut can cause other GI conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Leaky Gut Syndrome also compromises the immune system, opening the door for bacterial infections and autoimmune disease. Chronic inflammation is the primary cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome, so the only effective leaky gut treatment is to make the inflammation stop.  

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky Gut Syndrome is not a technical medical diagnosis. However, more gastrointestinal specialists are beginning to recognize it’s influence on the gut microbiome. The medical community use the term “Leaky Gut Syndrome” to describe a patient whose exhibiting intestinal hyperpermeability. 

intestinal permeability leaky gut syndrome
Leaky gut is that terrible feeling
in the pit of your stomach

It’s like the gut is an unemployed person who decided to charge a bunch of new gadgets on their credit card. When you have Leaky Gut, your gut gives no effs…and then you pay the consequences in the long run.

When you suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome, it means toxic substances are transferring from the digestive tract back into your bloodstream. In small doses, our body can handle these antagonists. It causes a quick immune response, our immune system cells handle the situation, our job is done here. 

As Leaky Gut Syndrome persists, the consequences may become direr. Intestinal hyperpermeability can lead to an array of nutritional deficiencies, chronic diseases, and hormonal imbalances, to name a few. To understand the levity, let’s dive into the anatomy of the digestive tract.

GI Tract Anatomy and Leaky Gut Syndrome

Our entire system is created by cells. Every follicle, tissue, and organ. This rings true of the intestines. The primary cells that comprise our intestinal barrier are epithelial cells.

Epithelial cells have adapted over time to create the perfect molecular mechanism conducive to breaking down solid matter. They created a lining of your gut that separates beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes from solid food particles, large molecules, and toxins brewing within the intestines.

When we consume food, the intestines are our endgame. The solid matter travels down the esophagus and into the stomach acids. After cannbonballing down, the food then enters the small intestines.

intestines leaky gut
Looks like your brain…
No wonder why the gut is our second brain!

The small intestines consist of three main parts:

  • Duodenum
  • Ileum
  • Jejunum

Food particles get broken down in the duodenum of the small intestine. From there, they move to the jejunum where the nutrients are absorbed.

What’s left after that shipment is bile, which the ileum uses for various functions. The ileum is also vital in Vitamin B12 absorption.

The remaining food particles are shipped to the large intestine, where our body extracts water from the waste. From there, the waste is well…waste.

Why Gastrointestinal Disorders Lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome

Seeing as we eat a lot (we all know we do), the digestive process takes some time. Therefore, some toxins will remain in the intestines until you are ready to eliminate them. As anyone who has cooked at high volumes knows, you need ventilation. Otherwise, it’s kaboom!

Intestinal lining has little holes in the barrier that work two-fold:

  • They Allow Ventilation
  • They Release Nutrients from Intestines to Bloodstream

These little breaks in the cell pattern are known as tight junctions. In a healthy body, the tight junctions are like a tightly-woven basket. However, poor gut health causes larger cracks within the lining of the gut to develop. This widening of the gap significantly increases your chances of developing leaky gut symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome?

What makes Leaky Gut Syndrome so hard to diagnose is that this condition’s symptoms mirrors many of the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with those who have a poor diet.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome include:

  • Anxious Tendencies
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Food Sensitivity
  • Gas
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Joint Pain
  • Skin Rashes/Redness/Blotchiness

If you have any of the above symptoms, or a number of them, consult medical practitioners about Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Some people are born with a genetic predisposition for a weaker gut barrier. Others might have an underlying medical condition, such as HIV, that’s triggering a chronic immune response.

However, for the most part, Leaky Gut Syndrome is a gradual process. There are a number of reasons why we may develop Leaky Gut Syndrome. Let’s take a look at the most common.

Poor Diet

Overindulgence is what
causes leaky gut

The most prevalent cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome is eating a bunch of foods that are not conducive to good gut health. One-third of the population is considered overweight [*]. This alarming statistic was made possible by the practices used by the Standard American Diet (SAD). 

The correlations don’t end there. You also need to take into account that gastrointestinal bacterial infections for C. difficile are up 200% over the last 10 years [*]. That’s right. Cases of Leaky Gut Syndrome are just starting to rise.

So, which inflammatory foods are causing Leaky Gut Syndrome? Everyone’s different. So, some might have food sensitivities to foods that others don’t. Here are some of the usual suspects.

Saturated Fats

Our body needs fat. Fat is essential for nutrient absorption and amino acids. Not to mention, it tastes delicious! However, the fat you consume matters.

We eat far too many saturated fats. These are foods that are high in LDL cholesterol and omega-6 fatty acids. While beneficial, too many saturated fats become overwhelming for our systems to break down.

Too many saturated fats can cause our system to go on a backlog. In these moments, chronic inflammation ensues. Harmful bacteria take advantage and seek shelter around these fats.

Artificial Sweeteners/Refined Sugar

Hands off!

Speaking of products that are wreaking havoc on your system, our body is not equipped to break down synthetic ingredients. Artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, and food dyes may change the taste and appearance of food, but they also alter your gut microbiota.

Healthy bacteria are unable to consume these sugars. While our digestive system tries to figure out how to process them, harmful bacteria feast on these sweets. Consider Halloween their Thanksgiving.

In addition, these sweets are sticky. If they remain undigested, they will only harden with time. So, these sugars will attract more sugars, fat cells, and dead tissue. Once these sugars harden, it will be even harder to repair your Leaky Gut. Just ask your dentist when they’re cleaning the candy plaque from in between your teeth!

Food Allergies

The number one culprit tearing our tight junctions are allergens. There are so many additives in our foods. We take for granted that our body has the tolerance to digest all of them. However, our body can’t break some of the fibers in our food down.

Part of this issue is because our body has an allergic reaction when they come into contact with these food byproducts. We’re talking about two types of sugars.

Gluten

Mass-produced wheat is not the same whole grains our great grandparents foraged. The dark side of wheat is these highly-refined loaves are stripped of their nutritional value. That’s why we’re seeing a gradual rise in Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity. That’s why gluten and leaky gut are so tied together.

Today, whole grains are  manufactured in bulk, baked with additives our body can’t break down. What’s left after we digest mass-produced grains are empty carbs not conducive to creating energy.

gluten leaky gut diet
Gluten is everywhere!

We just have the sugars from the grains. You know them as gluten. Leftover gluten is an irritant to the body. Two-fold, it also serves as a nice fort for inflammation to burrow.

Also, gluten causes our liver to release a digestive enzyme known as zonulin. Scientific evidence shows that zonulin can regulate our tight junctions. Tight junctions help modulate intestinal permeability. So, excessive zonulin can open up the flood gates to causing a litany of health conditions.

Many of us unaware of how much gluten is in our daily lives. So, we need to figure out which items in our daily routines are causing inflammatory responses. If you suspect you have a gluten sensitivity, try adopting a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free foods are becoming increasingly common in grocery stores and restaurants!

Lactose

Think of how many bread products you eat almost every day. If your gut is having a continuous allergic reaction, this is the perfect storm to cause inflammation. Daily inflammation means that your gut lining is being chipped away at, piece by piece.

Got Milk? Maybe you shouldn’t have as much. When we are born, milk is pretty much essential. It has essential nutrition and it’s easy for young ones to swallow.

breast milk immune cells
Drinking milk should end here

Mothers provide us nutrients through breast milk. Breastfeeding is a great way to acclimate your new addition to the world because you’re nourishing them with the exact nutrients they had in womb. It’s like keeping the goldfish in the bag when acclimating it with a new tank.

Feasting on a mother’s milk is a great way to kick start the beginning of a human’s life. Much like cows, we rely on our mother for milk until we are able to fend for ourselves. All other animals in nature stop drinking milk once they reach maturity. Humans are the only mammals that do not. In fact, we’re also the only mammals to drink another mammal’s milk. [*]

Our body is not equipped to break down excess lactose. Yet, it’s in everything from potato chips to chocolate to cheese to lattes. You name it, and lactose has probably graced it.

As you read with gluten, letting these irritants fester is a recipe for disaster when it comes to gut health. Inflammations relish when someone with a lactose allergy consumes daily frequently. These conditions will undoubtedly make it easier for Leaky Gut Syndrome to persist.

Pesticides

It’s not just the food that we’re eating that’s causing harm. The way our food is farmed is also doing a number. Pesticides are toxins to living organisms that may consume our food. So, why is it acceptable for us to eat these harmful substances?

Pesticides are found in 85% of fresh produce [*]. So, even when you think you’re being healthy, a hit has been put on your gut. We are consuming toxins, the exact things we’re trying to stop from entering our system by repairing our Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Opt for organic whenever you can. Try gardening on your own. That way, you can control what kind of chemicals are used to cultivate your crops.

Long-Term Use of NSAIDs

Cut down use of NSAIDs

Many of us turn to medications as a crutch to get through our daily life. These medications are excellent for quick fixes. However, they’re not meant to be the long-term solution. You need to face your chronic inflammation head-on and not mask it with pain killers.

Scientific evidence exhbited in a meta-analaysis of the long-term use of NSAIDs stated,

Try coming up with new ways to handle your pain. Drink more water to ensure you’re not causing dehydration. Try doing yoga to work out the lower back pain from sitting all day. Cut out foods that cause allergic reactions. All of these can go a long way in slowing down an immune response. In turn, you are less likely to use NSAIDs.

Chronic Stress

Stress makes us sick to our stomach, literally. When we endure stress it creates an immune response. Therefore, our innate immune system starts inflammation in hopes to remedy the issue. Unfortunately, stress is usually mental. So, the immune system is doing more harm than good.

Furthermore, stress creates a hormonal imbalance. When our stress hormones take over, it leaves less room for our sleep hormone, melatonin or our reproductive hormones. Hormonal imbalances can throw off everything from how we absorb nutrients to our energy production to how our tight junctions perform.

How Long Does it Take to Heal Leaky Gut?

How long it takes to heal a leaky gut depends on how bad your intestinal permeability has gotten. It also depends on if you’ve developed another condition or succumbed to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). 

The key to healing a leaky gut fast is to act fast. You need to make lifestyle changes to expedite the process. Each day you wait to make these changes is another day the lining of your intestines lets more toxins in. You never know when the one who will completely wipe your commensal bacteria out will enter. So, it’s best to act now.

What is a Leaky Gut Treatment?

Here is the million dollar question. How do you repair Leaky Gut Syndrome? After all, Harvard pretty much called the condition inevitable. Well, there are a few things you can do to help out the cause. Let’s take a look at where to start.

Leaky Gut Diet

You need to adopt a leaky gut diet to give your body a break from immune responses. The lining of the intestines is taking a beating all day long. It keeps dealing with foods that cause inflammation. Instead, it deserves foods that promote healing. Here are some of the best leaky gut diet foods.

Collagen

Thryve Inside Bone Broth recipe
Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen

You probably first heard of collagen in health and beauty realms. Collagen is used for leaky gut to improve elasticity. However, it also helps in the rejuvenation of cells. This is a pretty essential skill seeing as cells are responsible for keeping our tight junctions tight in the first place!

Collagen also has two important amino acids. They are proline and glycine. Together, these building blocks of life repair the intestinal wall.

What gives collagen such strong revitalizing capabilities lies within its root. Here is where you can find gelatin.

Gelatin

Gelatin is the compound responsible for giving bones, tendons, cell membranes, and cartilage their structure.

The best way to use collagen to get to gelatin is by making a bone broth. As you heat up the collagen bone, it will start to secrete compounds from its core. Of those essential minerals is the gut-healthy gelatin.

In addition to giving structure to the intestinal wall, gelatin also helps create gastric juices. This makes guiding toxins out of the system a more efficient process. Therefore, you will experience less backup and in turn feel pain relief.

Fermented Foods

Those who follow the SAD and experience Leaky Gut Syndrome will also suffer from an overly acidic environment. Our gut thrives when it hovers around a pH balance of 7. However, the foods in a SAD don’t lend itself such a neutral number. As a result, harmful bacteria prop themselves up in your microbiome.

probiotics for leaky gut syndrome
Eat probiotics. Grow probiotics.

To give your body a fighting chance in repairing Leaky Gut Syndrome, you need to shift the balance of power back to the probiotic side. Your stomach needs beneficial bacteria. Therefore, you’re going to need to transplant those bad boys in.

A great way to do achieve a neutral pH balance is by consuming fermented foods. These are fruits and vegetables that are preserved in a brine of distilled water and vinegar. As they sit in the brine, yeast from the food will start to feast on the sugars it sweats out. A byproduct of this process is known as probiotics.

Digestive Enzymes

When you said the word “enzyme,” it’s code-word for “get ish done.” Enzymes are catalysts for biological functions. Digesting food will fall into that category.

Part of the reason why we suffer from food sensitivities and allergies is because our body doesn’t create enough enzymes that interact with specific sugars and fibers. You can get individual enzymes or supplements with specific formulas.

Read the label and keep an eye out for products containing the following enzymes to help digest the following foods:

  • Amylase – Starches
  • Lactase – Dairy
  • Lipase – Fats
  • Protease – Proteins such as Gluten

By giving your body this extra backup, it has a better chance of withstanding digestive issues common from allergens.

Fiber

Part of the repairing Leaky Gut Syndrome process is flushing the toxins out. While our body does this naturally, it can always use a helping hand. The best natural source for this sort of help would be fiber.

Soluble Fiber

If you are having issues of constipation associated with your Leaky Gut Syndrome, opt for soluble fiber. Soluble fiber allows for more water retention in your stool, making it easier for you to pass the toxins.

Foods rich in soluble fiber include:

avocado rejuvenate your skin
Brunch is served
  • Avocados
  • Black Beans
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Figs
  • Lima Beans
  • Apricots

If your Leaky Gut Syndrome symptoms include diarrhea, you want to opt for insoluble fiber.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool. The extra mass will make the bathroom trips seem less urgent and frequent.

Foods rich in insoluble fiber include:

  • Fruit Peels
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Grains
  • Seeds

Fiber is great because it fills us up. Therefore, we are less likely to overindulge. However, it’s also a tasty treat for probiotics.

Beneficial bacteria like to feast on fiber. Fiber is their source of energy and helps the colony grow more prominent in your microbiome. When we can’t digest fibers that probiotics do, those foods are called prebiotics. Prebiotics are essential for maintaining optimal gut health.

Leaky Gut Supplements

There are many supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome. Much like all supplements in the wellness market, each vitamin has a different purpose. Depending on your symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome, some supplements may work better for your lifestyle than others.

Here are some of the most common supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome.

  • Aloe Vera – Repairs Gut Lining [*]
  • Caprylic Acid – Amino Acid Destroys Opportunistic Yeast [*]
  • L-Glutamine – Amino Acid Repairs Intestinal Damage
    [*]
  • Licorice Root – Fights Adrenal Fatigue [*]
  • Marshmallow Root – Coats Stomach Lining [*]
  • Quercetin – Crystalline Pigment that Boosts Immunity, Anti-Inflammatory [*]
  • Turmeric – Primary Compound, Curcumin, Relaxes Muscles in Intestines [*](For Higher Bioavailability, Take with Black Pepper)
  • Slippery Elm – Antioxidant with Mucilage that Coats Intestines, Serves as Prebiotics for Probiotics

As you can tell, there are plenty options to choose. Be sure to go with one that covers your symptoms. However, consult a physician before making any changes to your wellness routine.

Microbiome Testing

intestinal permeability score leaky gut
Get an intestinal permeability score
with the Thryve Premium Gut Health Program

The most effective way to repair Leaky Gut Syndrome is to alter your microbiome. Never enter the journey blindly. Test your microbiome and find out which bacteria is causing the problems.

From there, you will also figure out which beneficial bacteria you’re missing.Join the Thryve Gut Health Program. We ship you a discreet at-home microbiome kit. With one of the sterile swabs we ship you, collect a sample from your toilet paper. Place the sample in the tube provided and put in the mailer we included. Mail back to us with the self-addressed envelope we provide.

Probiotics for Leaky Gut

After receiving your gut test, we will formulate a probiotic supplement unique to your microbiome. Each month, the probiotics will be delivered to your door. That means fresh live cultures ready for your microbiome every thirty days!

Seeing as your probiotic supplements are live cultures, they’re going to need food too. With the Thryve Gut Health Program, we help you concoct a diet plan to meet your wellness goals. Since we know which bacteria you are supplementing with, we also know which prebiotics this live culture enjoys. We help you repair your Leaky Gut every step of the way!

Is There a Leaky Gut Test?

Currently, there is no leaky gut test kit. You can check out our leaky gut checklist to see if you have many of the symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome. From there, you should opt to get a gut test.

Getting a gut test will give you actionable plans for combating inflammatory responses that cause Leaky Gut Syndrome. Probiotics that are custom fit to your gut microbiome are essential for any leaky gut treatment.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health