Your gut is the delicate “pipe” that makes up your digestive system. What you allow to pass through this pipe may affect it either positively or negatively. Your diet will either help you maintain good gut health or compromise the health of your gut. Some foods can stress your digestive system and make it succumb to diseases and disorders.
Leaky gut is one of the most common of these disorders. It comes with a lot of unpleasant symptoms. There is good news, however. Treating a leaky gut isn’t so difficult. All you need to do is follow the recommended diet for leaky gut treatment.
Have you ever had a leaky pipe in your house? You hate that it wastes a lot of water. The spillage and the damage it might cause are even more annoying. That’s basically what happens when you have a leaky gut. The food that you eat will not nourish your body as it should. Moreover, the spillage from the gut, especially to the bloodstream, can cause damages to other organs or tissues in your body. All these can be reversed with a leaky gut diet. Ultimately, this diet will also enhance the healing process.
Causes and Symptoms of a Leaky Gut
All of us have a leaky gut to some extent. Your intestine is not supposed to be completely impenetrable. Vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients usually pass into your bloodstream through the walls of your intestine. That is how you get nourished from the food you eat.
However, it is a disorder when the intestine becomes more permeable than it should be. Think of it like a sieve that is torn. Things that should ordinarily not pass through it begin to pass through. That is what happens when you have a leaky gut.
What are the things that can cause a leaky gut? First of all, the kinds of food you eat. Some foods make you more prone to have a leaky gut.
A diet that is low in fiber and high in saturated fats and sugar is not good. It affects the health of your gut negatively. Unfortunately, that is exactly how a typical modern western diet looks like.
Asides from the diet, some other factors can trigger a leaky gut. Such factors include the heavy use of alcohol and chronic stress. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also increase the permeability of your intestine.
Furthermore, some diseases can predispose you to have a leaky gut. Examples of such diseases include:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
These conditions may sometimes be the reason why you have a leaky gut. It is better to find out if your leaky gut has an underlying cause. You should do so before you start treating the leaky gut with a diet.
Sometimes the underlying cause may be a nutrient deficiency. You may develop a leaky gut because of deficiencies in nutrients such as zinc, vitamin A, or vitamin D.
Finally, sudden changes in the digestive system can cause a leaky gut. For instance, a sudden change in the amount of yeast naturally present in your gut. Another example is a change in the kinds of bacteria present in the gut. Some people are more sensitive to these changes than others.
Some of the common symptoms of a leaky gut are as follows:
- Digestive issues (e.g. constipation, chronic diarrhea, and bloating)
- Skin problems ( e.g. acne, eczema, rashes, and rosacea)
- Mental disorders (e.g. depression and anxiety among many others
- Headaches and brain fog
Diet for Leaky Gut: What to Avoid
If you have a leaky gut, your diet should be well monitored. You should avoid foods that can harm your gut. Your focus should be on a diet that promotes digestive health.
You should cut foods that can cause inflammation from your diet. Also, avoid foods that can encourage the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria. These bacteria can cause inflammation, and trigger digestive disorders.
The following is a list of foods that you should avoid:
- Gluten: Gluten is usually at the top of the list of foods that cause leaky gut. It has been associated with many disorders of the gut. Bread, pastries, pasta, cereal, noodles, and beer are common sources of gluten.
- Lectins and phytates: Lectins contribute significantly to the development of a leaky gut. Phytates, on the other hand, interferes with nutrient absorption. This can lead to nutrient deficiency. Remember that nutrient deficiency can also cause a leaky gut.
That is why lectins and phytates are often called anti-nutrients. Virtually all grains that contain gluten also contain lectins and phytates. Other food sources include beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.
- Sugar: You may not know, but sugar wreaks havoc in your gut. Unhealthy bacteria in the gut need sugar to keep growing. Both refined sugars and healthy sweeteners must be avoided if you have a leaky gut.
- Corn: Actually, corn may not be too bad by itself. What is bad for your gut is any genetically modified food. Sadly, however, over 90 percent of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified. Read labels carefully, and avoid packaged foods that contain corn.
- Soy products: Just as it is with corn, soy is also often genetically modified. Genetically modified foods may cause sudden changes in the gut. Remember, this is one of the things that can cause a leaky gut. So if you have a leaky gut, you should avoid all genetically modified foods.
Other foods you should watch out for are processed meats, refined oils, and alcohol.
What to Eat in a Leaky Gut Diet
If you want a heads up on foods you can eat, here’s a list:
- Vegetables: Cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, ginger, and spinach are good options. It is even better if the vegetable is fermented. Organic acids are present in fermented vegetables. These organic acids help in the acid-base balance of your guts.
- Fruit: You should eat 1-2 servings of fruit every day. It is better to take the fruits in the morning. You can eat the fruits raw or make a fruit sauce if you like. Apple, coconut, pear, oranges grapes, lemon, bananas, papaya, and berries are good examples.
- Healthy fats: Healthy fats are good for enhancing gut healing. Extra virgin olive oil is a very good source of healthy fat. Other sources include coconut oil, avocado oil, avocado, egg yolk, and ghee.
- Raw cultured dairy: Cultured dairy products contain probiotics. They also contain short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). Probiotics support the gut while SCFAs help in gut healing. Products like butter, yogurt, raw cheese, traditional buttermilk, and pastured kefir are good options.
- Gluten-free grains: Gluten can cause gut inflammation. So, you definitely should cut out gluten from your diet. Examples of gluten-free grains are rice, sorghum, buckwheat, amaranth, and gluten-free oats.
- Fish: Particular attention must be paid to omega-3-rich fish. They will benefit your damaged gut in amazing ways. Salmon, herring, and tuna are good examples of omega-3-rich fish.
- Meats: Lean cuts of unprocessed meats promote digestive health. Examples include beef, turkey, chicken, and lamb.
- Herbs and spices: Grab all the herbs and spices you can lay your hand on. They are good for your gut health.
- Bone broth: You may consider doing a three days bone broth fast. In those three days, the only thing you’ll eat is bone broth. They contain proteins and amino acids that help in gut healing.
There is no medication for treating leaky gut. The only treatment option is to manage your diet. You have all the information about diet for leaky gut at your fingertips now. So, you can begin your journey to recovery.