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Bloating. Cramps. Gas. Brain fog. Skin rash.
What do all of these have in common? They are all symptoms of a condition called “leaky gut.” Fortunately, leaky gut supplements are at your fingertips to relieve these frustrating symptoms and help improve your lifestyle.
Leaky gut syndrome is just what it sounds like. Bad stuff leaks into your gut from your digestive system, rather than being digested or eliminated properly.
Since some ask, “Is leaky gut real?” Good news — there is recent science to back up the existence and impact of this problem.
Research has found strong evidence that leaky gut is involved in several health conditions, not just in the gut area. Your gut and immune system are more closely connected than you think.
Leaky gut supplements and a few simple changes to your diet can take your digestive health to the next level. Read on for tips on how to heal a leaky gut and improve your health from head to toe.
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
It’s important to understand what is happening in your body when you have leaky gut. Your GI tract (gastrointestinal tract) is unable to stop toxins from entering your bloodstream.
When we have a healthy gut, our small intestine has a strong lining that handles nutrient absorption very well. The intestinal wall prevents bad bacteria from leaking into our bodies.
When intestinal permeability weakens, though, the microscopic holes in your intestines allow unwanted particles to leak into your body, such as undigested food, bacteria, germs, and other toxins.
These holes, known as “tight junctions,” are typically small for a reason. In a healthy digestive system, they’re the perfect size to stop the wrong things from leaving the gastrointestinal tract.
Leaky gut is when these tight junction (TJ) proteins in your gut deteriorate and cannot do their important job.
These leaks trigger inflammation and changes in the gut microbiome, the complex balance and diversity of microorganisms in your gut. This inflammation and the changes to your microbiome can lead to serious health conditions.
Leaky Gut Symptoms
Leaky gut can lead to many different symptoms and medical conditions. Not only can this condition cause problems with your digestive system, but it may also cause a variety of health conditions in other parts of your body. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor, primary physician, or healthcare professional about them.
Common symptoms of leaky gut may include:
- Diarrhea, constipation, bloating
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Chronic fatigue
- Adrenal fatigue
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Skin rashes, acne
- Food sensitivities and/or food allergies
- Joint pain
- Sugar cravings
- Autoimmune disorders, such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Thyroid conditions
Causes of Leaky Gut
There are certain risk factors that appear to play a role in leaky gut.
So, if your gut bacteria — your microbiome — is out of whack, and/or you eat foods that contain gluten, it could lead to a leaky gut.
Other risk factors may also make you more susceptible to leaky gut:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Taking NSAID medications
10 Healing Leaky Gut Supplements
If food is medicine, then here are 10 nutritional approaches to help overcome leaky gut naturally.
If you’re looking for supplements to help with healing leaky gut, collagen protein is a great place to start.
As the most abundant protein in your body, collagen provides a wide range of health benefits. Not only can collagen help alleviate joint pain and improve your skin, but it also benefits the structure and mucosal lining of your digestive tract.
Collagen production declines after the age of 25. It’s important to get vital collagen-boosting nutrients in your diet or take collagen supplements, especially as you get older.
Collagen is comprised of several important amino acids, including:
- Glycine: Collagen is composed primarily of glycine. Glycine helps your body make glutathione, an important antioxidant that protects your cells. Glycine is a key component of creatine, a compound that gives your muscles energy. This amino acid also helps support brain and heart health.
- Proline: Proline is a non essential amino acid that is a key component of collagen. It’s important for proper joint and tendon functioning.
- L-Glutamine: L-glutamine is an amino acid that supports intestinal health by both maintaining the gut barrier and regulating metabolism.
- L-Arginine: L-arginine is also an amino acid and is known to support cardiovascular health. It also helps eliminate harmful ammonia and release helpful insulin. It promotes nitric oxide production, which relaxes blood vessels and helps relieve high blood pressure.
2. N-acetyl Glucosamine
N-acetyl glucosamine is one of the best leaky gut supplements. This natural compound targets bad bacteria, but encourages good bacteria to thrive.
This nutrient also supports the growth of the gut-protective probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium.
3. Probiotics and Prebiotics
How can you replenish the good bacteria that is so important to your microbiome? Taking high-quality probiotic supplements for leaky gut can help improve your microbiome’s diversity.
Probiotics are just healthy bacteria you introduce to your microbiome. This should work to balance your gut bacteria.
Adding prebiotic leaky gut supplements to your diet is also effective, giving the healthy bacteria something to feed on. Prebiotics help “set the stage” for probiotics.
Certain foods help provide the nutrients that probiotic bacteria, or flora, need to thrive. These include:
- Licorice root
- Slippery elm
- Marshmallow root
- Mushrooms like reishi (known as the “king of mushrooms”)
When looking for probiotics, aim for 10 billion CFUs daily. (CFUs means “colony-forming units”.) Probiotic capsules should contain between 1 and 10 billion CFUs.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D was identified 100 years ago, and we’re still discovering uses for it. Vitamin D has found new utility as a leaky gut supplement.
Quercetin is a polyphenol found in many plants. (Polyphenols are simply a class a plant-based compounds that come with its health benefits.)
Curcumin is the compound that makes turmeric so yellow. Curcumin brings a lot of health benefits to the table — too many to talk about here.
We’ll focus here on the benefits related to repairing leaky gut.
Make sure you have turmeric in our spice rack or in your tea. It contains one of the best supplements for healing leaky gut.
7. Marshmallow Root
Also called Althaea officinalis, marshmallow root has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for several conditions. Little did our ancestors know, they were onto something.
This herb provides several health benefits. Not only does marshmallow root serve as a helpful probiotic as described above, but it also repairs the gut lining, lowering inflammation and soothing irritation.
8. Digestive Enzymes
Because leaky gut syndrome is associated with improper nutrient absorption, digestive enzymes are an incredibly powerful leaky gut supplement.
These handy enzymes are what help turn the complex foods you eat into digestible nutrients like fatty acids, cholesterol, amino acids, and simple sugars.
Here’s a quick rundown of how they work:
Your body makes digestive enzymes to help digest foods. Different enzymes support the digestion of different macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats).
Digestive enzyme supplements are designed to be taken just before meals to supplement the enzymes your body already produces.
9. Licorice root
It might sound like a candy store treat, but licorice root is a powerful adaptogen that has been used for centuries.
The Glycyrrhiza glabra herb can heal stomach ulcers and soothe an inflamed intestinal wall, providing a well-rounded soothing effect on the content of your bowels.
Things get a little tricky here. There are some side effects associated with the use of licorice that many people don’t know about. All of these are related to the glycyrrhizin compound in standard licorice root.
There are a few ways you can tackle the side effects of licorice root. One option is to use supplements that contain only DGL licorice (deglycyrrhizinated licorice).
DGL licorice root is stripped of glycyrrhizin and can be taken long-term with no known health problems.
You should use only DGL licorice if you:
- Have high blood pressure
- Suffer from liver or kidney dysfunction
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
If those don’t apply to you and you want to try standard licorice root, stick to a dose of less than six grams per day. 6-18 grams of licorice root is the dosage range associated with side effects like swelling and drops in potassium levels.
10. Caprylic Acid
The last of the best leaky gut supplements is caprylic acid, a fatty acid found in coconut oil and other coconut products.
Caprylic acid can temper the overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract, which is a major issue if you’re struggling with leaky gut. Caprylic acid may treat conditions like:
- Frequent urination
- Chronic upper respiratory infection
- Root canaled tooth infection
Leaky Gut Diet Plan
In addition to taking supplements to prevent or treat leaky gut, you can also follow a leaky gut diet plan. You need to make sure your body is getting plenty of gut-healing, immune-boosting, and anti-inflammatory nutrients and minerals.
Look at these easy steps to make sure your diet supports your gut health and find out how to heal leaky gut without supplements.
Keep it gluten-free.
Gluten activates zonulin, a protein which leads to inflammation and leaky gut. In order to avoid leaky gut, stick to a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a compound in grain that is comprised of proteins. Gluten is the “glue” that holds bread together. It causes dough to be elastic and bread to be chewy. Two of the main proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin. Most people who have a reaction to gluten are sensitive to gliadin.
This is particularly important if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. Opt for gluten-free baked goods and products in these cases.
Even if you don’t have a diagnosed gluten sensitivity or allergy, you may want to play it safe and give gluten a break and see how you feel.
Add apple cider vinegar.
We recommend adding a little apple cider vinegar to your coleslaw or salad dressing or other recipes may help your gut.
Studies have shown that vinegar can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that leads to leaky gut.
Plus, vinegar helps the body create stomach acid to aid in digestion and absorption.
Sip on bone broth.
Bone broth is a common and effective collagen supplement, made from processed animal bones. The collagen is bone broth strengthens your gut lining.
Add bone broth to soup or smoothies. You can make your own, buy it pre-made, or purchase powdered bone broth supplements.
Munch on vegetables rich in soluble fibers.
Getting enough fiber in your diet is key to gut health — these fibers are prebiotics that support your gut microbiome’s diversity. You need soluble fiber for proper digestion.
Soluble fiber comes from sources such as oats, potatoes, and fruits like bananas. It pulls water into the gut and aids the digestion process by reducing inflammation and constipation.
Be sure to increase fiber slowly. Increasing it too rapidly can cause bloating, gas, and cramps.
If you have a bowel disorder or other digestive issues, speak with your health care provider before increasing your fiber intake.
Avoid artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners can change the microbiome in your gut. Excess sweeteners can lead to weakened gut lining.
Many artificial sweeteners have been associated with other health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dementia.
It’s pretty common knowledge that sugar contributes to several health problems. When it comes to gut health, sugar appears once again — this time, to inflame the microbiome.
Increased sugar intakes provide a breeding ground for yeast known as candida as well as other bad bacteria within the gut. Too much sugar may lead to a leaky gut. Plus, it can lead to other health conditions, like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Excess alcohol comes with its own disadvantages, gut health being a major victim.
Published research shows us that frequent alcohol use leads to a leaky gut. A glass or two of red wine might have some benefits, but much more can mess with your gut bacteria.
Cut out processed foods.
Processed food usually includes unnatural food additives, to preserve color, taste, and freshness. But these additives can wreak havoc on our microbiome.
Studies found that food additives in highly processed foods can cause a leaky gut. When eating processed, try to find organic, all-natural alternatives.
Eat fermented foods.
Check out the ingredient list and nutritional information when searching for fermented products. Some brands use a lot of sugar and don’t even contain the live cultures you’re looking for — shop wisely.
- Leaky gut means that there are gaps in the intestinal lining that allow undigested food, bacteria, germs, and other toxins to leak into our bodies. This leads to a whole host of health problems.
- A healthy gut and a healthy microbiome can direct those toxins properly to be detoxified and/or eliminated, improving quality of life.
- Many health conditions are symptoms of leaky gut, such as:
- Abdominal issues, like bloating
- Chronic fatigue
- Skin health problems
- Joint pain
- Food sensitivities and food allergies
- Autoimmune disorders
- Leaky gut supplements can balance your gut bacteria and strengthen your gut lining. The best ones, according to scientific evidence, include:
- Collagen protein
- Marshmallow root
- Licorice root
- Curcumin (from turmeric)
- There are also dietary changes you can make to promote gut health:
- Keep it gluten-free
- Avoid sugar, but also artificial sweeteners
- Avoid excessive alcohol
- Cut the process foods
- Work in fermented foods