A variety of protein powder and shakes.

What is leaky gut?

The purpose of the lining of our gut wall is to act as a barrier to bacteria and other infectious agents. This barrier is an important agent in your immune system. Our intestine wall is also designed to absorb water and nutrients broken down from our food into our bloodstream. Everyone’s guts are semi-permeable. But some people have increased intestinal permeability or hyperpermeability. That means the holes in their gut are much larger than normal and this lets unwanted substances such as toxins, unwanted pathogens such as virus’s and bacteria and undigested food particles through in to our blood stream, so basically they have “leaked through out gut wall”. 

Although well recognised with natural health professional Leaky gut syndrome is not currently recognized as a medical diagnosis.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

Common everyday factors such as diet and stress increases inflammation in our body and gut and may cumulatively wear down your intestinal lining creating holes in your gut and making it more permeable. When this happens the body sets off a immune response which creates inflammation and that over time this can cause food sensitives, nutrient deficiencies and even autoimmune problems.

Some of the Key factors that can cause leaky gut include:

  • Stress and other negative emotions such as fear and anxiety causes stress hormones such as cortisol to be released. These stress hormones can break down out gut lining. For more information on gut health and emotions check out our article
  • Toxins such foods with arsenic, phytoestrogens, trans fats, pesticides and herbicides etc.
  • Difficult to diets food particles such as gluten
  • Certain drugs and medications especially prescription antibiotic drugs, birth control drugs and NSAIDs
  • Pathogens such as virus, candida, bacteria, fungus can eat away at the gut lining.

Signs and Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Biggest warning signs that you may have leaky gut.

  1. Loose stools
  2. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  3. Small intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO)
  4. Celiac disease
  5. Food allergies/sensitivities
  6. Chronic inflammatory conditions
  7. Thyroid problems and diseases
  8. Autoimmune problems
  9. Depression or Anxiety
  10. Easily gain weight
  11. Migraine headaches
  12. Skin issues such as rosacea and eczema

It is important to note that you may have leaky gut but have no signs and symptoms and as identified above the health problem that you might be experiencing could be a direct result of your leaky gut. This is why getting to the root cause of the problem is so important as this can help provide the information that you need to put in an effective treatment approach.

Can you Test for Leaky Gut?

A health professional such as a naturopath doctor or nutritionist can reviewing your health issues and symptoms it can be identified that there is a high possibility that you have leaky gut however the only way you can test for leaky gut is by a Naturopathic doctor completing the test for the leaky gut marker called zonulin. If zonulin levels are high that means you have leaky gut.

How do you Treat Leaky Gut?

Here are 12 nutrition strategies to help provide your gut with the nutrients to help reduce inflammation,
support healthy gut flora and improve tissue healing of your gut lining.

  1. Eat lost of fruits and vegetables as this helps with feeding the healthy gut bacteria, that help to protect and nourish the cell walls of our gut.
  2. Fiber also helps with intestinal gut bacteria. So when people ate a large amounts of fruits and vegetables, legumes, lentils and whole grains research has shown that it can significantly reduce zonulin which is the marker to determine if you have leaky gut.
  3. Curcumin, the active component in turmeric can help reduce inflammation and intestinal damage. Check out our delicious turmeric hummus recipe which is a great way to enjoy eating more vegetables which also getting the benefits to turmeric.
  4. Reduce alcohol consumption as alcohol can wreak havoc on your gut wall.
  5. Consume zinc rich foods (cooked lentils, mushrooms, nuts) and zinc supplementation 3mg (protection) ca help protect and help heal intestinal lining.
  6. Consume bone broth as bone broth contains certain amino acids such as proline and glysine (both help to produce collagen which helps to repair tissue cells) and L Glutamine which also helps with tissue repair. Bone broth contains a variety of minerals to help support tissue repair of the gut lining. Do 8 ounces of bone broth twice a day. For more information about the health benefits of bone broth please check out this awesome article.
  7. Kefir or home-made yoghurt is rich in probiotics which help to crowd out pathogens such as yeast or bad bacteria, allowing a better environment for tissue repair to occur.
  8. Fermented vegetables such as coconut kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, contains a variety of probiotics (different from those in dairy yogurt and kefir) which help to support gut lining.
  9. Coconut oil contains certain acids such as capric, lauric and caprylic acid. These are medium chain triglycerides that help to kill off bad bacteria in the gut and are very easy to digest.
  10. Wild caught fish are loaded with omega 3 fats which is crucial for cooling down the inflammation in the gut. It is recommended that you consume oily fish such as salmon, tuna, pickerel and mackerel three times a week.
  11. Sprouted flax seeds are loaded with soluble fiber which helps to grow good bacteria in the gut. If you have a sensitive gut this might not be the greatest to start off with but if tolerated, you can put it in your smoothie or oatmeal or with unsweetened apple sauce. Consume 1 tablespoon a day.
  12. Avoid gluten found in many grains such as wheat, rye, and processed foods.


Leaky gut has been well recognised in functional medicine and can be a root cause of many health problems. However, it is often overlooked in conventional medicine making treatment of certain health conditions more problematic since the root cause is not being addressed.

If you suspect that you have leaky gut, then please incorporate the nutrient strategies above. Adhering to a gut healing protocol with a supplementation program and incorporating stress management techniques will all help to support a healthy gut.

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