This article takes a closer look at what leaky gut is and its causes. It also includes a list of foods that aid digestive health to include in a leaky gut diet plan.

The term “leaky gut” has been used more frequently in association with autoimmune issues, acne, weight gain, allergies, depressed mood, poor skin conditions, fatigue, bloating, and constipation. And righteously so, an underlying impaired gut can manifest these symptoms due to an increase intestinal permeability.

Intestinal permeability refers to a weakened gut lining that has been worn down over time by pathogens, including opportunistic bacteria and toxins, and has an imbalanced ratio of beneficial to unhealthy bacteria. Once there are gaps in the gut lining, pathogens, bacteria, and undigested food particles can cross the barrier into the bloodstream. Having pathogens in the bloodstream may induce inflammation and later manifest into a number of diseases such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), chronic fatigue, and others.

A Downloadable Leaky Gut Plan in 3 Steps

What Causes A Healthy Gut To Become Imbalanced?

Damage to the gut occurs over time from regular antibiotic use, pharmaceutical drugs, toxins and chemicals, alcohol use, bacteria, viruses, or stress that killed off good bacteria.

In addition, most individuals lack diversity in their diet with a high emphasis of refined foods, which also tend to kill off certain bacteria. Compared to developing nations, our microbiome tend to contain far fewer microbial species.


What Is A Healthy GI Function?

  • Has approximately a ratio of 8 beneficial bacteria to 2 opportunistic bacteria.
  • The beneficial bacteria act as a defense system along the intestinal lining so that pathogens and bacteria can’t escape into the bloodstream.
  • Intestinal motility, secretion, and integrity of the mucosa are also important for barrier function against pathogens and bacteria.
  • Waste products, organisms, and xenobiotics (substances foreign to the body) are effectively eliminated.
  • Digestive secretions are at appropriate levels.
  • Dietary components are effectively utilized.
  • Normal bowel movements and motor functions of the gut work in order.
  • Typical transit time is anywhere between 36 to 72 hours. Optimal transit time is 12 to 24 hours.

What Is Leaky Gut?

When the ratio is out of balance, the tight junctions of the gut lining begin to loosen, potentially allowing pathogens to have the advantage to escape the intestinal system as an antigen into the bloodstream.

When the gut becomes “leaky” (increased intestinal permeability), it causes a condition called metabolic endotoxemia, which elevates gram-negative bacteria and produces Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) toxins levels in the blood.

Leaky gut= more LPS in the circulatory system= LPS can disrupt motility (constipation) and can also increase fluid (diarrhea). Continue to read below to learn how this occurs.

LPS has been shown to induce various alterations in GI function for diarrhea, but decreased gastrointestinal motility, and generally can cause damage to the intestine.

In addition, LPS stimulates several substances including cytokines (the signal of inflammation), vasoactive substances (either increase/decrease blood pressure), procoagulant factors (blood clotting), prostaglandins (signal inflammation and blood clotting), and nitric oxide (a free radical that inhibits smooth muscle contraction and increases diarrhea) (1).

If there is an increased amount of toxins, microbes, and food particles that flood the bloodstream, the immune system marks them as dangerous invaders and creates inflammation to get rid of them.

The increase in constant inflammation and metabolic endotoxemia may be associated with various chronic diseases and many problematic symptoms, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS), depression, mood conditions, and other autoimmune conditions (2).

In addition, LPS can delay gastric emptying and induce sphincteric dysfunction which would slow down motility and cause constipation (3).

Symptoms Of A Leaky Gut

Below are indications that you would benefit from a leaky gut plan. One of the easiest determinant is that you’re experiencing multiple food sensitivities.

Your immune response to food sensitivities can transform into several different symptoms, including:

  • Allergies
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Indigestion (i.e. bloating and gas)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Brain fog/ difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Skin issues like acne and rosacea
  • Occasional eczema
  • Mild anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Poor appetite
  • Thyroid issues

Note that the listed symptoms are not a diagnosis of leaky gut but rather signs to further investigate.

Additionally, leaky gut can become problematic because the overgrowth of altered ‘bad’ bacteria compete for nutrients and inhibit the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals, including zinc, folic acid, and vitamin B12 (4).

By now, you may have pinpointed some stressors that you have had or still are dealing with that are causing dysbiosis, inflammation, and leaky gut. Let’s look at how we get back into balance.  


Treatment For Leaky Gut

Step 1: Leaky Gut Foods To Avoid

It’s essential that you remove damage promoters such as food, allergens, and toxins to allow the gut to heal.

Instead of following a diet or long-term changes, you will be removing foods that aren’t nourishing for the meantime. Once the gut is heal, most of these foods can be introduced back in without causing a disturbance.

Assuming you have leaky gut, your immune system is likely overreacting to common foods listed below that have leaked into the bloodstream. However, without testing, you cannot be sure that there may be other foods/ingredients that are triggering a reaction.

Common intolerances and inflammatory foods/ingredients to avoid include:

  • Eggs – both the whites and the yolks. When your gut is improved, you should be able to include in 5 days or more.
  • All dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese – except butter and ghee (clarified butter). Unless, you have a lactose intolerance, you should be able to include back in after a couple of weeks.
  • Gluten – barley, rye, bulgur, seitan, triticale, and oats. Even without an intolerance, helps open tight junctions and helps create leaky gut.
  • Soy – soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, soybean oil, and all forms of soy isolate protein such as found in many protein bars, protein shakes, and protein powders. Soy lecithin is okay.
  • Corn and cornstarch – most US corn is genetically modifies, making it dangerous for your microbiome. In addition, it is pretty sweet and a starch grain that can feed your unhealthy bacteria thriving in your gut.
  • Processed meats or deli meats – usually contaminated with gluten and hydrogenated fats.
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Seed oils – canola, sunflower, and safflower oils
  • Processed foodsfast foods, potato chips, sugary cereals, candy bars, etc. Many contain gluten, food coloring, and preservatives
  • Alcohol

If you are someone who eats out a lot, purchases microwave meals, or prepackaged snacks, the first step is to consider consuming simple, natural and whole foods. Food found in the form closest to nature is the broad scope of what a healing, low-toxin detoxification-supporting diet entails.

Consider on a spectrum where on one end you have a wild huckleberry and on the other end is a processed and little to no color Twinkie, you will want to be as close to the end with the wild berry.

An achievable goal could include cooking one meal a week or once a day for yourself and include a vegetable or fruit to every meal. Identifying what you want to change and then acting upon it is the best thing you can do for success.

Additionally, remove any harmful substances such as drugs, chemicals, and pesticides. These toxins are substances that can cause acute or chronic injury to the body, undermining health, and stressing the body’s systems and organs.We encounter toxins through the environment by breathing them, ingesting them through food or water, or absorbing them through our skin.


Step 2: Foods To Heal The Gut

1. Probiotics
Change the gut bacteria with probiotics. When we increase the good bacteria to bad gut bacteria ratio we are correcting bacteria imbalances (dysbiosis) to create a healthy environment for digestion.

Foods that contain probiotics are found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, fermented vegetables, kefir, and yogurt. Probiotic strains can also be found in aged cheese and meats.

Or you can take a supplement in addition to eating fermented foods, my favorite is by Thorne.

Other benefits include:

  • Probiotics create more beneficial bacteria to ferment food into Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) instead of producing a lot of gas.
  • Reduce total Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and other toxins. This can aid in motility which may inhibit bacteria overgrowth that causes gas, indigestion, constipation, etc. As we recall, LPS is an endotoxin derived from the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria (5) (6) (7) (8) (9).

2. Prebiotics 
Prebiotics provide the fibers that probiotics need to thrive on. They provide the food compounds that are broken down into SCFAs. These plant fibers can be found in asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, leeks, onion, garlic, wheatgerm, green bananas, plantains, apples, sunchoke, and chicory root.

You can also incorporate prebiotics in supplement or fiber form from Silver Fern Brand.

3. Artichoke Leaf Extract, Licorice Flavonoids, or Ginger Root or all three found in pill form with Upper GI Relief.

  • A digestive aid to support the upper GI mechanisms.
  • Help keep bacteria in the large intestine (where they should be).
  • Support motility. Stagnation allows bacteria to migrate from the large intestine into the small intestine where they start to compete with the human host for nutrients – often fermenting foods before someone has had a chance to break down.

4. Omega-3 fish oil, zinc, glutathione, and marshmallow root

Helps strengthen the gut lining by repairing the microvilli and the tight junctions. The tight junctions are crucial to preventing leaky gut by keeping pathogens to cross the gut barrier.


  • Reduce LPS toxins
  • Correct bacteria imbalances (dysbiosis)
  • Inhibit bacteria overgrowth
  • Significantly increase good bacteria while reducing bad bacteria
  • Increase short-chain fatty acids
  • Increase gut bacteria diversity
  • Strengthen the gut lining


Step 3: Follow The Leaky Gut Diet Plan pdf

Heal Your Gut Beginner Guide

The Bottom Line

Dietary changes for the leaky gut include the removal of anything that interferes with a healthy microbial balance or compromises intestinal health from the diet.

Optimize digestion with probiotics, prebiotics, and herbs.

Repair the gut lining by eating foods and taking supplements that support gut health.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Speak to your healthcare professional for more information following a dietary plan or introducing supplements to your treatment plan for a leaky gut syndrome.