The Best Leaky Gut Diet
Is there an optimal leaky gut diet that can help you heal? Yes…and no. What should you eat to heal leaky gut?
While there is NO “one-size-fits-all” approach to diets and gut healing protocols, here’s how to customize a leaky gut diet to heal your gut for good and choose the best foods for your body.
Leaky Gut 101
Before we jump in, let’s hit refresh for a moment to answer the question, What is leaky gut?
Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” is a syndrome characterized by weakening of the gut tissue lining of your intestines and the “leaking” of food and unwanted proteins and particles into your bloodstream, in turn, provoking an inflammatory response and disrupting healthy bacteria and digestion.
Leaky gut happens when your digestive system gets stressed from environmental and lifestyle factors (i.e. overtraining, eating disorders, lack of sleep, poor diet, environmental toxins, etc.) and/or underlying gut conditions (like parasites, SIBO, and dysbiosis—imbalanced healthy and unhealthy bacteria).
While there are no hard statistics around how many people suffer from leaky gut, researchers speculate leaky gut plays a pivotal role in the presentation of other well-known inflammatory conditions and diseases (Bischoff et al, 2014), including:
- Anxiety & depression
- Eating disorders
- Metabolic dysfunction
- Autoimmune conditions
- Constipation, bloating, SIBO and bacterial i
- Autoimmune disorders
- Heart disease and high cholesterol
- Endocrine dysfunction
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Skin breakouts and more
Diseases that affect at least 1 in 2 Americans (CDC, 2017).
The solution? Heal your leaky gut.
Where to start? The food you eat!
Food is Medicine for Leaky Gut
Many people have a general idea of what foods are “good” for them and which foods are not so hot for them.
Green things, lean proteins, some fruits and fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, and olive oil are typically what people think of first as “healthy foods.”
Fast food, processed foods and Chinese and pizza takeout are typically what people think of first as “unhealthy foods.”
Although, there is validity to both of these ideas, a leaky gut diet takes food a step further. If you want to use diet to heal leaky gut naturally, there are certain foods that act like true “medicine” for healing leaky gut, and there are certain foods (even healthy foods) that may also make leaky gut symptoms worse—not better—at least in the short term.
Here are the 20 Best Foods to Heal Leaky Gut, plus 10 Foods That May Trigger Symptoms of Leaky Gut.
Leaky Gut Diet: 20 Best Foods to Heal Leaky Gut
- Bone Broth
- Collagen & Gelatin Protein
- Cooked and Steamed Leafy Greens
- Winter Squash (Butternut, Spaghetti Squash)
- Cooked & Cooled Sweet Potatoes (Soluble Fiber)
- Healthy Fats & Oils (Avocados, Olives, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Ghee, Coconut Oil)
- Coconut (Coconut Butter, Coconut Water, Coconut Flakes)
- Wild Caught Fatty Fish & Cod Liver Oil
- Pastured Poultry & Grass-fed Meats
- Organ Meats or Liver Capsules
- Green Tipped Bananas/Plantains
- Fermented Veggies (sauerkraut, low sugar kombucha, fermented pickles)
- Grass-fed Full Fat Raw Kefir/Yogurt Kombucha (low-sugar)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Ginger & Garlic
- Herbal Tea
- Colostrum or ProSerum Whey
- Fresh Herbs (parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme, peppermint, etc.)
Leaky Gut Diet: 10 Foods That May Trigger Symptoms of Leaky Gut
- Nuts & Seeds (can be gut irritating)
- Legumes (Beans, Peanuts)
- Grains & Pseudo-Grains (Quinoa)
- Pork (slowest digesting meat)
- Most Dairy (fermented kefir and yogurt often ok)
6. Some FODMAP Foods
7. Nightshade Veggies & Spices (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, chili powder, paprika)
8. Conventional and Processed Meats & Cheese
9. Artificial Sweeteners
10. Canola Oil and Vegetable Oils
—No, not all of these foods are not “bad” (food doesn’t have morals), but for optimal digestive purposes, these foods are correlated with leaky gut as they can be more difficult for the gut to break down. Experiment with what works for you.
Customizing Your Leaky Gut Diet
In the world of gut healing, deciding what to eat can be overwhelming.
Should you cut out eggs and nuts for AIP? Or do GAPS and cut out certain carbs, but keep the eggs and nuts in?
Should you go Keto—eliminating most carbs altogether, or do Low FODMAP and nix the broccoli and Brussels sprouts that make your stomach turn?
While these different dietary approaches CAN be helpful for giving you a baseline structure for removing certain inflammatory foods, you may very well find that you feel best with a blend of philosophies from these different worlds.
Enter: Customization—picking and choosing the foods that work best for you and make you feel your best.
How to do it? Trial and error.
As you put your own ideal diet together, be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of foods that do and do not agree with you. Skin breakouts, bloating, constipation, energy dips, headaches are all signs that certain foods may not be your BFF. However, you may also find that while AIP says “NO nightshade veggies,” you actually feel fine eating sliced tomatoes; or while GAPS says “NO sweet potatoes,” you actually can handle them.
The bottom line: Instead of looking to food rules to determine what you can and can’t eat on a “gut healing” diet, look to your own body’s cues instead.
Leaky Gut Diet Sample Meal Plan
Want a sample of a leaky gut meal plan? Check out this 3-Day Leaky Gut Diet Meal Plan sample.
- Coconut Milk
- Collagen Protein
- 1 tbsp. Carob Powder
- 1/2 Greenish Banana
- 1/2 Avocado
- Bone Broth Soup with Shredded Chicken & Veggies
- Coconut Flour Cornbread Muffin with Ghee
- Baked Herb Crusted Salmon
- Sauteed Rainbow Chard in Coconut Oil
- Summer Squash DAY
- Organic Chicken Thighs
- Roasted Carrots with Olive Oil
- Steamed Broccoli
- Turmeric Golden Tea
- Turkey Sausage with Avocado
- Leftover Chicken Thighs
- Mixed Roasted Veggies
- Spaghetti Squash
- Grass-fed Beef, ground
- Basil Pesto
- Sauteed Spinach in Ghee