5 Reasons Your Leaky Gut Isn’t Healing—and How to Overcome Them

Fiber may be the missing piece of your healing diet. Unsplash/Brenda Godinez

Due to our modern society’s emphasis on processed foods, little exercise, and stress-filled lifestyles, leaky gut syndrome has become a very common health condition and the root of many health problems, including food sensitivities, mood issues, autoimmune diseases, and chronic exhaustion.

While you’ve probably heard of “leaky gut,” few people realize that it a serious medical condition that occurs when the gut lining becomes permeable, causing the normally tiny gateway openings between the intestines and bloodstream to enlarge. These openings then permit the passage of toxins, undigested food particles, and other harmful substances into the bloodstream where they can trigger inflammation, which is the root cause of most diseases.

The good news is increased awareness of leaky gut syndrome in recent years has caused people to seek ways to heal their condition before it spirals out of control. The issue, however, is that sometimes, even when you’re doing everything right (including following my Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan), leaky gut symptoms may fail to improve.

Here are 5 reasons a leaky gut can be slow to heal, along with ways to address them.

You’re not taking the proper supplements.

Once you find out you have a leaky gut, following a healing diet based on whole foods is the first step toward recovery, but there are also some supplements that can reduce inflammation and repair gut lining. The most crucial supplements include probiotics (most people benefit from taking 2-4 capsules of a high quality, soil-based probiotic daily), digestive enzymes (1-2 capsules of a full spectrum enzyme supplement before and after your meal), and l-glutamine (2-5 grams of L-alanyl-L-glutamine powder two to three times daily).

You don’t know the benefits of bone broth.

When you were a kid, chicken soup made you feel better when you were sick, but you may not have realized that its broth was also very healing to your gut. More than a popular food and wellness trend, bone broth is critically important for healing a leaky gut. Homemade bone broth and bone broth protein powder both provide vital amino acids and minerals that soothe and heal gut lining. Consume 8-16 oz of bone broth or take 2 tablespoons of bone broth protein powder twice daily.

You’re not getting enough fiber.

We’ve already discussed the importance of supplementing with probiotics, as those friendly bacteria can help regulate digestion and kick the bad bugs to the curb, ensuring that candida yeast or any other harmful bacteria don’t make a leaky gut even worse. But a lot of people aren’t aware that probiotics can’t live in the gut without fiber.

Essentially, indigestible fibers (called prebiotics) help probiotic bacteria thrive in our bodies. As such, a diet rich in high fiber foods like sprouted flaxseeds and sprouted chia seeds may be the missing piece of your healing diet. If you have a severe leaky gut, you may need to start out getting your fiber from steamed vegetables and fruit because your gut may be too sensitive to digest raw produce and other foods with very high fiber content. But if your gut isn’t overly sensitive, try fiber rich foods like sprouted seeds and aim for 30-40 grams of fiber each day.

You’re chronically stressed out.

Stress is normal, but when it becomes chronic, it can take a toll on gut health. Over time, chronic stress weakens the immune system, which can result in a decreased ability to defend against foreign invaders (such as viruses or bad bacteria), which, in turn, can lead to inflammation and a leaky gut.

To reduce stress and heal a leaky gut, practice natural stress relievers on a daily basis. Some of my favorites include exercising, getting more sleep, scheduling fun activities into your week, resting one day a week, and spending more time with uplifting, happy people.

You have a sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods, but you’re still eating them.

If you’ve confirmed you have a leaky gut, then you probably know you have at least one food sensitivity, which is due to years of not properly caring for your leaky gut.

If you continue to eat foods to which you have a sensitivity, you will make your leaky gut even worse. And if an elimination diet doesn’t help point you toward which foods you need to avoid, I highly recommend the IgG Food Allergy Test so you can find out exactly what you shouldn’t eat.

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He recently authored ‘Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and Five Surprising Steps to Cure It’ and he operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at http://www.DrAxe.com. Follow him on Twitter @DRJoshAxe.

More by Dr. Josh Axe: 

3 Supplements That Will Heal Your Leaky Gut—Without Breaking the Bank

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5 Reasons Your Leaky Gut Isn’t Healing—and How to Overcome Them