You know leaky gut syndrome as the catchphrase of wellness influencers and your paleo-eating friends. They use the term to explain everything from digestive distress to skin rashes and migraines. But the truth is that leaky gut—clinically known as “increased intestinal permeability”—is a serious condition with serious consequences.
When your small intestine is healthy, it is semi-permeable, thus allowing critical vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat to be absorbed and circulated around the body via the bloodstream. However, when your gut is “leaky,” the pores of the intestine widen (like getting a larger hole torn in your net) and become too permeable. And as the “netting” in your digestive tract remains damaged, toxins, bad bacteria, and undigested food particles pass into your bloodstream. Because of this, a leaky gut can lead to health problems including inflammatory skin issues, fatigue, joint pain, malabsorption of nutrients, food sensitivities (especially to dairy and gluten), autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems and more.
Millions of people struggle with a leaky gut and don’t realize it’s the underlying issue behind one or several of their health concerns. As a result, it’s vital to heal the gut in order to have optimal health. The problem is that traditional doctors are not trained to treat this condition, and with so many supplements on the market, it’s difficult for individuals to know which products to turn to.
I’ve compiled a list of the top three supplements that support gut healing. Start with these, and you’ll see results and save money at the same time.
When you have a leaky gut, you need to remove any foods or factors that are damaging your gut, including highly processed foods, inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy, and any foods that you have an allergy or sensitivity to. You need to incorporate healing foods instead.
Bone broth is one of the most healing foods on earth, and I have found it to be the most important thing to supplement your diet with if you’re struggling with a leaky gut. Nutrient-dense bone broth contains amino acids like glycine and proline, as well as collagen, which all help to heal the cellular damage of an inflamed and leaky gut. Bone broth is also one of the top anti-inflammatory foods, and when you’re trying to heal your gut, you want to focus on calming inflammation. Making homemade bone broth is great, but if you don’t have the time, you can add bone broth protein powder to a smoothie, soup or water.
Any good leaky gut treatment plan includes supplements that support digestion and protect the gut lining from further damage. Probiotic supplements do both and, after bone broth, are the next best thing to add to a healing diet to repair a leaky gut.
Why are probiotics so helpful? Probiotics help re-colonize the gut with good bacteria. Probiotics also balance the stomach’s pH and create enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria. (Candida symptoms are a perfect example of what can happen when bad bacteria has taken control.) A leaky gut is often caused by an imbalance of good bacteria and bad bacteria, so making sure you are getting enough probiotics on a regular basis is key to healing your gut.
I recommend consuming probiotic-rich foods and taking at least 50 billion units of a high-quality probiotic supplement each day.
When you have a leaky gut, undigested food particles can get into your bloodstream, leading to unwanted symptoms, such as food allergies and malabsorption of key nutrients like vitamin B12 and magnesium. Conversely, digestive enzymes help your body break down food properly and fully. This, in turn, lessens the likelihood that partially digested food particles cause further damage to your gut wall. I recommend taking one or two capsules of digestive enzymes at the start of each meal for optimal results.
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.