Is your gut telling you something? New research suggests it might be.
Research has shown a relationship between the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and many different health issues, including allergies or depression-anxiety disorder; joint pain such as osteoarthritis - the list goes on!
Keep reading to learn more, including what a leaky gut is, why it is important to understand, and how to heal it!
What is Leaky Gut?
First, to make sure we are all on the same page, let’s quickly answer the question “what is leaky gut?”
Leaky gut is a condition that many people have never even heard of, but it's gaining attention in the media as research links this phenomenon to various health concerns. As the name suggests, it has to do with your gut, or more specifically, your intestines.
The human body has an extensive intestinal lining that covers more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When it's working properly this surface area forms a tight barrier to control what gets absorbed into the bloodstream and blocks out harmful substances like toxins or bacteria. An unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested food to penetrate the tissues beneath it.
This is a recipe for disaster which can trigger inflammation and changes in your gut flora, which could lead you down the path to many different health problems, including digestive tract issues!
What Causes Leaky Gut?
We all have some degree of leaky gut because the barrier lining in our intestines is not completely impenetrable. But don’t worry! It’s supposed to be that way.
However, there are several factors that cause the permeability
in our gut lining to increase, which leads to a scary list of uncomfortable symptoms.
In fact, the modern lifestyle, medical practices and especially the modern diet, are the main drivers of leaky gut issues.
The standard American diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar can begin to disrupt the body's natural balance. Heavy alcohol use and stress also disrupt the balance of bacteria within the digestive tract , increasing the gaps in the gut lining and leading to increased permeability or leaky gut.
How to Heal Leaky Gut Fast With a Leaky Gut Diet Plan
Many people ask if it’s possible to heal leaky gut in 2 weeks? The truth is everyone sees different results.
Every person's timeline is unique because of many factors at play. Including (but not limited to): how severe your leaky gut is, your age, overall health, exercise, etc.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, our diet plays a HUGE role in preventing and treating leaky gut.
And for most people, making changes to their diet takes time. Not to mention, several attempts.
Plus, how do you discern which of the dozen “recommended” diets for leaky gut is the best leaky gut diet plan for you? It’s not clear from an online search, and it can be downright dismaying.
The truth is, there are no “5 magic foods that will heal your leaky gut”.
It takes a comprehensive protocol involving not only what you eat, but what you avoid eating as well. And while you're eating clean and healthy, you'll want to heal the gut as quickly as possible.
A viable leaky gut diet plan pairs a healthy diet or meal plan with a few key leaky gut supplements that cut inflammation and speed heal the bowel to mobilize a fast and effective leaky gut treatment program.
Regardless, we want to help you! Keep reading below to get all the information you need to adopt the best leaky gut diet plan for you and see the best results as fast as possible.
In my 25 years as a natural health coach assisting thousands of people to heal leaky gut, I’ve learned some important patterns that can guide you as you uncover your healing diet. And it doesn’t need to take months, but rather just a few days to know you’re on the right track.
Let’s start with the easier part: foods to heal leaky gut.
Best Foods for Leaky Gut Diet
For most people, the easiest way to start healing their leaky gut is by adding in foods to heal leaky gut.
The ideal diet for healing leaky gut fast is a nutrient-dense, dairy-free, quasi keto diet, meaning that it’s low in simple sugars and grains but high in healthy fats, plant and animal proteins, and wildly vivid colors.
But it's also free of the foods that are triggering your inflammation right now. The food combinations for my recommended leaky gut diet plan are endless and the flavors are fresh and interesting. Here’s a look at what you’ll want to eat each day:
- Plant-based foods, such as vegetables and leafy greens
- Non-gluten grains
- Clean animal protein from fish, poultry, meat, and eggs
- Healthy fats from avocados, nuts, butters from nuts & seeds, flax seeds, olives, and coconuts.
- One serving low sugar fruit per day
Let’s break these down more to make it crystal clear and easy to understand and follow.
Your body will heal best on a plant-based diet, loaded with complex carbohydrates from vegetables and leafy greens that are also rich in plant fats and proteins. These foods will supply the needed building materials to heal your body (and skin) from the inside out as quickly as possible.
For children, and for adults who do not wish to lose any weight, include non-gluten grains like millet, quinoa, buckwheat, and gluten-free oat bran or oatmeal in the diet. These grains will offer essential B vitamins and provide enough carbohydrates to maintain body weight. If you are interested in losing weight just avoid these until you’ve reached your target weight, then bring these non-allergenic grains back into your diet.
Animal protein doesn’t need to be organic, grass-fed, or free-range to heal you, but cleaner is better. So if you can afford it, it is recommended. Regardless, avoid completely all processed deli meat, bacon, and hotdogs loaded with preservatives and fillers for the best results. The easiest way to think about it is to stick with what comes right off the animal.
Animal protein is surprisingly easier for the body to digest than plant protein and requires only stomach acid to digest, whereas plant protein requires significantly more work to free nutrients from the cellulose fibers that hold it together. Plant protein also requires the proper levels of pancreatic enzymes for digestion which typically aren’t fully in line with leaky gut/inflammatory skin conditions. Your pancreas will get back there eventually, and when it does, you’ll feel more sustained energy without the animal protein.
All low-sugar foods are anti-inflammatory, and so are healthy fats. You can reduce inflammation in your body, including your skin, by eating fatty fish. They’re rich in high-quality protein and heart-healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Bake or grill a filet of wild-caught, fatty fish to serve over a salad or alongside roasted vegetables.
You can also use your favorite canned fish mixed with mayo, herbs, and spices to stuff lettuce wraps, avocado, or celery sticks.
In general, it’s recommended that you get at least 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily, preferably from food. If you don’t care for fish, consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
Here’s a list of additional sources of healthy fats:
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, anchovies, and sardines)
- Avocados, avo oil
- Nuts (pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts are all great options.)
- Nut and seed butter (spread sunflower butter or almond butter
- Olives, olive oil
- Coconut, coconut milk, or cream
Low Sugar Fruit
Using my protocol for healing the body of allergic conditions, my clients are able to experience accelerated recovery while still enjoying one serving of low-sugar fruit per day. I recommend savoring it in the evening after dinner (kind of like dessert) or in the morning over keto granola with coconut cream. Delish!
Choose half a cup of berries, or a medium-sized plum, kiwi, clementine, or peach.
Here’s a quick list of low sugar fruit ideas:
- Raspberries (½ cup)
- Cantaloupe (1 cup)
The lowest sugar fruits are listed first. Fruits that are simply too high in sugars to eat, without initiating more inflammation aren’t on the list.
That’s a start to help you visualize your ideal diet for healing leaky gut fast. But to sharpen your understanding, we cover the five important food groups you'll want to avoid next.
Leaky Gut Foods to Avoid
Keep in mind that this isn’t forever. Just for the first 14 days.
After that, you can challenge one food every couple of days to discover whether or not it’s triggering your symptoms.
Yep, my friend. You can definitely do this!
Here’s the shortlist of the five trigger foods to avoid to feel better fast:
- Sugars and sweeteners (except stevia or monk fruit)
- Dairy products (except butter)
- Gluten products (wheat, barley, rye, and commercial oatmeal)
- Corn products (popcorn, corn chips, and anything containing corn syrup)
- Soy products (soy isolates are a cheap filler in packaged and canned goods)
Without exception, when healing a leaky gut the first three are a must to avoid. The last two may or may not be problem foods for you, so test these at the end of your first two weeks.
Why You Must Avoid These Leaky Gut Foods
Begin by avoiding the foods on the list above for the first 14 days. Two weeks is the length of time it takes to completely rid the body of certain trigger foods. For example, breast milk contains traces of cow milk protein for up to 14 days after a mother ingests it.
These first three foods on the list are the basis for the standard American diet, and all five can be found in nearly every processed packaged or canned food you find on grocery store shelves in western civilization. This makes it a little harder to avoid these foods, but it also forms the foundation of a healthy diet. You’ll need to be checking labels to become familiar with which food brands are free of these five common foods, which also happen to be common food allergies.
Additionally, it is important to avoid foods that spike insulin. Sweet foods also feed pathogens like candida yeast, mold fungus, bad bacteria, and viruses that lead to a wide variety of health issues and concerns. Sugars include all sweeteners, including honey and maple syrup, along with artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame. Use only stevia to sweeten for the first 2 weeks. You’re allowed one serving of low sugar fruit per day so you may want to eat it fresh, close your eyes and savor it as your sweet treat each day.
Avoid Your Trigger Foods
In addition to the five common trigger foods above, there may be additional foods that you’ve noticed are triggers for you. For example, if you know that peanuts, shellfish, or fresh garden tomatoes make your throat scratchy or cause a skin flare-up, add those to your “avoid” list for the first two weeks. The aim here is to get clear of all your identifiable triggers that cause inflammation. Inflammation is bad for the body, inside and out, and likely manifests as skin issues.
Additional trigger foods may be:
- Eggs (or try eggs from soy-free chickens before ruling eggs out)
- White potato (potato starch is another cheap filler added to many processed foodstuffs. Also, commercial sprays can trigger sensitivity, so try red skin or organic instead)
- Peanuts (these grow under the ground with allergenic mycotoxins and mold inside the shell)
- Tree nuts (allergy to this group of nuts is more common now than 20 yrs ago)
- Shellfish/catfish (crab, shrimp, and catfish are scavengers that eat whatever drifts to the bottom of the lake or ocean)
How to Challenge a Food After 14 Days
Once you’ve completely avoided a trigger food for 14 days, you can “challenge” the food to see how your body reacts to it. However, after avoiding a specific food for 14 days, you may feel so good you don’t want to risk the possibility of inflammation from challenging a certain food, and that’s great! That was the case in my recovery from multiple food allergies. However, if you’ve never noticed a problem with popcorn, cheese, or edamame (soy) for example, you can challenge one of them after taking a two-week break with a simple test called the Pulse Test (described below). It’s important to not challenge more than one food every 48 hours.
The Pulse Test
The Pulse Test is a simple test you can do on your own at home.
Here’s a quick overview of the Pulse Test:
- Upon waking up, stay in bed
- Check your resting heart rate
- Eat the challenge food in its purest form
- Wait in bed for 15-20 minutes
- Check for an elevated heart rate
If you’d like to use the Pulse Test to challenge foods you’ve been avoiding, you’ll want to perform the test first thing in the morning. To do this, you’ll need to place the food you are challenging within reach of your bed the night before.
Without getting out of bed, check and record your resting heart rate. Take a bite of the challenge food in its purest form. For example, a corn chip, wheat cracker, or a little soy sauce. Again, make sure you place the food within reach the night before so you don’t have to get out of bed. Wait in bed for 15-20 minutes. Then check for an elevated heart rate.
Sensitive foods will put your immune system on alert, even if they don’t show up on an allergy panel or conventional scratch test. An elevated heart rate tells you that your immune system has been activated and confirms this food is a problem for your body right now. If you experience an elevated heart rate when challenging a food, add that food to your "avoid" list. If you do not experience an elevated heart rate, then you can add the food to your “approved” list.
Use the Leaky Gut Diet Plan to Heal
I hope this information cuts through the noise for you on how to best proceed to heal increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut syndrome. You now have the foundational information you need to implement a leaky gut diet plan and heal your leaky gut.
Your leaky gut diet plan will be the most time-consuming part of your recovery. However, it can also be the most enjoyable, getting back in the kitchen and dancing to your favorite music as you whip up fresh, nutrient-dense food for your body.
Better days are ahead, my friend. Please contact our support team if you have any questions about your journey back to health from a leaky gut. We’re here to help!
Our website is full of helpful resources, including my five-step protocol for healing leaky gut quickly.