Improving Leaky Gut: Diet, Supplements & How to Heal

Improving Leaky Gut: Diet, Supplements & How to Heal

Improving Leaky Gut: Diet, Supplements & How to Heal

‘Leaky gut’ is gaining more attention by the day, although it is not a recognized medical condition. Certain dietary and lifestyle choices are associated with increased or decreased intestinal permeability. Read on to learn more about them.

What Is Leaky Gut?

The theory is fairly simple. When there are abnormalities in the intestinal barrier, the intestinal permeability increases. This potentially means that more of the gut content can pass/leak through, which is referred to as “leaky gut” [1].

Some scientists think that when the gut is leaky, gut bacteria and their products may escape the gut, which could potentially produce inflammation and cause tissue damage. Similarly, food-derived antigens (proteins or partially digested proteins) could pass through the gut and promote both local or whole-body immune responses [1].

To learn more about what makes the gut “leaky” and the conditions associated with it, check out this post.

How to Prevent a Leaky Gut

As leaky gut may occur as a symptom in a number of underlying diseases, the most important thing is to work with your doctor to address any potential underlying health condition.

For example, several studies have shown that chronic infections can increase gut permeability, and therefore they need to be addressed if possible [2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

Some clinical studies show that addressing leaky gut may be beneficial in some gut-related conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and celiac disease. However, at this point in time, there is little to no clinical evidence that addressing leaky gut could improve any particular non-gut related condition.

1) Potentially Beneficial Lifestyle and Dietary Changes

Much of the emerging research shows that stress may increase intestinal permeability [7, 8, 9]. Managing stress levels is one way to potentially improve the function of your intestinal barrier and your overall health.

A healthy circadian rhythm may also help keep your gut healthy [10].

Alcohol increases intestinal permeability and is best avoided if you have gut issues [11, 12, 13]. Even moderate consumption can increase intestinal permeability in people who have gut inflammation [14].

If you have certain food sensitivities (e.g. gluten), you may need to avoid offending foods. However, make sure your diet is overall healthy and well balanced, to avoid nutritional deficiencies [15].

2) Moderate Exercise

In 30 people with diabetes who initially had increased intestinal permeability, 6 months of regular exercise improved leaky gut and decreased low-grade inflammation [16].

Swimming increased tight junction protein levels in rats [17].

In mice, 30 minutes of swimming per day maintained low intestinal permeability. It also prevented chronic stress-induced gut barrier dysfunction [18].

3) Vitamins and Minerals

Make sure you are not deficient in vitamins and minerals required for proper gut barrier and immune function. These include vitamin A (retinol), vitamin D, zinc, and B vitamins.

Vitamin A

A clinical trial in 79 children showed that vitamin A lowered intestinal permeability [19].

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps maintain the intestinal barrier [20, 21, 1].

Vitamin D helped maintain low intestinal permeability in a study with 27 Crohn’s disease patients in remission [22].

Vitamin D also reduced the sensitivity of the intestinal barrier to alcohol in mice [23].

Vitamin B

Niacin (vitamin B3) decreased intestinal permeability in patients with alcohol-induced niacin deficiency [24].


Zinc restored intestinal permeability in Crohn’s disease patients, probably by maintaining tight junctions [25, 26].

In 12 Crohn’s disease patients in remission, those receiving zinc (10 patients) had normal gut permeability and did not relapse. Of the remaining 2 who had increased intestinal permeability, 1 relapsed [25].

Low levels of zinc improved intestinal permeability in a study of 58 children with diarrhea [27].

4) Probiotics

Probiotics may help reduce gut leakiness. Some scientists suggest they can strengthen tight junctions and restore the integrity of the intestinal barrier.

In 2 studies with 10 and 7 people, respectively, L. plantarum promoted gut barrier repair and increased the stability of tight junctions [28, 29].

Fermented milk with probiotics decreased gut permeability in a clinical trial with 30 IBS patients [30]. The probiotics included S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, and B. longum.

The following probiotics have helped improve ‘leaky gut’ in animal and cell studies:

5) Prebiotics/Fiber

Prebiotics are fibers that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Inulin-enriched pasta preserved the intestinal barrier and decreased zonulin in 20 healthy volunteers [46].

In 32 people with fatty liver, a diet high in fiber reduced intestinal permeability and blood zonulin levels and improved liver function [47].

Prebiotic galactooligosaccharides (GOS) improved intestinal barrier function in rats with pancreatitis [48].

Prebiotics lowered intestinal permeability and improved tight-junction integrity in obese and diabetic mice [49].

6) Glutamine

Studies suggest that glutamine may help maintain intestinal barrier function [50].

Glutamine had beneficial effects on intestinal integrity in 101 preterm infants and increased intestinal barrier function in a study with 80 malnourished children [51, 52].

A study of 51 cancer patients showed that glutamine countered the chemotherapy-induced increase in intestinal permeability [53].

Glutamine reduced radiation-caused gut injury and maintained lower gut permeability in rats [54].

7) Other

No clinical evidence supports the use of any of the below-listed foods and supplements for improving gut permeability. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

  • Fermented foods (barley, soybean, kimchi) decreased gut permeability in mice and rats with IBD- inflammation [55, 56, 57]
  • Omega-3 acids helped improve gut barrier function in mice with inflammation and after chemotherapy [58, 59]
  • Curcumin improved gut barrier function in rats, mice, and human cells [60, 61, 62, 63].
  • Butyrate helped protect the intestinal barrier in rats with gut inflammation, and in mice fed a high-fat diet or exposed to chemotherapy [64, 65, 66].
  • Melatonin improved gut barrier function in diabetic rats and rats on alcohol and in mice with IBD- gut inflammation or mice treated with NSAIDs [67, 68, 69, 70, 71].
  • Ginkgo biloba helped restore the gut barrier in rats by restoring tight junctions [72].
  • Lipoic acid supplementation reduced intestinal permeability in post-weaning rats [73].
  • Quercetin protected the intestinal barrier from NSAID-induced damage in rats [74, 75].
  • Sulforaphane, found in high amounts in broccoli sprouts, strengthened the gut barrier in mice [76].

HLA-DQ2.5 and HLA-DQ8.1

HLA-DQ is a protein found on the surface of cells that communicate with the immune system (it presents antigens to immune cells).

Studies suggest that two variants, HLA-DQ2.5 and HLA-DQ8.1 are associated with about 6-fold higher risk of developing celiac disease. About 98% of people with celiac disease have one or both of these variants [77, 78, 79].

You have HLA-DQ2.5 if you have the following variants:

  • The HLA-DQA1*0501 variant in the HLA-DQA1 gene
  • The HLA-DQB1*0201 variant in the HLA-DQB1 gene

You have HLA-DQ8.1 if you have the following variants:

  • The HLA-DQA1*0301 variant in the HLA-DQA1 gene
  • The HLA-DQB1*0302 variant in the HLA-DQB1 gene

Don’t panic if you have one of these variants. It’s important to stress that up to 40% of the general population has these variants. However, only about 1% go on to develop celiac disease. This indicates that HLA-DQ2.5 and HLA-DQ8.1 variants may be necessary but not sufficient for disease development [80, 79, 81].

Because of this, the primary value of genetic testing is to rule out celiac disease/gluten intolerance. If you are among the 60% of people who do not carry either of these variants, you are unly (>95%) to be at risk. That means that you can avoid unnecessary invasive test procedures, such as blood punctures, duodenal biopsies, etc. [81].

Apart from celiac disease, studies suggest that having either HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 is associated with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, with a higher risk for people who carry both variants [82, 83].


Myosin IXb (MYO9B) is a protein that helps maintain the intestinal barrier. a study in 1.6k Europeans, these MYO9B variants have been associated with increased intestinal permeability [84]:

  • rs1545620
  • rs1457092
  • rs2279003
  • rs2305764

Three of these variants have also been associated with IBD: rs1545620, rs1457092, and rs2305764, a meta-analysis of 10 studies with 8.9k cases, and 9.4k controls [85].

The rs1545620 and rs2305764 variants have been associated with celiac disease in multiple studies [86, 87, 88, 89]. However, there is also a study that failed to find an association between MYO9B and celiac disease [90].

rs2279003 and rs2305764 have also been linked with type 1 diabetes, while rs1457092 was associated with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis [91, 88].


NOD2 (also known as CARD15) functions as an “intestinal gatekeeper.” This protein recognizes bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and activates the immune system. It also helps shape our gut microbiota [92].

one study that involved people with Crohn’s disease, their relatives, and healthy controls, these NOD2/CARD15 variants were more often found in people with Crohn’s disease and their relatives [93]:

  • R702W (rs2066844)
  • G908R (rs2066845)
  • 3020insC (either rs2066847 or rs5743293)

The same study showed that in healthy relatives of Crohn’s disease patients, 40% of those with the 3020insC and 75% of those with both 3020insC and R702W had increased intestinal permeability [93].

3020insC (either rs2066847 or rs5743293) was also associated with increased permeability in another study with Crohn’s disease patients [94].


Janus kinase-2 (JAK2) promotes the growth and division of cells, in response to hormones and cytokines (interferon, erythropoietin, leptin, and growth hormone) [95].

IBD patients carrying the JAK2 rs10758669 (C) variant more often had increased intestinal permeability, a study in 464 Crohn’s disease patients, 292 ulcerative colitis patients, and 508 controls [96].


HP is the haptoglobin gene. Haptoglobin binds free hemoglobin in the blood and prevents it from causing oxidative stress and tissue damage. It comes in 2 common variants: Hp1 and Hp2.

It was discovered that prehaptoglobin-2, a precursor of the Hp2 variant, is actually zonulin [97, 98].

Therefore, people with Hp2 variants may have an increased risk of immune and inflammatory disorders due to higher zonulin and increased intestinal permeability [97].


MAGI2, MAGI3, and PARD3 are tight junction proteins.

IBD has been associated with rs6962966 in MAGI2 and rs1343126 in MAGI3 [99].

rs10763976 in PARD3 and rs6962966 in MAGI2 have been associated with both celiac disease and ulcerative colitis [100].


AHR (aryl hydrocarbon receptor) is a protein that activates detoxification enzymes in response to pollutants and cancer-causing agents. It also plays an important role in activating the immune system [101, 102].

A study suggests that AHR rs7796976 (G) may increase the risk of disturbed intestinal permeability in Crohn’s disease patients. Smoking can exacerbate this effect [103].

Further Reading

  • What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? + Causes & Symptoms


8 Supplements to Repair a Leaky Gut – Amy Myers MD –

Improving Leaky Gut: Diet, Supplements & How to Heal

May 30th, 2019 • Reading time: 3 minutes

Print • Free eBook: 35 Gut Recovery Recipes

Have you been suffering from a gluten intolerance, leaky gut, candida overgrowth, parasites, or something similar? Are you trying to repair the havoc wreaked on your gut?

While the first step in this healing process is unquestionably to change your dietary habits in order to stop any further damage to your gut, taking the following eight supplements can be very beneficial in aiding in and speeding up the recovery process of healing of a leaky gut.

1. Probiotics

Our gut is full of “good”and friendly bacteria that help us properly break down and digest our food. They help keep our gut in check and prevent ‘bad’ bacteria from overgrowth.

Unfortunately, these friendly bacteria can be depleted and disrupted by taking antibiotics, steroids, acid-blocking medications, eating a poor diet, and many other factors.

Taking a highly concentrated dose (25-100 billion units a day) of probiotics on a daily basis can help you regain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

2. L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is fundamental to the well-being of the digestive and immune systems. Glutamine is great for repairing damage to the gut, helping the gut lining to regrow and repair, undoing the damage caused by leaky gut, and reducing sugar cravings. I recommend 3-5 grams a day.

3. Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are plant or microbial-based supplements that support the breakdown, absorption, and utilization of macronutrients. Taken with meals, they work with the body’s own reduced supply of enzymes to achieve maximum digestion and support intestinal repair mechanisms.

4. Betaine Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)

Betaine hydrochloride (HCL) promotes optimal gastric acidity for support of protein digestion and absorption of minerals and other nutrients such as vitamin B12. There is simple at home test you can do to see if you have low stomach acid and are in need of HCL replacement.

Begin to eat a meal and ⅓ of the way into your meal take 650 mg of HCL and then finish your meal. If you experience heartburn, you have sufficient levels of HCL. If you do not experience any burning sensation in your upper abdomen, then you ly would benefit from HCL at each meal.

Find out if you have a leaky gut with this free quiz!

5. Slippery Elm

It might have kind of a strange name, but slippery elm has been used as an effective gut healer for centuries in the United States.

This supplement both contains mucilage and stimulates nerve endings in the body’s intestinal tract to increase natural mucus secretion, which is an instrumental part of the stomach’s protective lining and helps combat ulcers and excessive acidity in the digestive system. It also contains important antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel symptoms.

6. Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

DGL is an herb that has been used for over 3,000 years in the treatment of digestive issues including ulcers and indigestion. It’s made from whole licorice, but the manufacturing process includes the removal of glycyrrhizin, which can cause an elevation in blood pressure. DGL supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum.

7. Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root is a multipurpose supplement that can be used for respiratory or digestive relief. slippery elm, it contains a high mucilage content. It eases the inflammation in the stomach lining, heals ulcers, and treats both diarrhea and constipation by creating a protective lining on the digestive tract.

8. Caprylic Acid and/or Candisol

Caprylic acid, also known as octanoic acid, is a naturally occurring fatty acid that comes from coconut oil. Calcium and magnesium caprylates act as buffers, and may also help slow the dispersion and release of caprylic acid to support its activity throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

Caprylic acid is known for it’s antiviral and antifungal activity. Candisol contains a combination of plant-based enzymes that break down the cell walls of Candida.

For those who feel that you may be suffering from Candida or yeast overgrowth, these are safe, effective, and natural ways to treat Candida.

I frequently get asked how long it will take to heal a leaky gut. That of course varies from person to person and depends on how the gut became leaky in the first place. Typically, I find that when one follows my 4R Program for healing a leaky gut and adds in the above supplements, it should be about a three-month process.


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

Improving Leaky Gut: Diet, Supplements & How to Heal

Mix bone broth into your smoothie. Unsplash/Joanna Kosinska

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 ( 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.

Bone Broth

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 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.

Digestive Enzymes

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 vitamin B12 and magnesium.

Conversely, digestive enzymes help your body break down food properly and fully. This, in turn, lessens the lihood 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 Follow him on @DRJoshAxe.

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12 Best Supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome

Improving Leaky Gut: Diet, Supplements & How to Heal

Poor gut health has become increasingly common across the globe. Due to additives, genetically-modified crops, the use of pesticides, and consuming animals treated with hormones, anyone consuming a Standard American Diet (SAD) has a good chance of developing leaky gut syndrome.

As explained in a Harvard publication, “We all have some degree of leaky gut, as this barrier is not completely impenetrable (and isn’t supposed to be!)” When leaky gut situations become worse, a hoard of pain and discomfort can happen not only to your body, but in your everyday life.

So, how do we care for such an inevitable pain in the gut? With proper supplementation. Using all-natural and organic supplements may help balance out the bacteria floating about in your system. In turn, this may help alleviate symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.

While we’re going to still give you a brief overview of Leaky Gut Syndrome, please check out our in-depth look at what causes Leaky Gut Syndrome and how to heal leaky gut fast. Let’s take a look at 12 of the most effective supplements for leaky gut syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Before attempting to treat a condition, you should probably know a thing or two about it. Leaky gut syndrome transpires when undigested proteins enter into the bloodstream.

These proteins include:

  • Gluten
  • Toxins
  • Microbes
  • Candida

Also described as “intestinal permeability,” leaky gut syndrome rears its ugly head when the gateway that lives between the bloodstream and intestinal wall becomes damaged. This creates access for the aforementioned undigested proteins to reach the clean, oxygenated bloodstream.

Overtime, inflammations will spark, causing many conditions such as:

There are many symptoms of leaky gut syndrome to look out for. If you have one or multiple of the following issues, you may want to consult a gastroenterologist to test for leaky gut syndrome.

Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include:

  • Arthritis and Joint Pain
  • Brain Fog
  • Chronic Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Consistent Gas and Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Increased Cases of Cold and Flu
  • Mood Swings and Bouts of Depression
  • Skin Breakouts
  • Sugar Cravings

While many are skeptical about doctor trips, there are some things you can do at home to help your leaky gut syndrome. For one, you can change your diet and incorporate more yellow and orange (anti-inflammatory) foods. However, an even easier lifestyle change is by taking supplements.

Here are the 12 best supplements for leaky gut syndrome.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has long been heralded by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as the “Plant of Immortality.”  That’s because this plant goes a long way in repairing damage caused within the body.

Gel inside the aloe plant leaves can help fix the lining between the bloodstream and intestinal wall that is damaged by these undigested proteins.

By creating a stronger lining, it will be harder for toxins to permeate into the bloodstream. Doing this also slows down inflammations from forming. This can help deter autoimmune diseases, leaky gut syndrome, and even cancerous cell growth.

Aloe can be taken in capsule form. However, many health food stores also sell aloe vera juice. Lastly, you can also buy a plant. Just rip off the leaves and squeeze out the goop. Eat it or throw it into some water!

Caprylic Acid

One of the three primary fatty acids found in coconut oil, caprylic acid has strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Caprylic acid oil can be added to food or taken as a pill. By doing so, it helps regulate many essential functions in both your reproductive and digestive organs.

In combating leaky gut syndrome, caprylic acid is efficient in destroying bad yeast that can live and overgrow within your intestines. It’s most common nemesis? Candida. By ridding the gut lining of this harmful yeast, caprylic acid lays the groundwork for eliminating leaky gut syndrome.

While effective, caprylic acid works best in unison with other supplements, such as probiotics. As caprylic acid is busy killing off bad bacteria, you need good bacteria to get in there and set up shop!

Collagen Root

Collagen is the power behind bone broth, which is one of the most effective remedies for leaky gut syndrome.

Within collagen root lies gelatin, the compound responsible for giving our bones, tendons, and cartilage their strength and structure. However, collagen also has strong repairing abilities. Why do you think people get collagen implants in their faces? It helps rejuvenate cells and give structure to body parts.

One important part collagen gives structure to? Damaged intestine walls. Gelatin helps facilitate the growth of gastric juices. In turn, these juices improve the health of your gut’s mucosal lining.

Additionally, collagen root contains two important amino acids in proline and glycine. Together they act as building blocks to repair the intestinal lining as well.


Taking two digestive enzymes prior to eating as well as following a meal helps keep the stomach a well-oiled machine. Naturally occurring enzymes play a pivotal role in so many functions throughout the body, including the digestion process. Taking a supplement of enzymes can help break down:

  • Animal Fats/Dairy
  • Complex Sugars
  • Complex Starches
  • Gluten
  • Other Enzymes
  • Proteins

You can get individual enzymes or supplements with specific formulas. Read the label and keep an eye out for products containing the following enzymes to help digest the following foods:

  • Amylase – Starches
  • Lactase – Dairy
  • Lipase – Fats
  • Protease – Proteins such as Gluten


Fiber supplements are one of the most common on pharmacy and grocery store shelves. Truth of the matter is the SAD doesn’t contain much fiber. We tend to eat a lot of animal fats that make us full and then rely on our bodies to do all the work. This causes leaky gut syndrome. Help aid all that fat, protein, and toxin your system by taking fiber supplements.

Another perk of fiber is that it acts as prebiotics for the probiotics in your system. Indigestible fibers remain in your gut. However, they don’t pass into the bloodstream the toxins that cause leaky gut syndrome. Instead, the good bacteria in your system feasts on the fiber, growing stronger and improving your gut health.


Another amino acid to make the list, L-glutamine is energy for your stomach cells. These cells depend on this fatty acid to give them the strength necessary to maintain the integrity of the gut lining. Also, they use glutamine to help them in repairing damage done inside the intestines.

It’s easy to have low glutamine levels because stress can lower them. With stress comes the hormone, cortisol. As cortisol levels rise, they start to deplete glutamine production. In turn, you are more susceptible to leaky gut syndrome.

Licorice Root

Twizzlers aren’t healthy, but licorice root is. Licorice root is effective in maintaining homeostasis for your hormones. This is important, because producing an adequate amount of hormones ensures that cortisol won’t overtake the system. Therefore, licorice root fights off leaky gut syndrome.

It also helps with symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. Due to compounds within licorice root fighting off cortisol, you are less ly to suffer from adrenal fatigue.

When supplementing with licorice root it may cause hypertension. That’s because in its purest form, licorice root contains glycyrrhizin. To get licorice root without glycyrrhizin, make sure the package says either deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL.

Marshmallow Root

This fluffy plant is far healthier than the candy that took its namesake (although it is used in confections). The root has been used for over 3,000 years in TCM. That’s because of marshmallow root’s natural mucilage.

This root secretes a viscous liquid that moistens the mucous membranes of respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts. The gooey texture of marshmallow root also works as a coating for the stomach lining.

In the coating lives flavenoids that starve inflammations, lowering your chances of leaky gut syndrome. Marshmallow root absorbs toxins. Therefore, it might be counteractive to any medications you are taking.


Within our gut lies thousands of bugs, parasites, yeasts, bacteria, enzymes, and proteins. Together they make up our microbiome. As the SAD takes it toll on our gut health, the good bacteria (probiotics) in our gut become comprised.

Consequently, bad bacteria will win the gut war and start to expand its reach. This will undoubtedly cause leaky gut syndrome.

Taking a high-quality probiotics supplement will go a long way in balancing out the bad bacteria in your gut with the good.

Some strains of probiotics you should look for in your supplement include:

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus brevis
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Saccharomyces boulardii


This unique supplement is actually a crystalline pigment found in plants. It has a yellowish color, which if you remember back means that it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Quercetin helps boost the immune system while simultaneously reducing allergic responses (such as gluten sparking up a case of leaky gut syndrome). It does this by acting as an antihistamine. This pigment stabilizes cells that release histamine in the body. Therefore, quercetin stops inflammations that cause painful leaky gut syndrome symptoms to pop up.


Perhaps the strongest anti-inflammatory supplement, this root makes for a delicious meal and a strong gut.

Due to its unique compound, curcumin, turmeric helps relax muscles in the intestines. This allows for food to push through without causing any damage to the wall lining.

Additionally, turmeric aids in colon health as it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut. That’s because curcumin causes homeostasis between gut flora and immune response.  It does this by encouraging the glands on the surface of the colon to regenerate in the presence of leaky gut syndrome.

Lastly, curcumin also stops enzymes that cause stomach pain. Turmeric accomplishes this by facilitating the secretion of stomach mucous. This mucous acts as a coat of armor against harmful gastric acid.

Slippery Elm

This little known supplement is a rare gem in alleviating symptoms of leaky gut syndrome, as well as IBS. marshmallow root, slippery elm has mucilage. This coats the intestines, making them less open to damage.

Additionally, slippery elm has antioxidants that can also help fight off many of the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome including increased bouts of cold and flu.

Lastly, slippery elm is prebiotics for your probiotics. Probiotics in your gut consume the compounds present in slippery elm, creating a happier and healthier microbiome.


Supplements for Leaky Gut & IBS

Improving Leaky Gut: Diet, Supplements & How to Heal

If you have digestive problems IBS, leaky gut, or any of the hundreds of other issues that occur in your stomach, intestines, gallbladder, liver, you want to pay special attention to what you eat and the probiotics you get. These supplements for gut healing can change your life!

Our digestive system is home to more probiotic bacteria than there are people on the planet. Most of these probiotics have benefits for our health. Some produce vitamins, while others help digest our food. Some help balance our hormones, and can be especially helpful for women at ‘that time of the month.’

Some of them can be very beneficial in one location but can be deadly in others. E Coli is a perfect example of this. In our large intestine, E Coli helps breakdown complex starches. But, if they get into our stomach or upper part of our small intestine, it can cause us to be very sick.

As we learn more about our gut health, we can pay attention to the different types of food we eat, how it makes us feel, and what kind of supplements will help keep our gut naturally healthy.

Why Your Gut is So Important

Most people don't think about what's going on in our stomach unless something goes wrong. Sitting below our heart and lungs is a complex and massive system of muscles, mucous tissue, fibrous tissue, and blood vessels whose whole purpose is to transform the food we eat into individual molecules that support the rest of our body.

In ancient times, people equated a gut to a furnace. Using the Breath of Life, our gut fans the fires of digestion to produce the living energy. The Chinese called it Qi, the Greeks called it Humors, and Ayurveda medicine calls it Prana.

And if you think about it, half of our torso, the very core of our body, is devoted to our digestive system. Everything from our hips to halfway into our chest has the sole purpose of transforming food into components to build the rest of our body. It's that important to our very survival.

When you eat a diet that irritates the gut, you raise your levels of inflammation from the esophagus to the colon. Inflammation can cause:

  • Nausea and butterflies
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers
  • Leaky Gut
  • Pain
  • Bloating
  • IBS
  • GERD
  • Dysbiosis/Dysbacteriosis (Imbalance of Healthy vs. Unhealthy Gut Bacteria)
  • Cancer
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Taking Care of Our Digestive System Makes Us Feel Good

When we take care of our digestive system, we make sure the probiotics that break down the various starches and molecules continue to remain balanced and efficient. We can make sure there are proper acids in our stomach that is neither too much nor too little to break down the food.

We can make sure that the mucous membranes and the cilia that absorb nutrients remain healthy and active. We can make sure our immune system keeps on top of any pathogens and is not blocked or hindered or confused by chemicals or mystery components.

When your gut is healthy, you should not feel anything. Your digestive system should be quiet, stress-free, and functioning beneath your notice. So, what does make this system go out-of-whack?

  • Poor Diet Choices (processed foods, excess sugars, preservatives, etc.)
  • Medication – especially antibiotics and diuretics
  • Stress
  • Lack of Exercise

When something goes wrong, you know you need to start paying attention to what goes into it. When we listen to our bodies and understand that pain, discomfort, gurgling, gas, and bloating are just signs of distress, we can make the changes that improve our health and well-being.

Supplements For Leaky Gut

After food, supplements are probably the best thing you can do to increase healing in your gut. Fortunately, many of these supplements can be taken as standardized and certified supplements or as food. We recommend finding a supplement that has a good reputation, certification, and backing from experienced professionals.


This typical Indian spice is gaining a reputation in the medical field for helping to improve our health for just about everything tested. Ayurveda medicine uses turmeric to enhance healthy digestion. It’s an extremely bright-colored root vegetable often dried up and ground to use as a cooking spice. This is the primary coloring agent when you eat curry.

Several studies show it may be able to help with gut inflammation and permeability issues. The main healing property comes from curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory compound. The Arthritis Foundation recommends 400 to 600 mg of turmeric up to three times per day to relieve inflammation.

Turmeric can help reduce your PMS symptoms when taken regularly. In one great study, participants experienced nearly half of their pain, irritation, and bloating when taking turmeric.

You do want to be careful and work your way up if you're taking turmeric on its own. Noted in different studies, when people suddenly start a turmeric supplement, it can irritate the stomach. However, when taken with other foods and supplements, and starting slowly, this irritation can be eliminated.

Citrus Extracts

Many of the oils and flavonoids within citrus help promote healing. The flavonoids limonene and alpha-pinene found in citrus peels help protect the fruit against various pathogens. In one particular study, alpha-pinene killed 100% of Candida albicans yeast in 60 minutes within a test tube.

In another study, limonene helped promote healing of the gut lining by introducing new blood vessel formation and encouraging the vascular endothelial growth factor. It also helped preserve the mucous membranes of the digestive tract.

Many people notice their digestive system works a bit better drinking lemon water, and it’s one of the reasons why many holistic practitioners suggest drinking lemon water upon waking up.

If you have something GERD or acid reflux, you may think that this will only irritate your system. However, studies show citrus extract calms the digestive system and helps in healing1. Some studies show that it helps destroy the Helicobacter pylori bacteria that causes ulcers, can ease heartburn and GERD, lower inflammation, and may even help dissolve gallstones.

 Choline & Other B Vitamins

Choline and its cousin acetylcholine are particularly crucial in our brains to help improve memory, focus, and speed of thinking. But, it's also equally essential in our gut, and through our gut, our heart – especially since acetylcholine can be produced in the gut!

Homocysteine promotes inflammation, linking it to leaky gut, but choline, in conjunction with folate, helps convert the amino acid homocysteine to methionine. Choline helps produce fats that increase the structural integrity of cell membranes and reduces inflammation. In our intestines, it helps improve our resistance to leaky gut and intestinal permeability.

Being deficient in choline may lead to liver and muscle damage. With the number of fine muscles that help control peristalsis, your gut is usually one of the first places that this muscle damage takes place.

Seagrass & Seaweeds

Seagrasses and seaweeds are pound-for-pound some of the most nutrient-dense foods on our planet. They contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and are extremely high amount of antioxidants.

More so than that, it helps provide fiber and polysaccharides that improve your digestion and promote gut health. The fibers that support healthy digestion are approximately 50% of the dry weight of seaweed, several times more than most fruits and vegetables. Most of these fibers end up being food sources for the healthy bacteria in your gut, particularly in your large intestine.

The sulfated polysaccharides found in seaweed help promote the growth of good gut bacteria. These polysaccharides help the production of short-chain fatty acids which nourish the cell lining of your gut and help promote good mucus production.

Not to mention that the increasing amount of fiber also can reduce the feeling of being hungry, which may help you lose weight.

 Green Tea

For a while now, green tea has been promoted as a tool for weight loss. But, it may work better at improving your digestive system, so you don't feel as hungry and you get more the food you do eat.

The little bit of caffeine within green tea helps stimulate peristalsis. It helps in the morning when your digestive system is waking up and you’re eating breakfast. Having a cup of green tea in the morning helps hydrate you and encourages things to move along in an orderly fashion.

But it's the catechins in green tea that help increase the activity of pepsin, a digestive enzyme. This enzyme breaks down proteins into smaller peptides that we can absorb easier. Many people have lower pepsin levels and don’t get as much our food.

Green tea also contains high amounts of epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG. This unique plant compound helps reduce inflammation and may help prevent heart and brain diseases. Helping to reduce the inflammation in the gut is vital for lowering secondary problems such as reflux, leaky gut, and poor absorption.


Watercress is a superfood that is not very popular in the US, but incredibly useful for our bodies. It contains a lot of digestive enzymes that help us digest food. It also helps stimulate the release of gastrin, bile, pepsin, and other digestive enzymes.

The peppery flavor of watercress is known in the herbal community to contain a lot of bitter elements. Bitters are known to stimulate digestion, and boosts the smooth muscles of the stomach to contract normally.

Watercress has also been shown in certain studies to help reduce the risk of colon cancer because it’s high in fiber. Many of these fibers also help balance the probiotics in our gut because they feed the healthy bacteria.


l-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps protect the mucous membranes of the esophagus and intestine. It also helps boost the cellular immune activity within the digestive system, which can help reduce illnesses.

Equally important, glutamine is another supplement that can help reduce inflammation of the digestive tract. People with IBS find l-glutamine to be very powerful with small amounts of supplementation. This is important for people who have cancer or going through chemotherapy because the chemotherapy severely depletes the l-glutamine in our bodies.


Quercetin helps in two separate ways. First, some research suggests that it's a potent anti-inflammatory. Other research shows that it may be able to address leaky gut syndrome directly and help the body repair itself.

Inflammation is one of the first signs that there’s a problem with the gut not being able to contain its contents, letting some of the molecules to enter the bloodstream. The body starts the inflammation of the digestive system to plug up the hole.

Quercetin helps reduce inflammation. By reducing the inflammation, the body can start to prepare the damage. Many people say they feel better almost immediately after starting to take Quercetin. Unfortunately, science hasn’t explored this supplement yet in the treatment of leaky gut.


Your gut is the gateway to the rest of your body. Taking care of it should be one of your top health priorities.

By following some of the food and supplement advice in this article, you’ll give your body the chance to absorb more nutrients and feel better!


1: Willette RC, Barrow L, Doster R, Wilkins J, Wilkins JS, Heggers JP. Purified d-limonene: an effective agent for the relief of occasional symptoms of heartburn. Proprietary study. WRC Laboratories, Inc. Galveston, TX.

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