What to do about leaky gut.

Updated: Jan 27

Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It's when the cells lining our intestines (gut) separate a bit from each other. They're supposed to be nice and tightly joined to the cell beside it. This is to allow certain things into our bodies (like nutrients), and the nice tight junctions keep other things out.

When the tight junctions between intestinal cells weaken, it can cause the gut to be more permeable - leakier - than normal. When this happens, it allows things into our bodies that should not get in; things like large pieces of protein, toxins, or even bacteria and waste.

When substances that shouldn't be there get into our bloodstream through the "leaks" in our gut, our immune system kicks in. The lymphoid tissue surrounding the intestinal lining is home to B-Cells (immune cells).

These leaked bits mimic a food allergy or "foreign invader", and our body reacts accordingly. It mounts a response to try to attack the invaders, and this causes inflammation.

Leaky gut is associated with a number of issues including food allergies, celiac disease, autoimmune diseases (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hashimoto's, asthma, type 1 diabetes, acne, eczema), joint pain, and neurological problems (e.g., multiple sclerosis).

Some research shows that leaky gut might contribute to or worsen these conditions. And according to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, those with autoimmune who were tested showed positive for leaky gut and/or bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.

While some of our gut permeability may have a genetic factor, there are lifestyle habits that contribute as well.

Too much sugar or alcohol, and not enough fibre can make things worse. Even certain compounds in foods (e.g., gluten, lectins, casein, fructose) and food additives (e.g., MSG) can weaken tight junctions.

So, what should we eat, and ditch, for optimal gut health?

Avoid or reduce these

There are certain foods that irritate the gut or can cause those loosened junctions to get even looser.

Some of these include:

  • Foods that you're allergic to, or have sensitivities/intolerance

  • Foods with added sugar

  • Foods containing MSG

  • Foods with sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol)

  • Gluten-containing grains (e.g., wheat, rye)

  • High-lectin foods (e.g., grains, legumes)

  • Nightshades (e.g., eggplant, peppers, tomato)

  • Dairy (which contains casein & lactose)

  • Excessive alcohol

It's a good idea to reduce these foods and if leaky gut is a confirmed issue for you, avoid them until the leaky gut has been addressed.

Eat more of these

There are also a bunch of foods that support gut health, including the intestinal cells themselves, as well as our friendly gut microbes. Many of these also reduce inflammation.

Things like:

  • Probiotic-rich fermented foods (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchi)

  • Prebiotic fibre-rich foods which help our gut microbes produce butyrate (e.g., leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds)

  • Glutamine-rich foods (e.g., bone broth, meat)

  • Zinc-rich foods (e.g., shellfish, organ meats, and pumpkin seeds)

  • Quercetin-rich foods (e.g., citrus, apples, onions)

  • Curcumin-rich turmeric

  • Indole-rich foods (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens)

These are all nutritious foods that can help with gut health and overall health.

It’s not just what you eat that can affect your gut. Other lifestyle habits can help too.


  • Eating slower and chewing better to help break down food better

  • Eating when hungry, and stopping when satisfied

  • Going to the bathroom when you need to (don't hold it for longer than necessary)

  • Getting more high-quality sleep

  • Better stress management

All of these are great healthy habits to get into, gut problems or not.


  • To help keep our guts (and our bodies) in optimal condition, there are a lot of foods we should eat (and lots we should reduce).

  • Sticking with nutrient-dense unprocessed foods is always a good plan, whether you have gut issues, other concerns, or feel completely healthy.

  • And, don’t forget the importance of a healthy lifestyle like good eating habits, sleep, and stress management.

  • Which of these foods have you added or reduced? Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me a personal email to vanessa@bondwithhealth.com






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DISCLAIMER: Please read the following disclaimer carefully. Vanessa Bond is not a doctor and does not diagnose or treat disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice or recommendations of your primary health care provider and is not intended as medical advice. The information is intended as a complement to existing therapy - not as a substitute. The focus is to educate on how to make better decisions in order to build and maintain better nutritional balance. She and this web site encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.


© 2023 by Vanessa Bond, Bond With Health Inc.