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37 Ways To Heal Your Leaky Gut

Are you confused about how to fix your leaky gut? And want to know EVERY good idea you can try to feel better? Well, then here is the definitive list of the 37 best ideas to heal leaky gut syndrome. All in one place!

Last Updated: Mar 11, 2022

37 ways to heal leaky gut

Finally, all my best ideas for healing leaky gut syndrome in one place

The #1 thing I hear people with leaky gut ask for, is an all-in-one list of simple ways they can heal their gut fast.

And I get it.

After all, when I suffered from leaky gut I found myself drowning in a sea of 100s of different research papers, reports and books.  Jumping from one report to the next was time consuming and trying to tie it all together took months.

Well, that’s why I created this list of the best ideas for healing leaky gut.

The ideas on this page have the potential to get you feeling so much better in just days (not months), and they can save you 100s of hours of research.

But admittedly, there are a LOT of ideas listed below.  And I know life is busy.  So I don’t expect you to read through the full list right now or start implementing all the ideas today.

Instead, what you should do today is…

  1. Just focus on the first 10 ideas for now.  I have listed them below in order from most important to least.
  2. Read the summary I wrote about this post.  It contains my very best ideas and you can download the summary ebook here

What are the top 7 ideas for healing leaky gut?

Discover the very best ideas for leaky gut in my summary ebook, including the #1 way to feel better in just 2-3 days!

Download Ebook

Jump to your favorite idea…

1) Stop eating wheat / gluten (this is the #1 way to cure leaky gut)

2) Do a 48-72 hour bone broth fast this weekend or try some collagen protein

3) Avoid ALL grains and legumes for the next month

4) Consider a megadose of L-Glutamine for 8 days and then 10g/day dose

5) Ditch all sugars & dairy – except for some gut-friendly dairy

6) Take 1-2 broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplements with each meal

7) Eat my clean leaky gut diet of vegetables, fish, meats, nuts & good fats

8) Sleep 8-9 hours every night no matter what

9) Abstain from all alcohol for 30 days and say goodbye to beer forever

10) Take a probiotic supplement daily

11) Speak to your doctor about NSAIDs, antibiotics, antacids & other drugs

12) If you have candida overgrowth, focus on this first

13) Channel your inner Dalai Lama and cut work stress out of your life

14) Replace your morning cup o Joe with some herbal teas

15) Pay the premium and eat organic veg, grass-fed meats and wild caught fish

16) Do breathing exercises before and after each meal

17) Specialize in cooking just 7 simple paleo-ish meals when starting out

18) Chew each bite of food 20 times, like Gandhi

19) Get your German-Korean freak on and feast on fermented vegetables

20) Throw out all the processed vegetable oils in your cupboard

21) If bored, only eat the tastiest gut-friendly meals

22) Ignore the conventional advice and devour coconut products

23) Cut all the borderline foods from your diet, especially if you have AI issues

24) Eat prebiotic foods to fuel the good bacteria in your gut

25) Consider tests for your microbiome, food intolerances, parasites etc

26) If a functional doctor diagnoses, fight conditions related to leaky gut

27) Try a green powder drink daily

28) Consider eating smaller meals and matching food groups better

29) Avoid eating foods that are processed or filled with preservatives

30) Look into other supplements like zinc, licorice root & slippery elm

31) Pop a high quality multivitamin every day, if needed

32) Add high quality fish oil & vitamin D to your daily supplement regimen

33) Avoid excessive cardio or heavy weight lifting – leave that for Arny!

34) Use a BRITA jug or other filtering device for your water

35) Consider these other ways to eliminate toxins from your life

36) After 12 weeks, reintroduce foods to see what your gut likes and doesn’t

37) Develop a long term eating plan & lifestyle to keep leaky gut away

IDEA #1

Stop eating wheat / gluten (this is the #1 way to cure leaky gut)

For those of us with leaky gut syndrome, wheat (along with rye and barley)1 is public enemy number one! Nothing compares. And that’s because these 3 types of grains contain gluten.

Gluten is generally considered hard to digest, can pierce holes in our gut lining and thanks to gliadin it is also able to raise levels of zonulin, thereby increasing the size of the openings of our tight junctions2.

How Gluten Impacts Gut Health

Before you say “Woah, woah, slowdown egg head”, our ‘tight junctions’ are kind of like the gatekeepers of the openings in our gut lining. Think of them like the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones.

When you add the above 3 problems together, you can see just how much gluten can make your gut more permeable or ‘leaky’ – i.e. letting more things through. (Hello White Walkers!)

Which in turn means more toxins have the potential to slip through your gut lining and into your bloodstream, thus causing inflammation and a raised immune response3.

So even though I used to love spending my Sunday evenings gorging on a large Margarita pizza followed up by a series of different colored donuts, these days I would rather eat the cardboard box the pizza comes in!

I’m pretty sure my gut would digest it better.

Here’s a chart of the most popular foods that contain wheat:

Popular Gluten Foods

You’ll hopefully join me in a moment of sadness as we see some of the all time tastiest foods included above, like bread, cereal, pasta, pizza, cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, beer etc.

(Aka what I thought the entire food pyramid consisted of during college).

If you are Celiac or otherwise significantly gluten intolerant (which is becoming increasingly common in the general population), you should also try to avoid wheat-derivative products like couscous, durum, semolina etc and products containing trace amounts of gluten especially hidden as fillers, eg sauces, soups etc.

Dr Perlmutter has an extensive list of foods that contain gluten, including in small amounts.

I don’t want to sound like some kind of crazy new age hippy, but here’s my sincere advice…

Unlike a lot of the other ideas in this article, I genuinely believe this should be a permanent lifestyle change.

For example, whilst alcohol is something your gut can most likely take in moderation when you’re back to good health, I really don’t think gluten is for most of us.

Of course, everyone is different and you will find out pretty soon if you reintroduce it into your diet after 30-90 days.

I will note that currently I do consume some gluten. But it is usually as trace/small amounts. For example, occasionally I might eat some oats for breakfast that are not certified gluten free.

P.S. if you find it hard to ditch these types of foods completely, fear not. As there are some fantastic recipes to make a lot of these foods gut-friendly.

For example, checkout my gut-friendly, gluten-free pancakes recipe. Foodgasm incoming!

IDEA #2

Do a 48-72 hour bone broth fast this weekend or try some collagen protein

Whenever people email in asking “What’s the fastest way to heal my leaky gut?”, I always have one go-to answer.

Fast. For 2-3 days. Drink only bone broth. And bon appetit!

It’s not the answer people want me to give. Everyone after all wants an easy fix. And let’s be honest…fasting is not fun. Whilst for many, the sound of ‘bone broth’ is even less appetizing.

But guess what? Your gut will love it!

How bone broth helps leaky gut

Why Bone Broth Helps

Not only will the fast give your digestive system a much needed break, it will also ensure no more big food particles are making their way through your leaky gut and into your bloodstream.

That means inflammation can cool down and your immune system will also get a chance to regroup.

Meanwhile, the bone broth itself has a huge benefit for our gut, because the collagen in it (a type of protein) delivers a huge serving of the types of amino acids our GI tract feeds on in order to repair itself – eg glycine, proline and hydroxyproline4,5.

These amino acids work great together to mend the damaged cells lining the wall of our gut. Amazing!

So this weekend here’s what I recommend you do…

  1. Buy 2 pounds of beef bones (preferably grass fed), including some with meat/fat/marrow. Plus some ‘stock vegetables’, eg carrots, celery, leek leaves (this is my low FODMAP version of the traditional stock veg pack).
  2. Brown the bones off in a pot. Add the rinsed vegetables. Cover with water. Add salt, pepper and 3-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Bring to the boil. Let simmer for about 12 hours.
  3. Then once done, strain the broth and consume a cup of it every couple of hours over the next 2-3 days.

Bone broth recipe

I typically only fast for 48 hours. It is more than enough time to get all the benefits of the fast itself and the servings of broth.

Let me just wrap up by saying, please speak to your doctor before undertaking any fast or any other leaky gut syndrome treatment in general.

What if you don’t like the taste of bone broth?

Then try some flavorless collagen protein powder.

You see, here’s the cool thing for those of us that don’t want to be sipping on bone broth all the time…

…it turns out you can actually enjoy the secret ingredient in bone broth (which is collagen) in powder form. And most interestingly of all, recent studies are showing it can be much more effective than food – due to higher absorption rates of the amino acids in collagen6.

Why collagen protein (aka collagen peptides) may be even BETTER than bone broth

Brone Broth VS Collagen Peptides

The most absorbable & tasteless form of collagen is hydrolyzed collagen protein powder like this one (which is more commonly known as ‘collagen peptides’).

It has no beefy taste, is really easy to take any time of day, and best of all, since it is pure collagen, you can get a huge serving of helpful amino acids for intestinal support. Super convenient!

So try collagen peptides today and get ready to send your body all the collagen goodness of bone broth, but in a much easier and more absorbable way.

IDEA #3

Avoid ALL grains and legumes for the next month

Life without any grains or legumes whatsoever can be tough. Whenever you plan a meal that is just meat/fish and vegetables it can feel like something is missing.

But if you’re suffering from leaky gut and are really motivated to repair it fast, then leaving grains and legumes off the table, at least temporarily, is a no brainer. Especially GMO grains, which by design are the highest in anti-nutrients like lectins7,8.

Now, I will say, most grains & legumes don’t quite irritate the gut lining as bad as those with gluten (thanks gliadin!), but they are still loaded with anti-nutrients like lectins and phytates9,10, which your digestive system simply can’t necessarily handle when it is in already poor shape.

Here’s a list of popular grains and legumes to temporarily cut:

  • Rice (brown, wild, red), oats, corn
  • Beans, lentils, peas, peanuts

Make sure you avoid all the derivative products too, eg soy sauce (beans), eg hummus (peas) etc.

Then in 30-90 days time (whenever you are feeling better) you can consider adding them back in and seeing how you respond. My advice would be to add these back one at a time so you can see how you react to each specific type of grain or legume.

Here’s how to make this happen…

  1. During the 30 days without all grains and legumes, you should consider eating some quality starchy vegetables like sweet potato11. These do a great job of giving you that ‘content’ feeling you would normally get from eating grains and legumes.
  2. Then over the long term, if you decide to add them back in, just make sure you only eat fermented/sprouted grains12 and soaked legumes13.

IDEA #4

Consider a megadose of L-Glutamine for 8 days and then a 10g/day maintenance dose

First of all, it’s worth explaining that L-Glutamine is just an amino acid (a type of building block for the cells in our body). And in fact, it is the most abundant amino acid naturally found in our blood!14

But here’s the cool thing about it…

…you see, just like protein powder feeds your muscles so they can repair and grow stronger, L-Glutamine can fuel your gut lining15 so it too can repair damaged cells and come back healthier.

Why L-Glutamine can be so good for leaky gut

How L-Glutamine Helps

In fact, the cells lining your gut love L-Glutamine so much that they’re able to absorb it directly16, making supplementation very effective.

By feeding these cells the fuel they love, your body is able to produce more intestinal mucus17
and Secretary Immunoglobulin Type A (SIgA)18, as well as tighten up the openings in your gut lining themselves, thereby stopping things like large undigested food molecules and other toxins crossing the gut barrier and into your bloodstream (ie adios leaky gut syndrome).

When the gut barrier strengthens like this, the inflammation in your body starts to slow down since fewer and fewer toxins are hitting your bloodstream19.

Plus your immune system starts to enjoy some relief – and unsurprisingly it is able to strengthen20. And that’s when you really start to enjoy the benefits that come from L-Glutamine.

I often hear people say L-Glutamine doesn’t work for them

But the minute they mention the amount they are taking, I straight away know why.

You see, when it comes to leaky gut in order to get the positive effects from L-Glutamine you can’t simply take 1-2g a day. Instead, you may need to consider taking a high dosage and then a significant maintenance dosage.

Of course, it is worth saying that some peoples’ bodies just don’t agree with L-Glutamine. And so as with everything on this site, it is worth talking about to your doctor first.

How I megadose L-Glutamine powder

L-Glutamine Protocol

  1. Days 1-3 – I work up over the first 3 days from 10g to 30g. This gives the body time to get used to the L-Glutamine and should stave off any upset stomach effects. Simply mix the powder with water. Make sure you spread the dose throughout the day and take each serve on an empty stomach so that the L-Glutamine does not have to compete with other amino acids for uptake.
  2. Days 4-8 – take 30g each day. This is best done via 1 rounded teaspoon (approx 5g) every 1-2 hours.
  3. Days 9+ – take a maintenance dose of 10g a day. Split this into 2 serves, so you take one 5g serve when you wake up and the other later in the day whenever is convenient and you have an empty stomach.

Which L-Glutamine is best to take?

As you can see from the dosages required, it is best to buy L-Glutamine in powder form.

And ideally one that is highly absorbable (uses pure free form L-Glutamine), mixes easily, and has no additional ingredients that will compete with the amino acid for uptake and obviously comes with no nasty fillers, sweeteners etc.

It is not always easy to find one that ticks all those boxes, so my research team and I created this high quality pure L-Glutamine powder.

I think you’ll really love it.

In fact, I know you will, because it is the #1 supplement readers tell me made THE biggest difference for them.

IDEA #5

Ditch all sugars and dairy – except for some gut-friendly dairy

First I asked you to ransack your house and bin all the grains and legumes.

Now I’m asking you to find anything with sugar or dairy in it, and add that to the scrapheap as well! By the end of today you’ll probably have no food left in the house…

…But that’s alright.

In fact, the process of elimination is without doubt the most important step towards healing your leaky gut and feeling great again.

Say goodbye to sugar, in all forms

Not only will excessive sugar consumption fuel the growth of yeast / candida21, but also can also cause dysbiosis in your gut22.

Whilst refined white sugar found in popular foods/drinks like soft drink, ice cream, sauces etc is obviously bad, when you have leaky gut so are the more innocent sounding sugars like brown sugar, raw sugar etc.

Simply put, avoid all blatantly sugary products like sodas, sweets, desserts, etc, and also avoid the less obvious ones like sauces, ‘low fat’ products.

Limit all cow milk based dairy

So there are 2 reasons to consider avoiding this bad boy of gastrointestinal health.

For starters, cow’s milk comes packed with lactose. This is the milk sugar that the majority of us (approx 70% of the world) struggle to digest23. It is a high FODMAP ingredient too. So if you’re on a low FODMAP diet, it is out as well.

Secondly – and less importantly – normal cows milk also comes with another potentially troublesome sidekick…a protein called A1 Casein24. It often does not play well with our guts, especially in the early healing phases.

In response to both issues above – you can consider lactose free milk, but then you have the casein problem, or you can consider A2 Casein milk, but then you still have the lactose problem.

All a bit confusing I know. So my approach in the first 30 days of a gut healing diet is simply no cows milk dairy, eg milk, milk chocolate, ice cream, cheese etc.

Once you start feeling pretty good, consider trying gut-friendly dairy products

Here’s the ultimate list of gut-friendly dairy you can consider. But make sure to stick to organic dairy products (if you can).

Dairy Leaky Gut

The beautiful thing with the list above is most are lactose free or very low in lactose. For example, yogurt contains bacteria which eat up the lactose sugar during fermentation25. Or for example, grass fed butter is an end product with minimal inherent lactose.

Also many other above are naturally low in A1 casein.

To work out what is best for you, I recommend strongly working with a registered dietitian. They are magicians at helping us pinpoint the good from the bad.

For example, with my RDN we worked out I can tolerate goats cheese or buffalo mozzarella quite well. And also, a probiotic-rich organic unflavored yogurt works wonders for me as a dessert.

But everyone is different. And I implore you to first do 30 days completely dairy free, so you can then introduce one dairy product at a time and see how your body responds to it.

IDEA #6

Take 1-2 broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplements with each meal

From my experience, digestive enzymes are one of the best supplements out there for gut health26.

Not only are they helpful for turning the food we eat into absorbable (and thus useful) nutrients, but they’re also relatively inexpensive, which can make supplementation a bit of a no brainer.

Here’s how digestive enzymes can help

Firstly, they work alongside our body’s own natural enzymes to take the food we eat and break it down into individual nutrients that our body can then actually absorb27.

Example of nutrients in foods would be things like amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. All the fuel our body loves!

This role is super important for those of us with leaky gut, because our damaged gut lining is potentially not absorbing nutrients properly, and yet needs the nutrients to repair itself. i.e. digestive enzymes can help us get out of the vicious cycle.

Secondly, by helping us break down food better, digestive enzymes also ensure less large food molecules make their way through our gut. This is a big win since it means less irritation of the gut lining, as well as fewer large food molecules making their way through our gut barrier and into the bloodstream (which means less inflammation and less immune system issues).

You can find an in-depth explanation of all of this in my article on digestive enzymes and leaky gut.

In terms of taking digestive enzymes, here’s what I recommend…

  • Take 1-2 with each meal. I do this just before my meal.
  • If you are still having digestion issues, consider upping the dose to 2-3. You most likely will be fine with 1-2.
  • During the early stages of leaky gut recovery make sure you take them before any meal or snack, even a simple protein shake for example. The idea is to really give the digestive system a helping hand at every turn.

Most importantly, look for a digestive enzyme supplement that contains the best enzymes for supporting digestion of all food groups. Here’s the list:

Enzymes Leaky Gut

Since there are 100s of different digestive enzymes on the market I often get asked, which one is worth taking.

Well, as you might have read in my article on digestive enzymes it is really important to choose a digestive enzyme complex that ticks 3 boxes.

The 3 things to look for in a great digestive enzyme supplement

  1. It must have a broad range of different enzymes. That way it will help you digest multiple food groups, ie protein, carbs, fats28. I would always look for a product with over 10 different enzymes.
  2. It should ideally be plant based, so it can work throughout the wide pH range of your gut (eg surviving the low pH environment of your stomach29, as well as higher pH level of your intestine30) AND is strong enough to effectively break down your food.
  3. It should be dosed strongly across ALL enzymes in the formula, but especially the kings of enzymes, being protease, lipase, amylase and cellulase31.
  4. BONUS – it should be gluten free, dairy free and soy free32 – and most importantly, this should be independently verified by a 3rd party laboratory.

Which digestive enzyme is best to take?

Up until recently I struggled to find a specific product that met all 4 points. Unfortunately, the market is just saturated with weak, low quality, allergen-laced digestive enzymes.

So together with my research team at Essential Stacks we decided to create our own high quality digestive enzyme complex, that ticks all 4 points.

And of course it contains all the different enzymes listed in the image above.

As you can imagine this was a monumental challenge. It took months of research and product testing. But after working with our expert team of formulators and the most experienced enzyme manufacturer in the country, we finally got there!

If you’re interested you can learn more about our digestive enzyme supplement here on Amazon.

IDEA #7

Eat my clean leaky gut diet consisting of fish, meats, nuts, good fats & vegetables

I’ve never understood why people say the leaky gut diet is complicated. Out of the top 10 leading diets out there it’s probably the simplest.

To make it really clear for you, I’ll run through my favorite foods to eat. Importantly, I’ll distinguish the healthiest foods (blue and green) from the rest, so you also get an idea of what to prioritize.

Here’s what the shopping list looks like

Blue Foods - Eat Freely

And here’s how I recommend you tackle this diet…

  • For starters, grab my free leaky gut recovery guide to see my top 7 recipes. During my times of poor gut health I’ve simply rotated amongst these 7 meal ideas. They’re easy to cook, taste amazing and require very few ingredients.
  • Fish and meats are your new BFF. This is where the majority of the flavor in the leaky gut diet comes from. Take the advice below in idea #14 seriously, and try to buy high quality meat and fish as much as possible.
  • Focus on green and colorful vegetables. Obviously some of you will suffer from leaky gut syndrome so badly that even many vegetables out there will irritate your gut to no end. In which case simply eat what your body responds best to.
  • Some* starch is okay…in vegetable form that is. Depending on how you react try to eat some starchy vegetables like sweet potato, yam, yucca etc. I find the mouthfeel and way they fill me up to be most satisfying. And they really round of dishes made with the 2 food groups above. *Keep an eye on max serving size recommendations in the image above.
  • Everything else. Nuts, eggs, many nightshades (eg tomatoes etc), low sugar fruit (eg berries) etc can all have their place in your leaky gut diet too, but they’re not for everyone. And as I explain below in idea #22, some of you may really need to limit serving size significantly and test these to see if they make sense for you.

No matter how good your diet is though, I highly recommend you take 1-2 digestive enzyme capsules before each meal per point #7 above.

IDEA #8

Sleep 8-9 hours every night no matter what

If you’re anything like me, this idea at first seems nothing short of crazy. A pure fantasy in fact! After all, life is hectic and our commitments across family, work and social are extensive.

But it is perhaps one of the top 2-3 foundational lifestyle changes you need to make if you’re serious about solving your leaky gut, because nothing – and I mean nothing – can help your body repair faster than sleep. (Conversely, few things will cause leaky gut syndrome faster than sleep deprivation33).

That’s why I committed to sleeping a good 8 hours every night several years ago and still stick to it today, even when my schedule is overflowing.

How to sleep 8 hours a night (the easy way)

  • Firstly, you need to cut things from your life. This is the only way you can make time to get the sleep you need. I cut weekday social dinners out completely, cut my TV down to 20 minutes a day max, reduced my exercise sessions to tight 20 minute blocks (good for leaky gut too!), capped my reading time at 1 hour a day. There were a few other things too, but these big cuts were enough to boost my time available for sleep from 6-7 hours to 8-9 hours a day.
  • Get to sleep on time and stay asleep. That’s the only way to get a good quality 8-9 hours. To do this follow my sleep protocol. Simply turn off all electronics around 9pm (no computer, tablet, phone, TV etc). Limit liquids. Pop 200-400 mg magnesium citrate34. Eat a handful of fat, eg some walnuts. Meditate for 10-20 minutes using Headspace app. Read a relaxing book, especially fiction, until you fall asleep. This should get you to sleep and keep you there nicely. Of course you might want to add in sleep mask and ear plugs for noise.
  • Sleep is also built on what you do during the day. So each day I recommend you get some light exercise in, enjoy some sunlight or Vitamin D supplement35 and don’t drink too much caffeine36 (which shouldn’t be a problem if you’re following idea #13 below).
  • Finally you want to make sure you are sleeping fairly similar times each night, so you don’t disrupt your circadian rhythm too much. I try to keep a very tight 10:30pm to 7am schedule.

IDEA #9

Abstain from all alcohol for 30 days (ideally 90 days) and say goodbye to beer forever

Your gut is not a huge fan of alcohol. And that shouldn’t be a surprise given alcohol itself is the natural result of yeast overgrowth and sugar37!

I go through a detailed explanation here in my article on alcohol and leaky gut syndrome, where I explain how alcohol messes with your digestion (decreased secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes38), reduces your ability to control inflammation39 (decreased production of prostaglandin40), and it makes the openings in your gut lining larger (changes tight junction integrity and function41).

Oh yeah, and alcohol is fantastic at depleting your levels of mucosal-supporting zinc too42!

These effects are magnified if you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, which is so often the case when people go for after work or pre-dinner drinks.

So here’s my guide to alcohol and leaky gut

Abstain from all alcohol for 30 days – and 90 days if you can

When you are just getting started in your recovery to good gut health, I think it’s best to completely stop drinking for a month.

Given alcohol can be nearly as bad as grains for our gut lining’s integrity, it makes sense to include it in the list of NO’s during our elimination month.

My best advice for making this easy…

  • For the next 4 weeks consider avoiding any occasions where you’ll be tempted to have a drink. i.e. Take yourself out of the drinking environments and make this month of saying no as easy as possible. It’s just a month after all!
  • If you can’t or don’t want to avoid these situations, then make sure you have your reason for not drinking ready to go. As it can be a real pain to have to explain some long winded story about intestinal hyperpermeability to every single person who asks – and they do ask!
  • Use other state-changing techniques to replace alcohol’s role. You see, many of us like alcohol because of how it changes our emotional state. Whether its blowing off a hard week at work or wanting to relax on the weekend with friends, it is a state change we’re after. Thankfully you can get as good a change from exercise, meditation, breathing, yoga etc. (Kinda)

After 30-90 days experiment with adding relatively gut-friendly alcohol back in

Alcohol Leaky Gut

If you like beer, then try to find a gluten free beer

Sadly, normal beer should be a permanent no go for us leaky gutters. Seriously. It is literally the worst alcohol you can drink as it combines gluten and yeast and sugar all into one horrible package.

If you decide that the nice bitter taste of beer on a hot summer’s day is just too good to say adios to, then search out a gluten free beer.

Let me firstly wish you good luck in finding one that tastes good.

And secondly, let me remind us that gluten-free beers are still made from grains, still come packed with yeast and although not as bad as gluten-based beers, they sure as heck aren’t helping our guts stay in good health.

So my best advice is to just avoid ALL beer indefinitely.

Admittedly, I personally have a gluten-free beer a couple times during summer. But that’s just about it.

If you like spirits, then make sure you drink them heavily diluted

Spirits are not as bad as many think, especially if you drink them like I do – i.e. heavily diluted.

For example, I typically order a tall glass with 400ml soda water, a shot of vodka and a fresh wedge of lime. Plus minimal ice. That combination is so diluted you can barely taste the vodka. And that’s how you know you’ve nailed it.

Importantly, I never use pop/soda/soft drinks as a mixer due to the sugar content.

But if I get sick of mixing with soda water, then I will mix with something like kombucha43. This can be pleasantly delicious, especially if you get a little naughty and choose kombucha with natural flavoring in it!

If you like white wine, add ice cubes or water or seltzer

This ‘spritzer’ idea might seem sacrilegious to my French readers, but hey, it is an easy way for us to keep our total wine consumption limited, whilst still being able to enjoy a few glasses on a Saturday night.

The ideal amount of dilution would be 50%. So it is half wine, half non-sugar mixer (like water/ice).

Probably the #1 thing to look out for when choosing a white wine, is dry v sweet. The former contains much less sugar. That means sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio are your new BFFs.

I personally tend to limit my white wine consumption to the summer months, and so generally only drink red wine, which leads us to the next point…

If you like red wine, great…so do I

Like with white wine, the crucial thing here is to choose dry over sweet – so we cut down our sugar intake.

My favorite choices of red are thus pinot noir (for warmer weather) and a nice big shiraz (for winter). But other dry red wines include merlot and zinfandel.

What I perhaps like most about red wine is that it has a lot of ‘taste memory’, meaning it is relatively hard to over indulge.

And if you want to support your poor ol’ gut, get some probiotics

If you’ve ever drunk a little too much alcohol, then you’ve no doubt felt firsthand how it can cause havoc to the delicate balance of bacteria in our guts44 (and have us spending our day hungover on ye olde throne!).

So taking probiotics (good bacteria) can be a smart idea to keep things in better balance and more able to deal with those couple of glasses of pinot.

Now, if like me you can’t stomach eating sauerkraut45 every time you drink (like some crazy German at Oktoberfest!), then consider trying a probiotic supplement, which we’ll look at in the next point.

IDEA #10

Take a probiotic supplement daily

Unless you’re going around eating sauerkraut all day like some crazed German Popeye, your gut will be crying out for probiotics, aka good bacteria.

In fact, long term you’ll find probiotics are the #1 thing to get more of in order to help maintain good gut health46,47.

The reason probiotics work so well is something I dive deep into in my article on probiotics and leaky gut syndrome.

But one of the most interesting roles it can play is its ability to fight leaky gut by enhancing the production of tight junction proteins as mentioned in Frontiers In Immunology’s 2017 research paper on leaky gut.

In addition, the good bacteria (probiotics) can help to fight off bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth, so that your gut flora can start regaining a healthy balance48.

And best of all, continued use of probiotics can help ensure the ratio of good to bad bacteria stays in the healthy range, which means bad bacteria and excessive yeast may not return and cause leaky gut again. A bonus benefit is that a healthy gut flora will also aid digestion49.

When all 3 benefits are taken together you can see why probiotics are at the heart of any leaky gut recovery protocol.

My advice on taking probiotics for leaky gut is simple

  • Take a high strength probiotic supplement with 30-50 billion CFUs.
  • Make sure your probiotic contains multiple strains / species of bacteria (at least 10 different strains), so that you are feeding your gut a healthy balance of bacteria and not drowning it with just one type. Importantly, look for a probiotic containing my 7 favorite strains: L Plantarum50, L Rhamnosus51, L Acidophilus52, B Bifidum53, B Longum54, B Lactis55 and B Coagulans56.
  • Look for probiotics that include 100-300mg of prebiotics per serve, as they will support the probiotic, since prebiotics are like fuel for probiotics57. Also eat prebiotic-rich foods (see idea #23 below).

Probiotic Strains Leaky Gut

If you’re looking for a probiotic supplement that ticks all the boxes above, you can try Smart Probiotic – it is a next-generation probiotic-prebiotic supplement that my research team at Essential Stacks and I spent 3 months developing.

It is the exact probiotic formulation I’ve always been looking for.

And that’s because it is strong enough to meet our requirements (50 billion CFUs), has 11 different high quality strains (including my 7 favorite strains mentioned above), contains 2 premium prebiotics, and uses delayed release capsule technology to help the probiotics survive the journey.

This combination means you get your probiotics delivered to the place where they’re actually required (ie your gut). And this optimal delivery process makes all the difference.

You can learn more about Smart Probiotic here on Amazon.

IDEA #11

Speak to your doctor about NSAIDs, excessive antibiotics, antacids and any other unnecessary drugs

From Advil to ‘the pill’ to corticosteroids, there are so many drugs that can potentially contribute to leaky gut and/or gut flora imbalances58. Obviously, not all of these are entirely optional.

For example, when I had asthma attacks as a young child I couldn’t simply say “My hyperpermeable intestines and I are not interested in your corticosteroids Doc”.

(And it would have been pretty weird to hear a 6 year old say that as well!)

Obviously you should speak with your doctor about what is and isn’t necessary for you. And I’ll talk below about how to find a doctor that gets leaky gut better than most.

Wherever possible try to do as the drug-averse Europeans do and…

  • Cut down drug intake and rely on more natural remedies. For example, breathing exercises and meditation can work well to replace mild pain relievers.
  • Prevent the causes happening in the first place. This is the big one! So for example, NSAIDs are often taken during hangovers. Solution: don’t get drunk. Another example – headaches often flair up on days where you don’t have enough sleep, drink too little water and/or OD on caffeine. Solution: ah well, you get the point.
  • Take probiotics. Many drugs by design will strip your digestive system of bacteria, both good and bad, eg antibiotics59. So during and after use, consider trying a probiotic supplement, which can add more good bacteria to your gut. In particular, ask your doctor about S Boulardii, which is a probiotic yeast that can help our gut60, even when we are taking antibiotics.

Speaking from personal experience, I found that even seemingly ‘necessary’ drugs were no longer necessary (or at least could be reduced to much lower doses) if I addressed the deep root causes.

For example, when working on a new doctor-supervised asthma protocol several years ago, I found it possible to cut down my corticosteroids intake by 80% within 30 days by addressing leaky gut itself.

The funny thing is by following many of the ideas on this page you will naturally find your use of these drugs reduces, ie the vicious cycle stops. Gut happy!

WARNING: just to repeat…please consult your doctor and never stop taking any prescribed drugs or other drugs without doctor approval. Immediate cessation of drugs can cause all kinds of problems.

Struggling to find a doctor who understands leaky gut?

Then take a moment to checkout our directory of doctors who have written about leaky gut and are knowledgeable on how to fight it from start to finish.

Leaky Gut Doctors Directory

As with everything on this site, the directory is free to both readers and doctors. So there is no bias in recommendations or ‘sponsored’ doctors and whatnot!

IDEA #12

If you have candida overgrowth, focus on this first

Most people don’t realize it, but candida overgrowth can be one of the primary causes AND maintainers of leaky gut.

How candida can impact leaky gut (in plain English)

  1. First of all, it’s important to realize candida is a fungus, which is a type of yeast, and it is an opportunistic (and aggressive) pathogen61. In other words, when candida senses a weakness in you, e.g. those of us with an autoimmune disease or general poor gut health (us leaky gutters!), it starts going rogue. And growing like crazy.
  2. Candida starts to cause real problems when it grows and forms long hooks, that allows it to not only attach itself to your intestinal lining, but also start drilling and piercing holes through your intestinal wall…hello leaky gut!62 (Apologies if this is sounding like a Quentin Tarantino inspired gastrointestinal horror film)
  3. And we all know how it can go from there right, especially when the immune system is weak candida, along with toxic by-products (mycotoxins), then make their way into our bloodstream63 where they then proceed to wreak havoc on our poor detoxing organs, eg liver, and also send the autoimmune system into overdrive64.

And eventually they may even end up finding their way into our organs and tissue (skin, joints, nerves, muscles etc), which can lead to chronic conditions developing over time.

Plus, under this kind of constant attack the gut lining is never going to be able to heal. Instead it will remain hyper-permeable, i.e. leaky.

So for us leaky gutters, chronic candida overgrowth is thus something to take seriously and to watch out for.

How do you tackle candida overgrowth?

I’ll run through the protocol briefly below, but they say an image can tell a 1000 words, so the summary of it all…

Candida Protocol

1) Starve the candida of the foods it loves, especially sugar

Sugar is without doubt candida’s go-to fuel source. And just like we wouldn’t feed a deranged Popeye more spinach, we shouldn’t feed our candida spoonfuls of sugar.

Obviously you want to avoid eating the main culprits. i.e. simple sugars like soda drinks, fruit juices, sweets, desserts and even fruit.

But you also want to stop consuming all refined carbs (which quickly turn into sugar), processed foods, alcohol, ‘low-fat’ products (since they’re often high in sugar), condiments and any foods with yeast.

Meanwhile, if you can also stick to the leaky gut diet we’ve talked about above, you will give your gut the best chance of healing and thus fighting back against candida.

2) Kill the excess candida with a variety of tools

Since we only want to kill the overgrowth, and not all the candida (as we need a certain amount of candida to have a healthily functioning digestive system65), I like to follow a natural and gentle approach.

  • Coconut oil – the caprylic & lauric acids in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties that can poke holes in the wall of candida/yeast cells causing them to die off66. You can consume it orally (eg tablespoon in your morning shake) or topically (eg apply some to your skin where a candida-related flare up is, eg athlete’s foot). If you have signs of candida on your tongue/mouth (hello creamy or white patches!), try swishing 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes daily until it goes. But if you do this, make sure to spit out all of the coconut oil at the end and brush your teeth thoroughly. This ensures the toxins pulled into the coconut oil don’t make their way down into your leaky gut.
  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – is really handy as it has antifungal activity against yeast/candida cells67, so this can be worth adding to dishes or mixing in your drinks. Note: this is basically the ONLY type of vinegar or fermented food you should consume during a candida cleanse.
  • Garlic68, ginger, oregano leaf69 and turmeric/curcumin70 – these are also worthwhile natural anti-fungals. Especially garlic, which can inhibit both growth and function of candida albicans thanks to the ajoene compound formed from allicin71. But unlike coconut oil & ACV, I would probably take these in supplement form instead of eating them. That way you can get a high and effective dose without smelling like some crazy eyed Vampire-vigilante!
  • Lemon – another anti-candida hero we can rely on72. And to get a good dose of it each day I recommend starting the morning with the juice of a whole lemon squeezed into a glass of water. It’s cheap and effective, and boy will it wake you up!
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – they may also help inhibit the growth of candida / fungal infections73, especially in the mouth, as noted in a 2010 published study in Molecular Oral Microbiology. Plus they carry anti-inflammatory benefits as well. However it is important to make sure you get your omega 3s from a source low in toxins like mercury and PCBs. That’s why I like to eat wild salmon and take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement like this one, instead of eating farmed fish potentially high in toxins like mercury, not to mention antibiotics etc.
  • Pau D’arco tea – this is also a fantastic concoction to sip on throughout the day, thanks to a multitude of anti-fungal compounds in it, such as Lapachol74.
  • Enzyme supplements – with the right mix of enzymes, you can help your body take down candida cells with a 1-2-3 punch. For example, whilst cellulase and hemicellulase enzymes can support break down of the cell wall75
    (since it is composed of fiber & glycoproteins), other enzymes like amylase, lactase and glucoamylase will support breakdown of the polysaccharides76 in the biofilm of the cell. And then once the protective layer is exposed, protein digesting enzymes like protease77 can march onward and actually ‘eat’ the protein nucleus of the candida cell. That is serious team work! But the key to making enzymes work like this is to take them between meals, NOT with meals. You see, if you only take them with a meal, then all they will do is focus on breaking down your food. i.e. they’ll never have the chance to focus on breaking down your candida overgrowth cells. This is a point unfortunately just about everyone misses or doesn’t quite understand. If you’re looking for a plant-based enzyme supplement that has all the specific candida-fighting enzymes mentioned above – and that you can take with AND between meals – then checkout Pure Enzymes
  • S Boulardii – this beneficial probiotic yeast is renown for its ability to tackle candida overgrowth and bring about a more beneficial balance. Look for a pure S Boulardii supplement like this one.

3) After the starve & kill phases, reinoculate your gut

This is such an important step, because if we mess up here – or simply avoid step 3 altogether – then all the hard work we’ve done up until this point may end up being for nothing.

You see, in order to support healthy candida levels (after you’ve eliminated the overgrowth), we need to reinoculate our gut with good bacteria. This ensures the good bacteria, just like bouncers at a club, will be strong enough in numbers to support a healthy balance of the candida population going forward78. Meaning we will have no need to constantly be fighting candida with antifungals.

To reinoculate your gut all you need to do is…

1) eat probiotic-rich foods like fermented vegetables several times a week and;

2) consider taking a 40-50 billion CFUs probiotic supplement with 10+ different strains, like this probiotic my research team at Essential Stacks and I developed.

IDEA #13

Channel your inner Dalai Lama and cut work stress out of your life

For the majority of us, our main source of stress is work.

And as we know, chronic stress is one of the top 5 causes of leaky gut, because it has a crippling effect on digestion and in general makes it very hard for your body to fight off the bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth causing leaky gut.

Not to mention the inflammation that flares up because of leaky gut.

Here’s how you can cut work stress to a minimum:

  • Use an email blocking app on your computer like Self Control or Freedom to guarantee you don’t check emails outside of work hours. I set my Self Control app for 22 hours a day, which means I can only ever look at email between 3-5pm. Maybe you can’t go so extreme because of your job, but definitely try to push the email-free hours using an app.
  • Remove email from your phone. Feels amazing.
  • Go outside every lunch time, walk for 20 minutes whilst doing deep breathing exercises (or sit somewhere quiet and meditate!), eat lunch slowly, and then rest somewhere in the sun for a while. Alternatively, do a quick and light gym session, followed by a 10 minute sauna and a slow lunch. You can fit this all into your lunch break. And I think this idea alone could cut your stress levels in half!
  • If it’s possible listen to relaxing music throughout your work day. This is especially great for office workers. In fact, if you look at one of the most high stress office environments on Earth – the open plan floor of an investment bank in New York – you’ll find half the analysts sporting noise canceling headphones. It really does help you drown out the noise and stress of work.
  • When you get home from work go through a de-stress routine. You need to do this to switch off from work. I know when I get home I like to take 20 minutes out for myself, stretch, breathe, write down all the things in my head on paper, and then I’m good. I’ve transitioned. Stress of the day melts away.
  • Most of all set expectations clearly with coworkers. It is not easy, but if you stick to your guns whilst being reasonable, you’ll get the point across.

IDEA #14

Replace your morning cup o’ Joe with some herbal teas

This need not be forever, but it should definitely be your approach for the next 1-3 months whilst you are recovering from leaky gut.

You see coffee, including decaf, is not good for your intestinal lining79. (And even worse if you tend to drink your coffee with cow’s based dairy!).

You can read my in-depth article here on coffee and leaky gut, but the exec summary version is that coffee irritates the gut (it is a seed after all), causes inflammation (once you hit 2+ coffees a day), gets confused by our bodies as gluten (highly cross-reactive food)80 and the caffeine itself spurs on adrenal fatigue.

Here’s how I quit coffee for my leaky gut & what I drink now

Coffee Tea Leaky Gut

  • Week 1 – substituted my morning coffee with decaf coffee (love Swiss) and my lunchtime coffee with Yerba mate81 (or black/green tea82 without cow’s based milk). The decaf was simply to wean me off the taste and the Yerba mate off the caffeine. Plus I drank my morning shake/juice (see idea #16 below), which gives a huge amount of natural energy. Alternatively, you could stop it all, and just wean off using caffeine tablets.
  • Week 2 – herbal teas only, but if you really need it, Yerba mate can be thrown into the mix. (And shake/juice)
  • Week 3 onwards – only herbal tea. (And shake/juice)
  • Once healed / long term – then just continue on with the week 2 protocol, but occasionally (like once or twice a month) you can try and have coffee and see how you feel. For example, about once or twice a month I will have a Bulletproof style coffee (coffee with a teaspoon each of grass fed butter and MCT oil), because my gut can handle it now and wow, does this blow my mind in the taste department. A real treat! Just make sure to avoid coffees with cow’s based milk – you can substitute in almond milk, macadamia milk etc.

(I told you leaky gut syndrome treatment was not always going to be fun!)

IDEA #15

Pay the premium and eat organic veg, grass-fed meats and wild caught fish

Yes, I know. This can get expensive. Especially if you are hitting up Wholefoods weekly and going all raging bull in there! Unfortunately, there is just such a wide gap between conventionally farmed food and the organic stuff.

For starters, organic meats and fish will come packed with more omega-3s, vital for taming the inflammation being caused by your leaky gut83.

And these foods, devoid of the toxins from conventional farming (eg pesticides, antibiotics), will ensure fewer poisons make their way into your gut and through to your blood stream.

That’s a double win for leaky gut syndrome.

One other advantage is that these products don’t suffer from the omega imbalance84 found in conventional meats and fish – ie the overload of omega 6 that is so pervasive throughout the Western world.

Best of all, you can eat quality foods if you practice the art of purchasing, which means sticking to…

  • Farmers markets. Particularly if you go towards the end of the day. Hint: everything is negotiable by this point! And slightly bruised and deformed produce is your friend.
  • Box deliveries. I don’t always have time to go to farmers markets, so I make use of an online food delivery service as well to get a weekly box of organic vegetables. So easy. All I do is simply pick them up from a neighborhood collection point every Wednesday. Bonus: every week the box contains a surprise of what is in season and tastes great.
  • Bulk purchases and freeze. You can find great deals on everything from bison to wild Pacific salmon throughout the year. They key is to keep an eye out for them and have the freezer space ready to go when they’re available. Whilst for vegetables bought in bulk, learning how to pickle/ferment them is a great idea.
  • Quality online food stores. Since they usually don’t have the cost of a retail operation, they can pass on the savings to you. Plus, with national delivery available from many of them, they are a super convenient solution for those of us that don’t live in big cities. This is my favorite option, so we made a directory of the best online food suppliers in the USA here.

Leaky Gut Food Suppliers

IDEA #16

Do breathing exercises before and after each meal

100% natural solutions to health problems are the best. They cost nothing and they’re always available to you. And this probably rates up there with the most effective.

The benefit to your leaky gut from this idea is that deep breathing before and after a meal will reduce stress on the body so it can focus on digestion. And as a side effect it will get you ‘in the zone’ to eat mindfully, eg chew more, eat slower etc.

Breathing appHere’s how I recommend you do the breathing exercises

  • Download the The Breathing App (iTunes link) app and do it before and just after each meal. Although it is somewhat annoying to remember or take the time out to do this, all you need to do is try it out for the next 30 days.
  • If you really struggle to do it, then at least try to nail it once a day with your biggest meal.
  • As insurance, make sure you take a digestive enzyme or two just before each meal.

IDEA #17

Specialize in cooking just 7 simple paleo-ish meals when starting out

Everyone out there is probably telling you to eat all kinds of crazy things to repair your gut.

From broccoli shakes to liver & choy sum stir frys, it can seem quite unappetizing and perhaps a little daunting.

Worse yet, the cookbooks out there focused on clean eating usually contain some of the most complicated recipes you’ll ever find. (And they encourage you to try them all!)

From all my own trial and error, I’ve found that picking and then sticking to a meal roster of just 7 meals is perfect, especially if you make sure they are easy and quick to cook, and only require a couple of ingredients.

You can find my 7 cornerstone meals in the free guide, but here is a brief overview of how they breakdown.

How I cook so simple, but healthy every single day

  • Breakfast is usually simply a shake. This is how I start most mornings. It’s easy for the digestive system to take, helps the body rapidly absorb much needed nutrition and is so easy to make, which means you’ll actually do it each day. Plus I always make sure my shakes contain some good fats, eg MCT oil or coconut oil, and protein, eg high quality collagen protein powder, which brings about some remarkable improvements in morning energy (bonus: you don’t miss that coffee so much anymore!).
  • Soup and bone broth make up 20-30% of meals. Alternating between these 2 liquid meals throughout the week works a treat. You can batch make and easily freeze both, making them so convenient to take out whenever needed. And if you don’t like the taste then just try a scoop of collagen (the secret ingredient in bone broth) each day.
  • Meat/fish + vegetable + vegetable starch (optional). Simple combinations of the 2 (or 3) paired with some nice flavors – especially using herbs – is just perfect. These dishes sit so easily in your stomach that they are seriously addictive!

IDEA #18

Chew each bite of food 20 times, like Gandhi

“Chew your drink and drink your food”, Gandhi.

Taking a digestive enzyme supplement will help breakdown your food when it reaches your stomach and intestines. And I think you should definitely take them – I know I do.

But to really give your gut a helping hand (and the ultimate kind of head start), you should basically pulverize your food in your mouth by chewing each bite around 20 times.

The more you chew the more it gets pre-broken down and the more digestive enzymes you yourself produce via your saliva glands85.

By chewing your food like this, you’ll find your gut is better able to process it. Most of all, your body will be able to absorb more of the nutrition86
and your leaky gut will not be bombarded by so many large undigested food particles.

And of course, 20 chews per bite of food is just a rough average. So if you’re eating something really tough, like Uncle Bob’s well done steak (why, oh why do you do that Bob!), then up the chew count, eg to 30.

IDEA #19

Get your German-Korean freak on and feast on fermented vegetables

Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut (red/purple cabbage – low FODMAP option) and kimchi (mix of vegetables) can be a fantastic way to feed your gut with good bacteria.

As you read above, I advise leaky gut sufferers to hit the probiotics approx 2 weeks after they’ve started healing their gut (and yeast overgrowth) via fasting, no sugar, L-glutamine, sleeping more etc.

How to get your kraut in

  • You can ferment your own vegetables. But this is going to take some work. I’ve tried to make the simplest possible recipe for you, which you can see in the graphic just below.
  • Alternatively you can buy it ready made. The key is to avoid the canned stuff in the supermarket dry aisles, as it is pasteurized and thus devoid of live probiotics. To buy the good stuff you’ll need to hit your local health store and look for glass jars sitting in fridges. You’ll know you’ve found high quality products when you see the price tag! But trust me, it’s worth it. One large jar should easily last a week for 1 person, ie 3-6 servings.

Simple sauerkraut recipe

Some cooking notes for this recipe

  • Make sure to run your fermenting jar through the dishwasher before using it – a hot wash will help remove any bacteria that could interfere with the fermentation.
  • For starter culture, you can use a vegetable or dairy based one. I tend to personally opt for the former. Each sachet will likely have a couple of grams of culture. And come with instructions on how to prep it, before adding it to the jar.
  • Your kraut can be stored for more than the 2 week period mentioned in the graphic. In fact, unopened, you could keep it for 6-9 months easily.
  • But once you open your kraut, keep it in the fridge, and for max 2 months. (But who’s not eating all that delicious kraut during that time?!)

P.S. If you ever get sick of eating fermented vegetables then consider a probiotic supplement and of course, just be thankful you don’t have to resort to a fecal transplant to restore your gut flora!

IDEA #20

Throw out all the processed vegetable oils in your cupboard

Gut Friendly OilsHit up your cupboard right now and ditch all these oils immediately:

  • Corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil
  • Grapeseed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil
  • And basically any oil marked simply ‘vegetable oil’

Why ‘vegetable’ oils are bad for leaky gut

These industrial vegetable oils are high in omega 6s, and known to be a vast contributor to the imbalance of omega 3s to 6s in the western diet87 (that now sees us typically consuming 20:1 omega 6s to 3s, when historically we consumed 1:1 or 2:1!

By contrast extra virgin olive oil88 and coconut oil – which are non-industrial vegetable oils – deliver much more balanced omega fatty acid profiles.

Most industrial vegetable oils are also susceptible to oxidation when cooked (hello inflammation my old friend) and typically GMO based.

Which oils to use for leaky gut instead

Best of all, you can easily replace the bad fats with quality fats, including fats that are just as suited to cooking.

For example, coconut oil, ghee and lard hold a very high smoke point (and taste great!).

Whilst you can use the other healthy fats listed in the graphic to the right, eg extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil etc, for cold dishes or to finish on top of heated dishes.

In many ways, your lovely plate of veggies and meat/fish, is really just a delivery vehicle for these healthy fats. So apply your EVOO liberally to a finished dish!

IDEA #21

If bored, only eat super tasty gut-friendly meals

Most people fall off the leaky gut diet and into a donut/pizza/bread-filled abyss, because they find the flavors bland.

And hey, I’m not suggesting for a minute that chicken and broccoli tastes as good as a pepperoni pizza, but…

…if you stick to paleo-esque meals with big flavors, you’ll find it easy to stick to a clean diet.

For example, when I’m craving pasta, especially a nice bowl of rigatoni with rich lamb shank ragu, I simply cook my pasta sauce as normal, but then instead of using spaghetti with it, I will shred 2 courgettes into thin strips and then pan fry them till they have some color.

I know this does not sound good. But guess what?

Courgettes take on the most meaty of flavors when done like this, and when added to a not-overly-wet ragu, they come together to create a flavor explosion.

Getting big flavors from other otherwise bland dishes is easy too. You just need to think about smart flavorings like garlic, herbs, capers, anchovies etc.

For example, pan roasted salmon with garlic-infused olive oil (low FODMAP) and capers, paired with lemon dressed rocket and oven roasted sweet potato fries dusted in some herbs or spices (eg tiny bit of cinnamon!), is hard to beat.

That pepperoni pizza I mentioned earlier…forget it…give me that salmon dish any day!

IDEA #22

Ignore the conventional advice and devour coconut products

For years coconut milk was seen as some obesity boogy monster.

It seemed if you just picked up a can you were going to turn into the next Michellin man overnight!

Thankfully the science behind coconut products, and good saturated fats in general, has emerged in clear sight since the 80s.

Why coconut products can actually be good for gut health

The science has jumped ahead as we now know that the caprylic acid / medium chain fatty acids in coconut products are rich in antimicrobial properties89 that work fantastically well to decrease levels of bad yeast and bacteria in the gut (and help us say goodbye to candida and SIBO).

I should note that you can also get isolated caprylic acid90 (eg via MCT oil or a caprylic acid supplement), which might be more helpful if you are tackling something like candida / yeast overgrowth head on.

Here’s how I incorporate coconut products into my daily life

  • I use 1 tablespoon of non-hydrogenated organic coconut oil in my daily shake/juice. Tastes insanely good and as weird as this sounds, gives a lovely ‘mouth feel’ to the shake. Just make sure you get quality coconut oil that is not rancid and not filled with all kinds of crazy chemicals.
  • Now and then I will have half a can of coconut milk in my shake instead of the oil (low FODMAP serving size). Probably 2 times a week. This is the taste of island holidays in food form!
  • Since my gut is now in good health and able to handle (and in fact loves) oats these days, I will cook up some gluten-free oats with coconut milk on gym days. Of course, there’s a lot of energy in this sort of concoction, so best to pair with commensurate training.
  • Coconut oil is my go to cooking oil for many dishes, eg a mild Thai-style chicken & broccoli stir fry.
  • You might even enjoy coconut kefir91
    – fermented coconut milk/yogurt.
  • By contrast I don’t drink coconut water often as it is rather high in sugar and FODMAPs, and doesn’t come with all the healthy fats the other products above do.

IDEA #23

Cut all the borderline foods from your diet, especially if you have Autoimmune issues

Some leaky gut cases are just a lot tougher than others to solve. What usually helps tip these hard cases over the edge is an even stricter diet.

This is especially true for those of us who suffer from autoimmune issues92.

So you might also want to consider temporarily cutting…

Borderline foods

  • All nightshades. Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers etc. These guys come packed with their own form of bug repellent, alkaloids. Suffice to say, not everyone responds well to them and they can cause inflammation and digestive issues93.
  • Eggs. These can spike a high allergy response in a lot of people, and the lysozyme in egg white especially may be troublesome94.
  • Nuts. Like eggs, these may not react well with your body95.
  • Seeds. Seeds are meant to survive dormant for long periods of time and through varying conditions – so, due to being constructed of nature’s tough-to-crack materials, even the sprouted ones can cause issues for some people.
  • All vegetable starches. If you’re still struggling 30 days into the diet, well then sadly, even that innocent looking sweet potato has to go96.
  • All fruits. That low sugar berry shake you started loving on the leaky gut diet…well, that is out!
  • All dairy. If you were eating raw unpasteurized yogurt for the probiotics or sheep cheese, stop. It’s out as well97.

Of course the best news is that these eliminations aren’t necessarily permanent.

In idea #36 below, we’ll look specifically at how to reintroduce these borderline foods in later to see if they still cause issues or whether some (or all) can be permanently added back into your diet.

IDEA #24

Eat prebiotic foods to fuel the good bacteria in your gut

Prebiotics are types of fiber that are indigestible (to us), but digestible by the bacteria in our colon/large intestine. They just love to break it down and ferment it. In other words, prebiotics are the fuel they need to grow strong98.

And when our good bacteria is strong they can help us digest food better, support mood, improve immune system function, fend off bad bacteria, and of course, help with bowel movements and intestinal wall strength.

Since prebiotics feed the probiotics/good bacteria in our digestive system, we can think of them as actually being equal to probiotics in terms of importance. In fact, they’re a team!

But before you go crazy eating all types of prebiotic-rich foods, it is important to know that during the very early stages of fixing your gut health, you should be careful to avoid prebiotics that are high in FODMAPs, which I explain in my FODMAPs & leaky gut article.

Prebiotic foods for leaky gut – what are the options?

Popular Prebiotic Foods

  • Green vegetables. Make sure you keep your intake of green and colorful, non-starchy vegetables up. All that delicious spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus etc that I recommend above will give you a nice dose of soluble prebiotic fiber99.
  • Prebiotic-rich vegetables. Most of the veg that are high in prebiotics are also high in FODMAPs, at least when consumed in serving sizes over 20-30g. So it can be best to avoid eating these for the next 4-6 weeks and then test them one by one. Examples of prebiotic-rich foods high in FODMAPs would be garlic, onions, chicory root, leek, avocado, dandelion greens etc. Of course, you can try them in small amounts early on and see how you go, eg under 5g. In fact, some of them like inulin and Jerusalem artichoke100 (2 of the best pound-for-pound prebiotics going around) can be very beneficial at small serving sizes.
  • Resistant starch-rich fruit & veg. If your gut can handle prebiotic-rich resistant starches, like green bananas101, cooked & cooled potatoes and rice etc, add them in too. But go easy and build up slowly, as they can lead to a little too much fermentation down below – hello night filled with bloating, abdominal pain and blaming way too many smells on your poor pop, Mr McSchmoogles!
  • Prebiotic powders. If you find it hard to cook and eat the above foods, then you can buy a prebiotic powder supplement. The safest bet would be a blend of 2-3 low FODMAP prebiotic fibers like acacia fiber and guar gum. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to find a blend of fibers suitable for sensitive guts like ours. So I got together with my research team to create Friendly Prebiotics, a world class blend of low FODMAP fibers that can help feed your good bacteria102…but without causing bloating or general digestive distress. It is an incredible product! Whatever you choose, simply add it to your morning shake or in a glass of water, and you’ll be in prebiotic heaven in no time. Once again, just be very careful to slowly work your way up to the serving size recommended on the label of your prebiotic powder!

IDEA #25

Consider tests for leaky gut, food intolerances and microbiome

As I explain in this article on leaky gut tests, there are 2 direct tests you can do for leaky gut being the lactulose & mannitol test and the blood zonulin tests.

The 2 best tests for leaky gut

  1. Lactulose & mannitol test for leaky gut103 – basically you drink 2 solutions of 2 different non-metabolized sugars and then your urine is subsequently analyzed to see which sugars passed through your system and in what amounts. From this information (in particular the ratio) your gut’s level of permeability can be somewhat ascertained.
  2. Blood zonulin test for leaky gut104 – in this test your blood is being analyzed for levels of zonulin, which regulates the size of the openings across your gut/intestinal wall. Too much zonulin and there is a good chance you’ll be experiencing intestinal permeability greater than normal, ie leaky gut.

These tests are definitely interesting, but can be quite expensive and sometimes inconclusive. So as with everything, speak to your doctor to see if they make sense for you.

What about microbiome testing for leaky gut?

Although it is not specifically looking at intestinal permeability, it is taking a birds eye view at the state of your gut health and can possibly pinpoint underlying causes of leaky gut (eg bacterial or yeast imbalances) as well as hidden food intolerances that are potentially sustaining leaky gut.

Like the above tests, this can be expensive.

But if you want to get an interesting look at the state of your gut health, then consider a microbiome service like Viome – they ship the testing kit to you, so the whole test can be done in the privacy of your own home.

Viome is my favorite microbiome company, since they are able to not only pinpoint imbalances, but also give you plain English advice on which foods to eat and which to avoid based on your unique gut bacterial balance.

What about old fashioned food intolerance tests?

My big problem with them is that they often come back positive for just about everything I’ve already listed under the ‘banned foods’ list above, as well as countless other ‘good’ foods, and are often temporary intolerances resulting from the fact that your gut is hyperpermeable (or leaky).

So instead of getting old fashioned food intolerance tests, I personally believe you’re better off doing an elimination diet per the above ideas, healing your gut and then gradually – and one by one – reintroducing foods to see how your now-healed gut deals with them.

i.e. doing an elimination & reintroduction diet (which I talk about more under idea #36 below).

No doubt you will find it far more tolerant!

If you really do want to get tested for intolerances/allergies, then my best advice is to speak with a functional doctor.

They can work 1-1 with you to piece together your overall health history and current state of affairs, and from there decide what is the best leaky gut syndrome treatment plan.

But that said, always keep an eye on the economics of testing, because getting a battery of tests done, followed by a $1000+ bill is sure to cause stress…and ironically more leaky gut.

Finally, compare yourself against the 10 symptoms of leaky gut

Given that testing can be somewhat inconclusive, a quick way to work out the probability of leaky gut is to speak to your doctor about your symptoms.

And then of course, contrast them against the most common symptoms of leaky gut:

  1. Food allergies / intolerances
  2. Autoimmune conditions
  3. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, eg Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis etc
  5. Digestive problems
  6. Skin problems like eczema, acne, Rosacea, Hives, Psoriasis, rashes etc
  7. Brain fog or general fatigue or chronic headaches
  8. Mood swings and depression
  9. Allergies, eg seasonal, pet etc
  10. Nutrient deficiencies

IDEA #26

If a functional doctor diagnoses it, also fight other conditions related to leaky gut

Very few people just suffer from leaky gut.

That’s because intestinal hyperpermeability often causes further conditions (eg autoimmune flare ups) or is caused or exacerbated/maintained by other conditions (eg candida overgrowth)105.

So you should be working very carefully with your doctor, or other health professional, to hunt out related conditions and then fight them head on as well.

8 related conditions to leaky gut to watch out for

Related Conditions Leaky Gut

  1. Reflux/GERD106 – treating this alongside leaky gut can lead to some profound lifestyle improvements, as not only does the reflux reduce, but so does your absorption of the nutrients from the food you’re eating.
  2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – this is a real bedfellow of leaky gut107, and when you take on the leaky gut recovery protocol (download the free ebook here) you will usually find great relief of IBS symptoms, especially since I have blended the low FODMAP diet into the new & updated version of the ebook – link above. Obviously, this can be a game changer since it frees you from being a prisoner of ye olde golden throne. Hello freedom!
  3. Candida overgrowth – a surprising cause and maintainer of leaky gut, and definitely worth fighting if diagnosed. Keep in mind that candida overgrowth can take months and months to go away, even if you follow the above suggestions under idea #12. So attacking it directly may be smart. Once it is fixed, it becomes a lot easier to completely repair your leaky gut.
  4. Parasites/intestinal infections – it is really essential to work with your doctor to see if this is in fact an issue, because fighting parasites et al usually requires an advanced protocol, including potentially strong pharmaceutical drugs.
  5. Food intolerances – these are usually a sign of leaky gut. Inversely, continuing to eat foods that you don’t tolerate will maintain permeability issues and thus slow down any leaky gut recovery protocol.
  6. Autoimmune conditions – they can be preexisting (and thus exacerbated) by leaky gut, or leaky gut itself can cause them to arise or at least be symptomatic / ‘felt’. Tackling both simultaneously is thus essential.
  7. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)108 – the symptoms of SIBO overlap so strongly with leaky gut, that the two could be called brothers in arms! Treating an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestine (often due to colonic bacteria making its way back up to the small intestine), is a crucial step to take.
  8. Bloating, gas, diarrhea – the 3 amigos of digestive distress are often a result of one or more of the conditions mentioned above. Working out which of the above conditions is leading to either or all of them is key to treating them.

IDEA #27

Try a green powder drink daily

If we were hanging back in the 1990s, I would suggest that you hold your nose and drink your green shake as fast as you can. Because historically that’s been the only way to stomach this fairly putrid, but amazingly healthy concoction.

Thankfully though, green powders have gotten a lot more palatable thanks to smarter ingredient combinations and of course, better and better natural sweeteners like stevia.

So what is a green powder drink?

Well, it is basically a concentrated powder made from a collection of blended plants, fruits and herbs.

I personally drink one every day – or sometimes every other day – because it is such a convenient way to sneak in a few extra servings of veg.

One scoop added to a protein shake or fresh vegetable juice is simple enough and the body can easily absorb the nutrients, which is very important when your gut is leaky and thus not absorbing nutrients as well as it should.

To be honest though, this idea is far from essential when it comes to solving your leaky gut, especially if you are following the ideas above on what to eat and what to avoid.

That’s why I see it as more of an insurance policy.

And since good quality green powders can be expensive, definitely only consider this idea if you still have money leftover after buying L-Glutamine, digestive enzymes and probiotics (they are links to articles on my 3 favorite supplements for leaky gut support).

My ultimate green powder shake recipe

If you do want to indulge in green powder drinks, then try my recipe. It is a great meal replacement idea, since it comes packed with nutrients, protein and healthy fats. (And it is super quick to make).

NOTE: avocado is high FODMAP, so consider only adding it into your own shake once you are 30 days into the diet.

Best Green Powder Shake

How to make the green hulk shake

  • Grab a decent blender, something that can crush ice, and toss the 1/2 avocado, handful of spinach and lemon juice in.
  • Then put a big handful of ice cubes in and fill with 14 oz / 400 ml water. You might want to experiment with the amount of water, as some people like their shake less thick than mine.
  • Now add your green powder in, followed by any of the optional add ons. I personally add in all of them, unless I’ve already eaten a big meal. And when I do this, I find the green shake keeps me full for hours as it packs a beautiful macro combination of clean protein and healthy fats. What a way to lose weight!
  • Finally, make sure to properly blend it of course, to avoid any green chunks of food or powder dancing around your glass as you go to take your first sip.

IDEA #28

Consider eating smaller meals and matching food groups better

When trying to repair your leaky gut, attention to detail matters. That’s why even the more trivial ideas are worth trying out.

So with this idea I’m basically suggesting…

  • Eat 4-5 small meals a day, as opposed to 3 big ones. A day of eating would then look something like: green hulk shake (recipe above), snack (handful of gut-friendly nuts, like macadamias), small lunch (eg smoked salmon and arugula salad, with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice), afternoon snack (eg small portion of leftovers from dinner last night) and dinner (eg 4oz/120g shredded chicken, broccoli and 1/2 sweet potato).
  • Combine food groups smartly. This is pretty easy when you’re eating a leaky gut diet. i.e. the foods that are hard to combine (namely grains and legumes, as well as fruit) are pretty much out. But just in case you are eating fruits (eg low sugar fruits like blueberries), make sure they are eaten as much as possible by themselves – or at least away from heavy protein meals.

Now with all of that said, it is worth noting that I am not completely sold on eating smaller meals and more often.

That’s because I do like the thinking behind 2-3 meals a day only, since this gives the digestive system plenty of time for breaks.

So like with all ideas on this list, it really comes down to personal experimentation and seeing what works best for your digestive system.

IDEA #29

Avoid eating any foods that are processed or filled with preservatives or flavoring

I think we all know that saying goodbye to foods high in refined flours and sugars, low in nutrients and filled with chemicals, will help our gut health improve.

But I also understand that saying adios to these and hello to a diet focused on real whole foods is not a cheap exercise. But to be honest, it all comes down to what value you put on your health.

In terms of practically implementing this idea…

…well, it should not be too hard to do if you simply stick to the leaky gut diet above. And that’s because everything in the leaky gut diet I recommend is whole food based.

The real struggle comes down to avoiding eating out too much. From grabbing lunch at your local food court to ordering Uber Eats, these time saving ideas have to be canned for now. After all, the food industry is driven by processed and preservative-packed foods.

IDEA #30

Look into other gut supplements like zinc, licorice root and slippery elm

Even those these 3 little guys don’t get the same leaky gut limelight as probiotics, enzymes and L-Glutamine, I still love ’em!

Zinc DGL Slippery Elm leaky gut10-15mg of zinc for leaky gut

Supplementing zinc can be very helpful when you are deficient, which will likely be the case with most people suffering leaky gut.

The specific way zinc supports the health of your intestinal lining109, is how it promotes mucosal secretion, which in turn helps protect your gut lining110.

You don’t necessarily need to take a zinc supplement though, since it is readily available in some very tasty foods like beef, lamb, chicken, mushrooms, spinach etc.

And just as importantly, you want to make sure that your zinc intake doesn’t get too high, as this can actually hurt your immune system.

I personally get my daily zinc intake through my high quality multivitamin (which also contains another essential mineral, copper, which pairs beautifully with zinc) and real foods like grass fed beef.

400-500mg of licorice root (DGL) for leaky gut

This strange sounding fella is an adaptogenic herb and it helps our gut in 3 ways…

…It supports the mucosal lining of your GI tract111, helps acid production in stomach (low stomach acid is a big contributor to leaky gut) and offers a powerful anti-inflammatory effect112.

It has been in use for thousands of years to treat digestive issues, is well researched and is a pretty simple & safe supplement to add to your protocol.

I especially like it if chronic stress is a driving force behind one’s leaky gut.

200-300mg of slippery elm for leaky gut

I know, I know.

The supplements are getting weirder as this list grows! But here’s the thing with slippery elm…

…like the good guys above, it may also stimulate mucus secretion113. Plus it delivers antioxidants114, which can offer some protection for your intestinal tract against toxins. Some people also claim this in turn “soothes away irritation”.

I don’t want to talk in hyperbole, so I will just say, slippery elm is a respectable supplement that can definitely help with intestinal health. And like DGL, it has been used for eons.

IDEA #31

Pop a high quality multivitamin every day, if needed

I know a lot of people are anti-multivitamins. And hey, I agree with the general school of thought that ‘food is medicine’.

But there’s a couple reasons why taking a multivitamin when you are recovering from leaky gut can be a good idea.

3 reasons why a multivitamin may help when suffering leaky gut

  • Support impaired nutrient absorption – if you have leaky gut, then it is quite likely that your ability to break down food into nutrients and your ability to absorb these nutrients is sub-optimal. That means, even if you’re eating a lot of great nutrient-dense food, you won’t necessarily be fully benefiting from them. So a multivitamin is a great backup source of nutrients.
  • Safety net – No matter how hard you try, your diet will never be perfect. I know in any given week there will be times when I miss out on a serving of organic vegetables with lunch or dinner. There may also be times where the food I’m eating is not necessarily from a great nutrient-dense source, eg most restaurants. So during these times, I’m missing out on my full quota of vitamins and minerals, and that’s where a multivitamin can be extremely handy.
  • Gut supporting ingredients – High quality multivitamins will also contain gut-supporting nutrients, like vitamin A115 and good ol’ zinc, which I talked extensively about above. This makes them a super convenient way to further support our guts.

So definitely consider adding a high quality – and that usually means higher priced – multivitamin to your leaky gut protocol.

As with green powder, think of it is an insurance policy more than anything else.

And whilst we’re talking about green powders – keep in mind that if you get a really good green powder full of vitamins and minerals, this can almost replace the need for a separate multivitamin supplement.

IDEA #32

Add high quality fish oil and vitamin D to your daily supplement regimen

You can be the ultimate supplement skeptic and still love these two.

And that’s because they are among the most researched and supported supplements in the world.

But how do they help with leaky gut?

Fish oil Vitamin D leaky gut

 

Why I love fish oil’s omega-3 fatty acids for leaky gut

For starters, omega 3s are an anti-inflammation powerhouse116 (not least because they do a great job at balancing our omega 3 v 6 ratio), and unsurprisingly this has been shown to extend to supporting intestinal inflammation.

In addition, studies are now showing these essential fatty acids can support gut bacteria (microbiome) through an increase in butyrate-producing bacteria (Case Reports in Medicine, March 2016).

And even help reverse gastrointestinal mucosal injury (Gastroenterology Research & Practice, April 2016).

Most importantly for us though, is the earlier PLOS One study showing how the fatty acids in fish oil can support optimal intestinal permeability as they improve tight junction function – which means better control of the openings in your gut lining.

So adding it to a leaky gut supplement protocol makes sense.

But there are 2 big problems with fish oil for us leaky gutters…

  1. Many fish oil supplements are high in toxins like PCBs117, mercury etc. Which is not a good thing, when our gut lining is overly permeable and more open to passing toxins through to our bloodstream.
  2. Most fish oil products are extremely good at giving those of us with sensitive tummies, reflux…hello fishy burps my old friend!

To solve these 2 problems you need to find a molecularly distilled fish oil AND one that uses enteric coated capsules (meaning the oil gets released further down the GI tract). Together that means less toxins and less reflux.

My research team and I make Smart Omega fish oil to satisfy both these points.

Best of all, we push ourselves much further in terms of distillation to the point that our formula is triple strength (meaning you get a lot more of the omega 3 fatty acids in every capsule) and meets the strictest purity standards in the US as set out in California’s Prop 65.

That’s why I use it every day and experience no fishy burps. Perfect!

And what about Vitamin D – how can it help leaky gut?

Well, vitamin D, has been shown to support our gut’s epithelial barrier (United European Gastroenterology Journal, June 2015), this being the lining that protects your bloodstream from all the food, toxins and other bacteria making their way through your gut.

In addition, like with fish oil, it can support tight junction integrity, meaning more help for the gatekeepers of the gut lining (the guys that decide what goes through and what stays out) – J Infect Dis, October 2015.

Also, per that study, vitamin D can help fight against bad bacteria due to the way it tackles inflammation118. Pretty cool, right.

Despite all those benefits, you may not need to take it in supplement form if you are getting 20 minutes of safe sun exposure each day.

e.g. 20 minutes of sun at 11am, without sunscreen (so you can actually absorb/produce vitamin D).

So consider skipping the vitamin D supplements during summer.

That said, to truly benefit from vitamin D during this repairing stage you’ll want to be getting higher than normal amounts of it.

So popping a 2000 IU supplement of vitamin D3 like this one each day, might be worth considering.

Note: vitamin D3 is the more absorbable form, so make sure to look for that in your supplement.

IDEA #33

Avoid excessive cardio or heavy weight lifting – leave that for Arny!

If you’re slogging through 3 or more intense exercise sessions a week like a Arnold Schwarzenegger-Richard Simmons crazed lovechild, you could easily prevent your gut from healing fast or even fully119.

It’s kind of counterintuitive, but if you’re a bit of a fitness fanatic, then less exercise could actually be better for your health!

Why extreme cardio and weights can hurt leaky gut

You see, the strain that hardcore cardio or lifting really heavy weights puts on the body (especially the central nervous system) delivers the same shock as any other kind of stress, eg working 14 hours a day for a maniacal boss.

And as we talked about in idea #12 above, stress is one of the top 3 causes – and maintainers – of leaky gut.

That means we really want to be saying goodbye (at least for now) to exercises like P90X, Insanity, Freeletics, Soul Cycle, Bikram Yoga etc. And adios to crazy sports like marathon running, triathlon etc (I’m talking to you Mr wannabe Ironman!).

Basically any physical activity where your veins pop out of ye old noggin mid session should be a no.

Also, as a general rule, work out lightly, but more often.

For example, try a daily 10-20 minute workout, instead of 3 x 60 minute spin classes a week.

4 gut-friendly exercises I recommend for leaky gut

  1. Best exercises for leaky gutYoga & pilates – Definitely try to incorporate some yoga (normal hatha or yin yoga, not bikram!) or pilates into your weekly training protocol. With breathing, stretching, meditating and relaxing aspects all rolled into one, these two are the kind of exercises your leaky gut wants to help it restore. Tara Stiles might just become your new best friend.
  2. Short HiiT – If you love cardio, then try doing short HiiT training sessions, instead of never ending steady state cardio workouts. eg 7 x 30 second sprints, with 2 minute moving breaks in between. You could do this as run sprints, or bike sprints or even swimming sprints. I personally do this across all 3. Not only is HiiT training much more time friendly than long cardio sessions, but it is increasingly being shown to improve cardiovascular health and speed up fat loss more!
  3. Light compound weights – If you love lifting weights, then consider shorter workouts with just compound lifts – meaning no wasting your time with isolation exercises. For example, a simple 5×5 workout with weights at about 60% of your 1 rep max weight (not at 80%!) and big 3 minute breaks between sets, can work just perfectly. I use Stronglifts 5×5 app for this, but do not do progressive overload nearly as aggressive as the app recommends.
  4. Short circuits – And if you love both cardio and weights, try short 20-minute circuit training sessions with light weights or simply body weight (eg Kayla Itsine’s BBG or training with a functional PT). They are great ways to do full body exercises that build strength and push your heart rate up into the cardio zone – but only for a short period of time.

IDEA #34

Use a BRITA jug or other filtering device for your water

This is definitely not the most important idea on this list for leaky gut!

But it is still worth considering given that the chlorine & fluoride in your tap water120
is a toxin and when it enters your body and potentially travels through your overly permeable gut barrier and into your bloodstream it may contribute to chronic systemic inflammation.

Most of all, this idea is so simple and cheap, why wouldn’t you add it to your bag of leaky gut tricks!

How to get clean filtered water (the inexpensive way)

All you need to do is buy a $10 BRITA jug or bottle, which usually comes with 2 cartridges. Then keep an eye out for filter cartridge sales. When they pop up snap up a dozen!

And if you want to up your filtered water game, get something super convenient like the big BRITA water tank – this is great because you don’t need to refill it multiple times a day and wait for the water to filter.

Bonus benefit is that these filters make water taste so much better (thanks mainly to filtering out most of the chlorine) and by having a jug constantly next to you it will encourage you to down your 2-3 liter a day target.

IDEA #35

Consider these other ways to eliminate toxins from your life

Toxins can potentially cause leaky gut, but more likely is that they can exacerbate leaky gut and its many flow on effects, since they can get through your permeable intestinal wall and and into your bloodstream121.

Obviously the first step to eliminating toxins is not consuming them in the food, drinks and drugs you take – which we’ve discussed in the ideas above.

But after you’ve done that it can be worth investing in a few products to decrease the amount of other toxins that get into your system.

In fact, you should think about this as the final missing piece in your leaky gut recovery protocol.

And thankfully unlike the earlier steps you took – eg throwing out all delicious bread and milk – this will be easy! You simply need to buy a few things and you’re done.

The easiest ways to fight off toxins every day

Reduce Toxins Gut Health

  • Install a shower head filter. This keeps out the chlorine, which can be particularly important when you consider chlorine vapor (from hot showers) hits the body quite directly both inside and out. Plus it reduces heavy metals, bacteria and pesticides that may be present in your local water supply.
  • Switch to organic or natural personal care products. Use the EWG’s personal care guide to work out which toothpaste, shampoo, body wash etc you and your family should be using. It takes a bit of research, I know. But just keep in mind that the conventional products on your supermarket shelves are filled with all kinds of chemicals that should not be entering your body, let alone passing your leaky gut barrier and into your bloodstream. Make the switch, decrease the toxic load and your gut barrier and immune system will thank you.
  • Get your house tested for mold. This has become a hot topic over the last couple of years (checkout Dave Asprey’s Moldy movie), because of the amount of damage hidden mold can do to the body. Leaky gut is just one of many casualties of this urban menace122.
  • Buy an air filter. I’d argue that this is only necessary if you live in downtown or in a fairly high traffic area. eg I live in the middle of downtown and getting truly fresh air ain’t easy! So whether you live in San Francisco or Shanghai, definitely consider this if your budget allows. And if you do, just make sure to buy one with a HEPA filter and one that is big enough (in terms of filtering capacity) to cover the room it is destined for.
  • Use an infrared or normal sauna. You can’t keep all toxins out. It just isn’t possible. So sweating out the ones that still manage to get through, in a not-too-hot sauna for 30-45 minutes (sitting at mid level) can work a treat to aid the bodies natural detox. I don’t own a sauna given the cost and maintenance requirements, so I just make use of my gyms one. Perfect.

And of course follow all of the other detox ideas above – avoid unnecessary drugs, eat organic, filter your tap water etc – as much as possible, so you can avoid other toxins like pesticides123, antibiotics124 etc hitting your system.

IDEA #36

After 12 weeks, reintroduce foods and see what your gut likes and doesn’t

This is the fun part!

So you’ve done the elimination diet, you’ve healed your gut and now it is time to see what you can put back into your diet without causing any troubles.

This is called an elimination-reintroduction diet. And some people call it a provocation diet (that is the reintroduction phase they’re referring to).

How to reintroduce foods the smart way

  • Order of foods – Start with the least potentially reactive foods, eg in week 1 maybe start by adding some soaked and pressure cooked legumes back into your diet.
  • Time for each food – Wait 2-3 days after eating a new food, until you reintroduce the next food. That’s important, because some foods can take a day or two for any ill effects to be felt. So this means you will typically add just 2 foods back into your diet each week.
  • Track with a diary – Use a food diary to keep track of what foods you’ve added back in and how you’ve felt the hour after eating it, the next day and the day after. ie a food and symptoms tracking journal.
  • Review with a health professional – Once you’ve reintroduced everything, take your journal to your doctor or other health professional, and work out which foods can be permanently allowed back into your diet, which ones can be allowed now and then (eg weekly or monthly) and which ones really shouldn’t ever be a part of your diet.

IDEA #37

Develop an easy-to-follow long term eating plan and lifestyle to keep leaky gut away

Curing your leaky gut is not going to be easy. As you can see above, there are dozens of ideas you may need to follow in order to get there.

But here’s the thing about leaky gut…

…It can come back at any time in the future if you return to being a digestive diablito (lil devil)!

And the more you deviate away from the ideas above – read: eat Dunkin Donuts like a fiend – the more chance this will happen.

How to live leaky gut free, forever!

  1. Eat clean 98% of the time. Sure, most of you will eventually be able to eat some grains and legumes from time to time, maybe even some gluten you naughty little thing! Heck, you may even be able to have some ice cream during the summer. But for the most part you really need to stick to the safe food groups and avoid the dangerous ones. It really is a slippery slope, so be vigilant.
  2. Drink clean 90% of the time. Some glasses of wine or an occasional coffee will probably be fine for you over the long term. But slipping into old habits of 3 cups of Joe a day or nights spent at the bar guzzling some sweet sweet merlot, just won’t work.
  3. Avoid toxins from unnecessary drugs, conventional meats, tap water, chemical-ridden personal care products etc.
  4. Practice healthy habits at least 6 days of the week. That means doing things like sleeping 8 hours, meditating away stress, exercising (lightly) etc. You need to hit these habits most days of your week for the rest of your life. If you start ignoring most of them you’ll find your body slipping closer and closer back to leaky gut. And I can’t stress this point enough…your lifestyle is just as responsible for leaky gut as the things you consume.
  5. Use smart supplements daily. Even if you eat and drink clean, avoid all toxins and practice a healthy lifestyle, you’ll probably also want to take a few supplements to give you some buffer room. Although there are dozens of options, there are only 6 that are really worth your attention.
    • To help digestion – try HCL with pepsin to support the initial breakdown of foods and digestive enzymes to finish digestion and turn food into nutrients.
    • To help the intestinal wall – consider the #1 most popular supplement for leaky gut, L-Glutamine, which is an amino acid that can fuel your gut lining cells, and collagen protein, which contains a wide array of amino acids to further strengthen the gut.
    • To support good bacteria – take probiotics to add more good bacteria to your microbiome, so your gut flora and gut lining remain strong. And just as importantly, prebiotics, which can feed the probiotics and thus magnify their impact. A perfect team!

Finally, don’t forget to use a habit tracker to make sure you’re doing your 10 favorite ideas from the list above every day.

I use Habits List for iOS, but there are dozens of options for both iPhone and Android.

CONCLUSION

The good news – not all of the ideas above need be permanent

For example, giving up coffee sucks, I know.

But the good news is when your gut is back to rude health then you can try coffee again and see how your body reacts to it.

Because as we know for most people, when their gut is back to strong health it can easily handle things like coffee in moderation.

I hope you enjoyed this all-in-one list of the most effective and practical ways you can go about healing your leaky gut fast.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by all the ideas above?

Then I recommend downloading my simple leaky gut recovery guide (it’s free and it’s a super quick read!).

You’ll be able to see my entire approach to tackling leaky gut in this guide and I’ve only included my very favorite ideas from above.

Happy reading!!

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