Last Updated: Jan 20, 2019 | Download my Leaky Gut Recovery Guide
In a typical week, we probably down 4-5 gallons (15-20 liters) of liquids!
From good ol’ water to freshly blended smoothies to tasty kombuchas – and maybe even a bit of soda if we’re being naughty.
It sounds kinda crazy when we think about it like that. (I mean the average American consumes roughly 45 gallons of soda a year!)
So as you can imagine, what we drink is just as important as what we eat when it comes to our gut health.
The problem of course, is that it can be super confusing trying to work out what we can and can’t drink.
After all, there are 100s of different drink options out there and just as much conflicting advice!
For example, one article you read may preach the benefits of grass fed cow’s milk kefir and then another will say anything that comes from a cow is a lactose & casein filled nightmare!
Or one doctor may recommend you drink nutrient-rich smoothies every day, whilst another will say smoothies are full of sugar, high FODMAP ingredients and too much irritating fiber.
So which is it?
Say hello to the leaky gut drinks pyramid – every YES drink on one page
Like with the food pyramid, I’ve spent a lot of time working on this for you.
And once again, it’s been oh so worth it, because I think this is THE easiest way to understand the diet in just a matter of minutes.
Here’s a few notes on the drinks pyramid
As you can see above, I’ve pinpointed all the categories of YES drinks, and a few categories of MAYBE drinks.
Then I’ve given examples of my favorite drinks for each category.
ie instead of drowning you in dozens of different options for each category, I’m just showing you my favorites. My go tos!
For example, whilst there are dozens and dozens of different herbal teas, I’ve just shown you the ones that are specifically best for gut health.
On the flip side, I’ve avoided including any NO drinks, like normal beer, soda/soft drinks, fruit juices etc. Making it super easy to follow.
Best of all, I’m using the pyramid structure again, so you can easily see what to prioritize and what to chill out on.
Now let’s take a look at the types of drinks
The leaky gut drinks pyramid breaks apart into 4 levels, which are…
- Level 1 – this is where you’ll find the 3 types of drinks I enjoy the most, day to day. It’s worth noting that drink #1 (filtered tap water) makes up 90% of my daily drinks intake. Whilst I typically have 1 glass of L-Glutamine water and 1 mug of bone broth.
- Level 2 – here you’ll see the 8 drinks that I enjoy often. Some of these taste better than others, but what they all have in common is your gut will love them. It is worth rotating through them in any given week, as they each carry very different benefits. For example, some are probiotic-rich drinks that your microbiome will love, whilst others are antioxidant & nutrient packed blends that your entire body will enjoy.
- Levels 3 & 4 – this is where you’ll discover 5 more types of drinks, which you can have occasionally IF you can tolerate them.
As with the food pyramid, I’ll mention how to test yourself for these.
Level 1 drinks – drink these intestinal love tonics as you please
Say hello to our best drinking buddies!
Low-toxin tap water is essential for our gut health as it helps with nutrient absorption, fiber break down and healthy stools.
Whilst the amino acid rich L-Glutamine powder and bone broth drinks work wonderfully to feed our intestinal wall. You might not find them delicious, but your gut sure will!
- Filtered tap water – Use a BRITA jug or install a filter on your tap to minimize gut-irritating toxins like chlorine
- L-Glutamine water – Mix 5g of pure L-Glutamine powder with 8 oz / 240ml of water.
- Bone broth – Homemade beef bone broth is best and you can find my recipe here
Typically, these drinks will make up the bulk of our liquid intake each day, with 90% coming from plain ol’ filtered tap water (eg 2-3 liters a day).
Level 2 drinks – you can enjoy these often, like a microbiome-mad sailor
These drinks are fairly delicious and nutritious. And the range of flavors and textures will keep things fun.
I personally love them all. Even something like the prebiotic water is great. Because despite the texture being somewhat gritty, the feedback loop for my gut health is fantastic.
- Flavored water – With ACV, berries, cucumber, ginger, lime, lemon, mint and/or stevia. Try lots of different flavor combinations to keep things exciting and find the blends that work best for you.
- Green shake – A blend of gut-friendly vegetables, healthy fats & protein. Drink slowly and treat it as a meal. Here’s my green shake recipe if you want it.
- Kefir – Coconut milk, goats milk, low-sugar water or grass fed cow’s milk based kefir. Worth noting, grass-fed cow’s milk kefir is only ok if fermented 2-3 days (as it reduces/eats the lactose).
- Green juice – Cold pressed with low FODMAP green vegetables and no fruit. Homemade is best given potential FODMAP & sugar issues with store bought juices.
- Prebiotic water – With green banana flour, potato starch flour or other low FODMAP prebiotic powder. These 2 examples are low FODMAP, resistant starches. Just be sure to start with very small serving sizes!
- Herbal teas – eg ginger, licorice, marshmallow root, peppermint, slippery elm. Focus on these gut supporting herbal teas before going off into the herbal deep end.
- Kombucha – Low sugar or stevia-flavored (keep refrigerated). If buying, check for high FODMAP sugar alcohols and probiotic CFU counts, as many popular brands have less than 1 billion CFUs per bottle. To compare, our probiotic supplement is made with 50 billion CFUs per capsule.
- Nut milks – Almond, coconut, hazelnut or macadamia milk. Opt for organic, where possible.
Generally speaking, we can enjoy these drinks as much as we like. But as with everything, speak to your healthcare professional and listen to your body.
Level 3 drinks – try them once your gut is better (but go easy)
These drinks may be an issue if you’re just starting your journey to good gut health. But once better, trial them to see if tolerable.
The realities of life mean we will likely drink these, so choosing the right form can help, which is why examples listed are specific.
When better, we might have caffeinated teas daily (as they have great gut health benefits, eg polyphenols, enzyme production) and 1-2 glasses of the other drinks per day.
- Caffeinated teas – Black, green, oolong, white, eg jasmine, matcha, pu-erh. Research continues to come out showing how various teas can help our microbiome, as well as digestive enzyme production. Pretty cool!
- Fizzy water – Mineral/soda water – can cause bloating, so be careful. I used to drink unflavored Soda Stream like a cowboy and looked like Arny Schwarzenegger in Twins. Avoid making the same mistake!
- Coffee – Organic coffee or decaffeinated coffee (but stick to a small cup o Joe).
- Dry wines – eg brut champagne, cab sav, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, shiraz. These are all dry wines, which means they are (relatively) low in sugar. And hey, they taste great, so we’re lucky!
Level 4 drinks – only if truly needed
If these stop you reaching for soda/soft drinks, fruit juices, normal beer etc, then indulge now and then. But just make sure to do it right.
For example, diet soda – you should opt for naturally sweetened sodas, eg stevia-flavored natural cola. And avoid the high FODMAP sugar alcohol flavored sodas.
- eg diet soda, gluten-free beer, spirits with sugar-free mixers
The #1 drink for leaky gut – L-Glutamine water
My first drink of the day! And also the absolute easiest to make.
Just like protein powder feeds your muscles so they can repair and grow stronger, L-Glutamine fuels your gut lining so it too can repair damaged cells and come back healthier.
In fact, the cells lining your gut love L-Glutamine so much that they’re able to absorb it directly, making supplementation very effective.
By feeding these cells the fuel they love, your body is able to produce more intestinal mucus and Secretary Immunoglobulin Type A (SIgA), as well as tighten up the openings in your gut lining themselves, thereby reducing things like large undigested food molecules and other toxins crossing the gut barrier and into your bloodstream.
And that’s when you really start to enjoy the benefits that come from L-Glutamine.
How to enjoy L-Glutamine water
- Mix 5g (1 teaspoon) of pure unflavored L-Glutamine powder with 8 ounces (240 ml) water, and drink in between meals. i.e. 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
- If you feel good with this size serving, then consider increasing the number of serves per day. You can read about my megadose protocol here. And as with everything, speak to your healthcare professional to see what makes sense for you.
How to make the most of this drinks pyramid
1) Print off the drinks pyramid poster above
After you print it out, stick it on the fridge, alongside your food pyramid. You’ll love how easy it becomes to make yes/no decisions.
And of course, now you’ll have 2 security guards deciding what gets into the fridge and what stays out!
2) Shop your favorite drinks from Levels 1 & 2
Pick your favorites and stock up on them. Obviously, it is preferable to make these drinks yourself at home, as that will guarantee the best ingredients are used and no nasty preservatives are present.
But I know that isn’t always realistic. So for certain drinks like kefir, kombucha and nut milks, feel free to buy them from a a high quality source.
3) Ignore drinks from Levels 3 & 4 for 30 days
Saying adios to these delicious drinks for one month is not easy (oh coffee, how I heart you). But you will feel so much better taking a break.
And the great news is that once your gut is in better shape it will likely be able to tolerate many, and possibly all of them, in moderation.
4) Then test drinks from Levels 3 & 4
Once the 30 days are up, start reintroducing one drink at a time from levels 3 & 4 and in small amounts, eg a small glass of red wine.
Like with food, I personally add one new drink every 3 days, as that gives me enough time to see if there are any delayed symptoms.
Bring the drinks that don’t cause a reaction back into your normal diet and ditch the ones that still don’t play well.
You’ll probably also find that some of these drinks can be consumed quite regularly, eg caffeinated teas (daily), whilst others not so often, eg coffee (maybe weekly).
Drink for your gut health, like a digestive angel
I know there are a lot of drinks we have to say goodbye to for our gut health.
Some permanently, like beer, fruit juice, normal soda/soft drinks. And some most likely only temporarily, like coffee and wine. But there is still so much we can enjoy!
In fact, there are dozens of different flavors and textures available to us in the pyramid above. Eg there are eight different flavored water variations alone.
And if you experiment and rotate through all the variations, you’ll keep things exciting.
Of course, when you really feel yourself reaching for an old favorite (eg Coca Cola), then feel free to substitute it with a coffee, wine or maybe even a borderline drink or two (eg a naturally flavored, sugar-free soda).
Happy drinking to you and your gut!
Your L-Glutamine & bone broth drinking buddy
P.S. if you want to use the exact same pure, unflavored L-Glutamine powder I enjoy – you can get it here on Amazon.