Leaky Gut

What is leaky gut?2,3

The small intestine is the site of absorption for most essential vitamins and minerals we receive from our food. The small intestine contains microscopic pores called “tight junctions” that are semipermeable. As such, tight junctions are highly selective as to the size and type of particles that can be let through the intestinal wall, and into the bloodstream. Ideally, any toxins or large pieces of undigested food are prohibited. The nutrients that are let through this semipermeable barrier are then shuttled from the bloodstream all throughout the body.

True to its name, leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions start leaking particles into the bloodstream that aren’t supposed to be there. The tight junctions can widen when irritated by different substances such as gluten, un-sprouted grains, excess sugar, dairy, and genetically modified organisms (further discussed below).

The introduction of these new, unwanted particles in your bloodstream creates an immune response, whereby your body sees them as invaders. When the immune system identifies the substance, it creates a memory for it, known as “antibodies”. Next time this substance is introduced into the bloodstream alarm bells can sound and the body will create a reaction to the invader. This is problematic however, as the body not only attacks the unwanted particles (invaders) coming into the bloodstream, but also the body’s healthy cells; this is where food allergies and autoimmune disorders begin.

What are the signs and symptoms of leaky gut?1,5 

Here are some of the more common signs and symptoms of leaky gut. It is important to note that some people can have a leaky gut with little to no symptoms at all.

  • Sinus and mouth:
    • Frequent colds
    • Food sensitivities
  • Brain:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • ADHD
    • Headaches
  • Skin:
    • Acne
    • Rosacea
    • Eczema
    • Psoriasis
  • Thyroid problems:
    • Hashimoto’s
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Graves’
  • Colon:
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • IBD
  • Adrenals:
    • Fatigue
  • Joints:
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Fibromyalgia

What foods affect leaky gut?3

Cause leaky gut

Heal leaky gut

Gluten- is the protein found in wheat and a select few grains. It is also found in many processed and prepared products. It is difficult to digest unless it has gone through a sprouting or sourdough process.

Bone broth- beneficial amino acids, minerals, and potassium.

Cow’s Dairy- a protein called A1 casein can act in a similar way as gluten and is very inflammatory.

Fermented foods- sauerkraut, kimchi, water kefir, and goat’s milk kefir all provide beneficial “good” bacteria.

Sugar- this is the food for yeast and bad bacteria, which can damage the intestinal wall.

Blueberries- Very anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants.

Unsprouted grains- there is a protective layer on grains and soy called phytic acid. This can irritate the intestines. Sprouting grains gets rid of the phytic acid layer.

Healthy fats- avocado, coconut oil, wild caught fish (salmon), and ghee. Soothes digestive tract and promote healing

GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)- these are grown with herbicides and pesticides that can damage the gut lining. GMO’s can also damage the probiotics in your gut and cause inflammation.

Steamed vegetables- easier to digest and full of vital nutrients.

Top supplements that help with leaky gut3, 4

  • Probiotics- healthy bacteria; these crowd out the bad bacteria with the good bacteria.
  • L-Glutamine- an amino acid that is great for increasing the immune system and repairing damage to the gut. Helps the gut lining to regrow and repair from leaky gut.
  • Digestive Enzymes- plant or microbial-based supplement that assist the breakdown, absorption and usage of macronutrients. Used to maximize digestion.
  • Betaine Hydrochloric Acid- assists in protein digestion in the stomach and absorption of minerals and other important nutrients like Vitamin B12.
  • Fish oil- contains essential fatty acids EPA/DHA, which reduce inflammation.

The “gut and brain” connection2

The gut and your brain are so highly connected that the gut is often referred to as one’s “second brain”. The bacteria in your gut, transmits information to your brain from the vagus nerve, which is the 10th cranial nerve that comes from your brain stem and into your enteric nervous system (the gastrointestinal tracts nervous system). There is a definite association between abnormal brain function and abnormal gut flora.


If you suspect that you have leaky gut or would like to embark on the process of healing leaky gut, it is very important to take into consideration the following factors: diet, lifestyle and supplementation. At Aumakua Integrative Wellness Clinic, we have Naturopathic doctors that can prepare a thorough and personalized plan to help bring your gut and gut flora back to a healthier and more sustainable balance.


1.     “7 Signs and Symptoms You Have Leaky Gut – DrAxe.com.” Dr Axe.16 Aug. 2014. Web. 21 Jan. 2016. <http://draxe.com/7-signs-symptoms-you-have-leaky-gut/>.

2.     “Tips and Tricks to Boost Your Productivity.” Mercola.com. Web. 21 Jan. 2016. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/01/21/simple-productivity-tips-tricks.aspx?e_cid=20160121Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20160121Z1&et_cid=DM97891&et_rid=1324309083>.

3.     “The Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan – DrAxe.com.” Dr Axe. Web. 21 Jan. 2016. <http://draxe.com/leaky-gut-diet-treatment/>.

4.     “8 Supplements To Heal A Leaky Gut.” <http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9336/8-supplements-to-heal-a-leaky-gut.html>.

5.     Axe, Dr. “Leaky Gut.” Webinar. Dec. 2015. Lecture.


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