1. Whole foods
No, I’m not suggesting you now get all your meals from your local, Amazon-owned grocery store in order to achieve a healthy leaky gut diet.
What I mean by whole foods is foods that haven’t been messed with. A sweet potato is a whole food. Roasted sweet potato with coconut butter and sea salt is also a whole food. In short, natural, grown/raised, unprocessed foods are the single best category of foods to eat with leaky gut.
Cooking the food doesn’t make it ‘NOT’ a whole food. Rather, we are looking out for additives and processes that convert REAL foods into some of the phantoms you see in the snack aisle. High fructose corn syrup, preservatives, ‘natural’ flavors, and other non-foods are what to look out for.
When it comes to processed foods, just say no!
Whole grains, beans, antibiotic-free meat, vegetables, and fruit are what you need to get in the habit of sticking with and looking for next time you hit the grocery store or order your groceries online.
A good tip for the actual store? Avoid the center aisles. That’s where all the processed stuff is lurking. The outer perimeter is where you’ll find the most whole foods:)
2. Fermented foods
Fermented foods should be a staple in your diet if you have leaky gut syndrome…and really, for anyone who wants optimal gut health. Yes, it’s great to take a daily probiotic supplement, but as with any supplement, it’s best to get what you need (vitamins, probiotics, etc.) from actual food.
Fermented foods are intensely alive with good bacteria and nutrients that keep your digestive system on track and may help reduce some of the symptoms of leaky gut.
Some other fermented goodies you can find online or in the grocery aisle include :
- Apple cider vinegar
- Fermented coconut yogurt
- And more!
Try to stick to organic whenever possible with fermented foods to avoid pesticides that may still be lurking after the fermentation process.
And that goes for at-home fermenting too! Fermenting foods at home is a fun, cost-effective way to get your gut health on. Plus, fermenting foods is a great way to store nutritious, whole foods over longer periods of time. Not a bad idea during a pandemic…
3. Low glycemic fruits
Overloading on sugars isn’t a good idea for leaky gut sufferers. When you feel like something sweet or crave fruit for breakfast or dessert, stick to fruits with a lower glycemic load. Low-glycemic fruit like apples, pears, lemons, and grapefruit are alkaline gut-lovers. Mangos and bananas have a higher glycemic load, so eat these in moder
4. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are some of the most healthy foods on the planet! This category is stacked with life-affirming superfoods and greens that are fantastic for supporting overall gut health and keeping leaky gut symptoms at bay. Even if you don’t have leaky gut syndrome, adding more cruciferous vegetables to your diet will pay dividends to your wellness. Experiment, explore, and have fun with these wonderful veggies:
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok choy
- Other green, leafy vegetables
Roast them. Eat them raw. Throw them in a smoothie and camouflage their taste with frozen fruit. However you do it, just do it! Your gut will thank you.
Beets show the body lots of love; they are both gut lovers and liver lovers. Just one cup has around 4 grams of insoluble fiber, helping the digestive system to function properly and keeping you regular. Beets have also been shown to help control high blood pressure in scientific studies.
Beets are a staple in any leak gut diet, but be cautious of their sugar content. A moderate amount of beet juice daily (add a half of one to a juice or smoothie for the win) will do the body wonders and not put you off the rails with sugar. But as with any fruit or vegetable with sugar, be mindful and don’t overdo it.
And don’t be alarmed at any pink or reddish urine after eating beets. It’s all part of the experience!
6. Plant-based milks
Since you should be avoiding a lot of dairy, plant-based milks are your go-to for great-tasting dairy alternatives. Nut milks, seed milks, and milks from oats or grains are just as tasty (if not, tastier) than the scary dairy stuff. You can buy most plant-based milks at your local grocery store, and Amazon sells a ton as well.
If you want to save money and avoid some of the additives like processed sugar, flavorings, etc. make your own at home! Both oat milk and hemp seed milk are ridiculously easy to make.
Nut milk is also an easy DIY, but make sure to soak nuts beforehand. Nuts have a natural chemical surrounding them that can make them harder on the human digestive system. Soaking nuts before blending them into milk or butter will effectively remove this layer, making them easier to digest and more ‘blendable’ too. Different nuts and seeds require different soaking times, so be sure to plan accordingly.
7. Pasta! Hold the gluten.
Pasta is one of those comfort foods that people on a leaky gut diet or with weight issues have a hard time letting go of. The great news is that more people are waking up to the benefits of eating less gluten, so there are now super-delicious options to satisfy your pasta cravings without the guilt. And without compromising your nutritional goals.
For those who think they may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome, or anyone who wants to improve their gut health in general, here are some delicious and nutritious gluten-free pasta alternatives:
- Brown rice pasta
- Chickpea pasta
- Quinoa pasta
- Soba noodles
- Zucchini noodles
8. Leaky gut supplements
Leaky gut supplements are last on the list because yes, they are important. But they’re not everything. The absolute best way to optimize your gut health is by modifying what you eat to include the above foods to eat with leaky gut.
That said, certain nutritional supplements can also help to get your gut health under control.
First and foremost is the probiotic. A good probiotic supplement will help balance the microbiome by repopulating it regularly with beneficial bacteria. These products are usually made from dairy but FYI they are not truly a ‘dairy product’. They shouldn’t interfere with any dairy restriction in your leaky gut diet, unless you have a severe allergy.
There are also now multiple soil-based probiotics on the market that do not involve any animal products whatsoever. Do your research and look for a hearty supplement that will withstand digestion.
In addition to a whole foods diet, these supplements are an excellent idea to kick up your gut health:
- Digestive enzymes
- Marshmallow root
- Slippery elm
If you’re suffering from leaky gut (or you're just trying to figure out the possible causes of gut health issues) don’t fret about changing up your nutrition! The foods here on this list can easily be integrated with a little homework, some shopping, and a bit of experimentation.
Want to speak to a functional medicine professional before starting a leaky gut diet?
Book a free 15-minute consultation with Dr. Daniel.