Leaky Gut Supplements | Comprehensive Approach
Unlike some conditions, a leaky gut cannot be healed by taking just one vitamin, herb, or single supplement blend. Instead, a comprehensive approach must be taken in order to reduce the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. Explore some of my top recommendations for the best leaky gut supplements, as well as diet and lifestyle recommendations.
Experts estimate that as many as 8 in 10 people in the United States have some level of leaky gut syndrome. Symptoms of this condition can range from undetectable to life-altering. The prevalence of leaky gut should come as no surprise since our Western diet only increases the risk and severity of symptoms experienced.
Once developed, leaky gut can be a challenging condition to correct. In contrast with other health problems that can be treated naturally, there is no quick fix for the syndrome. Since it can take years of eating an unhealthy diet, stress, and other negative lifestyle habits to cause leaky gut, expecting the problem to be corrected overnight isn’t realistic.
If you or your health practitioner suspects that you have a leaky gut, the best way to resolve the problem is by taking a comprehensive approach. Learn more about the condition, its symptoms, and about the best supplements and lifestyle changes you can make to heal properly.
What is a leaky gut?
Leaky gut (known also as leaky gut syndrome or increased intestinal permeability) is a condition characterized by the passage of toxins, bacteria, and other harmful substances from the digestive system to the bloodstream.
How does this occur? In a properly functioning digestive system, gaps known as tight junctions should only be passing water and nutrients into your bloodstream. When these tight junctions are loosened (as a result of the various factors described below), leaky gut syndrome can occur.
What causes leaky gut syndrome?
While there isn’t one known cause of leaky gut syndrome, there are a few culprits that are believed to lead to the condition. Here are just a few of the suspected causes of leaky gut syndrome:
- Poor dietary habits (e.g. high saturated fat consumption, low-fiber diets)
- Too much alcohol
- Chronic, untreated stress
- Exercising excessively
- Nutrient deficiency
- Various medications
What are the symptoms of leaky gut?
Those who have a leaky gut can experience a range of symptoms, including headaches, brain fog, infertility, depression, and various autoimmune diseases.
As mentioned earlier, the spectrum of leaky gut symptoms can range from almost undetectable to life-altering. If left untreated, symptoms can continue to worsen, and new issues can emerge.
Review a sample of the many health problems that are associated with an untreated leaky gut:
- Brain fog
- Depression and anxiety
- Autoimmune diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Diagnosed nutritional deficiencies
- Diarrhea, gas, and other digestive concerns
- Joint pain
- Skin problems (e.g. eczema, rashes)
- Impaired immune function
What makes supplements effective?
Since there are not many conventional treatments for the condition, leaky gut supplements (along with strategic lifestyle changes) are most effective in controlling symptoms.
Although the condition is just now beginning to gain some traction in the world of conventional medicine, symptoms of leaky gut syndrome are best treated through natural means.
Truly effective leaky gut supplements must meet the criteria of the following three categories:
1. Improves digestion and elimination
2. Repairs intestinal permeability and leaky gut
3. Repairs stress response and support immunity
Choosing leaky gut supplements that achieve each of these objectives helps set you up for long-term success and healing. The following section highlights eight of my favorite natural supplements that meet this strict criteria.
Top leaky gut supplements
L-glutamine is an amino acid that has been shown to protect the gut lining, support the absorption of nutrients, and protects the gut barrier1.
Also, not only can stress, injury, infection2, nutritional status, and excessive amounts of exercise lead to leaky gut, but these factors influence plasma glutamine level. Therefore, controlling these factors with L-glutamine supplementation3 is an effective treatment method.
- N Acetyl D-Glucosamine
In the list of possible causes of leaky gut, lectins are a known contributor to the condition. What exactly are lectins? Put simply, they are carbohydrate-binding plant proteins. Lectins cannot be digested by the human body, and can cause some significant health problems.
That’s where N Acetyl D-Glucosamine (or NADG) steps in. Research has shown that this supplement is effective in binding lectins4. Binding lectins within the body can help reduce the negative symptoms experienced of exposure to the protein, including leaky gut syndrome.
NADG is also a component of glycoproteins, proteoglycans, GAGs, and other connective tissue building blocks. It acts as substrate materials for tissue repair and anti-inflammatory reactions, which is crucial in healing a leaky gut5.
Additionally, mucosal repair when the mucin barrier is compromised could lead to inflammatory bowel disease8. Therefore, in order to prevent these issues and leaky gut syndrome, mucin supplements are an absolute must.
Supplements to support digestion and leaky gut
- DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)
There are multiple benefits associated with DGL (also known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice). First, the roots of DGL are strong anti-adhesive systems, which may be used as potent tools for maintaining a healthy gut wall9. DGL is also known to be an effective supplement for reducing inflammation and preventing ulcers10.
One study revealed that when cimetidine and and DGL are used in conjunction with one another, there may be greater protection against mucosal damage. This study was first conducted in rats who had aspirin-induced gastric mucosal damage, and were given a combination of the substances11.
In addition to providing protection against mucosal damage, DGL has been shown to be effective in repairing the mucosal lining of individuals suffering from chronic ulcers12.
- Betaine HCL
Betaine HCL (or betaine hydrochloride) is “a vitamin-like substance found in foods.” It is most commonly used to support the reduction in symptoms of anemia, yeast infections, food allergies, and thyroid disorders. The supplement has also shown some promising evidence of effectively treating other conditions, such as inner ear infections, rheumatoid arthritis, gallstones, and atherosclerosis. Betaine HCL is also one of my top choices for leaky gut supplements, as it has properties that ultimately work to heal the gut.
Protease is “an enzyme that breaks down proteins and peptides.” These enzymes are essential in preventing damage during excessive inflammation, preventing over coagulation or clotting, and overactivation of our immune system. These characteristics make it especially effective in treating leaky gut syndrome.
Supplements to support adrenal function and leaky gut
- Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) & American Ginseng
The combination of Eleuthero (also known as Siberian ginseng) and American ginseng13 achieve all three objectives for effective leaky gut supplements. Both Eleuthero and American ginseng have been used for thousands of years to boost energy, increase endurance, and support immunity14 and longevity. Studies have shown that these herbs are effective in balancing the stress response caused by a leaky gut, and in boosting immune function15. Herbs like Eleuthero have also been shown to support long term memory, learning, and the growth of new brain cells16.
More specifically, the role of these herbs in healing leaky gut is in supporting the adrenal glands and immune system. Once the gut is repaired, these areas of the body need help being brought back in to balance, which Eleuthero and American ginseng can do.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic medicinal herb that has numerous applications. Most commonly, it is used for enhanced energy, improved stress response (reduces levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol17), reduced inflammation and fatigue, and enhanced concentration levels18.
It is also a great herb to support a healthy thyroid.
How does this herb assist in the healing of a leaky gut? Research has uncovered its anti-neuroinflammatory potential against systemic LPS-induced neuroinflammation19. LPS can create autoimmunity, in addition to other negative health problems. In short, this study shows that Ashwagandha could protect the brain against systemic inflammation (which is beneficial for people suffering with inflammation stemming from a leaky gut!).
What are other lifestyle and diet recommendations for treating leaky gut?
Taking the right leaky gut supplements is an incredibly important step in supporting the healing of your condition. While it is crucial to have the right leaky gut supplements, there are also important lifestyle changes that one must make in order to achieve lasting results.
In addition to the use of the supplements listed above, be sure to take the following steps for a comprehensive approach to repairing your leaky gut:
- Eat a diet full of essential nutrients: What does this mean? Although there are a lot of foods that comprise a “healthy” diet, there are certain steps that those with a leaky gut can take to enhance their results. Since a leaky gut usually stems from eating the wrong foods, it is important to know which foods to avoid and which to include as part of your diet. Eliminate all “junk foods” (e.g. fast food, soda, candy), artificial sweeteners, foods that contain gluten, and refined oils. Instead, be sure to fill your menu plan with gluten-free grains, fruits, vegetables, fermented vegetables, properly-sourced fish (such as salmon), and nuts. Eating foods that repair the gut is crucial at all stages of leaky gut syndrome.
Toxins, Stress & Your Gut
- Avoid exposure to toxins: These days, toxins can be found almost anywhere. Since toxins that enter your digestive system can pass through to your bloodstream with a leaky gut, it is of the highest importance to reduce your exposure to all kinds of toxins.
- You can achieve this by choosing only organic foods, eliminating alcohol and smoking, and avoiding the consumption of artificial ingredients (such as food coloring and sweeteners). This will prevent excess toxins from reaching your bloodstream, and causing further leaky gut symptoms.
- Reduce your stress levels: In addition to reducing the stress response with leaky gut supplements (e.g. adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha), you can take other practical steps when trying to eliminate chronic stress.
- Whether you have a stressful job or lifestyle, everyone can control their individual stress levels. Research supports the use of exercise, meditation, deep breathing, sufficient sleep, and therapy to naturally reduce the stress response.
The Best Appraoch For Leaky Gut
Do you need assistance in choosing the right leaky gut supplements? By adding the top 8 leaky gut supplements to your daily routine you can help protect, restore and assist in preventing and possibly eliminating a leaky gut. You can search for these products individually or find them in the Restore Leaky Gut Program.
If you’re interested in a more customized approach to eliminating autoimmune problems, please apply for an appointment. Our programs have already helped thousands of people increase their energy, balance their hormones and lose weight. Apply for coaching today to customize your nutritional approach!