Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where undigested proteins like gluten, toxins and microbes can pass into the bloodstream. Another name for this condition is “intestinal permeability,” which means the “tight junctions” or the gateway between the intestinal wall and bloodstream have been damaged and are allowing the undigested particles to pass through the intestinal wall.
When these particles enter the bloodstream, it will cause system-wide inflammation and can initiate an immune response in the body. Over time, if leaky gut is not healed, it can lead to food sensitivities, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, skin issues like eczema, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, depression, anxiety, ADHD, nutrient malabsorption and autoimmune disease.
Most doctors will tell you that repairing leaky gut is difficult and it takes time, but for most people who follow my leaky gut diet and treatment plan, it’s possible to see results fast.
Along with changing your diet, taking the right supplements can make a big difference in fixing leaky gut. These are the 10 key leaky gut supplements that I have recommended to my patients for years that you may consider adding into your daily health routine.
Top 10 Leaky Gut Supplements
In my opinion, supplementing with a high-quality probiotic is absolutely necessary for gut health today, especially for people with signs of a leaky gut. This is why I will give more attention to this section than the other 9, because without a viable probiotic solution, it’s virtually impossible to repair leaky gut.
In my guide on probiotics benefits, I highlight the importance of learning about the different types of strains of probiotic, and why the probiotic benefits experienced with one probiotic strain may be completely different from the health benefits seen from another probiotic.
Case in point: certain strains of probiotics enhance immune function, whereas, others promote health or hormone balance. It’s always best to take specific strains according to the benefit that you need. This will help you maximize the natural healing benefits for your needs. So, instead of taking a “multivitamin” approach and filling your body with all sorts of bacteria that you may not need, be selective and strategic about what strains you decide to take.
When reading probiotics labels keep a look out for the genus, species, and strain. The label should also indicate the type of CFU’s (colony forming units) that are present at the time of manufacturing. When purchasing a probiotic supplement always consider these key aspects:
Brand Quality: Chose companies that you trust and that you know use higher quality ingredients.
High CFU Count: Make sure that you only take a probiotic that has at least 50 billion CFUs.
Strain Diversity: Also, look for a supplement with multiple bacterial strains.
Survivability: Keep a look out for beneficial strains like:
- Bacillus clausii (1)
- Bacillus subtilis (2)
- Saccharomyces boulardii (3)
- Bacillus coagulans (4)
- Lactobacillus plantarum (5)
- Lactobacillus paracasei (6)
- Bifidobacterium bifidum (7)
- Bifidobacterium longum (8)
- Bifidobacterium breve (9)
- Bifidobacterium infantis (10)
- Lactobacillus casei (11)
- Lactobacillus acidophilus (12)
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus (13)
- Lactobacillus brevis (14)
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus (15)
Recommended Daily Intake: For most people, taking 2–4 capsules of high-quality probiotic capsules daily is the recommended dose. You may also be able to find a leaky gut formulation that contains probiotics in addition to other gut-supporting ingredients.
Almost equally important as probiotics, fiber ranks as No. 2 on my list. Most people don’t realize this, but without fiber, probiotics cannot live. Essentially indigestible fibers (i.e. prebiotics) are the food the helps probiotic bacteria thrive in our gut. (16)
This is why a diet rich in high-fiber foods like sprouted chia seeds, sprouted flaxseeds and sprouted hemp seeds is so important. If you have severe leaky gut, however, you may need to start out getting your fiber from steamed vegetables and fruit if your gut is extremely sensitive. If you gut isn’t overly sensitive, aim for 30–40 grams of fiber daily.
For the greatest digestive benefit, take one or two capsules of digestive enzyme supplements before and after your meal. Enzymes help completely break down proteins, complex sugars and starches, which can in turn reduce intestinal inflammation.
I would recommend a full spectrum enzyme supplement that contains the following:
- Protease — breaks down proteins (including gluten)
- Amylase — breaks down starches
- Lipase — breaks down fats
- Lactase — breaks down lactose in dairy
Also, there are specific enzymes that support the body in breaking down certain types of food. If you know you have a gluten or dairy intolerance, you can buy a formula that helps with that specific issue.
An essential amino acid, the anti-inflammatory L-glutamine contains some significant health benefits including repairing the gut and intestinal lining. Glutamine is used as fuel by the cells that line the intestines to keep them healthy — and can help repair leaky gut, in particular. (17) In addition, stress can deplete your glutamine levels and leave you vulnerable to leaky gut — another reason to supplement with L-glutamine.
5. Licorice Root
One of my favorite adoptogenic herbs is licorice root. Proven to help increase hormone availability, this tasty root can also alleviate adrenal fatigue because it aids in the absorption and metabolism of cortisol. (18)
Licorice root can also help support the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. It is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is being caused by emotional stress.
Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which has been known to cause edema and hypertension when taken in very large quantities. However, based on body weight, up to about 6-18 grams per day should help avoid any side effects. (19) Most licorice root or gut formulated supplements only contain between 500 milligrams – 1 gram per dose.
6. Collagen Powder
The secret behind the power of bone broth is collagen, the main supportive proteins that gives bone, cartilage and tendons their strength. Once cooked, it becomes “gelatin.” Supplementing with collagen or gelatin is important because it can help boost your gastric juices and aid is restoring the integrity and health of your mucosal lining. (20)
Collagen also contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which are essential building blocks to repairing damaged intestinal lining. Drink 8–16 ounces of bone broth daily or take 2 tablespoons of collagen protein twice daily, preferably a brand that offers multiple types and sources of collagen.
N-acetyl glucosamine has gain recent popularity in mainstream medicine because it is now widely accepted that it can help protect the lining of your stomach and intestines.
Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, NAG has also been reported to help with osteoarthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. (21)
Although it might look strange, the black, tar-like substance shilajit is a powerful anti-inflammatory with gut healing benefits. Taking shilajit may help to reduce gut inflammation and protect from gastric ulcers. (22, 23)
9. Reishi Mushrooms
Adaptogenic reishi mushrooms can help to positively influence your immune system, most of which is located in your gut. Not only does reishi help to kill dangerous cells that cause diseases (like cancer), they can also protect healthy genes from becoming mutated. (24) Your immune system also benefits from reishi because of the way these mushrooms support the liver’s efforts in detoxification. (25)
10. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root acts as a natural antihistamine and is a powerful antioxidant. Combined with ginger, marshmallow root helps to protect from stomach ulcers and generally supports overall gastrointestinal health. (26)