Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where you have hyperpermeable intestines. The lining of your “gut” is more porous, allowing in toxins that would otherwise have been filtered out of your body. As a result, waste, toxins, yeast, and other undesirable substances can get into your bloodstream and even trigger autoimmune problems. Leaky gut syndrome can be brought on by the use of certain medication including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics; stress; or, more commonly, your diet.
Food To Avoid
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is packed with sugars, unhealthy oil, simple carbohydrates, dairy, and grain. The toxic buildup in your body from high quantities of these chemicals, additives, and refined products can result in inflammation and leaky gut.1
Certain foods worsen the inflammation of the gut wall. These include food products with refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, wheat gluten, alcohol, and milk casein. If you have an autoimmune disorder, you should also avoid any nightshades like tomato, eggplant, potato, and hot/sweet peppers, as well as seeds, nuts, and eggs. Spices like paprika have alkaloids which, like nightshades, aggravate inflammation.2
So What Should You Be Eating?
- Probiotic foods that populate healthy gut bacteria are a tried and tested way to counter a range of conditions. To take advantage of the benefits of probiotics, include foods like yogurt with live cultures of bacteria; fermented foods like Korean Kimchi and Sauerkraut; meats, eggs, and fish that have been fermented; cultured sour cream; and pickled foods in your diet.
- Also explore a couple of servings of prebiotic foods. These contain fiber designed to aid the growth and action of good gut bacteria. Data suggests that the average American gets just 5 gm of this prebiotic fiber in their daily diet compared to about 135 gm that people ate hundreds of years ago.3 Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, asparagus, chicory root, dandelion greens, and Mexican yam jicama are all great sources.
- Omega 3 fatty acids in particular are believed to help cut inflammation. Salmon and other seafood rich in omega-3 are a good addition to your diet. Healthy fats like those from avocado or pure olive oil can also help.
- Fish oils and foods rich in vitamin D and zinc improve the intestinal mucosal lining. Bone broth which has an abundance of gelatin, glutamine, and glycine is also great for healing the intestinal walls.
- Protein-rich foods can help combat protein malnutrition-linked intestinal permeability problems.
- High-fiber foods may also reduce the paracellular permeability of the colon, according to results from one study.4
Ayurveda’s Answer To Leaky Gut Syndrome
Ayurveda believes that maintaining a healthy digestive system through an appropriate diet is the cornerstone of good health. When the mucosal integrity of your gut is compromised, as is the case with leaky gut syndrome, your body forms “ama.” Ama is a toxin that is supposed to trigger diseases but it can be controlled through the intake of natural antioxidants in your diet and via Ayurvedic herbal mixtures.5
One easy remedy suggested by Ayurveda is to consume a tablespoon each of raisins (take care to buy clean, chemical-free organic ones) and raw sesame seeds. Chew them down as much as you can and then swallow. This must be done at the end of every day, giving a gap of about two to three hours after your dinner. This mixture helps restore intestinal health. Fiber-rich raisins soften and moisten stool and sesame seeds act as a laxative, together helping purge waste from the body.6
As with mainstream Western medicine, Ayurveda too believes that avoiding your “triggers,” foods that your body cannot tolerate, is allergic to, or is sensitive to, is the first step. Tomatoes, garlic, chillies, corn, beets, and mushrooms, which are considered “heating” foods, should be avoided. Instead, focus on more cooling foods to calm “pitta” like coriander, coconut, watermelon, leafy green vegetables, fennel, and cilantro. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are also renowned and will be a helpful supplementary treatment. Fresh ginger root is also beneficial to clear ama. 7
|↑1||Manzel, Arndt, Dominik N. Muller, David A. Hafler, Susan E. Erdman, Ralf A. Linker, and Markus Kleinewietfeld. “Role of “Western diet” in inflammatory autoimmune diseases.” Current allergy and asthma reports 14, no. 1 (2014): 1-8.|
|↑2||Farhadi, Ashkan, A. L. I. Banan, Jeremy Fields, and A. L. I. Keshavarzian. “Intestinal barrier: an interface between health and disease.” Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology 18, no. 5 (2003): 479-497.|
|↑3||Slavin, Joanne. “Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.” Nutrients 5, no. 4 (2013): 1417-1435.|
|↑4||Mariadason, J. M., A. Catto-Smith, and P. R. Gibson. “Modulation of distal colonic epithelial barrier function by dietary fibre in normal rats.” Gut 44, no. 3 (1999): 394-399.|
|↑5||Sharma, Hari. “Leaky Gut Syndrome, Dysbiosis, Ama, Free Radicals, and Natural Antioxidants.” AYU (An international quarterly journal of research in Ayurveda) 30, no. 2 (2009): 88.|
|↑6||Bell, Stacey J. “A review of dietary fiber and health: focus on raisins.” Journal of medicinal food 14, no. 9 (2011): 877-883.|
|↑7||Food Guidelines for Basic Constitutional Types, The Ayurvedic Institute.|