Once you’ve read about why gut health is important, it’s time you find out what leaky gut foods to avoid.
Last Updated: September 13, 2019
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition involving damage to the delicate intestinal lining, also known as the mucosa. In a healthy, non-inflamed state, the intestinal mucosa performs two primary functions.
- It facilitates the absorption of nutrients from the intestines into the bloodstream.
- It acts as a barrier to stop potentially harmful bacteria and molecules from entering your body.
If your gut mucosa becomes damaged, however, both the absorption and barrier function suffer. This can lead to a number of health problems. These can range from simple digestive symptoms (bloating, constipation and diarrhea) to more serious immune-mediated diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
One of the most likely sources of damage to your delicate gut lining is your diet. Makes sense, right? Your diet is sending all the chemicals it contains right into contact with your intestinal wall!
Here are the 5 worst leaky gut foods to avoid right now to prevent or heal an unhealthy gut!
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Leaky Gut Foods to Avoid When You Have Leaky Gut
Foods are generally processed in order to either extend their shelf-life or alter their taste, texture or appearance. Industrial processing typically uses chemical additives such as:
- artificial colors
- artificial sweeteners
- bulking agents
While many of these compounds are harmless, there’s research suggesting that some may wreak havoc on the intestinal mucosa and microbiota.
For example, chemicals added to keep fats from clumping together (known as “emulsifiers”) may disrupt the production of the mucus that lubricates and protects your gut.
Scientists have observed that mice fed diets high in saturated fats have a shift in the type of bacteria present in their intestines. They end up with significantly more pro-inflammatory sulfidogenic bacteria than in mice fed a low-fat diet.
Researchers suspect that these bacteria are able to increase intestinal inflammation and permeability by actively making your intestinal barrier weaker. Importantly, new data suggests these results are likely applicable to humans, as well.
Opt for grilled or broiled foods, rather than deep-fried foods, whenever you can to help minimize your intake of saturated fats.
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You’re certainly aware that overconsuming alcohol is unhealthy. It’s positively famous for being bad for your liver, heart, and brain! But did you know that excessive alcohol intake may be an important driver of leaky gut syndrome, as well?
The reason for this is two-fold:
- alcohol consumption disrupts the balance of bacteria in your intestines
- alcohol increases gut permeability
In general, it appears that alcohol consumption encourages the growth of Gram-negative bacteria. This type of bacteria plays a role in increasing the levels of two compounds (endotoxin and acetaldehyde). These chemicals harm to your intestinal wall.
Cutting back on beer, wine, and spirits could have major benefits for your intestinal health. This may be especially true if you have food sensitivities like the ones I explore below.
Lactose and casein — a carbohydrate and a protein found in cow’s milk — are generally at the root of dairy intolerances.
In dairy-intolerant individuals, consuming cow’s milk leads to digestive symptoms like bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. This causes mucosal irritation and inflammation, which poses a risk for the development of leaky gut syndrome.
If dairy products (like milk, cheese or yogurt) don’t sit well with you, give them a miss. Try replacing them with dairy alternatives to lower your risk of developing leaky gut syndrome.
There is growing evidence, however, that many more people worldwide suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). This is a milder disorder involving poor gluten digestion.
In those suffering from either CD or NCGS, eating gluten-containing foods can cause serious pain and discomfort. Partially digested gluten can harm the intestinal barrier as well as the gut microbiota, resulting in severe mucosal inflammation and leaky gut syndrome.
Avoiding wheat products such as bread and pasta may alleviate symptoms associated with the leaky gut syndrome in some individuals.
Take Home Message
You can heal an inflamed, leaky gut by making simple changes to your diet. By avoiding gut-damaging foods, you can let your intestinal mucosa heal.
The most gut-damaging foods are: processed foods, fried foods, alcohol, milk products, and gluten-containing foods.