Creating Your Leaky Gut Supplement Regimen: An Expert’s Guide

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Having 5 (or six, if you count the bonus digestive enzyme supplements!) leaky gut supplement options gives you lots of flexibility but, potentially, also lots of questions.  

Should you start with all 5 at once?  Or start with 1 or 2 and work your way up?

Can you take actually take all 5 every day?  

Should you take all 5 in one go, maybe at the same meal?  Or is it better to spread them out throughout the day?  

Are there some combinations that are okay to take at the same meal, but others that aren’t?  Maybe omega-3s and probiotics aren’t great? Prebiotics and zinc?

Can you stop taking them someday or do you have to take them for the rest of your life?   How will you know when it’s safe to stop?

This guide is intended to help answer some of these critical questions and give you the tools to put together your own well thought-out and effective supplement regimen to help you get your leaky gut syndrome symptoms under control as soon as possible.

(Haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about?  Pop over here to refresh your memory or get caught up.  Give the post a read through — no rush, I’ve got tea! — and come on back!   ……..

….  Back?  Excellent.  Let’s jump back in!)

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Combining the Supplements

First thing’s first: how many of the leaky gut supplements can you have as part of your daily routine?  Do you have to pick 1 or 2 from the list you want to try?  Or can you take all of them?

Technically, you can take all of them.  All of the leaky gut supplement (including the bonus digestive enzymes)  have not been found to have serious interactions with one another that prevent them from be taken together each day.  

That being said, taking all of the leaky gut supplements each day may not be possible for you if you are taking other medications or supplements.  

Drug-Supplement Interactions

Many medications and supplements do have serious interactions with one (or more) of the leaky gut supplements.  They should only be taken together with the explicit approval of your doctor or pharmacist.

The table below summarizes some of the most common leaky-gut-supplement-other-medication interactions.  
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.  If you are taking any other medication, supplement, herbal treatment, vitamin — anything — speak to your doctor or pharmacist before adding any leaky gut supplement to your routine.

Leaky Gut Supplement

Interaction

Mechanism

Effect

Probiotics

None Specifically Identified

Changes in gene expression in the liver; different detoxifying abilities

Would vary from drug to drug

Prebiotics (Fiber)

Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Lithium, Iron, Blood Thinners, Diabetes Medications, Angina Medications

Fiber binds these supplements/medications and keeps them from being absorbed

Decreased effects of these medications

Omega-3s

Cholesterol Lowering Medications

Reduced ability of the body to absorb and use omega-3s

Decreased effects of omega-3 supplements

Blood Thinners

Reduced clotting ability when taking omega-3s

Potential increase in the risk of dangerous bleeding

Short Chain Fatty Acids

None Specifically Identified

Changes in gene expression throughout the body

Would vary from drug to drug

Zinc

Folate, Iron, Calcium, Radiation

Lowers zinc absorption/zinc levels in the body

Decreased effects of zinc supplementation

ACE-Inhibitors, Diuretics

Increases zinc lost in urine

Decreased effects of zinc supplementation

NSAIDs (Ibuprofen), Some Antidepressants, Antibiotics

Forms complexes with these medications in the intestines

Decreased effects of both zinc and these medications

ADHD Medications, Vaccinations, Some Antidepressants

Zinc boosts the ability of these medications to work

Potential improvements in symptoms or an increase in side effects

High Blood Pressure Medications

Zinc unable to be removed from the body

Zinc overdose

Copper

Decreases copper levels

Copper deficiency

            Table 1: Common Leaky Gut Supplement Drug Interactions

Supplement-Medical Condition Interactions

As with any medication or supplement, there is also the potential for interactions between the leaky gut supplements and genetic mutations or other medical conditions.  If you have been diagnosed with any genetic disorders, chronic conditions or if you are currently pregnant or nursing, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new supplements.

If you are taking nothing else at all, have no other medical conditions, are not pregnant or breastfeeding and/or have the go-ahead from your doctor, though, taking all of the leaky gut supplements each day should be safe.

So, are there any tricks to getting of these supplements safely, effectively and efficiently worked into your daily routine?

Quite a few, actually!

Let’s start with: how to get started.

Learn More: 7 Reasons Your Gut Health is Important

Getting Started

There are two options for adding leaky gut supplements to your day: all at once or gradually.  Is one or the other better?

While there is technically nothing wrong with starting them all at once, a more gradual approach is likely the preferable option.

Why?

In short: side effects.

Adding the supplements slowly gives you a better understanding and control over any side effects.  All of the leaky gut supplements have at least theoretical side effects that have the potential to make you feel pretty crappy (check out this study and this study, too).  Since some of these side effects tend to occur right at the beginning of taking the supplement, starting all 5 in one go might make you feel pretty rough indeed.

What’s more, if you were to have intense side effects after starting all 5 supplements, it would be impossible to pinpoint which of the supplement(s) is responsible.  You would have to stop taking all 5 and add each back individually to see when your symptoms return. Rather than risking intense side effects at the beginning and planning to do a one-at-a-time test afterwards, it is both safer and more efficient to just start with one-at-a-time additions.

Alright, so if adding the supplements one-by-one is a better option, which order should you add them in?

I’m so glad you asked!

Let’s go through the order we’ve calculated is likely to be most beneficial, and the reasoning behind it, starting with supplement number 1: probiotics.

Probiotics

Why are probiotics the best leaky gut supplement to start with?

Well, there are two key reasons.

First, probiotics appear to have an extremely low risk of side effects.  People tend to adjust really well to probiotics.  If you’re reaching for leaky gut supplements, odds are you aren’t feeling all that hot, and the last thing you want is to start off with a supplement that’s got lots of (potential) side effects that might make you feel even worse.

Secondly, probiotics have among the strongest scientific evidence of all the leaky gut supplements for their ability to really heal your intestinal wall, not just ease your symptoms.

The least risk of side effects, the most proven healing effects — probiotics are a great place to start!

Best Probiotic Supplements


Align Digestive Care Probiotic Supplement Culturelle Digestive Health Daily Probiotic Formula Biogaia Gastrus Stomach Health Probiotic Supplement BioCodex Florastor Maximum Strength Daily Probiotic VSL 3 High Potency Probiotic Capsules for Ulcerative Colitis

Prebiotics

Once you’ve taken probiotics for a few days or a couple weeks and you’re sure your body is adjusting well to them (i.e. you’re not experiencing side effects and/or you are already experiencing some improvements in your leaky gut symptoms), you can go ahead and add in prebiotics.

Why do prebiotics come in second?

Because they compliment probiotics so well.  Prebiotics provide food for probiotics, making the probiotics much more effective and bumping up healing effects you’ve been reaping from your probiotics.

There is one other potential benefit to adding prebiotics directly after probiotics, as well: a decrease in prebiotic side effects.

Prebiotics can cause some pretty unpleasant digestive side effects (bloating, stomach pains) when there aren’t enough healthy gut bacteria around to break them down.  For this reason, taking probiotics alone for a few days and increasing the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut, may be able to help minimize any prebiotic digestive side effects.

Best Prebiotic Supplements


MicroIngredients Pure Organic Inulin FOS Powder Kirkland Signature Optifiber Natural Fiber Supplement Benefiber Fiber Supplement NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules Puritan’s Pride Psyllium Husk Capsules

Short-chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)

After taking your prebiotics for a couple days (or until any remaining digestive side effects have resolved themselves) is a good time to add in your short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).  

SCFAs are the byproducts made by probiotics when they breakdown prebiotics.  Many of the health benefits of pro- and prebiotics actually come from these SCFAs.  By waiting to add SCFAs until after you’ve been taking probiotics and prebiotics for a while, you provided your body with a gradual increase in the concentration of SCFA it’s exposed to each day.  Though SCFAs are not known to have any serious side effects, a gradual, natural increase in their concentrations cannot hurt.

Additionally, adding larger doses of SCFAs after your body has had some time to work on getting the healing process up and running may give them a better chance to really completely close up gaps in your intestinal wall.

Best Short Chain Fatty Acid Supplements


Allergy Research Group ButyrEn NutriCology ButyrAid Body Bio Butyrate T.E Neesby Butyrex Healus Advanced Tri Butyrate

Omega-3s

At this point, your gut should be well on its way toward healing, making it a great time to add in your omega-3s.

While omega-3s can help relieve inflammation, which can help your gut heal, they may be a little rough on your digestive tract itself. Omega-3s can cause upset stomach and diarrhea, which is not something you want when you’re just starting to try to heal a leaky gut. Hopefully, with some time to heal with the probiotics, prebiotics and SCFAs, your gut (and your psyche) will be better able to handle these effects.

Best Omega-3 Supplements


Testa Omega-3 Algae Oil DHA + EPA Nordic Naturals Algae Omega Omnibiotics Vegan Omega DHAx Amala Vegan Omega-3 DHA + EPA Ovega-3

Zinc

Finally, after you’ve adjusted to probiotics, prebiotics, SCFAs and omega-3s, you can go ahead and add some zinc.

Why is zinc added last?

There are two main reasons.

First, like omega-3s, zinc can upset your stomach, so it’s a supplement you’re not going to want to add right at the beginning if your digestive symptoms are bad.

Second, unlike the rest of the supplements, there is a real risk of serious side effects or even overdose with zinc.  Waiting to add it until last makes it more likely that you’ll recognize the signs of zinc overdose and correctly attribute them to the zinc.  If you add it somewhere in the middle, you might not start getting symptoms of a zinc overdose until after you’ve added the next supplement.  This could lead you to think your symptoms were caused by the newest supplement in your routine and you’d stop taking that, rather than the zinc you actually need to nix.

While serious side effects are unlikely to happen (especially at the doses recommended here), leaving zinc until the end provides an easy little safeguard to help ensure that, if they do, you’ll notice them right away and stop taking the right supplement quickly.

Best Zinc Supplements


Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate Pure Encapsulations Liquid Zinc Supplement Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance Douglas Laboratories Zinc Lozenges Good State Liquid Zinc

Taking the Supplements

Alright!  We’ve got all the supplements worked in.

Now what about how to take each supplement each day?  Does it matter when you take them?  How you take them: with food or without? Which combinations you take them in?

Yes!

Each of the leaky gut supplements comes with a couple of guidelines for when and how to take them to ensure you’re getting an effective dose.

Though every brand has its own specific recommendations (and you should always follow the instructions provided with your supplement), usually, they are fairly similar.  The most common dosing recommendations are summarized in Table 2.

Leaky Gut Supplement

Doses Per Day

Food/No Food

Probiotics

1x/day

Empty stomach, but directly before a full meal

Prebiotics

3x/day

With a snack or meal

SCFAs

3x/day

With a full meal

Omega-3s

1x/day

Empty stomach, but directly before a full meal

Zinc

1x/day

No food AND at least 1 hour after/2 hours before coffee OR a prebiotic

Table 2: Common Leaky Gut Supplement Dosing Recommendations

Putting Together a Supplement Schedule

Shew!  That is a lot of factors to keep in mind.  It’s actually a little overwhelming when you just read through the list like that.  If you take a step back and look at your daily schedule, you’ll likely find it’s pretty easy to accommodate all 5 supplements’ recommended dosing schedules.

In fact, you can put together your own, personalized supplement plan in just a couple simple steps.

Figure 1: How to Put Together A Personalized Leaky Gut Supplement Regimen 

Putting it all together, you would have a schedule that may look something like:

Time

Meal

Supplement/Notes

7:50 am

Omega-3s

8:00 am

Breakfast

SCFAs

9:00 am

*stop drinking coffee

10:00 am

Zinc

12:00 pm

Probiotic

12:15 pm

Lunch

Prebiotic, SCFAs

3:30 pm

Snack

Prebiotic

6:30 pm

Dinner

Prebiotic, SCFAs

Table 3: Example of a Possible Leaky Gut Supplement Regimen

Of course, the details of your schedule will depend on your lifestyle and your eating habits.  There is, luckily, a decent amount of wiggle room to make the regimen work for you.

While it is a little annoying to sit down and write out such a schedule, the work upfront is totally worth the peace of mind down the road.  Once you work out a good routine that works for you, you can put it on autopilot and use the same structure every day.  

Next: How to Heal Your Gut: 4 Steps to Healing Your Gut Natuarlly

Stopping the Supplements

So, you found a daily schedule, worked your way up to taking all the supplements you felt you needed, and now you’re feeling all back to normal.  Yay!

Are you completely healed and can stop taking all the supplements again?

Well, a leaky gut can heal in the conventional sense — similar to the way a cut or broken bone can.  So if you’re feeling back to normal, it might really be that all the holes in your gut have been repaired and your leaky gut is gone.

If you stop taking the supplements because you’re all healed, though, your leaky gut might come back.  Or, it might not.

What determines if your leaky gut is gone for good or if it will come back when you stop taking your supplements?  Two things.

First, your leaky gut is likely to come back if you haven’t addressed whatever it was that caused your gut to become leaky in the first place.

If you were:

    • Taking gut damaging medications
    • Regularly exposed to leaky gut promoting chemicals
    • Smoking
    • Not getting enough exercise
    • Eating gut damaging foods
    • Not getting enough sleep

before you developed a leaky gut and you still are, odds are your leaky gut will come back when you stop taking your supplements.

Your leaky gut might also come back if you haven’t built up robust gut-health-promoting dietary and lifestyle habits that can replace your supplements.

Now, it’s tricky to know if any dietary and lifestyle changes you’ve made are sufficient to keep your gut healthy without your supplements until you give it a shot.  You’ll have to stop taking your supplements and see what happens.

For the same reason it’s a good idea to add supplements one at a time to see which ones might cause side effects, it is a good idea to stop taking the supplements one at a time to see if your leaky gut symptoms return.  For simplicity, you could stop taking them in the reverse order you started taking them: zinc, omega-3s, SCFAs, prebiotics, probiotics.

What should you do if your symptoms return when you stop one of the supplements?

To keep your leaky gut from becoming serious again, it’s a good idea to quickly reintroduce the supplement into your routine.  Then, you can shore up your diet to increase foods that are rich in the supplemented nutrient for a few days or weeks and try again.

Which foods would those be?  That, naturally, depends on the nutrient you’re after

If your symptoms return after stopping:

Try boosting your intake of:

Zinc

whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, oysters, crab and/or meat

Omega-3s

algae, flax seeds, walnuts and/or fish

SCFAs

whole grains, fruits vegetables and/or beans

Prebiotics

whole grains, fruits vegetables and/or beans

Probiotics

fermented foods like kimchi, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut

Table 4: Foods Rich in Leaky Gut Supplement Nutrients

It might take a little time, but using this method, you should eventually be able to stop taking your supplements and still maintain a healthy gut.

Take Home Message

Using multiple supplements to tackle your leaky gut symptoms can seem daunting at first.  Taking your time, adding one supplement at a time and building a steady, daily routine can make the process less overwhelming, simpler to do, not to mention safer and more effective. Once your leaky gut symptoms abate, stopping the supplements in the same structured manner can help keep your leaky gut from returning.

Did you find this guide helpful?  If so, let us know in the comment section below!
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