Do you suffer from digestive disturbances related to leaky gut? Do you experience symptoms including brain fog, acne, weight gain, allergies, nutrient deficiency, hormonal or mood imbalances? If the answer is yes to any of these symptoms you may benefit from 6 nutrients that heal leaky gut syndrome. In this article, I go over some of the most research proven compounds that are effective at healing the gastrointestinal tract and treating leaky gut.
The modern Western diet is not only lacking in critical nutrients which promote gut health but the high amount of sugar, processed foods and alcohol consumed decreases the percentage of healthy compounds which our bodies can absorb for use. Many of the above mention symptoms are side effects of inflammation and trauma to the gut linked to autoimmune dysfunction.
The healing effects of quercetin have not been shown to exist in any synthetic drug on the market to date. Quercetin supports a proper immune response by reducing macrophages during situations of over production as seen in autoimmune conditions. However, unlike many drugs, quercetin does not adversely affect the release of inflammatory cells required to fight infectious agents like cancer cells. In fact, quercetin stimulates apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. Within the digestive tract, quercetin improves the tight junction barriers lined by proteins (8). (1)
Another healing power of quercetin is its ability to control oxidative damage to tissue. Quercetin prevents the release of histamine from cells associated with inflammation and systemic reactions which may manifest as allergies. Quercetin also improves the concentration of glutathione which is referred to as our body’s master antioxidant. Combined with other foods like pineapple that contains bromelain, quercetin has a synergistic response to enhancing immunity and reducing inflammation. (2, 3)
Dietary sources of quercetin can be found in apples, capers, onions as well as berries, herbs like parsley, sage and even green tea (2, 3). Consuming 400-1,200 mg/day of supplemental quercetin is recommended to naturally aid in the prevention of inflammation and improve the gut’s ability to heal (1, 4).
Derived from turmeric, curcumin can prevent chronic inflammation by controlling the inflammatory pathways which leading to tissue damage, histamine release, immune cell activation and digestive disturbances. Associated with improving the immune response of patients with autoimmune diseases in clinical trials, curcumin heals leaky gut in much the same way as does quercetin.
Curcumin regulates a healthy concentration of macrophages and does not interfere with the immune’s response to normal infections. Adding curcumin to your diet will equip your body with a powerful compound to scavenge free radicals and prevent tissue injury along the digestive tract. (1, 5)
Supplementing your diet with 1,000-2,000 mg of curcumin daily can be used to limit inflammation and enhance natural immunity (1). Add turmeric to meat marinades, homemade stews, sauces and even your coffee and smoothies for added antioxidant protection.
3. Zinc Glycinate
Phytates are found in our diets and are commonly viewed as anti-nutrients. Phytates found in foods like nuts can pull vitamins and minerals like Zinc out of the body’s stored reserves. Zinc glycinate is one of the most bioavailable forms of zinc because it is readily absorbed and retained. (6)
By improving the availability of zinc to the body, zinc glycinate is able to improve intestinal permeability and heal leaky gut. Patients with Crohn’s disease have successfully used zinc supplementation to decrease the ulcerations of the gut associated with leaky gut and support immune system function. (11)
L-glutamine is the most concentrated amino acid stored in our plasma that is not considered essential, although this classification may soon change. This amino acid improves the digestive tract and stabilizes unhealthy immune responses while also reducing your sugar cravings. (7)
Patients with glutamine deficiencies have been found to have an altered T-cell response which impairs the immune system from fighting infection. Supplemental L-glutamine repairs mucosal cells that line the digestive tract acting as an antioxidant crucial for maintaining the functionality and structure of the gut. (7, 12)
L-Glutamine for Leaky Gut
A common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer patients, mucositis is the inflammation of the digestive tract caused by ulceration to this mucous lining. This breakdown of the gut’s structure promotes leaky gut as it increases gut permeability, risk of infection, increased growth of toxic bacteria in the gut and entering the blood and essential circulation to all parts of the body.
L-glutamine relieves pain associated with damage to the intestines and equips epithelial cells with the nutrients required to maintain the integrity of the GI tract improving wound healing. (7, 12) L-glutamine is also beneficial for collagen synthesis. Glutamine is partly broken down into proline which is essential for collagen production and ultimately contributes to wound healing and fortifying a strong gut barrier. (7)
Sometimes referred to its active component, 6-gingerol, ginger exhibits comparable inflammation prevention control as do drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen (1). Ginger is a digestive stimulant that promotes gastric flow and contains enzymes which aid in proper digestion.
Ginger can be used to treat pain associated with intestinal inflammation by relieving contractions of the gut lining. For this reason, ginger has traditionally been used to treat nausea, relieve symptoms associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle and treat morning sickness. (10)
Individuals with leaky gut are likely to have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in their gut resulting from toxic foods and gut inflammation. Ginger exhibits powerful antimicrobial properties which not only make it an economical treatment but highly effective and natural antibiotic as well.
Ginger including powder and fresh ginger has been extensively found to combat strains of bacteria linked to leaky gut. Unlike synthetic antibiotics, ginger has been effective against both standard and drug resistant microbes in treating gastrointestinal infection. (13)
6. Pea Protein
A high quality protein less common to trigger digestive complaints is pea protein. Pea protein is a vegan protein and a great alternative to soy and dairy based proteins. Its protein content is comparable to the high protein content of animal based proteins and is less inflammatory than whey or casein. It is also lower in lectins than other forms of vegan protein.
Pea protein is great for individuals with autoimmunity and food sensitivities. It not only provides a great source of energy but can suppress appetite as well. (9) This protein is also one of the best foods for improving the microbiome as the pea fiber acts as a prebiotic to preferentially favor the development of healthy microbes such as bifidobacterium. It also helps to raise up short-chain fatty acid production in the gut, which reduces inflammation and heals the intestinal lining (14).
Heal your gut by ridding of the toxic and inflammatory foods which promote leaky gut. Restoring your body to its proper digestive health better allows the gut to naturally repair and heal itself. Applying these nutrients that heal leaky gut syndrome that we listed above will help you stop chronic inflammation and improve your quality of life.
I use a product called Gut Healing Protein that contains all of these nutrients and more in clinically effective dosages. The protein powder tastes wonderful, is sugar free, xylitol and stevia free, using the low-glycemic lao han extract (monk fruit) as the sweetening agent. Using this product, I have seen much faster results at reducing gut induced inflammation and healing leaky gut. I recommend this for individuals with auto-immunity, adrenal fatigue and/or chronic inflammatory issues.
I go through all my favorite digestive health strategies in the upcoming AutoImmune Revolution Summit. You will get immediate access to my audio interview when you register for the summit. In this event you will learn the most cutting edge functional medicine strategies to use nutrients to help your body heal. Register here to listen to this event for Free.
Sources for this Article Include:
- Nutrition and Supplementation Management in Autoimmune Diseases Link Here
- Nieman DC, et al. Effects of Quercetin and EGCG on Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Immunity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009; 1467-1475. DOI: 1249/MSS.0b013e318199491f
- Prior RL. Fruits and vegetables in the prevention of cellular oxidative damage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3):570S-585S. PMID: 12936951
- Jakubowicz-Gil J, et al. Cell death and neuronal arborization upon quercetin treatment in rat neurons. Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2008; 68(2): 139-46. PMID: 185119507
- He Y, et al. Curcumin, inflammation, and chronic diseases: how are they linked? Molecules. 2015 May 20;20(5):9183-213. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26007179
- Schlegel P, and Windisch W. Bioavailability of zinc glycinate in comparison with zinc sulphate in the presence of dietary phytate in an animal model with Zn labelled rats. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2006 Jun; 90(5-6): 216-22. PMID: 16684142
- Jolfaie NR, et al. The effect of glutamine intake on complications of colorectal and colon cancer treatment: A systematic review. J Res Med Sci. 2015 Sep; 20(9): 910-918. PMCID: 4696378
- Suzuki T, and Hiroshi H. Role of flavonoids in intestinal tight junction regulation. J Nutritional Biochem. 2011 May; 22(5): 401-8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.08.001
- Yang H, et al. Evaluation of nutritional quality of a novel pea protein. Agro Food Ind Hi Tech. 2012 Nov/Dec; 23(6): 8-10. Link Here
- Starwest Botanicals: Improving Digestive Health With Carminative Herbs Link Here
- Sturniolo GC, Di LV, Ferronato A, D’Odorico A, and D’Inca R. Zinc supplementation tightens “leaky gut” in Crohn’s disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2001 May; 7(2):94-8. PMID: 11383597
- Larson SD, Jing L, Chung DH, and Evers BM. Molecular Mechanisms Contributing to Glutamine-Mediated Intestinal Cell Survival. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2007 Dec; 293(6): G1262-G1271. PMCID: 2432018
- Ewnetu Y, Lemma W, and Birhane N. Synergetic Antimicrobial Effects of Mixtures of Ethiopian Honeys and Ginger Powder Extracts on Standard and Resistant Clinical Bacteria Isolates. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014; 562804. DOI: 1155/2014/562804
- Świątecka, Dominika, Narbad, Arjan, Ridgway Karyn P, Kostyra Henryk.The study on the impact of glycated pea proteins on human intestinal bacteria. Int J Food Microbiol. 2011 Dec 15;151(3):340. PMID: 21276631
This article is shared with permission from our friends at Dr. Jockers’ .
About the author:
Dr. David Jockers is a Maximized Living doctor, functional nutritionist, corrective care chiropractor, exercise physiologist, and certified strength and conditioning specialist. His mission is to inspire and empower as many people as possible to reach their full health potential.
He currently owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Georgia. He is also the author of the best-selling book “SuperCharge Your Brain” the complete guide to radically improve your mood, memory and mindset.