Functional Nutrition Blog

Focusing on gut health and Functional nutrition

Leaky Gut & Food Sensitivities

Feb 22, 2021 | Autoimmune Disease, Gut Health

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  This same idea applies to leaky gut and food sensitivities – did leaky gut cause food sensitivities or did food sensitivities cause inflammation that led to leaky gut?

In most cases, probably a little of both!

The lining of the gut is just one cell thick.  Each of these cells are connected to each other through little gaps called tight junctions.  Tight junctions function very intentionally to allow/prevent substances from coming and going through the gut lining.

When we consume a food, all parts of that food being digested are intended to stay within the digestive tract.

When the lining of the gut is compromised however, those little tight junctions stay open and particles of digesting food can “leak” out of the gut into systemic circulation.

What happens when we contract a cold?  Our immune system recognizes that something is in circulation that shouldn’t be and mounts an attack.  This naturally involves an inflammatory reaction.

The same thing happens when partially digested food particles “leak” through the gut lining!  The body recognizes that it doesn’t belong there and attacks it as if it’s an invader causing an inflammatory reaction from the immune system.

Now, every time you eat that food, you have an inflammatory reaction.  Then, you feel bloated after each meal.  Next thing you know, you have IBS.  Then, you have an autoimmune disease.

All tracing back to leaky gut.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

The great connector is inflammation.  Inflammation can come from:

-Foods that we eat (gluten and dairy are often big offenders here),

-Chemicals that are sprayed on our food (glyphosate),


-Lack of dietary fiber to feed and protect the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and play a huge role in defending the gut lining

-Lack of certain strands of beneficial bacteria that are responsible for helping maintain the layer of mucous that lays over the lining of the gut

-Processed foods, diets high in sugar and carbohydrates (not a dig at carbs – just a diet that’s too HIGH in them)

-Lack of proper sleep

-Toxins and/or the inability to appropriately clear them through the liver’s natural detoxification pathways

-Infections – parasitic, bacterial, viral, fungal

What You Can Do to Help Heal Leaky Gut

First, are you tired of hearing me say, identifying the root causes and dealing with them directly is always the most effective method and will provide the most long-term success.

Next, you can consider some of these options:

-Identifying and removing food triggers, allergies, and sensitivities,

(Click here for a great guide on how to implement your own elimination diet – start with Step 1, Remove)

-Getting rich colorful fruits and vegetables with each meal that provide antioxidants and phytonutrients to help with inflammation,

-Getting fiber rich foods with all meals (veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes) – these foods are the life force to the good bacteria in the gut.  When the good guys are in balance and thriving, they can change the environment of the entire gut,

-Adequate protein sources!  So undervalued.  Protein provides the body with all the amino acids that are needed to create proteins in the body that function as things like enzymes (including digestive enzymes), neurotransmitters, and hormones just to name a few.  Most notably, glutamine.  This is an abundant amino acid and very important for gut health.  it is often supplemented with to help heal leaky gut.

(If you are looking for a high quality source, check out one I recommended.  As always, check with a trusted health care provider.)

Supplements for Leaky Gut:


-Slippery Elm, Aloe, Marshmallow Root, Zinc Carnosine are all very soothing and healing.  You can often find products that will combine these into one powder (Check them out here)

-Prebiotic Fiber to help feed good bacteria (check out the above link for a great option here as well)

-Collagen protein powder – a personal fav of mine, I like Great Lakes, I Primal Kitchen, and Bulletproof brands

Work with a Dietitian

Finally, if you’re reading this and it all just seems too overwhelming, you’re not alone.  It’s the reason I have a job!  You can absolutely work with a Registered Dietitian who specializes in gut health, can order testing for you to help streamline the process, and has access to amazing, high quality supplements.

You can check out my website to see some of the experiences of others who have worked with me OR you can go ahead and just schedule a call to see how I may be able to help.  Either way, plan a next step for yourself so you keep things moving forward.

Possible next steps:

Order supplements

Add in collagen

Get fruits/veggies in each meal for fiber

Schedule an appointment 

Cheering for you health,

Portrait of Kyle Fagnano, registered dietician and integrative nutritionist for gut health


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