Leaky gut? Try These 3 Food Swaps To Help

Are you tired and unable to lose weight? If so, a “leaky gut” may be to blame. This condition, defined as tiny spaces between the cells that line the gut, weakens the barrier between the gut and the rest of the body. These gaps allow toxins to migrate from the gut into the bloodstream, trigger body-wide inflammation, which leads to fatigue, brain fog, weight gain and joint pain. Additionally, endotoxemia — an exacerbation of leaky gut that activates the immune system and creates inflammation — can increase your risk of diabetes.

What is the fix? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are things you can do to help repair the lining of your gut and reduce inflammation in the body. Below, try these three simple exchanges. If they ease your symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, and difficulty losing weight, it may be a sign that you have leaky gut.

1: Replace sweet potatoes with white potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are packed with soluble fiber — fiber that turns to gel during digestion, slowing the process and potentially reducing inflammation. Eating them instead of white potatoes, which are mostly starch, can improve symptoms of a leaky gut. Indeed, a 2018 study published in Nutrients, conducted over a six-month period, found that dietary fiber helped reduce intestinal permeability in participants with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Why might fiber help? Gut bacteria feed on fiber to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that nourishes intestinal cells.

Also smart: Enjoy side dishes like lentils, kidney beans, broccoli and avocados, which are also high in soluble fiber.

2: Swap curcumin and Indian frankincense for NSAIDs.

A 2005 study in Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology found that 71% of people who took NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen daily for 90 days had visible signs of bowel damage. This is because NSAIDs can irritate the gut lining and alter the composition and function of the gut microbiome which, when healthy, protects the gut lining.

A potential alternative to painkillers: curcumin and boswellia. A 2018 scientific review of 11 studies, published in Seminars on arthritis and rheumatism, found that a combination of curcumin (found in turmeric) and boswellia (Indian frankincense) relieved pain as effectively as NSAIDs in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Additionally, patients who took curcumin were much less likely to have gastrointestinal problems, unlike the NSAID group.

More research is needed to prove that curcumin and boswellia would work as effectively as NSAIDs for other types of pain. Still, trying these two supplements in combination can be a good alternative when you need pain relief. The combo can also strengthen the intestinal wall to prevent leaks. (Curcumin can help restore an imbalanced microbiome and reduce inflammation, while boswellia can also reduce inflammation — it may even be helpful in treating irritable bowel disease.)

3: Swap clove tea instead of your favorite hot drink.

Unique compounds, such as eugenol found in cloves, catechins found in green tea, and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) found in a sweet-tasting fiber called inulin, have a powerful ability to heal and strengthen the intestinal mucosa, according to William Davis, physician, author of Alright. For maximum benefits, Dr. Davis recommends enjoying two cups of flavorful clove tea (which smells like gingerbread cookies!) a day.

Do: In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of whole cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover, maintaining a slight simmer for 10 minutes. Add a green tea bag in the last two minutes of simmering, then remove from the heat and discard the tea bag. Stir in 1 teaspoon of FOS powder (such as Jarrow Formulas Prebiotic Inulin-FOS — available at iHerb, $9.07), additional sweetener of your choice, and a cinnamon stick. Enjoy.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before proceeding with any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

Leave a Comment