Leaky Gut is a tricky condition because each body is different in what foods will trigger symptoms. However, there are some foods that are helpful for most, if not all, cases, and foods notoriously damaging, which will be covered in another article, “Foods to Avoid.” There are grey area foods, those that may be okay to eat, but should be taken in moderation or initially removed from the diet for two weeks. I will include those in both articles, but only in a list format here.
Sometimes, removing a food initially helps, but as the gut repairs, you can add it back in with small quantities to test out your progress. The key for a personal diet is trial and error, patience and time. Remember to concentrate on each snack and meal, chewing down the food to mush before swallowing, and savoring the flavor and scent before you even begin eating to help your digestion.
Definite Foods to Eat:
Homemade, whole food: fruits, veggies, nuts, cooked–not canned–legumes and beans: anything in its purest form is going to have the richest vitamin and mineral content, as well as enzyme activity to help the body break down nutrients. When possible, choose organic, as pesticides used in conventional farming can irritate and damage the body.
Fiber Sources: Fiber helps move toxins out of the body and keep food flowing. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yams, and yuccas are rich in fermentable fibers.
Starchy Vegetables: Yams (sweet potatoes), squash, pumpkin, potatoes, peas, parsnips.
Steamed Vegetables: Easier to digest, and rich in fiber. These apply to non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower.
EFAs: Essential Fatty Acids from: fish, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil. Be cautious with consuming oils: only take extra virgin and/or cold pressed oils, as others have been refined and will be difficult for the body to digest.
Roots, Herbs, and Spices: Roots such as ginger and turmeric are excellent for promoting inflammatory response, plus, ginger helps soothe nausea. Peppermint is also used to soothe upset stomach. Oregano supports your immune system, however when taken in concentrated forms, it may overpower your immunity which can backfire if healthy cells are attacked or allergies flare up. Licorice, fennel, and dandelion root have cleansing and digestive properties. Consider teas for any of the prior roots, herbs, or spices, as well as chamomile, which both relaxes the body and digestive tract.
Coconut Oil: Cook with it, use it in place of butter, and even put it on your skin: coconut oil inhibits candida growth, promotes healthy immune response, contains healing properties, and has EFAs to help digestion.
Bone Broth: has amino acids and potassium to help soothe inflammation and heal intestinal lining.
Variety: Don’t make my mistake, and think that because one food is okay, you should have it every day, every meal. Mix up your shopping list at least weekly, if not day by day, to provide different nutrients to your body and avoid the risk of developing an allergy or sensitivity to that food. For example, even if I wasn’t having corn on the cob every night while in high school, I had a lot of foods with corn in them like fruit drinks, would snack on at least four servings of chips several times through the week, and have corn tortillas instead of flour for tacos because I thought they were healthier.
Good for You, if Your Body is Not Sensitive:
Nuts: Only consume raw, unsalted nuts for optimal digestion and quality.
Grains and Seeds: These are common particles that escape into the blood stream and create allergies as the immune system tags them as “dangerous.” Grains and seeds include: gluten, wheat, quinoa, and oatmeal, among others. Even if your are able to consume grains, do not exceed the serving size.
Tip: If your body is sensitive to grains, use cauliflower to make rice and pizza dough substitutions.
Foods that Might be Okay, in Moderation:
When consuming any gray-area food, eat only one serving sporadically. Anything that stresses your body, causes natural inflammation, or is notorious for difficult digestion may be acceptable as a cheat, depending on how severe your leaky gut is.
Caffeine: Light amounts of caffeine may be acceptable in moderation. White and green tea, and small amounts of chocolate, are okay for some. See my article on foods to avoid for more information.
Alcohol: If you have a history of alcohol abuse, avoid it. However, if alcohol has not been consumed often, it may not irritate the gut lining. See my article on foods to avoid for more information.