How to Heal Leaky Gut Naturally: Everything You Need to Know

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Key Takeaways

  • Leaky gut syndrome, though not a medical diagnosis, is also known as impaired intestinal permeability. 
  • Increased intestinal permeability means the small gaps in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract have become too large, and unwanted molecules, like pathogens, are let through and cause inflammation.
  • A diet high in fiber and low in ultra-processed foods, saturated fat, and refined sugar can help improve intestinal permeability along with lifestyle changes and certain supplements. 

Leaky gut syndrome is often touted by alternative medicine practitioners as the cause of numerous digestive symptoms and other concerns, like brain fog, chronic fatigue, and eczema. However, leaky gut is not currently recognized as a medical diagnosis. 

Continue reading to learn more about the science behind leaky gut syndrome and how to improve your gut health naturally. 

Try Nourish to be matched with an online dietitian specializing in gut health and digestive conditions. 

Understanding Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome is a term used to describe increased or impaired intestinal permeability, but it’s not a medical diagnosis recognized by Western medicine. Rather, it's known as a symptom of many conditions, from celiac disease to gastric ulcers. 

The first step in understanding leaky gut syndrome, also known as impaired intestinal permeability, is to learn about normal gastrointestinal (GI) lining function. 

Your GI tract has a lining made up of epithelial cells that act as a barrier between the intestines and the bloodstream. These cells are tightly packed together but have tiny gaps between them for nutrients and water to be absorbed. 

When this lining works properly, it prevents pathogens and other harmful substances from entering the bloodstream, making it an important line of defense for your body.

In the case of certain chronic conditions and lifestyle factors, dysfunction of the GI tract lining can occur. Increased intestinal permeability is when these gaps become larger and let other things, like bacteria, toxins, and undigested food proteins, “leak” into the bloodstream. This can result in systemic inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining.

Researchers hypothesize that these harmful substances leaking out of the intestines can impact hormone function, the immune system, and the nervous system, among others. 

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Impaired intestinal permeability is a complex topic that’s not fully understood, and more research is needed to learn the relationship between “leaky gut” and various disorders. 

Some researchers suggest a two-way street in which certain conditions may cause intestinal permeability, and in other cases, a “leaky gut” may be a factor that contributes to the development of chronic inflammatory disorders. However, current evidence does not support the idea that a leaky gut alone could be the sole cause of a disease. 

Though leaky gut syndrome is not a medical diagnosis, increased intestinal permeability has been linked to certain conditions. Many autoimmune disorders make up this list because the immune system attacks various body systems, including the intestines, causing inflammation of the digestive lining. 

Digestive Conditions

A well-studied phenomenon is how certain gastrointestinal (GI) disorders can increase intestinal permeability. The inflammation from these underlying conditions can damage the intestines and result in a “leaky gut.” 

These are some of the digestive disorders that may increase intestinal permeability:

Other Conditions

Other non-digestive conditions have been associated with impaired intestinal permeability, but this relationship is not yet fully understood. 

Gut Microbiome

Gut bacteria dysbiosis has also been linked with leaky gut syndrome. Dysbiosis occurs when more harmful bacteria are in the digestive tract than healthy bacteria. 

This imbalance is associated with inflammation and an increased risk of certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. 

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

The symptoms of leaky gut syndrome are difficult to generalize because they depend on the underlying condition contributing to impaired intestinal permeability. 

For example, research shows that people with IBS who had a leaky gut experienced more severe diarrhea and digestive pain symptoms. 

Possible symptoms of leaky gut based on the core symptoms of its underlying conditions, including IBD, celiac disease, and IBS include:

  • Bloating. 
  • Chronic diarrhea. 
  • Constipation.
  • Gas.
  • Nausea. 
  • Vomiting. 
  • Abdominal pain. 
  • Fatigue. 
  • Joint pain. 
  • Appetite loss. 

Can You Heal Leaky Gut Naturally?

While there are lifestyle steps you can take to improve intestinal permeability, there’s no evidence that healing leaky gut will result in recovery from the underlying condition, like Crohn’s disease or IBS. However, it may help improve symptoms. 

It’s best to talk with your doctor before trying any natural remedies if you have chronic digestive symptoms or feel you may have a leaky gut. 

Dietary Changes for Healing Leaky Gut

Research has identified that some foods can impair intestinal permeability while others can improve it. Generally, a high-fiber diet that minimizes added sugars, saturated fat, and ultra-processed foods is recommended for treating leaky gut syndrome. 

Foods to include: 

  • Fermentable fiber found in foods such as oats, barley, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. 
  • Prebiotics, including onion, garlic, asparagus, and bananas.
  • Polyphenol-rich foods, including nuts, berries, and green tea. 

Foods to minimize:

  • Ultra-processed foods, such as soda and fast food.
  • Refined sugar. 
  • Foods high in saturated fat, like fried foods and processed meats. 
  • Gluten (for those with celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity). 

Remember, if you have an underlying digestive condition, you may have different dietary recommendations to follow in order to manage your symptoms. For example, the low-FODMAP diet often used to treat IBS restricts many foods rich in fermentable fibers and prebiotics. 

Consider talking with a registered dietitian through Nourish to get an individualized eating plan for improving your symptoms. 

Herbal Remedies

Researchers have identified some medicinal herbs that may help heal the intestinal lining in leaky gut syndrome. However, much of this research is from animal studies, and there are no clear guidelines for humans at this time. 

Especially since impaired intestinal permeability is associated with many different conditions, generalizing treatment is challenging. Talk to your doctor about herbal remedies that may be safe and effective for you. 


Leaky gut syndrome has been linked with certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and taking supplements may be a strategy to improve impaired intestinal permeability. 

Supplements to consider include:

  • Vitamin D.
  • Vitamin A. 
  • Zinc. 
  • Glutamine. 
  • Probiotics. 

The appropriate supplements for you will depend on your vitamin status and any underlying conditions you may have. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen. 

Lifestyle Changes

Numerous lifestyle factors have been associated with increased intestinal permeability. Practicing the following healthy habits can improve your gut health and overall well-being. 

  • Stress management. 
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce alcohol intake. 
  • Practice regular exercise
  • Limit NSAIDs, like ibuprofen. 

When to See a Doctor about Leaky Gut Syndrome

It’s best to see a doctor if you experience chronic digestive symptoms and don’t know the underlying cause. Examples include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and bloating. 

You may have a gastrointestinal condition that requires medical monitoring and treatment. Treating your symptoms at home with dietary changes, herbs, and supplements can often worsen the problem. 

There is a lot of misinformation online regarding leaky gut syndrome, especially natural remedies. If you have concerns about your gut health, it’s best to talk to your doctor and consider working with a registered dietitian. 


Though leaky gut syndrome is not a medical diagnosis, increased intestinal permeability may result from certain conditions, mainly gastrointestinal (GI) disorders like IBD, celiac disease, and IBS. 

It’s always best to talk with your doctor about your chronic GI symptoms before attempting any home remedies. Possible natural treatments for leaky gut include dietary and lifestyle interventions and, in some cases, supplements.

How a Dietitian Can Help

If you have chronic digestive symptoms or concerns about your gut health, a registered dietitian can work with you and your doctor to help identify the root cause of the problem. Your dietitian will guide you in identifying foods to help manage your symptoms in the long term. 

Consider trying Nourish to be matched with a gut health nutritionist. Visits are conducted online and are covered by most insurance plans. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fastest way to cure a leaky gut?

If you suspect you have a leaky gut, the first step is to talk to your doctor. You may have an underlying condition causing your symptoms that requires medical management or a special diet. 

Certain dietary and lifestyle habits can help improve leaky gut (also known as impaired intestinal permeability). Eating a high-fiber diet rich in probiotic and prebiotic foods while limiting highly processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars can be beneficial. 

Lifestyle factors like stress management, physical activity, and smoking cessation also play a role in improving gut health.

Can you fix a leaky gut naturally?

Talk to your doctor or dietitian before trying home remedies for leaky gut. In some cases, you can improve your gut health and strengthen the intestinal barrier by changing your diet and lifestyle, including:

  • High fiber diet including probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods.
  • Limit saturated fat, refined sugar, ultra-processed foods, and alcohol. 
  • Take certain vitamin supplements if you are deficient, like vitamin D and zinc. 
  • Manage stress levels, exercise regularly, and quit smoking if you smoke tobacco.

While herbal remedies for leaky gut syndrome may be touted online, most of the evidence is from animal studies. There are not currently guidelines for human treatment.

What foods cause a leaky gut?

Certain foods can increase intestinal permeability, resulting in a “leaky gut.” Foods high in saturated fat and refined sugar may contribute to leaky gut syndrome, along with ultra-processed foods like soda and fast food. 

Gluten intake is associated with leaky gut syndrome in people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.


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