Do you have a healthy gut? An unhealthy gut is also commonly known as a leaky gut. A leaky gut is a condition that can affect many different areas of our health from the functionality of our digestive health to our cognitive abilities and our overall immune response to the outside world. Therefore leaky gut can be more common than we think because often than not, a leaky gut condition is masked by symptoms that lead to other diagnoses. [1, 2]
In order to heal a leaky gut, regardless of how severe it is, we need to remove the cause or causes. One of the best natural remedies as a first step to heal a leaky gut is through your diet.
In this article, let us look at some of the common foods and food-like ingredients that you can already start eliminating from your diet to start your journey towards a better healthier gut. This is known as a leaky gut diet.
Common Food Allergens
The food we eat affects the health and balance of the bacteria if out gut. Some foods are considered good foods for our gut because they promote the growth of good bacteria in our gut. While some foods are considered bad foods for our gut because it tends to fuel inflammation in our gut as a result of the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.
Some of the common food allergens (or bad foods) that can cause leaky gut overtime when consumed in high quantities are listed below. If you can, start eliminating them from your diet.
1. Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)
GMO foods are dangerous for your gut health and microbiome. Read my article GMO: What You Should Know. They are under-regulated by the appropriate governing agencies and we do not know enough about specifically how they can affect our bodies and health if consumed over a prolonged period of time. What we do know is that as GMOs proliferate our food sources, diseases have gotten worse as well. Get the list of the most recent GMO foods. 
A protein commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye; gluten can cause leaky gut over time because it stimulates the release of zonulin. Zonulin is a molecule released by your intestinal cells that “guards” your gut wall. Too much zonulin can cause the tight gut wall to open and remain open, letting unwanted bacteria to enter.
3. Milk and Dairy Products
Research has shown that milk and dairy products can cause unwanted inflammation in our bodies and also reduce the abundance of diversity of our gut microbiome. Other research has also shown that our ability to digest the proteins in milk and dairy products decreases as we age and the process of digesting these proteins itself can also lead to the production of a particular molecule that can cause a negative immune response in some people. These negative immune responses can show up as skin reactions such as breakouts or congestion and other types of bodily inflammation.
4. Artificial Sweeteners
In efforts to cut back on the empty calories from the real sugar, artificial sweeteners have definitely found its way into many pantries over the years. And now with enough consumption data over these many years, studies have found that artificial sweeteners can cause glucose intolerance, metabolic outcomes, and shifts in our gut bacteria balance.
5. Saturated Fat and Trans-Fat
Studies have shown that a diet high in saturated fat and trans-fat can lead to an increase in the “bad” bacteria in our gut while simultaneously reducing the “good” bacteria. Try unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocadoes, and nuts as healthier alternatives.
Studies have shown that high consumption of alcohol over a long period of time can cause changes in our gut microbiome.
7. Animal Protein
This is referring especially to red meats. Studies have suggested that high consumption of red meats may reduce the amount of beneficial short-chain fatty acids in your body, thereby promoting the growth of the “bad” bacteria in your gut.
8. Food Additives
Usually found in highly processed foods, food additives are another food that does not come from Mother Nature and therefore screams “dubious”. Studies have found evidence of intestinal inflammation and an increased risk of irritable bowel syndrome with the consumption of food additives. So, read your labels!
Sugar be Gone
Sugars are hidden everywhere these days in very common food items. Foods that you thought would be naturally sugar-free surprisingly has sugar as one of the many ingredients. So start reading your label carefully especially for these seemingly “innocent” food items below:
- Pre-packaged protein shakes and smoothies
- Low-fat flavored yogurt
- Fresh-pressed juices
- Healthier sugar alternatives
- Breakfast Cereal
- Dried Fruit
- Packaged Diet Foods
- Flavored Coffees
- Premade Salads with Dressing
- Protein Bars and Granola Bars
- Diet Soda
- Sports Drinks
So what should you eat? Below is a quick cheat sheet of things to eat that can help you curb your sugar cravings and a list of healthy sugar alternatives that you can try to replace your table sugar with. Life can still be sweet without sugar you know.
List of Sugar Alternatives
If you are thinking to go all out on eliminating sweets from your diet, try these alternative seasonings that can add a ton of flavor to your meals and snacks. It might take a while for your taste buds and body to lose all the cravings for sweets, but it is always worth a try. Give yourself and your body a chance.
Healthy Sugar Alternatives
If going “sweet-less” is a little too daunting right now, try these healthier sweet alternatives instead of refined sugars and other processed sugars. They are healthier either because they do not spike your blood sugars as quickly as refined sugars, or they carry with them a whole array of other essential vitamins and minerals that your body can thank you for.
Stevia is a true sweetener from Mother Nature. Because of its slight aftertaste, it has not caught on in popularity like good old honey or maple syrup. When buying stevia, be sure to get one that contains only stevia without other sugar alternatives.
2. Monk fruit
This super fruit is full of healthy antioxidants and vitamins. It is much sweeter than your table sugar but contains no calories at all. It comes in a powder form and you can use it to sweeten your coffee and baked goods just like sugar.
Good old honey…need I say more. I personally prefer to get local honey because they are supposed to help with seasonal allergies too!
This is like your coffee-alternative just like how carob is the vegan alternative for chocolate. It is naturally sweet yet contains no calories and serves up a ton of vitamins and minerals, and soluble fiber and antioxidants all at the same time.
5. Xylitol and Erythritol
These are usually found in products labeled as “sugar-free” or “no sugar added”. They contain fewer calories than table sugar and have been found to be safe to be included in a diabetic diet. A word of caution on these sugar substitutes as some people may experience digestive gas and bloat when they are consumed.
Vanilla does not taste sweet straight up, but its complex flavor provides the same satisfaction that a sweet confectionary does. So instead of adding sugar to your say coffee, why not try some natural vanilla extract. You will be surprised.
7. Maple Syrup
Just like honey, maple syrup has been a natural sweetener choice for a very long time. They provide other nutrients while sweetening up your pancakes. Watch how you pour though. Too much maple syrup can add too much to your caloric intake.
8. Coconut Palm Sugar
Although coconut palm sugar is not a health food and should be consumed in moderation, it does contain more nutrients than table sugar. So if you do need to use sugar in your dish, this might be a good option.
9. Date Sugar
Made from pulverized dates, this sugar alternative is just like coconut palm sugar. It is a direct replacement for table sugar with regards to culinary applications and contains more nutrients than table sugar.
10. Yacon Powder or Syrup
This is a sweetener that is both low in the glycemic index as well as calorie count. It is a natural sweetener derived from a South America root vegetable and can be found either in powder form or syrup form. It has a similar taste like molasses so feel free to substitute corn syrup or other less nutritionally dense sugar syrup in your recipes.
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List of Gluten Alternatives
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of the common food allergens that can cause leaky gut is gluten. Going gluten-free used to be mission impossible. But it’s a whole different world at your local supermarket nowadays. A lot of foods are naturally gluten-free. Examples include rice, wild rice, millet, brown millet, teff, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, sesame, flaxseed, hemp, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, fish, legumes, etc. So many of them. Here are some really accessible healthier gluten switch-ups that won’t rob you of a wonderful culinary experience.
- From regular pasta to pasta made of rice, buckwheat, millet or even non-GMO corn
- From semolina to polenta
- From bulgur wheat in your tabbouleh salad to rice
- From couscous to quinoa
- From wheat bran to gluten-free oat bran
- From bread to gluten-free bread
- From cereal to corn flakes
- From granola to gluten-free granola mix
Gluten-free all-purpose baking flour mixes are so common these days that you no longer need to wreck your brain trying to figure out how much and what types of flour and starches to combine to make it all work. Gluten-free flour mixes typically contain one or more of these natural gluten-free flours and one or more starches.
• Chestnut flour
• Arrowroot flour
• Tapioca flour
• Banana flour
• Coconut flour
• Chickpea flour
• Soy flour
• Almond flour
• Quinoa flour
• Amaranth flour
• Hemp flour
Gluten-free thickeners or starches:
• Xanthan gum
• Carob bean gum
• Guar gum
See, going gluten-free might be more exciting than you think.
I hope this information has given you some confidence in embarking on your journey to eat healthier for your gut health. It is definitely doable and there is no better day to start than today. To learn more about the importance of a healthy gut, read my article, Your Gut is Your Everything – What Could Go Wrong?
Going Beyond Gluten Protection
There is no denying that gluten can be problematic for many people. While many of us try to maintain a gluten-free diet, it is sometimes impossible to eliminate it altogether. Plus, evidence suggests that there is still gluten contamination in many “gluten-free” foods. A recent study examined 5,524 foods tested by 804 users and found that 32% of foods labeled “gluten-free” contained measurable amounts of gluten. Interestingly, gluten-free pizzas and pastas were the most likely to test positive for gluten with over 50% of samples showing gluten contamination. 
Should you go beyond your tolerance for gluten or other of the common food allergens mentioned here, consider this product. ProtectZyme™ is a unique combination of digestive support compounds designed to minimize the adverse effects from occasional consumption of gluten, dairy, soy, and egg proteins in individuals who are sensitive to them, as well as to curb the detrimental effects of consuming excessive amounts of starchy foods and sucrose. However, it will not affect the absorption of glucose or fructose.
If you would rather not go at this alone, please feel free to CONTACT ME. My practice offers a wide array of nutritional and gut health testing that can help pinpoint the causes of your gut health challenges. With that information in hand, we can work together to better focus on the remedies that will work for you and your lifestyle. Let me give you the professional guidance that you need to get to a healthier gut and a healthier tomorrow.
1. Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain?
2. Retinoic Acid, Leaky Gut, and Autoimmune Diseases.
3. Food biotechnology: from genetically modified foods to personalized nutrition.
4. Detection of Gluten in Gluten-Free Labeled Restaurant Food. Analysis of Crowd-Sourced Data.