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Top 7 Foods that Heal Leaky Gut

By Liam McAuliffe Published on

The recent spotlight on gut health has illuminated the critical role it plays in our overall well-being. Leaky gut syndrome, a condition where the lining of the intestines becomes degraded and permeable, allowing harmful substances to leak into the bloodstream, has garnered significant attention. While dietary approaches to heal the gut often erroneously emphasize plant-based foods, emerging research suggests that certain animal-based foods hold the greatest therapeutic potential to heal leaky gut. 

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind how specific animal-based food help heal and seal the gut lining, offering hope for those seeking relief from this increasingly prevalent condition. 

Table of Contents

What is Leaky Gut?

leaky gut. cells on gut lining held tightly together. in intestine with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity these tight junctions come apart. autoimmune disorder. Vector diagram for educational, medical, biological and science use

Leaky gut is the unofficial name for a condition known as intestinal permeability.

Our intestines have over 4,000 square feet of surface area, safeguarded by a mucosal membrane. This membrane acts as a gatekeeper, regulating the passage of nutrients and substances into our bloodstream. When in optimal condition, our intestinal lining selectively permits only beneficial compounds to be absorbed, ensuring our overall health and well-being.1 2 

But when we consume foods and substances that damage and degrade this lining, gaps form between the cells that make up the mucosal membrane. Plant toxins, antinutrients, bacteria, sugars, pesticides, and undigested food particles can then cross the intestinal barrier and enter your bloodstream. 3

Upon entering the bloodstream, these antigens get deposited in organs and tissues throughout the body. In response, the body initiates inflammation as a protective mechanism. Over time, inflammation can become chronic, leading to various autoimmune diseases and disorders that affect physical, mental, and cognitive health. 

The good news is that for most people leaky gut can be relieved and even reversed by eliminating the foods that contribute to leaky gut and replacing them with nutrient-dense animal foods that directly support intestinal health. 

Now let’s take a closer look a the foods that heal leaky gut. 

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1. Bone Broth

Bone Broth Bouillon in Metal Pan. Organic Food.

Bone broth is loaded with collagen and glutamine. 

Studies have found that collagen peptides improve intestinal function by specifically strengthening the junctions between epithelial cells lining the intestines and reducing inflammation–two factors directly associated with leaky gut.4 5

The amino acid glutamine has been found to provide energy to immune cells and intestinal cells producing anti-inflammatory, gut-healing effects. [36] [37]Studies show that glutamine can protect against intestinal permeability. [38] [39]

2. Blue Cheese

Slice of Roquefort cheese on white background

Studies have found that the beneficial bacteria in blue cheese can help modulate gut inflammation, improve stool consistency, and enhance overall gut function.

Blue cheese is also a fantastic source of a bioactive peptide (a building block of protein) called spermidine. Spermidine has been found to directly improve gut barrier integrity in various ways, including 1 2 3

  • Reducing intestinal inflammation by promoting anti-inflammatory molecules that preserve the integrity of the gut lining.
  • Altering the gut microbiota by increasing the abundance of beneficial bacteria and reducing the abundance of harmful bacteria.
  • Anti-oxidative effects that protect gut lining from damage caused by chronic inflammation. 
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3. Butter

is butter good for you

Butter is high in beneficial fatty acids that can both protect the gut lining from antigens and help heal damaged cells. 

One of these fatty acids is lauric acid, which provides antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Research on lauric acid has found that it can reduce harmful intestinal bacteria, protect against microbial infection, and support a healthy microbiome. [29] 

Butyrate (butyric acid) is a short-chain fatty acid that naturally occurs in butter. Butyric acid has been found to provide antioxidant properties directly to the mucosal lining of the gut. 

An animal study found that in mice, the addition of dietary butyrate improved symptoms of ulcerative colitis after only 14 days. [19]

Studies on humans have found that butyrate improves digestive conditions associated with leaky gut, including, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Crohn’s disease. [23] [24] [22]

In one study, women who ate four or more servings of high-fat dairy foods like butter lowered their risk of colon cancer by 34%. [12]

diagram showing nutrients in butter

4. Organ Meats

grass-fed-beef-organ-meats-organic-offal-meat-beef

Just a few weeks on a vitamin A-deficient diet can produce changes in gut bacteria that damage the intestinal barrier. This may be why vitamin D deficiency is associated with inflammatory bowel disease. [26]

Organ meats are among the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. A single serving 3.5 oz serving of beef liver provides 4,968 µg of vitamin A, for 552% of your RDV, and 2471% of your RDV of B12. 

Vitamin A directly regulates immune responses in the intestinal epithelium, which is crucial to the maintenance and proper function of the gut lining. 5 While, B12 plays a key role in over twelve enzymes that support healthy gut bacteria.2

5. Pasture Raised Pork

keto meats pork belly

Vitamin D deficiency can also compromise the barrier, which may be why it’s associated with inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal permeability. [44]

Pasture-raised pork that gets to wallow about in the sunshine can offer significant concentrations of vitamin D. 

Pastured lard, in particular, is one of the most potent dietary sources of vitamin D, providing 1,000 IU of Vitamin D per tablespoon.[6]  This makes lard nearly as high as cod liver oil.

Popular pork spareribs contain lower but still significant, 138 IU per 4-ounce serving. 

Pork is also high in complete fresh meat protein, which has been found to support the growth of beneficial Lactobacillus gut bacteria.3

6. Lamb

Lamb rack with limoncello glaze served on a plate

Lamb meat provides more of the highly benefic conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than any other food. [27]    

The (CLA) in lamb meat is produced naturally when grass is fermented in the animal’s digestive system. 

Research shows that conjugated linoleic acid has a strong influence on the connection between the gut and the brain. It works by acting on certain types of cells in the intestine called myeloid cells. These cells then regulate how the immune system responds to encephalitogenic T-cells, which are involved in inflammatory processes in the brain.

Lamb is also a fantastic source of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B12, and glutathione, considered the “master antioxidant.”[28] [29] [30] All of these compounds protect the intestinal lining and can contribute to healing leaky gut. 

7. Eggs

Are Eggs Good for You?

Consuming eggs has been found to improve the function of blood vessels and gut microbiota without causing inflammation in the gut. 1

A single conventional whole egg provides various other gut healing nutrients, including 10% of the RDV of vitamin A, 15% of the RDV of vitamin D, and 15% RDV of vitamin E.

To boost your vitamin D levels, you can opt for eggs from hens fed a vitamin D-enriched diet. These eggs can provide 250% of your RDV in vitamin D per egg. [19]

Foods that Heal Leaky Gut: The Bottom Line 

Intestinal permeability is a condition that is receiving more attention as a potential root cause of various diseases and disoreders associated with chronic inflammation. 

Numerous, so-called “healthy plant-based foods” like nuts, legumes, and dark leafy greens, actually contain compounds that can harm the gut lining including lectins, oxalates, abrasive fibers, and bacteria. While whole animal products have been overlooked as abundant sources of nutrients that protect the gut lining without providing the toxic stressors found in most plant products. 

If you’re serious about healing and preventing leaky gut, these whole animal products provide foundational support.

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