What You Need To Know About Leaky Gut Syndrome

Marie Hayden


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For many people, leaky gut syndrome is the underlying cause of allergic reactions, autoimmune disease and body-wide inflammation. It occurs when the lining of the digestive tract develops tiny holes that allow specific substances to pass through into the bloodstream, damaging your system. It is a major contributor to autoimmune diseases like Chron’s and ulcerative colitis and also causes malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients (E.g. zinc, iron, vitamin B12 etc.).

Leaky gut syndrome is commonly caused by:  

• Gluten intolerance

• Food allergies and sensitivities

• Poor diet

• Chronic stress

• Toxin & chemical overload

• Bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis)

Common Symptoms

• Food allergies or sensitivities

• Low energy

• Joint pain

• Bloating

• Headaches

• Rosacea

• Acne

• Weight Gain

• Thyroid conditions or disease

• Excessive immune responses

• Autoimmune conditions or diseases

• Slow metabolism

• Mal absorption of vital minerals and nutrients: Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron

• GI Issues and Multiple Food Intolerances

• Intestinal inflammation

• Chest pain with signs associated with decreased blood flow to heart tissue but with normal coronary arteries

Visualize the lining of your digestive tract like an inflated balloon with small pin holes in it that only allows specific particles to pass through. Your gut lining works as a barrier to keep out larger particles that can damage your system.  

These larger particles are:

• Undigested proteins & fats

• Gluten

• Bad bacteria

• Undigested food particles

• Chemicals and other toxic waste

When foreign substances damage the barrier and start passing through, the little pin holes increase in size and start allowing these larger particles to enter.  These larger particles were never meant to pass through the intestinal barrier and trigger an immune response (A.K.A. allergic response) which can lead to many different symptoms depending on the person.

What Is An Allergic Reaction

Allergic responses can show up very differently from person to person. You could be experiencing allergic responses like:

• Inflammatory bowel disease

• Irritable bowel syndrome

• Arthritis

• Eczema

• Psoriasis

• Depression

• Anxiety

• Migraine headaches

• Muscle pain

• Chronic fatigue

According to the Journal of Diabetes, there is a strong body of evidence pointing to leaky gut syndrome as a major cause of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes.

The 5 Most Common Foods that Contribute to Leaky Gut Syndrome

• Proteins found in un-sprouted grains, nuts and seeds

• Wheat & other gluten-containing grains

• GMO’s

• Conventional dairy

• Refined sugar

The problem with un-sprouted grains, nuts and seeds is that that they contain large amounts of antinutrients or nutrient blockers called phytates and lectins. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that act as a natural defense system for plants that protect them from outside invaders like mold and parasites. 

Your digestive lining is covered with sugar-containing cells that help break down your food.  Lectins gravitate toward this area and when they attach to your digestive lining, they end up causing damage and inflammation. 

Lectins are found in many foods, not just grains, and consumed in smaller amounts, they will cause no harm.  It is only when they are consumed in excessive quantities when they cause damage to your digestive system.

Foods High In Lectins

• Wheat

• Rice

• Spelt

• Soy

• Corn

Sprouting and fermenting grains reduces phytates and lectins, making these foods easier to digest.

Wheat & Other Gluten-Containing Grains

Gluten-containing grains will damage your intestinal lining and cause Leaky Gut Syndrome.

While you are working to heal Leaky Gut Syndrome and cure Autoimmune Disease, stay away from all grains, especially ones that contain gluten like wheat. 

Once your gut is healthy, you can add back in grains that have been fermented and sprouted to eat occasionally. 


Genetically Modified or Genetically Engineered food crops have been proven to be harmful to our health.  These food crops are usually modified to become resistant to poisonous chemicals like glyphosate in the herbicide: Roundup.

The most common food crops that have been genetically modified are also the most popular food allergens and sensitives.  They include:

• Soybean and all soy-related products

• Refined Sugar from sugar beets (Canada)

• Corn – fed to cows form which we eat meat and dairy products

• Wheat

• Canola oil – found in most packaged foods

The Canadian food industry has become reliant on the use of GMO food crops.  That is why it is recommended to stay away from conventional sugar, wheat, cow meat/dairy and any food that contains canola oil.  If the food is certified organic, it will not contain any GMO foods.  There are strict standards in place in Canada that guarantee no traces of GMO food crops are found on a certified organic farm.

Conventional Dairy

The protein A1 casein found in conventional dairy is what usually causes leaky gut syndrome.

The pasteurization process also destroys vital enzymes, making sugars like lactose very difficult to digest.  If you must ingest dairy select products that are certified organic and raw (unpasteurized).  You could also consume milk, cheese and yogurt from goat, sheep, or buffalo.

Refined Sugar

Refined sugar will wreak havoc on your digestive system, because it feeds and contributes to the growth of:

• Yeast

• Candida

• Bacterial imbalance – dysbiosis

Read below for an explanation on Dysbiosis and refer to other articles to learn about Yeast and Candida.

Other Factors That Contribute To Leaky Gut Syndrome

• Bacterial imbalance – dysbiosis

• Chronic stress

• Toxin and chemical overload

Bacterial Imbalance – Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis is an imbalance of beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your intestines. A build-up of harmful bacteria will end up creating ‘exotoxins’ that damage healthy cells and create holes in your intestinal wall.

This imbalance of bacteria can begin at birth because of:

• a C-section when the infant is unable to receive the coating of friendly bacteria received through the vaginal canal

• The mother no having a balanced/healthy intestinal flora

• Overuse of prescription antibiotic drugs

• Tap water with chlorine and fluoride

• Lack of probiotic-rich foods contribute to this imbalance of good and bad bacteria

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress weakens your immune system over time, which cripples your ability to fight off foreign invaders like bad bacteria and viruses, leading to inflammation and leaky gut syndrome.  

Recommendations to reduce stress:

• Getting more sleep

• Schedule fun activities into your week

• Rest one day a week

• Meditate on scripture

• Hang out with positive & uplifting people

Toxin and Chemical Overload

An average North-American comes into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut syndrome include:

• Antibiotics

• Pesticides

• Tap water

• Aspirin and NSAIDS

I recommend buying a high-quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and to look into natural plant-based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.

How Leaky Gut Syndrome Can Affect Brain Health

If you’ve ever seen a child or adult with autism experience a mood swing? This can be caused by intestinal permeability.  Gluten-free and casein-free diets have proven effective for many people with autism because the gluten and casein can leak through the intestinal wall and then recirculate in the blood stream to cause negative effects on the brain similar to an opioid drug.

Leaky gut syndrome has also been linked to other psychological disorders such as:

• Anxiety

• Depression

• Bipolar disorder

In many cases if you can heal your gut, you can heal your brain.

Summarized Recommendations


• Refined sugar

• Grains (wheat)

• Conventional meat

• Conventional dairy

• Conventional fruits and vegetables (pesticides)

• GMO foods (corn, canola oil, soy, wheat, refined beet sugar)

• Tap water

• Plastic containers, polyester clothing, plastic bags, all plastics

• Antibiotics – unless prescribed by your doctor. Please consult with a Naturopathic Doctor for further direction. 

• Remove foods and factors that damage your gut

• Replace with healing foods

• Repair with specific supplements

• Rebalance with probiotics.

Healing food recommendations

Bone Broth

Contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. Bone broth fasting for three days helps heal leaky gut syndrome.

Raw Cultured Dairy 

 Contains both probiotics and SCFA’s that can help heal the gut. Pastured kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter and raw cheese are some of the best. 

Fermented Vegetables 

Contain organic acids that balance intestinal PH levels and probiotics to support the gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and kvass are excellent sources. 

Coconut Products

Contain MCFA’s that are easier to digest than other fats so they work well for improving intestinal health.  Also, coconut kefir contains probiotics that support your digestive system. 

Sprouted Seeds

Chia, flax, and hemp seeds that have been sprouted are great sources of fiber that can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria.  If you have severe leaky gut syndrome, you may need to start with getting your fiber from steamed vegetables and fruit. 

Foods High in Omega-3 Fats

Grass fed beef, lamb and wild-caught fish like salmon.

Recommended supplements


It comes in powder form and is an essential amino acid that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of intestinal lining. L-glutamine coats your cell walls and protects them from any irritants. Take 2-5grams twice daily.


the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. I recommend getting probiotics in both food and supplement form. It’s important to both remove the damaging irritants and simultaneously re-inoculate your digestive system with beneficial bacteria that will keep harmful bacteria at bay. Load up on both probiotic-rich foods and take at least 50-billion unites of probiotics daily from a high-quality brand.

Digestive Enzymes 

Take 1-2 capsules at the beginning of each meal to ensure your food is fully digested. This decreases the chance that partially digested food particles and proteins are damaging your intestinal wall.

Aloe Vera Juice


Improves intestinal barrier function by sealing the intestinal wall due to the creation of tight junction proteins. It also stabilizes mast cells and reduces the release of histamine, which is common in food intolerance. New studies have also shown its effectiveness in healing ulcerative colitis. Takes 500 mg 3x/day with meals.


 (NAG) is a special form of glucosamine that is not only the precursor to hyaluronic acid but also reduces inflammation and extends life of important skin cells. NAG is best known for its role in digestive health. 

Licorice Root 

(DGL) – An adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production on the stomach. DGL supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. This herb is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut syndrome is being caused by emotional stress. Take 500mg twice daily.

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Health Disclaimer

This website (www.mariehayden.com) contains the opinions and ideas of Marie Hayden and is designed to provide useful information in regard to the subject matter covered. This website is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Marie Hayden disclaims any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents on this website.

Intermittent Fasting Disclaimer

People with advanced diabetes or who are on medications for diabetes, people with a history of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not attempt intermittent fasting unless under the close supervision of a licensed physician.

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