Gut Health

10 Foods to Eat on the Leaky Gut Diet Plan (and 5 Foods to Avoid)

"Leaky What??"

Do not be surprised if your doctor doesn’t know the term, Leaky Gut (only progressive medical professionals recognize it as a diagnosable condition).

It refers to a hyper-permeability of the intestinal tract, which allows food and other toxins to leak into the body from the gut.

Quick note about your intestines: They are designed to be a selectively-permeable barrier between your gut and the outside world, helping control exactly what substances enter into your bloodstream. However, with a leaky gut, your gut barrier loses the ability to be selective.

Here’s why that’s a problem: When toxins, food particles, and other bad actors escape the protective confines of your gut, they can then gain access to your bloodstream. Your bloodstream is the superhighway of your body, meaning these bad guys can travel to any organ and system in your body (an occurrence known as “toxic streaming”).

When this occurs, you may experience a wide range of health problems including:

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Leaky gut is often associated with unhealthy inflammation in the body, and conditions like autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, and even obesity and diabetes.

Although many doctors aren’t even clued in to what leaky gut is, let alone how to address it, it IS widely recognized that some foods are better than others when it comes to helping with gut permeability and encouraging your healthiest digestive tract. This includes foods which can help support your populations of beneficial gut bacteria and create a healthy inflammatory response in the body.

Read on for the best gut health foods that should be in your diet now, and the worst gut-worsening foods to stay far, far away from.

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10 Best Foods for Your Leaky Gut Diet Plan

When choosing which foods to eat to help address a leaky gut, you should choose options that help you grow healthy bacteria. Certain foods actually enhance the growth of good bacteria, while other foods encourage them.

Think of your gut like a telephone booth. You can only fit so much bacteria in there before it reaches max capacity. For ideal gut health, you’ll have more beneficial bacteria in your bodily “phone booth” to help crowd out the bad guys. If the ratios are flipped, too much unhealthy bacteria make it hard for your good gut bugs to gain a strong foothold, and can lead to serious health problems (including leaky gut).

See below for 10 of the best gut-friendly foods that should be in your weekly meal plan right now.

1. Bananas

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has some good news regarding your favorite yellow fruit! Bananas are a great way to reduce inflammation and promote harmony between gut microbes, thanks to their high levels of potassium and magnesium.

2. Broccoli

The sulfur-containing metabolites found in broccoli (and other cruciferous veggies like kale, cauliflower, and cabbage) not only have anti-inflammatory properties, but loads of vitamins, flavonoids, and carotenoids, which is great for an anti-inflammatory diet. You should always steam your broccoli before you eat it, as research has shown it releases compounds that are beneficial for your digestion.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

It often seems like ACV is part of just about every progressive health protocol—and for good reason! Apple cider vinegar contains probiotics and amino acids that can help relieve tummy troubles and support the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

4. Avocados

Avocados are a naturally anti-inflammatory fruit. They are one of the best non-animal fats for your digestive system and will have you well on your way to digestive health by keeping your body full of healthy and lean fat.

5. Mangos

Have you heard the good news? Mangos aren’t just delicious and sweet, they’re also all-star microbiome supporters thanks to their rich polyphenols and fiber content. A 2023 study published in Food Science Nutrition also found that daily consumption of fresh mango increased gut microbiome diversity.[1]

6. Bone Broth

Bone broth is a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and can greatly support the structure of your gut barrier. It’s generally prepared using beef bones (or bones from poultry), and can be used in recipes, or simply consumed like a beverage on its own.

7. Salmon

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps cushion the joints, fight inflammation, keep your brain healthy, and encourage gut barrier strength.

Salmon is also loaded with lean fats and omega-6 and omega-9, all of which help support a healthy overall body. If you suffer from joint pain, eating salmon can help ease it due to the high concentration of oil.

Salmon also contains high doses of protein and B vitamins and may be useful in helping you maintain a healthy weight.

Try this delicious salmon recipe (also with gut-friendly mango): Salmon Bites With Mango Salsa

8. Walnuts

Whether you choose walnut salads, walnut recipes, or just snacking on a handful whenever you get the urge, these nuts are packed with phytonutrients that no other nuts have.

Walnuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which, like salmon, can help with creating a healthy inflammatory response.

And, a study from the USDA and University of Illinois found that walnut consumption was associated with positive changes to the gut microbiome.[2]

9. Sauerkraut

Did you know that the same condiment you put on your hotdog can help crowd out bad bacteria in your gut, allowing good bacteria to flourish? This naturally fermented food has also been shown to have a fantastically soothing effect on the tummy.

10. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help support a leak-free gut. They also contain an amazing antioxidant, quercetin, which can drive a balanced immune response.

Plus, blueberries are rich in Vitamins A, C, and K and contain several grams of fiber. Fiber-rich foods are an important part of helping support the strength of your probiotic bacteria to create a robust gut barrier.

5 Foods to Avoid If You Have a Leaky Gut

Your mom was right; you are what you eat. And just as there are foods that can support the health and strength of your gut, there are several foods that can irritate it and cause even further intestinal distress.

See below for the five most nefarious food types that can cause your gut to spring a leak (or make an already leaky gut worse)...

1. Refined Sugar

Refined and processed sugars, including prepackaged candy, baked goods, and desserts are bad news for your gut. Many research studies show that consumption of sugar can devastate the good bacteria in your gut and feed the bad. Pathogenic overgrowth and a reduction in immune effectiveness have also been linked to sugar consumption, so it is best to avoid processed sugars as much as possible.

Note: Refined sugar isn't only in sweets. It's in almost all processed foods we consume, from white flour to alcohol. According to leaky gut researcher, Alessio Fasano, M.D., alcohol damages the intestinal lining and hampers its natural ability to repair. This can compound leaky gut symptoms.

2. Refined Vegetable Oils

Refined and hydrogenated vegetable oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, and soybean) can cause a large amount of inflammation in the body. The refining process creates levels of oxidation which have been shown to trigger inflammatory responses in your gut. To support your best gut health, vegetable oils should be avoided or used very sparingly.

For a healthier oil alternative, stick to extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or grass-fed butter.

3. Gluten

If you have digestive issues or food sensitivities, gluten grains can be a problem.[3] In fact, anyone with concerns about leaky gut should avoid them altogether. This is because gluten proteins have been shown to cause damage to the gut lining and increase inflammation in the gut. So steer clear of common gluten grains like wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye), as well as products made from these grains like breads, cookies and cereals.

4. Processed Meats

When you're crunched for time, it can seem like a quick fix to grab for something pre-packaged or processed. But processed meats are some of the worst foods you can eat for your digestive and immune health.[4]

Most processed meats are made using some type of refined sugar, gluten, and cured using nitrates that can break down cells in the intestinal lining. Not only that, but when consumed regularly, processed meats can contribute to leaky gut and have been associated with an increased risk of chronic disease.

As much as possible, stick with fresh organic cuts of grass-fed beef, lamb and chicken (preferably raised without antibiotics). 

5. Artificial Sweetener

You may think that because artificial sweeteners don't contain refined sugar, they're okay to consume. But the truth is that most are made with chemicals that can quickly damage your intestinal cells.

One of the worst artificial sweeteners is Splenda (sucralose). A study in the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases journal indicates that the use of artificial sweeteners like Splenda doubles the risk for Crohn’s disease, can destroy beneficial gut bacteria, and promotes digestive inflammatory conditions.[5]

If you must sweeten anything in your diet, use stevia or coconut nectar. These natural sources help give a sweet kick without all of the draining of bacteria and promotion of unhealthy growth.

Living a Leak-Free Life

A strong gut barrier means that toxins, pathogens, and other harmful substances will remain locked safely inside your gut where they belong. As we’ve learned, keeping your gut barrier robust involves:

  • Avoiding damaging substances
  • And maintaining a well-balanced microbiome where beneficial (probiotic) bacteria outnumber harmful (pathogenic) bacteria.

In addition to choosing the right foods, smart supplementation in the form of spore probiotics can be one of your strongest allies in the fight for a balanced, leak-free gut.

In fact, a groundbreaking human clinical trial found that a particular blend of four spore probiotics significantly addressed leaky gut—and all of the associated immune activation—in just 30 days[6]:

  • Bacillus subtilis HU58™, which produces at least 12 powerfully defensive compounds that neutralize harmful bacteria before they can attack the gut barrier
  • Bacillus indicus HU36™, which produces potent, highly bioavailable antioxidants in your gut tract that help stop toxic by-products from damaging the cells in your gut barrier
  • Bacillus clausii, the only probiotic known to resist damage from a variety of common antibiotics (a frequent exacerbator of leaky gut)
  • Bacillus coagulans, a well-known gut defender that helps reduce occasional GI issues like gas and bloating

Just Thrive Probiotic is proud to be the only retail-available formula that contains all four strains needed to properly address leaky gut.

So if you’re concerned about leaky gut, or just want to give yourself the best in digestive and immune support, choose Just Thrive Probiotic to stay balanced, strong, and healthy every day.

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  1. Asuncion P, Liu C, Castro R, et al. The effects of fresh mango consumption on gut health and microbiome - Randomized controlled trial. Food Sci Nutr. 2023;11(4):2069-2078. Published 2023 Feb 1. doi:10.1002/fsn3.3243
  2. Holscher HD, Guetterman HM, Swanson KS, et al. Walnut Consumption Alters the Gastrointestinal Microbiota, Microbially Derived Secondary Bile Acids, and Health Markers in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Nutr. 2018;148(6):861-867. doi:10.1093/jn/nxy004
  3. Akhondi H, Ross AB. Gluten-Associated Medical Problems. [Updated October 31, 2022]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; January 2024. Available from:
  4. Rohrmann S, Linseisen J. Processed meat: the real villain?. Proc Nutr Soc. 2016;75(3):233-241. doi:10.1017/S0029665115004255
  5. Rodriguez-Palacios A, Harding A, Menghini P, et al. The Artificial Sweetener Splenda Promotes Gut Proteobacteria, Dysbiosis, and Myeloperoxidase Reactivity in Crohn's Disease-Like Ileitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2018;24(5):1005-1020. doi:10.1093/ibd/izy060
  6. McFarlin BK, Henning AL, Bowman EM, Gary MA, Carbajal KM. Oral spore-based probiotic supplementation was associated with reduced incidence of post-prandial dietary endotoxin, triglycerides, and disease risk biomarkers. World J Gastrointest Pathophysiol. 2017;8(3):117-126. doi:10.4291/wjgp.v8.i3.117