Top 10 Foods to Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome

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leaky gut

Top 10 Foods to Heal Leaky Gut

Leaky gut or intestinal permeability syndrome is a condition in which the gut lining is damaged. In this condition, large food particles, bacteria and environmental toxins are able to seep into the blood stream and cause problems in the body. In this article, you will learn some of the best foods to use to heal leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome is one of the major factors in nearly every inflammation condition. Most people have this condition but know very little about it. There are a wide variety of things that trigger intestinal damage including poor diet, chronic stress, antibiotic usage, chronic infections, poor digestive juice production and blood sugar imbalances. You can see the whole list in the image below and exactly what happens with leaky gut syndrome.

leaky gut

The Problem With Leaky Gut Syndrome

The small intestine is where the gastrointestinal associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) lives which makes up 70–80% of our immune system. The gut lining is a key barrier, much like the skin, that protects our blood stream from the external environment. The responsibility of the GALT is to target and kill off unwanted opportunistic organisms that make their way into the small intestine.

When the GALT gets overwhelmed, it results in high levels of inflammation in the gut that damage the intestinal lining. This is one factor in the pathogenesis of leaky gut syndrome. When the gut barrier opens and undigested food particles and microbes are able to get into the blood stream, the body increases the inflammatory response to protect against a systemic infection.

This increased level of inflammation impacts other major organs and bodily regions. As a clinician, I always suspect leaky gut whenever I have patients with chronic immune related issues. This includes cancer and autoimmune conditions as well as other chronic inflammatory conditions.

leaky gut

Best Foods to Heal Leaky Gut

In this article I go over some of the top foods that help the body heal and seal a leaky gut. Food is medicine and we can use various foods to heal leaky gut.

It is important to know that everyone is different and may respond in their own unique way to the various foods listed. What is one man’s medicine can be another individual’s poison. Try consuming these foods and pay attention to how your body responds to them. If you see unwanted symptoms, then stop eating that particular food.

Out of this list, most of you will respond well to all of these foods, but those of you who tend to be more sensitive will find at least 5–6 of these foods that your body responds well to.

Bone Broth:

Bone broth has a variety of nutrients that act to soothe an overactive immune system while providing the body with raw materials to rebuild stronger and healthier cells. This is why it is an incredibly healing food to have when the body is encountering stress from bacterial or viral infections as well as digestive disorders and leaky gut syndrome.

Bone broth can be made from any animal with bones and the most popular soup bones include those of fish, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and venison. The bones house a variety of powerful nutrients that become released when they are slowly simmered in water for a few hours. These nutrients include bone marrow which helps provide the raw materials for healthy blood cells and immune development (1234).

Goal:  Drink 8oz – 2x daily of either homemade (the best) or an organic store bought variety. This Kettle & Fire Bone Broth is excellent for true pre-made bone broth. You can also find lower cost meat broths that aren’t as rich in collagen protein and glycosaminoglycans as bone broth, but still provide minerals for the body. I like Imagine Chicken broth.

Bone Broth, 10 Reasons to Use Bone Broth

Coconut Oil:

This is one of the healthiest foods on the planet and is the best natural source of medium chain triglycerides that help the body burn fat, reduce inflammation, and heal the gut lining. Coconut oil is especially rich in lauric acid which is found in a high quantity within mother’s milk and is known to be a powerful antimicrobial agent that kills off bad bacteria and yeast.

I recommend using coconut oil to cook with and to put in shakes and smoothies. You can also apply it to your skin where it will help to moisturize and improve the skin microbiome. On the skin, it will also cross into the blood stream and have a positive effect on your physiology. If you don’t like the coconut flavor then use a high quality MCT oil which has all the same benefits but no coconut flavor.

Goal:  3–4 tbsps. of virgin coconut oil (or Keto Brain) daily in shakes, smoothies, applied to the skin or used in cooking (and poured on food afterwards). 

use coconut oil, 10 Great Ways to Use Coconut Oil

Coconut Butter:

This contains all the benefits of coconut oil, but it also contains the coconut flour where all the fiber of the coconut is. The coconut fiber is a great prebiotic that helps to feed and support a healthy microbiome.

You can use coconut butter in a wide variety of recipes including fudge cups, donut holes, healthy oreo cookies and so much more!

Goal:  Aim to get 2 tbsps. of coconut butter in your diet daily either in addition to coconut oil or in replacement for the coconut oil. Here is a great deal on a large amount of coconut butter, which you will find as the base in many recipes on our website.


Apple Cider Vinegar:

This fermented tonic is a natural antimicrobial that kills off bad bacteria such as H Pylori which is associated with acid reflux and stomach ulcers. It is also loaded with enzymes and organic acids that improve the digestive process, stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation throughout the body (5, 6).

I use ACV in water (1–2 tbsps. in 8oz of water) and on foods, particularly meat and vegetable dishes. The acids in the ACV help to pre-digest the meat and veggies, which reduces stress on the digestive system. It also improves the production and flow of digestive juices such as stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes (7).

Goal:  Use 3–4 tbsps. of ACV daily in water and on foods. Always get this raw, with the mother intact. I like Bragg’s brand.

Grass-fed Ghee:

Grass-fed butter and ghee are loaded with powerful gut supportive nutrients including a large amount of fat soluble vitamin A, D, E and K2. They also have omega 3 fatty acids and a small chain fat called butyric acid that helps feed intestinal cells and reduces gut and whole body inflammation.

Ghee is clarified butter in which all the lactose, casein and whey are removed and it is just the fat solids that remain. Many individuals with leaky gut have sensitivities to lactose, casein and whey and so I only recommend ghee for these individuals and it is usually tolerated very well.

I recommend melting it on steamed veggies where it tastes amazing and/or adding it to soups, teas and coffee.

Goal:  Use 2–4 tbsps. daily of grass-fed ghee, Purity Farms is a good brand.

***If you are interested in healing leaky gut, you will want to use our Gut Repair powder which is a specifically formulated to heal leaky gut and improve the microbiome.  For a limited time, we have a 20% discount on this product, just use the coupon code Gift20 at checkout.

leaky gut

Beef Gelatin and/or Collagen Peptides:

Gelatin and collagen are the main nutrients in bone broth and so they are rich in the key amino acids that help make up our joints, gut lining and skin. Using these products adds additional healthy protein to the diet and provides the key building blocks for these supportive structures in the body.

These are also considered beauty foods because they help to strengthen the skin tissue, reducing skin damage and wrinkle formation. In this way, they help to improve complexion and reduce the effects of aging on the skin.

By strengthening the gut lining, they reduce whole body inflammatory levels and improve digestive function, neurological health and thyroid function among other things. Always look for a grass-fed source of gelatin or collagen peptides.

Gelatin can be used to make collagen marshmallows or to thicken up soups and stews. We have the grass-fed gelatin here. Collagen peptides can be used in a similar manner as any other protein powder in smoothies and shakes.

Goal:  2–4 scoops daily in smoothies, collagen marshmallows, soups and stews.

You can also use our Bone Broth Power Protein, which is full of collagen protein from grass-fed beef. This protein helps support the gut, skin, joints and the immune system.


Ginger is composed of key essential oils that act as strong antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic agents. In addition, it limits cancer cell formation while firing up our body’s immune system in order to destroy the cancer cells formerly present (8).

Additionally, ginger helps protect the body’s stores of the super antioxidant and free radical destroyer glutathione. Ginger is also one of the world’s best anti-nausea agents and it improves the production of digestive juices (stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes).

Adequate digestive juice flow is extremely key for healing a leaky gut and reducing gut related inflammation that would cause leaky gut. Here are some great ways to use ginger:

1.  Drink a cup of organic ginger tea everyday or use 2 drops of ginger essential oil in water

2.  Grate fresh ginger or use dried ginger on your salad, meat and steamed veggies

3.  Drink Bragg’s Ginger Aid (ginger, apple cider vinegar, water and stevia – tastes GREAT!!!)

4.  Get ginger root and put an inch or so in per 8oz of juice. Anymore ginger than that can give the drink too much bite.

Goal:  Find 2 ways to get ginger into your body each day

ginger, Ginger: 10 Ways This Herb Improves Digestion


Peppermint is considered a carminative herb in that it stimulates the digestive system and improves the bone of the intestinal membrane. Carminatives contain essential oils that help to expel gas and ease any sort of gut related gripping pains you may experience with leaky gut syndrome.

Additionally, carminative herbs like peppermint help to tone the mucous membrane and increase the gut related muscle contractions, called peristalsis, in order to move food and wastes through the system gently.

The menthol component of peppermint is a natural muscle relaxer which acts to relax the smooth muscles in the gut when they are over contracting. This has been shown to help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and acid reflux (910).

Goal:  Get a few drops of peppermint essential oil in your water each day or make an organic peppermint based tea to drink each day.

leaky gut

Fermented Vegetables: 

Fermented foods provide the body with beneficial microorganisms, live bioactive enzymes, organic acids, and B vitamins. These nutrients help to improve the digestive functions of the body by stimulating the production of healthy stomach acid levels, bile and pancreatic enzymes necessary for optimal digestion.

Some of my favorite fermented foods that I use daily include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, coconut water kefir, coconut milk yogurt and kefir, and grass-fed dairy kefir.  For a list of the best fermented foods read this article

Goal:  Consume 4 ounces of fermented drinks such as coconut water kefir and 4 ounces of fermented veggies such as sauerkraut or kimchi daily.

Fermented Foods, Top 10 Best Fermented Foods to Heal Your Gut

Pumpkin Seeds:

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium which are all key for good digestive function.  They are also one of the world’s strongest natural antiparasitic agents and help to expel all different forms of parasites including the very challenging tapeworm.

You can definitely cook these up after consuming a pumpkin and add some good salt for a great snack.  However, for regular consumption, it is best to get pre-shelled sprouted, raw pumpkin seeds to remove any sort of antinutrient lectins.

Goal:  Consume 2–4 ounces of sprouted raw pumpkin seeds daily in salads or as a snack

pumpkin seeds, 4 Ways Pumpkin Seeds Cleanse Your Body

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96. PMID: 18416885
2. Deal CL, Moskowitz RW. Nutraceuticals as therapeutic agents in osteoarthritis. The role of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and collagen hydrolysate. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1999 May;25(2):379-95. PMID:10356424
3. Choi SY, Kim WG, Ko EJ, Lee YH, Kim BG, Shin HJ, Choi YS, Ahn JY, Kim BJ, Lee HJ. Effect of high advanced-collagen tripeptide on wound healing and skin recovery after fractional photothermolysis treatment. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2014 Dec;39(8):874-80. PMID: 25283252
4. Choi SY, Ko EJ, Lee YH, Kim BG, Shin HJ, Seo DB, Lee SJ, Kim BJ, Kim MN. Effects of collagen tripeptide supplement on skin properties: a prospective, randomized, controlled study. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2014 Jun;16(3):132-7. PMID: 24131075
5. Johnston CS, Gaas CA. Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect.Medscape General Medicine.2006 May; 8(2):61. PMCID:1785201
6. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al., Dietary intake of α-linolenic acid and risk of fatal ischemic heart disease among women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May;69(5): 890-897. PMID:10232627
7. Johnston CS, Kim CM, Buller AJ. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes mellitus.Diabetes Care. 2004 Jan; 27:281–282. PMID:14694010
8. Park M, Bae J, Lee DS. Antibacterial activity of [10]-gingerol and [12]-gingerol isolated from ginger rhizome against periodontal bacteria. Phytother Res. 2008 Nov;22(11):1446-9. PMID: 18814211
9. Hills JM, Aaronson PI. The mechanism of action of peppermint oil on gastrointestinal smooth muscle. An analysis using patch clamp electrophysiology and isolated tissue pharmacology in rabbit and guinea pig. Gastroenterology. 1991 Jul;101(1):55-65. PMID: 1646142
10. Kölbel CB, Layer P. [Peppermint oil and the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract]. Z Gastroenterol. 1992 Dec;30(12):885-6. German. PMID: 1336261

inflammatory, Top 12 Inflammatory Lab Markers and Optimal Ranges

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  1. I have a reaction to broth, coconut oil/butter, ghee, pumpkin seeds and even essential oils from this list whenever I consume them and do currently avoid them except the broth. Normally, I get a thick mucous-post nasal drip when I eat these items along with dairy and all grains-sometimes difficulty getting a deep breath with grains.. Would you recommend I stay away from the above items from your article or consume them anyway as I try to heal from my leaky gut? So far it’s been a real struggle to get any improvement. I’ve been doing the GAPS diet for 7-8 months . I am very slowly being able to add in fermented veggies and also take 50 billion probiotics 2xs a day. (Also, I did a 6 mth. candida cleanse with a health consultant). Any advice would be welcomed!! At this rate, will my gut ever heal?

    1. Sorry to hear this Denise. I would recommend staying away from anything that causes unwanted symptoms, even if it is considered a superfood. Glad you are able to add back some fermented veggies and probiotics now! You will get well, it just takes time!

    2. Hello Denise, you may consider trying NAET treatment with a certified NAET practitioner (see internet for details). Hope it will help you get rid of all these reactions.

  2. I tend to have trouble with digesting coconut oil. Does it still help the gut even if it’s rubbed on topically? I use it in place of body lotion and am wondering if it is still doing the gut any good. I can drink coconut juice/water, though.

    1. The last thing anyone needs, but especially someone with leaky gut, is essential oils taken internally where they can damage the mucus membrane even further. If you have seen the photos of essential oils eating through a plastic cup, you can understand the danger.
      No certified aromatherapist would recommend that, especially without supervision. Stick to the real herbs.

  3. I love love ginger. I love ginger shots. I juice a nice piece of ginger and one Granny Smith apple; then drink it and I love it. I would love to have a shot a few times a day but now sure if that would be to much ginger. I only have it a couple times a week. Trying to clear my candida by just trying out some different things

    1. Ginger is great! As long as you are not experiencing any outright side effects you are probably fine to keep consuming it. We also have plenty of articles on candida!

  4. You mention bone broth, but the link goes to Imagine Chicken Broth. Is it the same thing? I have gotten bone broth in the past, but prefer the taste of chicken broth.
    Also, I love coconut oil, but have been scared off it by all the warnings from the medical establishment over the high saturated fat content. ????

  5. Hello Dr. Jockers,

    I’ve been suffering from Hypothyroid disease for over two years now. I’ve experience all the symptoms you mentioned in your video, especially hair lose, dry skin, brain fog and constipation, just an accelerated aging process going on in my body. To complicate the situation, I’m also going through menopause with the hot flashes and difficulty sleeping. I’ve been using natural sea weed (Irish Moss) that I purchase from Markus Products; it has helped tremendously with the hot flashes, they come on less frequently. I’ve also been using Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs), and it does help to keep my weight down; I just started using coconut oil too and I think it’s helping with my weight as well. To see real progress, I know I must start eating all the foods you mentioned for gut health. How can I obtain the “Gut Health” food and recipes? Thank You for providing such helpful information .

  6. A Chiropractor in California wrote a book touting taking L-Glutamine 1500 mg twice a day on an empty stomach to help with healing the leaky gut syndrome. He also recommends a few other supplements to assist with healing many different ailments, and this seems to have helped me by taking the L-Glutamine! Just thought ht atI would pass this along so that you could check further into it Dr. Jockers. If you write to my email address below, I will give you the DC name and the title of the book. 🙂

  7. I have long standing RA and am sure it started in the gut. I’d like to follow your protocol but the fats are highly inflammatory for me. Are there other ways? Thank you.

    1. Hey Nancy, generally healthy fats are a core part of my nutrition plans. You could do a 3 day bone broth fast followed by 5-7 days of liquid nutrition in the form of gut healing smoothies (example at the end of this comment) and then a whole foods diet that is low in sugar and grains and other common food sensitivities.
      Gut Healing Shake:
      More info on common food sensitivities:

  8. I have had bouts of diarrhea for 2 years now. Had tests done 2 years ago and showed bacteria. I have done what I thought was everything, but it goes on. Now I wonder if it could be from too many greens and beets and sweet potatoes, etc. What I thought was all the right foods to eat. My Integrated Dr. just can’t figure it out either.

  9. Read about go raw pumpkin seeds on amazon and reviews said they are grown in China, what do you think of this?

  10. Hi I have gut problems. About seven years ago I had my gallbladder taken out. After that my tummy have not been the same I always have loose stooles. For a year ago I had severe stomach ache and went to the emegency I was just sent home. I did a colocopy and they found Diverticulitis and I had one more severe attack and one milder that I recover from at the moment with liquid diet with lost of bonebroth and other tips you recommended. But what to do next? I felt I changed my lifestyle and eating habits but got an other attack it is so depressing.

  11. I was prescribed Klonopin for extreme anxiety, and not surprisingly became addicted to it. I was not aware nor was I informed at the time of how powerfully addicting it can be and how hard it would be to stop. I want to very slowly (not in a short-term detox center or program) titrate off of it and I’m wondering what the best method and rate of withdrawal would be, in order to avoid dangerous reactions to stopping it. Also, are there any foods, supplements and/or behavioral changes I could employ to help ease the symptoms? I have found exercise helps with the withdrawal cravings, but only to a certain degree. Coming off of a medication like that is, I have found, to be brutal, and I am only just now at the beginning of my tapering program. Any information would be greatly appreciated – thank you so much in advance.

  12. Hi Dr Jockers,

    I have Psoriasis and Candida and of course it stems from my leaky gut.

    I am on a strict healthy KETO diet and do 19 hours intermittent fasting daily with various supplements including digestive enzymes, probiotics, magnesium etc.

    I drink chicken bone broth daily.

    After a month there is no difference with my Psoriasis.

    I don’t do nightshades, but have been researching that eggs and nuts should be avoided for leaky gut. What are your thoughts on this and is there anything else you recommend I should do?


    1. Why Did Dr. Jockers not reply to this but the others? I too have psoriasis and was looking forward to see the answer after reading this of you.

  13. I am curious as to how those of us with leaky gut can heal when we have issues with histamine intolerance caused by leaky gut? I’m being treated for adrenal fatigue as well and have been trying to heal my gut but it’s so hard when most of the foods recommended are so high in histamine. Are there any other recommendations? Thank you!

    1. Yes histamine intolerance is caused by leaky gut, so you have to heal the gut. Super important! Follow the low-histamine diet and take the histamine support supplements and you can get better.

  14. Dr Jockers I have been on Prozac 20mg and feel this is hurting my gut. I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism taking levothyroxine 112 mcg tab and it has not helped any. Same old symptoms. Not diabetic, no high blood pressure. I am an active 75 yrs young. Thank you in advance. Sue

  15. Great advice and I am now hopeful of healing LG so that I can absorb vitamins and minerals! Two questions: 1)can I eat eggs and avocados (more fat in addition to the coconut oil) and 2) is taking the ghee only for those with sensitivity to dairy? Thanks!

    1. Hey Linda, Ghee is a healthy swap for anyone. My wife and I often bring our own grass-fed ghee to restaurants because restaurant often use “olive oil” with 50% canola oil. Avocados are a great fat to heal the gut! Eggs are considered a “fringe food” and I recommend reading the tips in this article to learn how well you tolerate eggs.

  16. DR JOCKERS, you are a great breakthrough for myself, a 18 year old relative, and an 80 year old friend. We all have IBS, or leaky gut syndrome.

    Pills: we all take lots of pills, usually with magnesium stearate, magnesium being a known bowel loosene,.

    Healthy, but flatulence and soft stools all the way.

    Please suggest a “cure”.



    1. So sorry to hear that! Along with consuming the right foods, I would recommend using the MegaSporebiotic here

      I would also recommend working with a functional health practitioner to help you get to the root cause of your condition and get it corrected. Here is a helpful article on how to find a good functional health practitioner

    2. I noticed flatulence is caused by what I call “toxic” sugar, better known as refined sugar, I call it TOXIC because food manufactures put it in all their food as much as they can to make you eat more, and it works brilliant. Like they are tring to kill off their consumers.
      I never get flatulence unless I eat something that has toxic sugar in it, I am not sure if this says something about the health on my gut.

  17. Dr. Jockers,
    I read somewhere to drink Bob’s Red Mill unaltered potato starch daily to improve gut health. However I am sensitive to the night shade vegetables. Should I avoid potato
    starch altogether?

  18. Hi Dr. Jockers,
    I recently discovered you and so glad I did! I have acid reflux/Gerd, LPR, IBS along with leaky gut and SIBO. I do not use bone broth because I stay away from anything that has onions, garlic, apple cider vinegar as these can aggravate the acid reflux. Do you know of a bone broth that doesn’t have these ingredients? It’s all very confusing to navigate through so many issues. Thanks in advance!!
    Audrey Sudek

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