Does your gut need a reset?

Yes, I'm Ready

Do you want to start feeling better?

Yes, Where Do I Start?

Do you want to start feeling better?

Yes, Where Do I Start?

Create Your Personalized Leaky Gut Diet Plan

Learn the Foods to Include, Ones to Avoid, and Leaky Gut Tips for Success

Key Takeaways
  • A leaky gut diet focuses on including nutrition-packed, whole foods that are right for you—meaning foods that make you feel good are included, and the ones that don’t are eliminated.
  • It can be as simple as adding in and eliminating a few key foods or trying out a more guided elimination diet like Paleo or low FODMAP. 
  • Top foods that help heal leaky gut include turmeric, dark chocolate, berries, bone broth, fermented foods, chicken, beef, and eggs.
  • Foods that often aggravate leaky gut syndrome include highly processed foods, sugar, industrial seed oils, artificial sweeteners, excess alcohol, and high FODMAP foods like garlic, onion, broccoli, and apples.
  • The most powerful thing you can do to improve leaky gut is to listen to your body; try not to remove foods that are unnecessary or go for the most restrictive diet first.

Finding a diet that minimizes your gut inflammation is one of the most important steps you can take to improve a leaky gut, but finding what works for you can be confusing. There are many templates you could use for leaky gut healing, but let’s simplify this process of choosing which one is right for you.

The most effective place to start is by understanding that leaky gut diets aren’t “one-size-fits-all”, and the most important thing you can do is listen to your body. Keeping that in mind, there are a few foundational things that can be helpful to remember when building your leaky gut diet plan. 

In this article, I’ll run through the foods that you might consider including (and removing) from your diet, along with some research-guided examples of what this might look like on a practical level. Some of these guidelines are more intuitive than others—such as cutting out processed foods and added sugars—but a few are a little more surprising, like how liberally adding every fruit and vegetable to your diet might not be a great idea while tightening up your gut lining. 

Whether it’s by simply adding a few foods into your diet and slowly removing others, or by starting a ground-up Paleo-style or FODMAP elimination diet, I’ll guide you through your options so that you can be the one to decide what leaky gut diet is best for you. 

Diet is Pivotal in Leaky Gut

Diet strongly influences leaky gut.

Leaky gut syndrome—formally known as intestinal permeability—occurs when gaps open between the cells that line your small intestine. This allows undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins to enter the bloodstream, where they can trigger an immune system reaction and cause a wide array of symptoms. The following are concerns that I often see in my patients with leaky gut:

  • Gas bloating
  • Abdominal pain and distention
  • Reflux
  • Constipation
  • Diahrea
  • Skin issues like eczema and acne
  • Joint pain
  • Brain fog
  • Mood issues
  • Poor sleep
  • Fatigue

Intestinal inflammation caused by a poor diet is one of the main causes of leaky gut. Eating certain foods, such as gluten, can increase a protein called zonulin in the gut, which drives intestinal permeability [1]. Zonulin is also closely linked to symptoms in people with celiac disease [2]. The use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can also contribute to leaky gut syndrome [3, 4].

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet that is right for your body is a key strategy to improve leaky gut symptoms, and can help maintain a healthy microbiome and intestinal wall.

Start With the Basics to Find Your Best Leaky Gut Diet 

There are two main goals when eating to heal a leaky gut:  reduce gut inflammation by eating healthy, whole foods and avoiding foods that are triggering inflammation and damaging your gut. 

As I walk through some of the best and worst foods for leaky gut, remember that these are general guidelines and not every person with leaky gut syndrome will react to every single one of these foods. Additionally, some of the foods that are listed as “good” may be inflammatory specifically to you and are contributing to some of your symptoms. If you feel you are reacting to any food, just cut it out for a few weeks and see if it helps. 

There are more guided leaky gut diet plans that can help you identify many of your food triggers that I’ll cover later on in this article. But if you are looking for a simple and effective place to start building your diet, try adding or eliminating some of the foods listed below, and just see how your body responds. 

The Top Foods to Include on a Leaky Gut Diet

I’ll start this off by running through some of the foods that I often see relieve symptoms of leaky gut syndrome in my patients, focusing on their research-backed benefits for gut health. I’ll also cover some easy and practical ways that you can implement these therapeutic foods into your diet without requiring a major diet overhaul. 


This ancient healing herb contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound known as curcumin. Despite there being no direct research on curcumin for healing leaky gut, a 2021 systematic review with over 1,400participants showed that is highly effective for healing gut symptoms in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and H. pylori infections [5] —all of which can be associated with leaky gut. 

How to implement: Try sprinkling 1 to 2 tablespoons of turmeric per day on your food for a therapeutic dose of curcumin (about 500-1,000mg). A personal favorite of mine is to simply douse a chicken breast in olive oil, then seasoning with salt, pepper, and turmeric.

Dark Chocolate and Dark Berries

These foods are rich in the natural antioxidants known as polyphenols that can help heal your gut lining. A 2023 randomized controlled trial found that giving dark chocolate to athletes reduced intestinal permeability [6], and another found that eating blueberries daily relieved gut symptoms in those with functional GI conditions (think IBS, constipation, reflux, etc.) [7]. 

How to implement: Try eating 1 to 2 servings of these foods per day. One serving of dark chocolate (85% cocoa or higher is key) equals about 1/3rd of a bar, and one serving of berries is about 1.5 cups. 

Peppermint and Clove

A 2010 study found that peppermint and clove are also high sources of polyphenols [8] (perhaps one of the highest). High-polyphenol foods were found to reduce zonulin levels—a marker of disrupted gut lining—in a 2021 randomized controlled trial with 50 participants with leaky gut syndrome [9].

How to implement: Add 1-2 servings of peppermint and/or clove to your diet via teas, salads, or smoothies.

Bone Broth

Both broth is high in nutrients like collagen that are healing for the gut and can help calm your symptoms. Similar to turmeric, no studies directly show collagen’s effect on the intestinal lining, but research shows that it can help reduce symptoms often associated with leaky gut, like joint pain [10] and skin complaints [11]. 

How to implement: A 2019 study found that collagen may be more potent than bone broth for boosting your health [12]. However, the dietary foundations must be in place to get the most therapeutic benefit out of your supplements. I would suggest drinking bone broth regularly while supplementing with 10-15g of hydrolyzed collagen daily, especially if you are early on in your leaky gut healing journey. 

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut are packed full of healthy bacteria like Lactobacillus spp. and Saccharomyces boulardii (a healthy yeast). A 2020 clinical trial found that overweight adults experienced a decrease in intestinal permeability markers after drinking kefir [13]. Both kimchi and sauerkraut can reduce IBS symptoms [14, 15], which often accompany a disrupted gut barrier. 

How to implement: Many people are sensitive to dairy but can often tolerate kefir due to its low-lactose content—but keep an eye on your symptoms while adding this one in. Kimchi contains nightshades, which some people can also be sensitive to. If you notice your symptoms are flaring after adding in kimchi, or you already know you currently don’t tolerate nightshades, try switching to sauerkraut or a nightshade-free version of kimchi. However, the gut health benefits definitely outweigh the cons of these fermented foods for most people, so it’s worth giving them a shot. 

Beef, Chicken, and Eggs

Clean, grass-fed, or wild proteins, like beef, pork, poultry, fish, and eggs are great for leaky gut syndrome. Specifically, beef, chicken, and eggs are rich in glutamine, which is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and a major source of energy for the cells lining the gut. A 2022 RCT found that supplementing with glutamine at 15 grams per day for 2 months reduced intestinal permeability and improved IBS symptoms by 80% [16].

How to implement: This is another one where you will want to make sure you have a foundation of eating glutamine-rich foods while or before supplementing with glutamine (unless you find you are sensitive to them). As you increase your intake of these foods, add 5-15g of glutamine for a few months to reap the most benefits. 


Having an imbalance between omega-3s and omega-6s can lead to inflammation, which is one of the biggest culprits behind leaky gut syndrome. A 2016 observational study found that increasing intake of foods high in omega-3s decreased intestinal permeability, measured by zonulin levels [17]. 

The most well-known food sources of omega-3s are fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. While it is great to start introducing more of these into your diet, some of these foods can contain heavy metals, so try not to overdo it. Nuts and seeds, primarily flax, chia, and walnuts, are also high in omega-3s and can be used to supplement fatty fish.

How to implement: Increase your intake of fatty fish to 2x per week, then add in either flax, chia, or walnuts daily. Sprinkling chia and flax seeds on your salads or blending them into smoothies are great ways to increase your intake of these omega-3-rich foods.

Foods to Watch Out for on a Leaky Gut Diet Plan

I go more in-depth on the effects of these foods on leaky gut on my YouTube channel, but I’ll briefly mention a few foods that can potentially loosen your intestinal lining and worsen your leaky gut symptoms. 

To reduce and prevent leaky gut, limit foods such as:

  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Processed and snack foods
  • Non-organic produce (especially “the dirty dozen”)
  • Gluten- and wheat-based products
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Commercial sauces
  • Alcohol or sugary beverages
  • Industrial seed oils, like canola, soy, and cottonseed oil

Processed foods: Highly processed foods contain compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrosamines, and heterocyclic amines that can damage the intestinal lining, disrupt the microbiome, and cause leaky gut [18, 19]. 

Avoiding highly processed meats, fats, sugars, and foods with emulsifiers is a good idea as they can negatively affect your gut lining, microbiome, and overall health [20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26]. These foods are a great place to start when it comes to eliminating foods from your diet, as they really don’t offer any health benefits anyway. 

Charred or fried foods: Overcooked, browned, and fried foods contain advanced glycation end products (AGES) or other properties that are inflammatory and have been linked to increased intestinal permeability and poor gut health [27, 28, 29]. Try to cut back on, or ideally eliminate, charred meats, fried foods, and browned vegetables.

Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption increases gut permeability and is associated with intestinal permeability, IBD, and IBS flares [30, 31, 32, 33]. As is the case with most things concerning our health, moderation is key for preventing leaky gut. But if you’re actively healing your gut and notice that any amount of alcohol worsens your symptoms, it’s best to cut alcohol out completely for a few months. 

Glutenous foods: The prevalence of gluten sensitivity isn’t as inflated as functional health circles make it out to be [34, 35], meaning not everyone needs to remove gluten from their diet—especially if they don’t have symptoms. However, gluten can be an issue in some people with a weakened intestinal lining [36], and many gluten-containing foods can be high in FODMAPs. High-FODMAP foods can be problematic in leaky gut syndrome, as I’ll cover below. 

Keep it Simple

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to avoid overly restrictive diets, if you don’t need to. The goal here is to increase your quality of life, and cutting out foods that you aren’t sensitive to is probably going to create more of a burden than it is helpful. Carefully test problem foods and aim to expand your diet over time as your gut health improves.

Sample Leaky Gut Meal Plan

Here is a collection of whole-food meal ideas to help you imagine what a leaky gut diet plan might look like. For more, check out these leaky gut recipe ideas and this leaky gut shopping list.


  • Smoothie made with Elemental Heal OR coconut milk, protein powder, blueberries, spinach, and chia seed.
  • Two eggs with a side of garlicky greens sauteed in coconut oil and breakfast potatoes
  • Breakfast sausage, and oatmeal with fruit.


  • Turkey or ham lettuce wraps with a side of fruit.
  • Tuna salad over a green salad with avocado and homemade vinaigrette.
  • Leftover dinner


  • Beef chili (with or without beans), served with avocado slices, and a side salad.
  • Roasted chicken, served with a side of green beans and baked sweet potato.
  • Grilled fish, served with a side of green salad, and roasted butternut squash.


  • Fresh fruit and nuts
  • Warmed bone broth with fresh herbs.
  • Veggie sticks with hummus, baba ganoush, peanut butter, or guacamole.
  • Kefir with blended fruit, if dairy tolerant.


  • Chia pudding made with coconut milk, topped with fresh fruit, cacao nibs, or nuts
  • Chocolate- (stevia-sweetened) dipped strawberries
  • Berry sorbet

Advanced Diet Options

Most people will experience a significant improvement in leaky gut symptoms after following an anti-inflammatory diet for 3-4 weeks.

If you are happy with the results of your diet changes, there is no need to make further changes. If your symptoms have not fully resolved, you might want to consider a more structured diet plan.

Choose either the paleo diet, low FODMAP diet, or elemental diet to start, (which I’ll detail below) and customize.

If your primary symptoms are mild gut symptoms, food sensitivities, joint pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, skin issues, or health issues such as autoimmune diseases: Start with a Paleo diet template, as it tends to remove the most common inflammatory foods that may be connected to your symptoms.

If you don’t fully respond to Paleo or your primary symptoms are significant digestive issues, like gut pain, gas or bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, including IBS or IBD: Start with the low FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are particularly problematic for people with leaky gut, so this is a great elimination protocol for a leaky gut diet plan.

If you are starting out with a very reactive gut: You may find it helpful to start with a short reset with an elemental diet

Probiotics for leaky gut are also a powerful way to heal your gut lining, reduce intestinal inflammation, balance your microbiome, and reduce leaky gut symptoms. They make for an easy and safe addition to your leaky gut diet—you can find out more about these powerful microorganisms for leaky gut here.

Paleo Diet Basics

The Paleo diet is an anti-inflammatory diet that:

  • Focuses on real, nutrient-dense foods, including veggies, healthy fats, and clean proteins.
  • Is free of grains and dairy products.
  • Is gluten-free.
  • Is relatively low in carbs.
  • Is high in Omega-3 and low in Omega-6 fats.
  • May include bone broth, and fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
  • Removes all artificial and processed foods, which can be inflammatory.

A Paleo diet is one of the most relaxed variations of an anti-inflammatory diet, which makes it a great place to start, especially if you are experiencing a wide array of health symptoms.

Low FODMAP Diet Basics

Leaky Gut Diet Plan

A low FODMAP diet is low in prebiotic fermentable sugars that may feed your bad bacteria and worsen your leaky gut. You’ll find an article here that walks you through how to complete a low FODMAP diet, from start to finish. 

As a quick overview, high FODMAP foods you’ll want to AVOID include:

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Wheat 
  • Cashews, pistachios
  • Fructose
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches 

A low FODMAP diet also may be gluten-free, because gluten is a high FODMAP food, and dairy-free because most dairy products are high in lactose, a FODMAP.

Low FODMAP foods you’ll want to INCLUDE are:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries 

In a 2021 clinical trial, patients with IBS symptoms were given a low FODMAP diet for 3 months. The researchers documented a decrease in serum zonulin and lipopolysaccharide, indicating a decrease in intestinal permeability. Importantly, they also found that the low FODMAP diet improved gut symptoms, mood, and quality of life in the participants [37].

As a quick caveat when it comes to eliminating fruits and vegetables, a 2018 clinical trial found that five servings of fruits and vegetables per day decreased serum zonulin levels [38]. So we want to be careful not to fall into extremes with fiber and prebiotics in either direction. My recommendation would be to incorporate five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, trying to hit 25 to 30 grams. If you feel like your gut symptoms become worse, then you may want to try cutting out the high-FODMAP foods and adding in more low-FODMAP foods.

A Prescription-Grade Leaky Gut Diet

An elemental diet is a nutritionally complete meal replacement designed to provide a temporary, low-residue diet so your digestive tract can rest. It’s most often used as a short-term reset diet that can be followed up by a Paleo or low FODMAP diet. 

An elemental diet has been shown to dramatically decrease intestinal inflammation and digestive health problems in numerous studies and clinical trials [39, 40, 41, 42] and is a great choice for leaky gut syndrome with severe symptoms (like IBD) or symptoms that don’t initially respond to other elimination diets. 

Elemental diets often taste terrible, making them inaccessible for many people. That’s why I developed my own elemental formula, which my patients report tastes great (available in chocolate and vanilla). 

Don’t Feel Better on Your Leaky Gut Diet? Here’s What to Do

If you don’t see results from a simple, whole foods diet, unidentified food intolerances, eating unhealthy “health” foods, and unaddressed bad bacteria may be the cause. This is where you can really tailor your leaky gut diet to your body’s preferences.

The top 3 reasons I see in the clinic why people don’t respond to an elimination diet are:

Unidentified Food Intolerances or Food Allergies: Even though the Paleo and low FODMAP diets remove a lot of inflammatory foods, you may have a sensitivity to a food you’re still eating. A more comprehensive elimination diet, such as autoimmune paleo (AIP), may help you identify food sensitivities you weren’t aware you had.

Eating Unhealthy “Health Foods”: There are lots of pre-packaged foods that are advertised to be “Paleo” or “healthy”, but they may not be right for you. For example, many people mistakenly believe that “gluten-free” is synonymous with “healthy”. But gluten-free products may aggravate bloating and gas due to high starch content. The best strategy is to eat real, whole foods, and to avoid pre-packaged, processed food, even if it’s advertised as healthy.

Unaddressed Bad Bacteria: If you have a bacterial overgrowth or gut infections, you may need a stronger approach than diet alone. Using probiotic supplements can both help repair the gut lining and rebalance an overgrowth. See our Probiotics Starter Guide for more.

Relax Things a Bit (If You Can)

All of the advanced leaky gut diets can be customized to include healthy foods that don’t irritate your symptoms.

Not all of the removed foods on the Paleo or low FODMAP diet are bad for everyone. For example, the Paleo diet is grain-free. But you may find that you tolerate some grains just fine, and need more carbs than the diet typically provides. The low FODMAP diet removes most legumes, but you may find you tolerate certain beans just fine.

Once your symptoms have subsided, you can start a gradual process of reintroducing foods to see how your body reacts. As your gut lining heals, you may be able to broaden your diet considerably. As long as you aren’t noticing any increase in symptoms, listen to this message from your body, and adapt the diet accordingly.

The Bottom Line

Eating right for leaky gut is most simply about including healthy, whole foods that are right for you, and avoiding processed foods.

These simple changes reduce gut irritation and symptoms, provide a simple detox, and allow your gut lining to heal. You’ll likely be feeling much better in a matter of weeks.

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