Supplements to Help Support Leaky Gut Factors: Maintaining Normal Gut Function‡

What you’ll learn: In this blog we will identify what leaky gut is, what causes it and what supplements are best to help promote healthy intestinal gut barrier function.

Sometimes, for what feels like no reason whatsoever, your digestion is just plain uncomfortable. It seems like no matter what we do or eat, we experience the occasional gas and bloating and overall whole-body icky feeling. No matter what anyone says, it’s hard to get a grasp on what’s going on. These discomforts can really put a damper on enjoying your meals and may even lead to being overly cautious to the types of food you include in your diet.

Leaky gut is a term that has recently gained popularity over the years as it may pertain to a number of digestive concerns.1 In this blog, we’ll discuss leaky gut and the best supplements to help support a healthy gut.

Let’s get started!

What Is Leaky Gut

Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal barrier isn’t being as selectively permeable as we need it to be. This can contribute to a wide variety of symptoms, including occasional abdominal discomfort, bloating, indigestion and, possibly, food sensitivities.1 

Everyone’s gut is semi-permeable, or selective as to what nutrients and materials are allowed to pass in and out of the GI tract and into the bloodstream. We need our gut to be semi-permeable so that we can utilize the nutrients that help keep us healthy, create energy and allow us to continue to partake in most of the metabolic processes in the body.

When you think of gut permeability, consider the intestines acting as a filter. When the filter is working just right, only certain and appropriate things enter and exit through this filter. When the filter is no longer working correctly, other materials that originally weren’t supposed to pass through this filter, suddenly start to pass through, which could be problematic.

Leaky gut describes a situation when the intestinal barrier is no longer as selective and efficient as it should. As a result, it may allow for certain substances to “leak” into the blood stream, instead of staying in the GI tract to be excreted normally.1

The concept of having concerns with intestinal permeability is very much real, and it’s important to note that leaky gut is a well-studied phenomenon. As of right now, however, its exact mechanism is not well defined. 1 Despite this, we know that intestinal permeability may contribute to an array of symptoms. Let’s discuss potential causes and identify holistic ways to support our gut barrier function and intestinal integrity.

What Causes Leaky Gut

The integrity of the gut barrier is influenced by many factors including health status, dietary composition, certain medications and lifestyle habits, such as sleep disturbances, intense exercise and stress. High fat diets increase intestinal permeability by interfering with tight junctions (proteins that hold mucosal cells together).2 On the flip side, diets rich in soluble fiber have the opposite effect, as fiber is converted by the gut microbiome to barrier-fortifying short-chain fatty acids.3

Since gut health is modifiable and nutritionally responsive, it’s best to shift our perspective to think of leaky gut as an opportunity to support foundational gut health through simple diet and lifestyle practices.1-3

The mucosal lining of the gut is constantly repairing and replenishing itself. It's never too late to implement a holistic approach to support gut barrier function.

It's important to recognize that just because someone may be experiencing occasional abdominal discomfort, occasional gas and bloating and food sensitivities, doesn’t always mean leaky gut is the culprit. It’s still always good to keep it in mind! A functional medicine practitioner can use a variety of lab tests to assess intestinal barrier function.1

Best Supplements to Support A Healthy Gut

Pop quiz! What else do we share our GI tract with? You guessed it! The microbiome. Our microbiome is made of multiple different bacterial, yeast and other microscopic organisms to help support a diverse and healthy GI tract.4 One way the microbiome helps support the GI tract is by creating by-products that have protective functions for our GI tract. One of these by-products is the postbiotic, butyrate.5

Butyrate is produced when the protective bacteria in your body break down dietary fiber in the large intestine. The result is the short-chain fatty acid, butyrate. Butyrate has been shown to play a major role in intestinal physiology, supporting protective barrier function, bowel motility, nutrient absorption and immune activity of intestinal cells.5 Research shows that butyrate supplementation supports intestinal function and promotes healthy cytokine balance in the G.I. tract.8

One teaspoon of our SunButyrate-TF Liquid provides as much as 4.5 grams of butyrate as butyric acid. This is just one holistic way you can promote intestinal health, abdominal comfort, gut barrier integrity and cytokine balance in the GI tract.

Let’s talk about an important amino acid: l-glutamine. L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. In times of metabolic stress, glutamine is utilized by the body for tissue repair and gastrointestinal tract support.9,10 Glutamine plays a large role in maintaining healthy intestinal integrity by enhancing the intestine’s protective mucosal lining.11 It also works by supporting cellular renewal, tissue repair and promoting villous function.12 All of these functions play an important role in supporting gastrointestinal health.

Other Nutrients
While l-glutamine is a popular choice, there are other honorable mentions when it comes to other nutrients that help support intestinal barrier function.

Other supplements worth mentioning to support the mucosal lining include arabinogalactan and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Arabinogalactan is a prebiotic fiber that helps nourish and increase the concentration of beneficial bacteria to help support cytokine balance and GI function.‡13,14 Additionally, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) has been shown to maintain intestinal comfort by supporting the protective mucosal lining.15 Want to learn more about this unique prebiotic? Check out our blog on arabinogalactan here.

Our Epi-Integrity Powder contains 2.4 grams of l-glutamine, 2.4 grams of arabinogalactan and 50 miligrams of deglycyrrhizinated licorice per serving. All to help GI integrity and mucosal immune response.

Low FODMAP Diet for Leaky Gut Factors

Did you know that there are also lifestyle factors that help support intestinal barrier function? You guessed it! One of these is your diet. Research suggests that managing intestinal permeability is mostly based on avoidance of high amounts of sugar and fat and by implementing a low FODMAP diet.

“FODMAP” is an acronym that stands for “Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.” This diet is strict in avoiding foods that are fermentable and contain oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Studies have also found that including prebiotics, probiotics, fibers, glutamine and short-chain fatty acids have been helpful in promoting intestinal barrier function and integrity.16

Following a low FODMAP diet can be helpful in supporting intestinal barrier function because it restricts certain sugars that may cause intestinal distress. This diet is designed to help people figure out which foods are problematic and which foods may limit symptoms.

The key thing to know about the low FODMAP diet is that it’s a temporary eating plan and can be very restrictive. The sole purpose of the plan is to help dampen the abdominal symptoms you’re experiencing while at the same time identify which foods are a trigger for you. This is accomplished in a three-phase elimination diet. These phases include the first phase where you stop eating certain foods that are high FODMAP foods. Then, the second phase is where you slowly reintroduce them back into your diet to see which foods are triggering your symptoms. Once you’ve identified your trigger foods you move on to the third phase, or the maintenance phase, where you can avoid or limit these trigger foods and enjoy your meals without worry.17

The elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet is meant to last about two to six weeks. This is where we anticipate seeing a dampening of those pesky symptoms and beneficially alter the bacteria in the GI tract. When starting to add foods back into your diet after this elimination phase, it’s recommended to start adding back food items one at a time. The reason for this is so that you can identify the trigger without any other factor potentially contributing. If symptoms persist after six weeks, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider to see if there’s a deeper issue going on.17

Supporting A Healthy Gut

When there are concerns around your gut integrity, you know it, because you can feel it. Things just don’t feel right and dealing with the occasional discomforts associated with intestinal functioning and digestion can become a frustrating challenge, especially when there’s no set reason for what’s causing this discomfort.

That's why here at Pure Encapsulations®, our product are formulated using pure, non-GMO ingredients, free from unnecessary additives and many common allergens. Our SunButyrate-TG Liquid, L-Glutamine and our Epi-Integrity Powder help support that intestinal barrier function and help promote cytokine balance and GI comfort. We also offer a wide variety of gastrointestinal products formulated to help support gut health.

Working with your healthcare practitioner will ensure you have the proper guidance to make the decisions that best support your unique nutritional needs when considering multiple factors related to leaky gut and maintaining overall gut health.

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, April 6).  Cleveland Clinic.
  2. Rohr MW, et al. Adv Nutr. 2020 Jan 1;11(1):77-91.
  3. Usuda H, et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 16;22(14):7613.
  4. Ogunrinola, G. A., et al. (2020). The Human Microbiome and Its Impacts on Health. International Journal of Microbiology2020, 1–7.
  5. Recharla, N., et al. (2023). Nutrients15(10), 2275.
  6. What is Butyrate and What Can It Do?(2022, July 11). Cleveland Clinic.
  7. Krokowicz L, et al. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2014 Mar;29(3):387-93.
  8. Hammer HM, et al. Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;28(1):88-93.
  9. Sasaki E, et al. 2013 Jul-Aug;28(4):442-9.
  10. Song QH, et al. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2015 May;53(5):372-6.
  11. Lima AA, et al. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2014;69(4):225-33.
  12. Pugh JN, et al. Eur J Appl Physiol.2017 Dec;117(12):2569-2577.
  13. Riede L, et al. Curr Med Res Opin.2013 Mar;29(3):251-8.
  14. Robinson RR, et al. J Am Coll Nutr.2001 Aug;20(4):279-85.
  15. Morgan A, et al. Gut1985;26:599-602
  16. Bischoff S.C., et al. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14:189.
  17. Veloso, H. (2023). FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know.