In general, the protocol for healing a leaky gut is through a comprehensive elimination diet which removes toxic and inflammatory foods for a period of time, and some indefinitely. The protocol can be broken down into 4R’s.
In the first step you will remove foods and toxins from your diet that could be causing inflammation and stress on your system. These include processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugars, all grains especially gluten, and dairy among others. These all irritate the lining of the gut and promote inflammatory response. The elimination process can be overwhelming, it is best that you follow an AIP Paleo elimination diet, as established by Sarah Ballantyne in The Paleo Approach to remove all potentially inflammatory foods.
Check out my blog post here, to read more about how to transition to Paleo and from Paleo to the Autoimmune Protocol for Paleo.
After several weeks on the elimination diet, and once you have seen noticeable improvement, it is time to begin repairing the gut and heal the damage done to the intestinal lining. This is done by following an AIP Paleo elimination diet and supplementing with L-Glutamine powder, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, antioxidants, aloe vera and others which may be recommended by your health practitioner.
- Restore and Replace
The process involves restoring your gut’s optimal bacteria flora population. This is done either through the introduction of a probiotic supplement or through eating fermented foods. I personally enjoy kimchi. Probiotics will add good bacteria to your gastrointestinal tract and help offset any bad bacteria or candida overgrowth. Another supplement to consider taking is S Boulardii, which is a nonpathogenic yeast supplement that attacks bad yeast and bad bacteria. This is particularly recommended for those with SIBO, candida overgrowth or those who have had (clostridium difficle) Cdiff. Finally, digestive enzymes are an important part of the healing process as they aid the gut by helping digest food into small particles so that once your food gets to the small intestine it will be easier for the body to absorb.
The final stage is reintroducing, which varies from person to person and can occur anywhere from 2 months to a year after you initially began your gut healing process. It is important not to rush into the reintroduction phase before your body is truly ready. Also note that there are folks out there with severe autoimmune conditions that never reintroduce. For those fortunate enough to be able to reintroduce foods and transition from AIP Paleo to a variation of regular paleo, try addressing one food at a time and waiting several days to monitor your reactions before testing another food out. The reason for waiting is when one has food sensitivities it can take the body up to 72 hours to develop a noticeable reaction. Moving into the reintroduction phase, your diet becomes your own as you will learn which foods work for your body and which ones do not.