7 Scientifically Proven Leaky Gut Supplements
Some lists of leaky gut supplements aren’t exactly scientific. So what actually works to repair leaky gut? And why am I even talking about it?
As I travel the world, I want to feel great. But sometimes I just don’t. In fact, a lot of the time I don’t. So as part of my resolution to be ready for adventure, I’ve decided to take the reins and fix some of my health issues. As a first step, I’m exploring the possibility that I have leaky gut.
I’m just starting out on my leaky gut journey, but I wanted to share some of the research I’m coming across. While some leaky gut advice seems to be pulled out of the sky, there actually has been quite a bit of research on probiotics and supplements that really do tighten up those tight junctions and heal leaky gut.
Here’s what I’ve found so far.
Mutaflor is the name for a single strain probiotic: Escherichia coli Nissle 1917.
You read that right. It’s E. coli.
But like most strains of E. coli, this particular strain is harmless. In fact, it might even prevent food poisoning from pathogenic (bad) strains of E. coli. Pretty neat.
Studies have shown this probiotic is capable of tightening junctions in mouse epithelial (gut) cells. Here’s another study that claims that this probiotic helps leaky gut by improving the mucosal barrier of the gut.
Unfortunately it’s been banned in the USA, apparently over a weird discrepancy. It seems the FDA currently considers it a biological medicine instead of a probiotic. The FDA doesn’t regulate probiotics but it does regulate medicine. As far as I can tell the FDA wants more research to prove its safety and effectiveness. It’s apparently one of the most researched probiotics though, so I find that equally weird.
This won’t be the easiest of the leaky gut supplements to find. You can still buy it online (from Canada) if you’re in the U.S., but you might have to do a little detective work to find a supplier.
Bifidobacterium infantis Y1
A literature review of the effects of probiotics on leaky gut states that B. infantis may reduce gut permiability. It might even be protective against future permeability.
B. infantis is naturally found in your mouth and intestines. There don’t seem to be any good food sources of this strain, so a supplement is the way to go.
You can find B. infantis in lots of probiotic blends, and the variety used in a study that showed B. infantis helps heal leaky gut is found in VSL 3 High Potency Probiotic.
Even Dr. Axe, the pro-paleo leaky gut specialist recommends it.
There are apparently lots of other benefits of supplementing with B. infantis including alleviating symptoms of depression and in chronic fatigue syndrome, reducing the effects of elevated cortisol, and improving serotonin.
Lactobacillus plantarum MB452
Research on L. plantarum found that it significantly increased ZO-1 and occludin (proteins necessary for tight junctions) in the vicinity of tight junction structures which indicated the gut should be less permeable.
Kimchi naturally contains L. plantarum, as do other fermented foods, and it’s is another strain you’ll find in a lot of probiotic blends. In addition to B. infantis, VSL 3 High Potency Probiotic also contains L. plantarum.
I’ve already ordered some Multaflor. Next on my list of leaky gut supplements is VSL 3. Apparently it used to be prescription only, but now you can get it over the counter or on Amazon.
Cells grown in a zinc-deficient media appeared to have more permeability than those grown in a media with sufficient zinc. So if you suspect you might be deficient, eat foods high in zinc like oysters or brazil nuts, or pick up a zinc supplement.
Another study indicated that zinc supplementation was a good treatment for leaky gut in people with Crohn’s disease. Patients who were in remission with Crohn’s but who all had increased intestinal permeability took 110 mg of zinc sulfate three times a day for 8 weeks. The researchers followed up 12 months later and found most had normal intestinal permeability and did not relapse.
Lime Flower, Star Anise, and Black Tea Extracts
Extracts of “lime flower tree” (Tilia vulgaris), star anise (Illicium anisatum), and black tea (Camellia sinensis), were found to improve tight junctions in a study of 300 different herbal extracts.
Star anise supposedly has a host of other benefits including warding off bad bacteria, and it’s a good source of antioxidants. I’m pretty sure this just cemented my dedication to prefer Vietnamese pho (with veggies instead of noodles) over regular old bone broth.
I had a hunch that black tea was pretty healthy, which is part of why I switched from coffee to tea this year. Anyone who knows me IRL will be shocked at this admission, but it’s true. I feel less anxious, better hydrated, and less jittery since making the switch.
As for lime flowers, I’ve never used them. The extract used in the study was not from true lime trees, instead they come from the linden or basswood tree native to Europe, North America, and parts of Asia. Apparently some varieties of linden extract have been also shown to reduce anxiety in mouse models, and it’s often used as an herbal cold remedy in Europe. Might be worth looking into a bit more as a possible leaky gut supplement.
L-glutamine is one of the most common supplement recommendations I’ve seen for leaky gut.
Glutamine appears to restore loss of intestinal barrier integrity when cells are weakened after exposure to air. However, the cells recovered better if they were exposed to glutamine before the stress (being exposed to air). You might expect it to help restore cells that have been damaged for other reasons too. But it might work better as a way to maintain your gut health rather than taking it in response to a flare.
It seems to have a range of other benefits. Plus, while you can easily take an L-glutamine supplement, it’s also found in abundance in bone broth. Just another good reason to stick to my pho diet.
Save this post now! You’re going to want to refer back to it when choosing your leaky gut supplements.
I’m not a doctor, medical professional, or a scientist. I’m just a lady who likes to read. Please talk to your doctor before making any major changes that could affect your health!
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