Intestinal Hyperpermeability (aka “Leaky Gut”)

The prevalence of intestinal hyperpermeability, also known as “leaky gut,” has gained attention in recent years.


Normally the small intestine aids in digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients, while also acting as a barrier to harmful substances.  These functions become compromised when the lining of the small intestine becomes excessively permeable, allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. Factors such as dietary choices, chronic stress, certain medications, infections, and digestive microbiome imbalances can compromise the intestinal barrier integrity.


Naturopathic medicine offers a comprehensive approach to addressing these factors, with a focus on individual health goals and tailored strategies. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, incorporating specific practices into one’s lifestyle can improve intestinal hyperpermeability.


As a naturopathic doctor, my role is to help patients identify and achieve their health goals through personalized plans. To support “leaky gut”, some strategies have shown promise:


  1. Dietary Adjustments:  Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is essential for healing the digestive lining. Emphasize whole, unprocessed foods rich in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. On the other hand, it is important to minimize or avoid foods that can exacerbate digestive inflammation, such as refined sugars and processed foods.


  1. Nutritional Support:  Certain nutrients play an important role in restoring digestive health. L-glutamine, an amino acid, aids in intestinal cell regeneration.  Omega-3 fatty acids, from fish and algae, possess anti-inflammatory properties.  Herbal medicines possess healing properties and can aid in soothing the intestinal lining.  See your naturopathic doctor to help you choose the right supplements.


  1. Digestive Microbiome Balance:  Balancing the digestive microbiome is important to protect the intestinal lining. Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria, while prebiotics feed these bacteria. Incorporate fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh into your diet and consider high-quality probiotic supplements.


  1. Stress Management:  Chronic stress can impair the digestive barrier by causing mast cells to release their contents.  Implementing stress-reducing practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and regular physical activity can help us reduce the impacts of stress on our body.


  1. Identifying Food Sensitivities:  Food sensitivities and allergies can contribute to increased intestinal permeability. Working with a naturopathic doctor can be beneficial to identify and eliminate potential trigger foods through an elimination diet or specialized testing.


Addressing intestinal hyperpermeability requires a multifaceted approach, and naturopathic medicine offers effective strategies. By adopting dietary modifications, incorporating digestive-healing nutrients and herbs, balancing the digestive microbiome, managing stress, and identifying food sensitivities, individuals can take proactive steps towards restoring digestive health.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Book in a Complimentary 15-minute, no obligation appointment with Dr. Shawn to see if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!