Top 5 Supplements to Help Leaky Gut

by JJ Virgin on June 14, 2018

Quick question: do you ever…

  • feel chronically stressed?
  • eat fast food?
  • take medications?
  • get less than 7 hours of quality sleep a night?

If so, you have plenty of company!

We’re stimulated 24/7 with unlimited access to social media, the news, and email. Our phones and tablets are such permanent fixtures, most of us can’t sit quietly for more than a minute without the urge to check in and start scrolling.

With artificial light and electronics at close reach, we can ignore natural sleep patterns and binge on Netflix late into the night. (Can you even remember the last time you only watched one episode of a TV show in a sitting?)

We’re also busier than ever, so it’s easy to get tempted by processed foods from bags, boxes, and drive-thrus, even when we know they’re full of inflammatory sugar and other potentially harmful ingredients.

With so many drastic changes in our diet and lifestyle over the last generation alone, our bodies have not had the chance to adapt. It’s no coincidence that we’re seeing a rise in chronic health conditions like joint pain, weight loss resistance, premature aging, skin conditions, headaches, and even autoimmune diseases. These symptoms are now so common, we’ve begun to dismiss them as natural signs of aging!

But while these symptoms are common, they are NOT normal. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that many of today’s chronic health problems stem from a common condition known as leaky gut syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut?

“Leaky gut syndrome” sounds like exactly what it means.

Your intestinal lining is designed to be your first line of defense against toxins, waste products, and undigested foods.1 It does this with a single layer of cells pressed tightly together so that they only allow healthy nutrients to get absorbed. Those small spaces between the cells are known as “tight junctions.”  

However, when your gut experiences an assault such as chronic stress or exposure to toxins, those tight junctions become loose. That allows larger, unwanted particles to leak into the bloodstream and into general circulation.

As food particles, waste products, and antigens circulate, they connect with antibodies to create immune complexes that build up in various tissues in your body.2 It could be your joints, your liver, or your lungs.

As your body takes aggressive actions to defend itself, it ends up overreacting to the unwanted invaders and causing additional harm such as autoimmune conditions, chronic inflammation, and even cancer! 3-4

The tricky thing about a leaky gut is that it can create a whole host of seemingly unrelated health symptoms that don’t get traced back to the root cause right away.

For example, a leaky gut can prevent you from absorbing precious nutrients, resulting in chronic fatigue, constant cravings, and weight gain, among other things.5-7

So you can see how critical it is to heal any damage before symptoms continue to progress, and then keep your gut healthy on an ongoing basis!

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How do I know if I have leaky gut?

You can test for leaky gut with several labs, including a Lactulose Mannitol test or IGG food intolerance test. You can also test your zonulin levels, which rise as your gut becomes leakier. (More about that here: Is Leaky Gut Real? The Facts & Science Behind Leaky Gut Syndrome.)

But if you suffer from chronic stress, take medications, eat a high-sugar, low-fiber diet, or are regularly exposed to inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, or soy, chances are high you have a leaky gut.

Instead of spending time on testing, I like to encourage my clients to be their own health detective by paying attention to symptoms and making the right diet and lifestyle changes to really heal their gut.

Some clues you may have leaky gut include:

  • Multiple food sensitivities
  • Weight loss resistance
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Brain fog and lack of mental focus
  • Headaches
  • Gut issues, such as diarrhea and constipation
  • Skin problems such as rashes, eczema, and acne
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Seasonal or food allergies

Unfortunately, once you have leaky gut, your body may need some extra support to help it heal, and that’s where smart supplementation comes in!

My Top 5 Supplements to Help Leaky Gut

Supplementing smartly is key to thriving, despite your daily exposure to toxins and stress. And that’s never more true than when you’re suffering from leaky gut!* Here’s what I recommend:


This is my favorite multi-tasking supplement of all time! L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body, and among its many benefits, L-glutamine can help repair your gut lining by closing up the tight junctions and soothing inflammation.8

Stress depletes your body of this gut-healing amino acid, so it’s especially important to restore your body’s supply by supplementing during times of chronic stress.9

N-Acetyl Glucosamine*  

Glucosamine is a compound that occurs naturally in your body – you may have seen it in joint supplements for arthritis. However, glucosamine can also protect your stomach and gut lining, and studies show it reduces inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.10

Another great benefit: glucosamine can also support the growth of bifidobacteria, which is a probiotic that’s protective of your gut.11

DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)*

Regardless of how you feel about the flavor of licorice, deglycyrrhizinated licorice is definitely a friend! DGL may be especially effective for healing ulcers by encouraging a protective barrier to form around the gut, as well as promoting new cell growth in your gut lining.12 It can also help to prevent new ulcer formation and reduces inflammation.13

DGL is another amazing multi-tasker that has also been shown to have promising effects on the immune system and has natural antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.14 (Remember, it’s vital to get the deglycyrrhizinated version to avoid affecting your blood pressure or kidney function.)

Slippery Elm*

Slippery Elm was a regular in the medieval medicine cabinet – this ancient herb has been used for centuries to treat a multitude of digestive issues, including gut inflammation, stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, colitis, and an overabundance of stomach acid.15

Slippery elm comes by its name naturally: it encourages your gut to create “slippery” compounds that coat the lining of your digestive tract and create a soothing barrier that can promote healing.16 It’s antioxidant effects can also be very effective for treating irritable bowel disease.17


Quercetin is a plant flavonoid – the nutrients that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors and amazing health benefits. Quercetin can help with leaky gut symptoms by sealing the tight junctions.18

Quercetin can also help stabilize the histamine response, which can aggravate a leaky gut.19 As part of your body’s response to chronic stress or exposure to inflammatory foods, mast cells in your gut lining release histamines (the chemicals that cause symptoms of allergic reactions). Quercetin may prevent that gut-damaging histamine reaction by stabilizing those mast cells.20

Lastly, don’t forget to also address the lifestyle factors that contribute to a leaky gut.

Managing your stress, reducing inflammatory foods, increasing your fiber intake, and lowering your sugar impact can all help build lasting health.

Getting 7–9 hours of quality sleep each night is critical for gut health… and so much more. My Best Rest Sleep Cheat Sheet gives you my favorite strategies to fall asleep and stay asleep, every single night. Get your guide FREE here.

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.