When you have a leaky gut, it’s because the lining of your small intestines is damaged. This causes some undigested food particles, toxic waste, and bacteria to leak through the intestines and get into your bloodstream.

Lectins have been shown to bind with the intestinal lining, and in particular the villi of the small intestine. The villi are the little pockets that nutrients flow into before they cross into the bloodstream. When the villi are damaged by the lectins, the body cannot effectively digest and absorb nutrients from the small intestine. The damage and inflammation the lectins cause also creates a dysbiotic [a microbial imbalance] gut flora that encourages parasites and other pathogenic organisms.

This process leads to leaky gut syndrome in which the intestinal lining has open gaps and now lectins and other particles and pathogenic organisms can get directly into the bloodstream. Lectins that are free floating in the bloodstream have an affinity for the insulin and leptin receptors and are believed to desensitize these receptors, contributing to insulin and leptin resistance in the body.

Taking self-care steps that promote overall digestive health may be the best way to protect yourself from leaky gut. This reference gives specifics about the studies mentioned below.

  • Increase your intake of high-fiber foods. The soluble fiber found in vegetables, legumes, and fruit support your gut’s beneficial bacteria, according to a 2016 study. [We believe you can get all the fiber you need from low-carb vegetables, nuts, and seeds without needing legumes or fruit!]
  • Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates. Too much sugar can negatively affect gut barrier function, according to a 2014 study.
  • Reduce your use of NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, can increase intestinal permeability, according to a 2009 study.
  • Take probiotic supplements. The beneficial bacteria of probiotics are helpful for many gastrointestinal conditions, such as IBS, according to a 2009 study.
  • Reduce your stress levels. Chronic stress can harm gut bacteria, according to a 2017 study.


Jockers, Dr. David, DNM, DC, MS. “Why You Should Avoid Lectins in Your Diet!” DrJockers, n.d. https://drjockers.com/avoid-lectins-diet/ (accessed on 8/2/2020).

Frothingham, Scott; medically reviewed by Saurabh Sethi, MD, PhD. “How Long Does It Take to Heal a Leaky Gut?” Healthline (September 4, 2019). https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-it-take-to-heal-leaky-gut (accessed on 8/2/2020).