lymphatic system in head and neck
Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.
Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.
December 11, 2023 ·  10 min read

Is There a Connection Between Lymphatic Health & ‘Leaky Gut’? 

Are you suffering from constant or intermittent bloating, excess gas, cramping, or even body fatigue, headaches, sudden allergies, or sensitivity to common foods in your diet? Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, like Type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease, or do you suffer from mood disorder or depression? If you answered yes to any of these symptoms, this article may interest you. This article outlines the relationship between ‘leaky gut’ and your lymphatic system. In it, I will cover a holistic and preventative protocol to aid you with your gut-related symptoms through general means and by supporting your lymphatic system.

What is a Leaky Gut?

The human body has an extensive intestinal lining inside our stomach that covers a large surface area (Campos, 2023). These two intestinal barriers permit maintaining intestinal homeostasis (maintaining an internal balance) (Bischoff et al., 2014). When these barriers work correctly, they form a compressed barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream (Campos, 2023). However, the unhealthy gut lining that has been compromised over many years due to environmental contaminants, chronic disease, high processed food consumption, regular drug and medication use, or alcohol abuse can help develop significant gaps (junctions) or holes in the stomach lining that can lead to exposure to harmful substances (Ohland & MacNaughton, 2010). These gaps (junctions) or holes (called desmosomes) in the stomach lining can permit partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the tissues beneath them and leak into the bloodstream. Therefore, it triggers an immune system response because it detects unwanted substances as foreign (because they usually do not exist in the blood), triggering an antibody response and causing systemic inflammation (Campos, 2023) (Bischoff et al., 2014a). This can lead to a lack of intestinal integrity, creating a domino effect, triggering potential disease or inflammation (Fukui, 2016), and causing symptoms associated with what has been coined ‘leaky gut syndrome.’

Although Leaky Gut Syndrome is not an official medical diagnosis and is typically considered to be a digestive health issue, it is connected to many other illnesses and health conditions, such as acne, asthma, chronic fatigue, diarrhea, fibromyalgia, headaches, memory problems, mood swings, obesity, and Type 1 diabetes (Camilleri, 2019). It is a launching pad for nearly one hundred different autoimmune diseases (Fasano, 2011). An autoimmune disease transpires when the immune system makes autoantibodies against self-antigens, causing an attack on its body tissue (Paray et al., 2020).    

What is the Lymphatic System (GALT)?  

The gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is one of three central lines of the defensive barrier of the GI tract. The GALT is the immune barrier, composed of many body structures and organs, from your tonsils appendix to the colonic and ceca (the endpoint of the colon) (Assimakopoulos et al., 2018). The GALT helps protect against external elements that penetrate the first line of defense against pathogens. This barrier blocks pathogens from entering the body; for example, your skin is the first line of defence. The Lymphoid tissue (an organized structure supporting an immune response to foreign antigens) is commonly linked with the gut and the neuroendocrine system; it joins forces with the intestinal epithelial (what lines the small intestine) wall to maintain balance and resistance to foreign/neo-antigens. In other words, it protects our intestines from invading pathogens (Paray et al., 2020) (Donaldson et al., 2015). 

The Interplay Between Lymphatic Health and Leaky Gut

When GALT is compromised, the intestinal lining is damaged, allowing larger particles and substances, such as bacteria, undigested food, and toxins, to pass through the compromised, damaged cells and enter the bloodstream. This triggers the immune system by releasing antibodies called cytokines, which are small proteins key to controlling the development and activity of other immune systems and white blood cells to fight these particles. This can lead to irritation and inflammation throughout the body due to the production of oxidants from this immune response. These substances enter the bloodstream, activating the immune response and creating a leaky gut or intestinal permeability (Mu et al., 2017). 

Why is it Important to Support Lymphatic Health if you Have a Leaky Gut?

The cells of the lymphatic system play an essential role in maintaining intestinal balance. The epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal mucosa acts as a barrier preventing the passage of elements that can cause harm (Fasano, 2001).  Maintaining a healthy lymphatic system can be accomplished by living a healthier lifestyle; consuming a nutritious diet, reducing unhealthy substances, and using natural medicine can help reduce or prevent possibly pathogenic bacteria, foreign microbes, gluten, and food antigens from entering the bloodstream (Fasano & Shea-Donohue, 2005). This suggests that a healthy GALT absorbs nutrients, removes waste, and averts infections (Greene-Hartsfield, 2020). Therefore, maintaining a healthier GALT could reduce the development of a leaky gut.  

Steps to Support Gut Health that Aid Leak Gut while Supporting Lymphatic Health.

Research on treating a leaky gut (intestinal permeability) suggests avoiding particular foods with excessive amounts of sugar while reducing bad fats from your diet. Many studies have shown that fructose, glucose, and sucrose are connected with increased intestinal permeability and dysfunction (Binienda et al., 2020). Studies also show consuming more FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) foods in your diet has been shown to aid in maintaining good gut health. Moreover, eating a diet rich in prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber has demonstrated significant gut health benefits. Supplementing with l-glutamine, short-chain fatty acids, quercetin, and berberine is also beneficial (Bischoff et al., 2014b) (Aleman et al., 2023). Diet can also play a dominant role in the arrangement of the intestinal microbiota, considering that dietary components can seriously change your gut functions, compromising the intestinal barrier’s integrity (Brown et al., 2012).

Supplements That Help Treat Leaky Gut and GALT


Probiotics are capable microorganisms that have physiological benefits. Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kamichi, to name a few, and also come in a supplement form. Probiotics are the main effects of maintaining homeostasis and intestinal integrity. Probiotics also help regulate and modulate intestinal permeability, affecting the mucus, epithelium, and microbiota (Aleman et al., 2023).

We love Natural Factors Ultimate Multi Probiotic 12 Billion. Natural Factors Ultimate Multi Probiotic is a one-a-day, 12-strain formula with 12 billion live probiotic cultures alongside prebiotics for long-lasting gut health support. Their Ultimate Multi Probiotic formula is a blend of 12 strains including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to support the small and large intestines. Their formula has been effective in supporting the regeneration of good bacteria due to imbalances caused by stress, diet, travel, gastrointestinal disturbances, and the use of medication can affect many areas of our health. Get your 30 day supply at The Health Shop for $49.30 while supplies last!


Dietary glutamine has a crucial purpose in absorption, secretion, and digestion, and amino acids like l-glutamine help to nourish gut health as a barrier to the permeability of pathogens, allergens, and toxins into the epithelium. L-glutamine can regulate the expression of tight junction proteins, allowing the intestinal membrane of intestinal cells to remain impermeable. Studies have suggested that adding l-glutamine to your diet can improve fibrosis and intestinal inflammation (Kretzmann et al., 2008) (Balasubramanian et al., 2009).

We love Natural Factors Micronized L-Glutamine. Their formula replenishes this essential amino acid in your brain, gastrointestinal tract, muscles and liver. It also supports your immune system, energy and brain function. Micronization technology greatly minimizes the particle size, thus allowing your body to more easily break down and absorb the glutamine.  Get your 30 day supply at The Health Shop for $27.55 while supplies last!

Fibers and Short-Chain Fatty Acids

Among carbohydrates, dietary fibers are suitable for anti-inflammation properties and intestinal barrier regulation. Therefore, the microbiota ferments dietary fiber and produces short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, propionate, and acetate (Van Immerseel et al., 2010). In particular, the beneficial species of Bifidobacterium bacteria and Lactobacilli are related to making these short-chain fatty acids and the inhibitory effects on the growth of harmful bacteria (Aleman et al., 2023).

We love Healthology Gut-FX Formula. Healthology Gut-FX is the ultimate formula to repair intestinal tract lining, heal inflammation, support healthy gut flora, and restore health. GUT-FX promotes digestive health by targeting three aspects of leaky gut syndrome. It provides building blocks to heal the digestive tract, herbs to soothe the gut lining and limit inflammation, and probiotics to replenish healthy gut flora. GUT-FX supports digestion to support our overall health. Get your 30 day supply at The Health Shop for $42.05

Taking Healthology Soluble Fibre Blend will super charge the effects of Gut-FX. This soluble fiber blend provides a Certified Organic, non-GMO blend of Baobab and Acacia fibers that helps promote healthy digestion, may also help to balance blood sugar levels, and is packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, which protect your cells and organs from oxidative damage while reducing inflammation in the body. Whether you take it with Gut-FX or not, be sure to include this soluble fibre in your regimen. Get your 30 day supply at The Health Shop for $28.03

Hippocrates himself said, “All disease begins in the gut.” While he wasn’t completely correct , one could say he wasn’t far off; evidence shows that many chronic metabolic diseases do have links to gut health. The intestinal tract forms a defensive barrier against what we ingest, stopping harmful substances from reaching the bloodstream. It’s simple: Maintaining this healthy gut lining barrier will assist in reducing the likeliness of developing a leaky gut (intestinal permeability) while preventing any of the many autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, autoimmune hepatitis, type 1 diabetes (T1D), and multiple sclerosis, to name a few (Mu et al., 2017). 

Please consult your primary health care provider or nutritionist before taking supplements, including vitamins, minerals, or herbal medicine. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding your medical condition and any diet changes. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of something you have read online.

Written by: Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP. Doctor of Natural Medicine, Research Scientist and Board-Certified Holistic Health Practitioner

You can contact him on LinkedIn: Dr. Michael M. Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.

Keep Reading: 6 Ways To Support Your Glymphatic System and Brain Health


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    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.