Tired of chronic symptoms and ready to learn how to heal your gut naturally? Okay, let’s get real for a minute: gut health is EVERYTHING. I’m talking about your foundation for overall wellness, performance, AND good looks! But it’s more than just foundational… it’s involved in every single function of your body.
Trust me, I learned this the hard way (coffee and protein bars are not a sustainable diet for Ironman training, yikes!).
So, take a peek at some of the gut health hacks that totally transformed my digestive health and chronic illness…. Let’s go!
What is Gut Health and Why You Should Care
Learning how to heal your gut naturally should be your first line of defense for anything, whether it’s bloating, mood changes, or even just plain exhaustion!
Even if your gut needs attention, it might not be obvious to you. Did you know that taking OTC painkillers like ibuprofen could actually be compromising your gut lining? And if you’re into prolonged and strenuous exercises, you might be developing leaky gut syndrome (like me!) Yikes!
Ok, let’s look at the facts quickly:
- 75% of our immune system is in the stomach
- 60 to 70 million people in the U.S. have digestive issues
- 73% of women experience digestive issues…
- 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut
- When microbial richness decreases, disease risk increases.
And that’s just the beginning, gut issues can cause a slew of problems for us:
- Stomach pain
- Acid reflux
- Discomfort during/immediately after eating
Think of your gut as your “second brain” – it’s a pretty complex creature! And when it’s not happy, it can throw your entire mind and body out of whack.
For me, it caused significant hormone imbalances and nutrient deficiencies – which can take forever to heal and come back from. But it’s not impossible!
Poor gut health can cause some sneaky symptoms that can actually be hard to diagnose…
- Brain fog
- Anxiety or depression
- Skin issues like acne, rashes, or sensitivity
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Food allergies and intolerances to foods that you used to tolerate
- Hormone imbalances (which can lead to irregular periods, tachycardia, weight gain, and other side effects)
- Weight gain or appetite changes
- Poor dental health: white-coated tongue, bad breath, receding gums, cavities
- Yeast infections
(Side note: I experienced ALL of these symptoms!!)
5 Ways to Naturally Heal Your Gut
Are you finally convinced that your gut is key? It’s super important to keep your microbiome healthy and thriving for all-around health and happiness.
Being healthy doesn’t need to be hard. It’s actually fairly easy to improve your gut health – it all about consistency and dedication.
But where to begin? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back with some of my personal favorite gut health hacks that completely change the game.
1. Cook Your Veggies
This was one of the first tips my functional nutritionist gave me, and I hadn’t heard of it before!
But steaming or sautéing helps break down the tough fibers in the cell walls of vegetables, making them easier to digest and absorb nutrients. This is especially crucial for those with digestive issues. Raw veggies can be tough on the tum!
Also worth mentioning is that when you cook your veggies, you should cook them with healthy fats(olive oil or avocado oil) and toss in some prebiotic fibers (garlic and onion).
Those healthy fats make nutrients even more available to your body, and probiotics feed your healthy gut bacteria.
This probably goes without saying, but I need to mention the importance of nourishing your body with whole foods! For now, say goodbye to gluten and dairy to help put the brakes on inflammation.
Long story short, cook those vegetables and pass on the salad (for now!)
2. Sip on Bone Broth
Sipping bone broth is like giving your gut a warm, healing hug. It’s made by simmering animal bones, resulting in a gut-friendly broth loaded with collagen, gelatin, and other healthy goodies.
Collagen and gelatin help repair and seal the lining, which prevents harmful toxins and undigested food particles from causing inflammation throughout your body. (And causing leaky gut!)
Plus, bone broth has lots of amino acids that are great for reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Not to mention, it’s full of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are super important for your overall health.
And the best part? Sipping on some bone broth (or any cozy hot beverage!) can help you relax and de-stress.
So go ahead, and cozy up with a cup today!
3. Add in Probiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics – you’ve likely heard of them, but what are they?
Probiotics are helpful digestive bacteria found in fermented foods like pickles, yogurt, cheese, and sauerkraut.
On the other hand, prebiotics feeds the probiotics and are found in foods like artichokes, onions, asparagus, and nuts.
Adding these foods to your diet can be great for digestion, but just like any food change, your body might need to adjust, so don’t be surprised if you get worse before you get better with bloating and gas. (I wish someone would have told me that!)
Pro Tip: Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir are great sources of probiotics. But before you jump on the fermentation wagon, be sure to know about histamine intolerance as increased consumption can actually worsen symptoms. (this was the case for me in the beginning!)
Also, adding a probiotic supplement like Standard Process ProSynbiotic can make a huge difference right away!
Nutrients, such as vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, also heal the gut, so you might want to consider taking a high-quality multivitamin or supplements.
For a full list of the supplements I used to heal my gut and chronic illness, click here!
Top Probiotic Foods
4. Improve Sleep Habits
Getting seven to eight hours of high-quality sleep is pivotal in supporting healthy gut bacteria. When it comes to our gut, sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on its delicate balance.
Research has shown a strong connection between short sleep duration and worsened inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that form our gut microbiome, which plays a critical role in digestion, immunity, and overall health.
So, make it a priority to prioritize quality sleep and give your gut the care it deserves. Establish a consistent sleep routine, create a relaxing bedtime environment, and unwind before hitting the sack.
If you can’t resist scrolling through social media late at night (I get it!) consider using blue-light-blocking glasses, or better yet, download light-reducing apps to reduce exposure.
5. Exercise (a little!)
Studies confirm that exercise can increase bacterial communities by producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which is like a superhero for your gut. Not only do SCFAs improve digestion, but they also promote a healthier gut microbiome.
Plus, stimulation of blood flow to the gut helps aid in digestion, and along with light exercise comes reduced stress levels and an overall happier mood.
Try an easy walk out in nature, practice yoga, or even dance around your living room!
The key isn’t to obsess over working out but incorporate movement into your routine and make it fun and enjoyable.
If endurance sports are your thing, it’s even more important to support your gut with these tips since over-exercising can negatively impact your gut’s health with increased intestinal permeability. (Again, I learned this the hard way!)
BONUS: Tips for Managing Stress to Improve Your Gut Health
We’re all different in how our gut responds to stress, which can manifest in various ways. For instance, you may feel queasy before a big presentation, or you may experience intestinal pain during a stressful time in your life. Essentially, our gut sends distress signals to let us know that it’s feeling the strain. (We’ve all been there!)
Stress wrecks your body-including and especially our gut! Here are a few easy ways to lower stress and feel better starting today:
- Meditate (relax those troubles away!)
- Walk (crank up the tunes and pound the pavement)
- Get a massage (someone else work out your knots? yes, please!)
- Spend quality time with friends or family (cue the good vibes)
- Diffuse essential oils (aromatherapy for the win)
- Limit alcohol intake (save those hangovers for Saturday)
- Laugh (easier said than done, but it is the best medicine!)
- Practice yoga (Say Ommm, clear your mind and find your center)
- Spend quality time with a pet (fur babies are the best!)
The Wrap – Naturally Heal Your Gut
It’s no secret that healing your gut and saying goodbye to chronic symptoms can be a tall order. But don’t let that deter you from trying! All it takes is a bit of discipline and dedication.
I hope these tips help you naturally heal your gut and say “ so long ” to any chronic symptoms that have been plaguing you.
Remember—taking charge of your wellbeing is a powerful thing! Start today and see how quickly your life changes for the better. I’m cheering you on!
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