Gut health is super important. Like, maybe one of the most important things you can do for yourself health wise. About 80% of your immune system is in your gut! What does this mean? Well, your immune system is what protects you from all disease; so if your immune system is beat down and weak you are really susceptible to illness. Your digestive system is a huge ecosystem in your body that you have to take care of or you run the risk of really putting yourself through the ringer.
How can you tell if your gut is unhealthy? Simply put…..you feel like crap! Here are a few of the signs:
- bloated, have gas, diarrhea
- Sensitivity or allergies to certain foods
- Feel anxious or depressed
- Suffer from skin problems like rosacea or eczema (this is different from the occasional breakout due to stress or hormonal imbalance.)
- Suffer from diabetes or an autoimmune disease
- Get sick very frequently with different infections
- Can’t concentrate or have brain fog (trouble remembering things; almost drifting and not grounded)
How can you give your gut the love it needs? It takes some time and a whole lot of tenderness. The best place to start is to remove irritants from your diet. Things like:
You can remove these things for 2 weeks and then slowly add them back in. Keep a food diary when you start to add them to see which ones might be bothering you. Take note of how you feel as each food is re-introduced into your system. This is one of the easiest ways to see how certain foods affect you. Now, it’s important to remember that this test is not meant to be super strict and something you keep up with the rest of your life. Let’s say you are sensitive to dairy; just be more aware of your consumption of it and look for the very best versions of it. You can look for organic grass-fed, goat’s milk or sheep’s milk varieties, or even try raw varieties of dairy. You could experiment coconut milk yogurts, nut cheeses, or you could eliminate it from your diet completely if you wish. Having the knowledge is key, how you want to change up your diet after that is completely up to you! All I ask you to do it to pay attention to how you feel when you are eating.
After removing the possible foods that are causing you dis-ease, you want to replace them with really digestive strengthening foods and herbs. You can do this through:
- Tons of leafy greens, and I mean A LOT. Greens should make up about 2/3 of your plate. Think really big salads, green smoothies, and large portions of sautéed greens.
- Add these two herbs to your daily routine: Fenugreek and cinnamon. Drink the fenugreek in tea form and add cinnamon to as many things throughout the day as you can. Your oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, etc.
- Add lots of olive oil and lemon juice to your diet as well. You can even put them together as an elixir. Dr. John Douillard, certified Ayurveda practitioner, says that mixing 1-2 TBS olive oil with 1-2 tsp lemon juice will and drinking it first things in the morning or before you go to bed will “exercise the liver and gallbladder, while supporting healthy bile flow in the bile and pancreatic ducts.”
- Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water so that your system can flush itself out.
- Try to detox regularly.
The next step is to bring back the good stuff to your system. This is the yummy part! There are so many beautiful foods to enjoy that will bring really good bacteria back balance to that precious gut. Here are some of my favorites:
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee, miso, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.
- Onions, garlic, jicama, bananas, asparagus, and artichokes.
- Soluble fiber from foods like radishes, pears, carrots, oatmeal, beans, apples, strawberries, cucumbers, celery, nuts, flax seeds, and pysllium
- And of course a really high quality probiotic!
The last step is to repair your gut. This step can take the longest, but it is well worth it. Healing your gut can save you time, money, emotional well-being, and your physical health! Here are my favorite ways to repair your gut:
- Drink bone broth- The collagen and glutamine in the bones heals the lining of your gut. You can make your own by cooking bones with an onion, water, garlic, salt & pepper and whatever seasonings you like (I like to mix extra collagen in mine!). If you don’t have time to make your own, buy a really high quality one like this. If you are vegan or vegetarian, no worries, you can get your fix of glutamine from beans, lentils, peas, cabbage, beets, carrots, brussel sprouts, eggs, spinach, kale, and some full fat dairy products.
- Add omega 3s to your daily supplement routine- This super anti-inflammatory oil can really maintain gut health and keep your body cooled off from all that nasty inflammation it can take on through stress, poor diet, and environmental irritants.
- Add zinc to your diet- spinach, beans (chickpeas are best), pumpkin seeds, nuts(cashews have the most), dark chocolate (look for 70% or higher), yogurt and kefir, grass-fed beef, chicken (always choose organic), and mushrooms.
- Get some vitamin B5- sweet potatoes, avocado, sunflower seeds, eggs, oily fish, blue cheese and feta.
- Don’t forget your vitamin D- one of the best ways to do this is from natural sunlight, but you can also just add it as one of your daily supplements.
- Meditate daily- all it takes is 10 minutes a day. Meditation can re-calibrate your nervous system which communicates with your whole body, including your gut. This practice was absolutely LIFE CHANGING for me!!
- Chew Your Food- We are programmed to rush through our meals and not even taste our food, let alone chew it! Be more present when you eat and pay attention to how much you are chewing your food. It can help with detoxification in the body while also helping start the digestive process so that your digestive system doesn’t have to go into overdrive.
- Move Every Day- Get out there and get your body moving every day. Whether it’s your favorite kind of exercise or just a short walk, moving your body is so beneficial for your digestive system. My favorite forms of movement are yoga and Pilates because you get the added benefit of breath work, twists, and stretching that really help your gut!
I hope this gut info helps you keep your tummy healthy, strong, and vibrant. Just remember, everything is connected to our gut, in Traditional Chinese Medicine our stomach is the “chi” or “life force” of our entire body. So if your tummy isn’t happy, nothing else in your body will be either!
Stay balanced loves.