It’s a Gut Feeling
Everyday practices for a healthy gut.
Written by Morgan Allen, Health Coach
The past few years, gut health has become the hot topic of the wellness world, and for good reason. The gut is one of the most important powerhouses of the body, and when it is not working properly, our entire system can become disrupted. This is partly because everything within us is connected, including our gut.
When I say the entire body is affected, I mean it. Absolutely everything starts with our gut: digestion, mood, skin, and energy. All these aspects can be impacted by an unhealthy gut, causing unwanted side effects such as digestive issues, bloating, fatigue, irritation, and breakouts.
What is an unhealthy gut?
Simply put, lifestyle choices such as poor sleep, alcohol consumption, diet, and inactivity can harm our gut, causing it to become prey to invasion by bad bacteria, turning our gut into an unhealthy environment. When bad bacteria sneaks in, the gut microbiome changes. Our healthy gut flora is overpowered by the bad bacteria, and soon the gut turns into a dysfunctional system in our body, unable to process food and properly eliminate waste.
The bad bacteria is like a toxic friend. Imagine a group of positive and kind friends–a functional and drama-free group. Suddenly, a new person joins the social group who is negative and toxic. They start spreading rumors and before you know it, the once sweet friend group begins to turn on each other, arguments erupt, and the group becomes completely dysfunctional and corrupt.
That’s what your unhealthy gut is going through. The good news is, while there is no magic fix when it comes to gut and digestion issues, there are some simple things you can add to your daily routine to help soothe flare ups, decrease bloat, heal your gut, and repopulate your microbiome.
One of the primary ways to take care of our gut is through the food we put into our body. Food is so important because our gut has both good and bad bacteria, and when we eat whole, natural, unprocessed foods, good bacteria flourishes and grows, keeping bad bacteria at bay. However, if we eat lots of processed and sugary foods, bad bacteria is the one being fuelled, causing it to thrive and multiply in our gut, which we do not want. To get a healthy gut:
Eat primarily whole, unprocessed foods and explore cooking nourishing recipes at home.
Eat more high fiber whole foods and increase healthy fats to help the body properly detox.
Eliminate artificial sweeteners and refined sugars; substitute honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.
Eat fruit on its own, preferably on an empty stomach: fruit digests and goes through our system quickly and can cause pain and bloating if eaten after a protein or starch, which takes longer to digest. Wait 30 minutes to let the fruit digest before eating other foods.
Stay away from gums: gums are commonly found in processed foods, even healthy foods (like almond milk), and they can cause inflammation and gut health issues.
It's not just about the food itself, it's also how you eat it. Our gut is sensitive and sometimes it needs a little extra care. Try to:
Practice mindful eating to be more present in the moment and intune with your eating habits: take a few deep breaths before eating, focus on your food as you eat it, chew thoroughly, find gratitude in your meal, eat slowly, and don’t be distracted or on your phone.
Include more warm liquids and teas throughout the day: ginger, dandelion, camomille, peppermint tea and warm water with lemon are great ways to activate your digestive fire, especially right before eating and first thing in the morning.
Stop drinking water and other liquids during meals: this dilutes the digestive enzymes and juices that you need to properly digest your food (aim for about 30 minutes after eating before having any liquids).
Listen to your body: notice which foods sit well with your body and which foods don’t, and limit the foods that your body does not agree with.
Stop eating at least 1-2 hours before bed to allow your food time to digest.
Since every part of our body is connected, taking care of our emotional and physical health is so important for healing our gut health. Things to consider:
Decrease stress when possible, as stress affects the body’s ability to digest the food we eat.
Explore supplements: try taking a probiotic, drinking celery juice on an empty stomach, drinking bone broth, and embracing herbal teas.
Add movement into your day: going on a walk, doing yoga or a small workout can decrease bloating and increase digestion.
It is important to remember that all bodies are different and these tips may work better for some people than others. See what things on these lists feel right for you and what actually works best for your individual and beautiful body. Really listen to your body as you begin your gut health journey, and be patient, for true healing takes time.