I am not a health professional. All opinions are my own and should not be taken as medical advice.
If you’ve been following along my blog for awhile, you know that over the past few years, I developed some serious gut issues. What started as stomach aches and discomforts turned into a whole myriad of other health issues – headaches, exhaustion and eventually chronic illness. Despite the challenges, my gut issues helped me stretch my self-love muscle and learn about the importance of a healthy gut flora. It also has pushed me to get to the root cause of my health issues rather than just covering it up with medications or over the counter digestive support.
Here’s the gist of what I’ve learned: It all begins in the gut. Your gut is made up of good and bad bacteria. We need a good combination of both to feel alive and well! Disease and illnesses typically arise when that balance of good and bad bacteria is off. Our gut permeability increases allowing bad bacteria to sometimes overgrow and leak into our bloodstream. Hence autoimmune diseases come about and other issues.
I’ve come to learn many things you can do to heal your gut and ensure you have a balance of good and bad bacteria. I still have lots of healing to do, but I’ve made tremendous progress. My health has improved by focusing my efforts on repairing my gut rather than treating my diseases with a quick fix pill.
Take a look at the things you can do to start reversing some of your illnesses and have a healthy gut flora.
15 Ways to Heal your Gut
- Find a holistic/ integrative medicine practitioner or doctor
- I value the importance of traditional medicine, but I believe there are many instances when their work can be built upon by more integrative methods. When I first went to the gastro for my gut issues, they offered me no solutions for gut issues and food sensitivities. They simply said I would have to live with fructose, sucrose and lactose intolerance and take an antibiotic every time I had the horrible overgrowth of gut bacteria (SIBO). I knew there had to be another alternative method to proactively address the issues rather than living with gut imbalance! Take the initiative to find the very best care for yourself and never accept what the first doctor or medical professional tells you. Find a practitioner who works on getting to the root cause of your health issues, not just finding them and covering them up. Your body has the ability to heal itself if you put in the effort in to take care of it. If you’re unsure of where to start searching, look for naturopaths, nutritional therapists, clinical nutritionists and holistic nutritionists.
- Reduce stress
- We all know the negative effects that stress can have on your body, and I believe that is often because stress is so connected to your gut. Any physical or mental stress can easily throw you for a digestion loop. Find ways to reduce stress: breath more, do less, learn how to meditate, practice yoga, slow down, dive into your faith and find your why. Your gut health will improve when you are not in a constant flight or fight mode!
- Keep a food mood journal
- The simplest way to find out what things are irritating your gut is to track how you feel regularly. Keep a short journal tracking what you’ve eaten, how your gut feels along with your mood each day. You’ll often be able to find a pattern in things that are irritating you and then can work towards eliminating those things from your diet for a time period.
- Remove foods that cause inflammation and see how you feel
- After noting what foods cause reactions in your body, which may be mental side effects, work with your practitioner to remove them from your diet for a time period. Your body can’t heal if you keep putting things in it that deplete it. Food that typically causes a lot of inflammation includes sugar, gluten, dairy and soy, sweeteners and processed foods.
- Consult your practitioner about supplements.
- While our bodies can heal naturally, I think it’s important to support that healing with natural supplements. Work with your practitioner to find high-quality supplements that will improve your gut health. A probiotic is a very good place to start.
- Improve digestion and stomach acid
- In addition to removing foods you are sensitive to, ensure that your gut is actually able to digest the food you are putting in your body. Find a high-quality digestive enzyme to support digestion of all foods and ensure that you have enough stomach acid to digest foods by taking HCL or Betaine tablets. You may consider doing the HCL challenge.
- Chew your food more thoroughly
- Another way to improve how your food is being digested is to chew your food more thoroughly. Try chewing each bite of food 10-15 times. I know it sounds like a lot, but your gut and body will thank you. I notice a significant difference in my how my stomach feels after a meal if I mindfully chew my food.
- Sleep more
- When my gut health was really bad, I was the most tired. I couldn’t fall asleep easily, and it made it more difficult to take care of my body. Give yourself the maximum amount of time to sleep. Turn your phone and TV off at least a half hour before you want to sleep, and put your phone on airplane mode. The radiation coming off of your phone can significantly hurt your health and sleep. Focus on making a bedtime routine that removes technology before you sleep and use an essential oil diffuser to calm down.
- Drink bone broth
- If you haven’t heard about the amazing healing benefits of bone broth yet, I’m here to fill you in on the gut healing superfood. Incorporate more bone broth into your diet. Make soups and sip on cups of it regularly. I was hesitant to try this at first, but I can honestly say it tastes good, and I crave a warm cup of broth regularly. Learn more about bone broth here.
- Eat a whole foods diet
- One mistake I made when I first learned of my food intolerances, was that I kept eating some processed foods that I thought were lower in sugar and gluten-free. While that is better than eating a candy bar, those foods didn’t help me in any way and slowed down healing. Focus on a whole foods diet and remove all processed foods. You’ll crave the whole foods more when you eat them regularly!
- Reduce caffeine
- When I was at my worst gut health, I was drinking a ton of caffeine. Although I drank mostly tea, I’d drink it throughout an entire day. My body became so weak and dehydrated. I know how challenging it can be, but removing caffeine from your diet can be game-changing for your adrenals and gut. Focus on drinking more herbal caffeine-free teas and bone broth!
- Say no more
- As I mentioned before, there is a big correlation between stress and gut health. Even if you feel like you can handle everything on your plate, gut issues are a sign that you need to turn up your self-love. Say no to people and things more. You’ll find that the more space you give yourself, the more room you have to heal. Work less, heal more.
- Foster positive mental health
- Even though you are working on healing your body physically, you should put just as much effort into healing your mind. Spend time diving into simple meditations through things like headspace and schedule time in your calendar daily for prayer and meditation. Your body can do amazing things when you increase mindfulness and gratitude. Meditation can sound so scary to many people, but I recommend starting small. Put on your favorite calming music, lay on the floor and close your eyes for five minutes of no interruption. See how you feel afterward 🙂
- Get outside
- Another way to heal your gut is by spending less time with technology. Get outside and play. Spend more time in nature, even if that means a five-minute walk outside. The good bacteria that you need in your gut can be found in plants and the great outdoors. Get more connected to the earth. It’s proven to heal.
- Remove dangerous toxins
- Over the past year, I became more aware of how I felt using standard household cleaning products and personal care items. I realized that I actually felt awful using standard Dawn dish soap. Try switching to more natural soaps, lotions and personal care items as the dangerous toxins inside of them can significantly hurt your health. Create a living space that promotes healing.
There are literally hundreds of ways you can improve your gut health, but these are just some of the key things I’ve focused on. It can be overwhelming if you try to implement all of these things at once, so I recommend prioritizing a few such as finding an integrative medicine practitioner and creating a food mood journal. As you begin to see improvement in your gut health, you’ll be motivated to try new ways to improve healing.
Your gut health is SO important to the longevity and vitality of your life! Take the initiative to dig deep into getting to the root cause of your health problems and feel your absolute best.
XO, Morgan, Mint+Mo
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