Gut health is such a trendy phrase right now but what does it really mean? For most of us, we have only heard about gut health from yogurt companies (trying to sell us yogurt for the probiotics), or maybe the occasional blogger. Most of us spend our entire life living with digestive discomfort, achy joints (especially as we get older), and that unappealing tire around our stomach. Sure those can all be signs of over-eating, but for so many people, these are also big red flags that our gut is out of whack!
Here is the good news! You can do something about all these symptoms. The bad part is probiotics are only going to get you so far especially if you are not fixing the root cause!
Before we talk about how to get your gut healthy, let’s first discuss why your gut might be out of whack:
- Use of antibiotics, which can kill all the bacteria in your gut
- Eating a diet in foods which you are intolerant (which can cause gas, bloating, stomach issues)
- An overgrowth in bad/harmful bacteria in the body (from too much sugar consumption from our SAD (Standard American Diets)
- Suffering from a food allergy that you are unaware of or that you choose to ignore. This causes inflammation in the body, starting in the gut
- Chronic stress
- Toxins from the environment
Why should you care if your gut is “healthy” or “not healthy”. Your gut is often called your second brain. It is responsible for creating serotonin (that feel good hormone, that regulates your mood and when it’s out of whack you can feel depressed), it creates hunger and satiety hormones for your brain to help keep you slim and feeling your best, it’s also where a ton of your immune system is built. When your gut is out of whack, you tend to get sick more often. Auto-immune conditions have also been linked to having an unhealthy gut.
Your gut is also where we absorb all the vitamins and minerals from our food. And since your food is the building blocks of EVERY cell in your body, you really want to make sure you are getting the vitamins and minerals from that $4 organic heirloom tomato from Whole Foods, right?
So how do you know if you have an unhealthy gut? Here are just a few of the symptoms you may experience:
- Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
- Abdominal pain, cramping
- Eczema, dry skin, psoriasis
- Depression or anxiety
- Hormones unbalanced, PCOS, lack of a period
- Tired, fatigued, run down
- Weight gain
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble losing weight
- Stiffness or joint pain
- Autoimmune diseases
- B12 deficiency
- Thyroid issues
If you are experiencing any of the effects listed, you should start to focus on healing your gut and reducing overall inflammation in the body. This can be a long process of trial and error but here are a few things that you can start doing today!
Start cutting out major food sensitivities. For many people, this is dairy and gluten. If you have a known food sensitivity or allergy, staying away from that food for good is essential to the health of your gut. If you don’t know if you are sensitive to any foods, I challenge you to do a dairy and gluten challenge for just a week. Most of my clients start noticing the effects of cutting gluten and dairy out in just 2-3 days! If this is something you need help with, you can start with some gut friendly recipes, that also help with reducing inflammation like this mango ginger turmeric recovery smoothie, or this ginger garlic shrimp zoodle bowl. If you are looking to replace some of your old favorite recipes, check out this low carb cauliflower lasagna or this dairy free vegan broccoli cheese soup. You can also get more gluten free and dairy free recipes by signing up for our carb cycling meal plan.
Another great way to help heal your gut includes reducing the sugar in your diet! Sugar is a very inflammatory food and it can often compete with the vitamins and minerals in your food. Sugar is also very nutrient deficient, so by reducing the sugar in your diet, you will have room for other nutrient rich foods (like fruits and vegetables), which will help you feel better and get healthier.
Reducing stress and getting enough sleep are also pivotal to healing your gut. Unfortunately most of us are walking around in a constant state of stress and this can cause our body to release cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) which causes our bodies to be inflamed. This inflammation can make it difficult to heal the gut. Not getting adequate quality or quantity of sleep can have a similar effect as stress on your body, so getting enough sleep each night is crucial!