Maintaining a happy, healthy gut is recognized as one of the cornerstones of optimal health. It is directly related to a person’s nutrient status, weight, mood, energy, hormone balance, and immune function. Poor gut health is related to inflammation, autoimmunity, and chronic disease.
So what are some common signs that your gut isn’t working well and needs support? Clues that you need to give your GI system some TLC include:
- Heartburn, reflux, or GERD
- Belching, gas, or bloating after meals
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Gallstones or gallbladder removed
- Excess weight
- Brain fog, poor moods, or anxiety
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Autoimmune disease
- Arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease
- Acute or chronic stress
- Use of antibiotics, antacids, NSAIDs, or birth control pills
- Eating refined and packaged foods
Many of these signs and symptoms are things that people regularly live with and accept as ordinary. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. The gut is highly resilient. With a handful of changes, you can heal your digestive system and rebalance your microbiome by starving out the “bad guys” and feeding the “good guys.”
Top Tips For A Happy, Healthy Gut
Use the following strategies to support your gut and create an environment friendly to a well-balanced microbiome.
Drinking plenty of clean water is one of the simplest ways to promote a healthy gut. The body uses about 9 liters of fluid in the digestive process. At least 2 of those liters must come from the foods and beverages you consume. Drinking enough water helps prevent constipation and the recirculation of waste and toxins.
Focus On Fiber-Rich Foods
Did you know that there are 17 different kinds of fiber? Each one feeds and supports beneficial bacteria in the gut. Fiber-rich foods assist in absorbing toxins and excess hormones and encourage regular, healthy bowel movements.
Some of the best foods to include are:
- Leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Colorful vegetables
- Sweet potatoes and yams
- Flax, chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds
- Brown or wild rice
Include Healthy Fats
Healthy fats tame inflammation, help repair the gut lining, and nourish friendly microbes in the gut. They also help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Some of the best fats to include in your diet are:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Omega 3s found in high-quality fish oil
Fermented foods contain a wide variety of beneficial bacteria along with other gut-supporting vitamins and nutrients. Including a ¼ cup of fermented foods daily is a great way to maintain a healthy, diverse population of microbes in the gut. Try fermented options like:
Foods To Avoid
All refined sugars, flours, and oils create inflammation and feed trouble-causing bacteria. Certain preservatives and food additives are also known to kill beneficial bacteria. Eating refined and processed foods creates imbalances in the microbiome and damages the gut lining. Opt for whole, unrefined foods whenever possible.
Gut Damaging Medications
Certain types of medication damage the gut and kill beneficial bacteria. If you take any of the following meds, consider working with a functional medicine doctor. They can help you address the root causes of your symptoms which often removes the need for medication.
- Antacids and PPIs
- Birth Control Pills
Several herbs and supplements help soothe and repair the lining of the gut. A functional medicine doctor can recommend the ones that will be most beneficial for your particular situation.
- Slippery Elm
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Acute or chronic stress damages the gut and throws the microbiome out of balance. When the body is stressed, the “rest and digest” side of the nervous system goes offline. It prevents the body from digesting and extracting nutrients properly. Issues such as heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation often result. Ways to release and reduce stress include:
- Deep, slow, conscious breathing
- Guided meditation
- Eating slowly in a calm environment
- Dropping or delegating tasks
- Prioritizing sleep
If you suspect that you are suffering from the results of poor gut health, now is the time to act. Dr. Sisu can help you heal and rebalance to your gut by taking a functional, root-cause approach. Call today to schedule your consultation!