In my work I am often asked “what is the best way to heal your gut?”. In this post, I’m going to break down some easy ways to get on the path of good gut health.
If you’re reading this post, when people say to trust your gut, you’re probably one of the people who respond with “you’ve obviously never met mine”. But really, all jokes aside, gut health is a booming topic right now and rightfully so.
Gut health is linked to so many things. From efficient nutrient absorption, mood, to potential autoimmune disease triggers and prevention, every day we are learning more and more about just how important our gut is to our health. So I thought I’d chime in with the best way to heal your gut or should I say best ways.
Why Gut Health is Important
Gut health is important for a variety of reasons but probably most importantly, gut health is important because it supports a healthy immune system and microbiome/microbiota. In fact, the intestinal microbiota plays a role in the initiation and perpetuation of intestinal inflammation in numerous chronic conditions. In conditions like diabetes, celiac disease, and other autoimmune issues, there are indications that there is a microbiome/gut component. Meaning while gut health is important for everyone, it’s especially important for those who have or are at risk for autoimmune conditions.
Additionally, as mentioned above, gut health and the microbiome are involved in a variety of body processes. You gut impacts things like nutrient absorption, digestion, immune system regulation and defense, mood and so much more.
What is Gut Health?
What do people mean by gut health? Before I can share with you the best way to heal your gut, you have to understand what I mean by healing your gut. You need to understand what gut health is.
Gut health is a very broad term and in this case, used to describe a few factors impacting the function of your gut. Factors like efficient digestion and nutrient absorption, healthy bowel movements, healthy and diverse microbiome, and an overall feeling of well-being help define gut health.
When trying to determine what goals you should set for yourself and your own gut health, it’s important to take into account what you need. A dietitian can be a tremendously helpful tool in helping you do this (click here if you’d like to work with me!).
The Best Way to Heal Your Gut
The best way to heal your gut (assuming it needs healing) is to find a balance in your life that works with you. By this I mean, being able to balance a variety of lifestyle factors in a way that makes you feel amazing. So what lifestyle factors should you consider?
Sleep is one of the easiest yet perhaps one of the underused methods for gut healing. Not only does getting enough sleep help you better manage stress (a factor that supports gut health), but it also helps you maintain a diverse amount of good gut microbes. A study done on men that were partially sleep deprived for 2 days found that their microbiomes were less diverse than when they slept for normally for 2 days straight.
Being well-rested is vital to your gut health. This is why it’s so important to “bubble wrap” your sleep. Or in other words, prioritize getting in a solid 7-9 hours.
Believe it or not, physical activity has been proven to change your microbiome for the better! While these findings and research is still new, more and more studies are coming out supporting the positive impacts that physical activity has on your microbiome. Some research even suggests that a healthy microbiome can help manage some chronic inflammatory conditions.
Because physical activity is so beneficial to your microbiome, it’s important that you incorporate some form of activity into your life. I say “enjoyable exercise” because whatever you do to move your body, you should enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, the chances of it becoming a long-lasting lifestyle habit are zero.
Personally, my favorite forms of physical activity are walking/hiking with my dog and dancing around my house. The gym is usually NOT my cup of tea.
Reduce Stress / Relax
We all know stress wreaks havoc on our bodies, and it also wreaks havoc on the little good guys living in our guts. Making sure we take time to take care of ourselves and give ourselves much needed attention is so important to overall health and well-being.
Know that setting aside time to fill your cup is doing more than just helping your gut! A great way to make sure your setting aside time for you is to plan for it. If you need a little help, check out my post on How to Develop a Self-Care Routine (featuring a printable self-care routine planner!)
Personally, my favorite forms of self-care are setting aside time in the morning to enjoy my morning cup of coffee, walking my dog, and playing video games.
Eat Gut Nourishing Foods (that you like)
A lot like how I mentioned engaging in physical activity that you enjoy, eating gut nourishing foods that you actually like is important too. Perhaps one of the best ways to heal your gut is by eating for your gut. This means honoring you gut and it’s needs.
I wrote a whole mini eBook about eating for your microbiome and gut that you can get if you sign up for my newsletter. But a general rule of thumb when it comes to gut nourishing foods is that if it has fiber, it’s probably going to help your gut. Meaning, load up on all of your favorite fruits and vegetables!
Better yet, if you like any form of fermented foods, that might fare even better. Personally, I love eating my homemade fermented/probiotic pickled carrots. They are crispy, delicious, and very gut health friendly.
Consider a Good Probiotic Supplement
I’m a huge “food first” advocate but that doesn’t mean there are not certain instances where a supplement is needed. Consult your doctor or dietitian on if a probiotic supplement is right for you.
Also know that not every probiotic supplement is made equal. Different people respond better to different strains of probiotics and some probiotics are higher in quality than others.
Work with a Dietitian
Sorry, I had to shameless plug this in here. A dietitian can do wonders for helping you understand your gut health and ways to improve it. From goal setting, coaching, to individualized dietary and lifestyle recommendations, a dietitian can help you take your gut health to another level.
If you couldn’t tell, the best way to heal your gut is through a balanced lifestyle that supports your needs. Making sure you’re moving your body, getting enough sleep, making time for self-care, and eating fruits and vegetables you like (maybe even some fermented foods) can be tremendously helpful in healing your gut.
Comment below what your do to support your own gut health!