A leaky gut can cause inflammation and changes in the gut flora (normal bacteria), leading to problems in the digestive tract and beyond. Numerous studies show that changes in the gut bacteria and inflammation can play a role in the development of several common chronic diseases and other complications.
Your gut is your second brain. Have you ever heard of the brain-gut connection? Simply put, our minds and gut are connected by a network of 500 million neurons, chemicals, and hormones. These are linked from the intestines to the brain via our nervous system.
So how do we do it? Here’s how to start healing your gut today:
1. Identify, Eradicate & Replace
This is perhaps the most challenging yet essential step in the equation. I would recommend taking a food allergy test or working with a hormonal/naturopathic doctor unless you are already aware of your food intolerances. Specific food intolerances among many people include gluten intolerance and dairy intolerance.
Once you can identify and eliminate the foods that are not interacting with your body, you can replace it with healthier, healthier, easier on the digestive system, and generally better for you.
2. Think about which gut supplements are right for you
Remember, supplements are like medicine. You must take what is right for you and your body! Some gut healing supplements to add to your daily routine include L-glutamine, collagen peptides, vitamin D zinc, and quercetin.
3. Stress Management
You might be asking yourself, “Is stress management still possible?” It is, and it is one of the essential aspects of healing your gut and all? Remember, when we talked about the gut-brain connection and how the two like to stay in touch through those 500 million neurons, chemicals, and hormones? When we’re experiencing stress, you better believe our brains are letting our instincts know there’s a problem!
According to The Shift Clinic, stress reduces the number of colonizing gut bacteria, creating a general imbalance of the gut microbiome. Unfortunately, this allows our microbes to remain in stress. Microbes mainly produce neurotransmitters within your body in the gut, so if there is a disturbance in the gut microbiome, it can reduce neurotransmitters, resulting in potential anxiety and depression.
Stress also does a great job of stopping the pumps of acid in your stomach, which results in a wide variety of digestive problems like constipation, bloating, or IBS.
Of course, it just isn’t possible to remove every stress point from your life – there will always be stress. The key is to learn to deal with life’s focus in a way that works for you, whether through daily meditation, going to therapy, writing a journal, or yoga practice.
4. Implement a daily probiotic + probiotic diet
Be sure to add a probiotic in addition to the gut-healing supplements and start eating lots of probiotic foods!
Probiotics are living microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed, usually by improving or restoring gut flora. They support healthy bodily systems from your mouth to your intestines and help fight harmful microorganisms such as germs.
There are many different daily probiotic supplements that you can take specific to the digestive issues you are experiencing. Be sure to do your research to find the one that’s right for you! Probiotic foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and vegetables.
5. Try organic foods
Organic foods tend to be more expensive, but choosing organic foods over non-organic ones can significantly impact gut health.
In essence, organic food is produced using all-natural practices. According to Inspired Health, the lack of artificial elements and additives during production means that organic food may contain more nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants, making them a better option for gut health.
If all-organic shopping is over budget, check out Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for a list of products with the most pesticides versus the least. With the help of these guides, you can determine which products you should choose organic!
6. Choose non-toxic products
Healing your gut can be a daunting task because the products you use for beauty, hygiene, and even cleansing work as much as the food and drink you put into your body.
Exposure to toxic chemicals changes the gut microbiome by killing microbes, changing microbes’ growth rates, changing nutrients in the gut, and changing the networks between microbes. Many chemicals found in many of our daily products can even disrupt hormonal function, which also harms the microbiome.
7. Eat more than 30 plant foods per week
Do you eat more than 30 plant foods? You heard it here, people! According to the world’s most extensive microbiome study, eating more than 30 different plants per week provides optimal gut diversity for better health and wellness.
This study showed that the number of plants in a person’s diet plays a role in the diversity of their gut microbiome – the number of different kinds of bacteria that live there. Despite the other diets they prescribed (vegan, vegetarian, etc.), participants who ate more than 30 different plants per week had more diverse gut microbiomes than those who ate 10 or fewer plant species per week.
8. Get plenty of sleep every night
It should be something you aim for daily, despite intestinal health. But getting enough Z’s every night has significant benefits for your gut health too! Maintaining a similar pattern of sleep and wakefulness each day helps set the body’s circadian rhythm. It also directly affects the gut microbes’ rhythm – the activities of which depend on our day and night schedule.
9. Limit yourself to eating whole foods
The latter seems the most obvious, but sticking to whole foods that are over-processed will give your body the nutrients it needs to build good bacteria and protect your gut.
Processed foods often contain added sugars, fats, and excessive amounts of sodium. Also, they may have lost much, if not all, of their original nutrients during the food production process. Processed foods are rich in food additives and preservatives that destroy healthy bacteria in the gut.
If a leaky gut is putting a strain on your health, know that you’re not alone. It’s quite common, especially in Western culture, with highly processed food and quick snacks on supermarket shelves.
But, it deserves to be recognized, and that needs to be taken care of. Developing a healthy gut microbiome can help you maintain a healthy weight, promote heart and brain health, control blood sugar, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve digestion, and many more benefits!