This past weekend, I led a Gut Health workshop with my friend and colleague, Dr. Missy Albrecht. It was awesome teaming up with a physical therapist on this topic because she has a lot of education around how to heal the gut from a mobility standpoint, while I was able to talk to the nutrition piece of the equation. In our workshop, we addressed signs of an unhealthy gut, functions of the gut, factors that damage the gut, and what to do to repair and heal the gut.
Gut health is a very comprehensive topic, one with which I struggled to narrow it down and pick out the digestible (pun intended :)) bits for an hour long workshop. Cutting edge research on the digestive system, and in particular the microbiome, is coming out every day. It's something I am fascinated by and want to learn everything I can about in order to help my clients to the best of my ability.
As the workshop attendees seemed to be particularly engaged during the "What To Do" section of my talk, I thought you, my readers, might also be interested in getting some tips for keeping your gut healthy and functioning optimally! Check them out below....
Eliminate Food Allergens and Sensitivities
Eating foods you are allergic or sensitive to damages the lining of the intestine making it very difficult to properly absorb nutrients. The most common food allergens are gluten, dairy, soy and eggs. You can do an IgG antibody test for food sensitivities, or an elimination diet with the help of a practitioner.
Remove Inflammatory Foods
The number one thing you can do to heal is get rid of all the foods causing inflammation in your gut. The top 5 inflammatory foods are gluten, conventional dairy, sugar, alcohol and industrial seed oils. Gluten damages the intestinal wall and causes leaky gut. Conventional dairy is full of hormones/antibiotics and is acidic and mucus-producing. Excess sugar is very inflammatory and feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. Don't use added sweeteners - you get enough natural sugars from fruits, veggies, etc. Alcohol inflames the stomach lining and causes nutrient malabsorption. Stick to 1-2 drinks in one sitting. Industrial seed oils - canola, soybean, corn, etc. - are highly inflammatory. Switch to cooking with coconut oil, butter, and ghee.
Start Your Day with Warm Water and Lemon
Trade in your first cup of coffee for a mug of hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon to hydrate your cells, detox your liver and jump start your metabolism.
Sip CCF Tea
CCF tea is cumin seeds + coriander seeds + fennel seeds, about a 1/2 tsp each, steeped in in 4-5 cups of boiling water for about 5-10 minutes, then strained. Sipping this tea throughout the day is incredible for healing the gut lining, improving nutrient absorption, relieving any digestive distress and stimulating the lymphatic system.
Make Lunch Your Largest Meal
You can think of your digestive system like a fire. Similar to the sun, your digestive fire is strongest in the middle of the day (between 10am and 2pm). Eating your biggest, most nutrient dense meal for lunch is efficient because you're able to digest and absorb nutrients best when your body is running at full steam. Make dinners lighter, like a soup or salad, as the evening is when your body is slowing down and preparing for sleep. A big meal at night can disrupt sleep and impede detoxification.
Take 1 Tbsp AVC Before Meals
Add 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink 15-30 minutes before each meal. ACV helps the stomach produce acid to digest food and is a great source of probiotics. ACV is good for weight loss, lowering blood pressure, balancing blood sugar, and healing leaky gut.
Drink Bone Broth
Bone broth is abundant in fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to boost your overall immune health and digestion. Bone broth is also rich in gelatin, proline and glycine, which will heal your gut from the inside out. Use marrow or knuckle bones from grass-fed cows, or necks, feet and backs from organic chickens.
Eat 1 Tbsp of Fermented Veggies Daily
These are the jars of veggies in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Pickles and things you find on the shelf are not lacto-fermented and therefore not what we are looking for. Fermented veggies, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kvass, are all great. These foods provide your gut with trillions of beneficial bacteria to help rebuild and rebalance healthy bacteria levels. They also contain organic acids which help get your stomach and body in the proper pH for probiotics to grow. You only need 1 Tbsp per day to reap the benefits!
Emotional stress can trigger an inflammatory gut response just as much as eating gluten. It literally blocks your body's ability to heal. Figure out the cause of your daily stress and then look at what lifestyle changes or decisions you can make to reduce stress. Incorporate stress management techniques, such as doing yoga, taking an epsom salt bath, walking in nature, meditating, doing breathing exercises, surrounding yourself with positive people, etc.
Get More Sleep
Good quality sleep is critical for your body to rest and repair. Create a new sleep routine by powering down all electronic devices an hour before bed and including a 10-minute pre-sleep ritual, such as light stretching, deep breathing, drinking a chamomile tea, legs up the wall, etc.
Work With Me
What works for one person may not be right for the next. A health program should be customized based on the client's health history and labs. This tailored and individualized approach is what I do for clients in my practice. If you, or someone you know, needs some support around achieving his/her health goals, please don't hesitate to reach out.