If you are experiencing digestive issues or have been diagnosed with a disease like IBS or Celiac disease, you want to know what you can do or take to feel better fast. Your Google search probably resulted in confusing information on superfoods and supplements to take. While these can play a role in getting back to health, they won’t deliver on their promise if you don’t have the foundation in place. What is that you ask? They are nutrition and lifestyle practices that you need to build into your daily life. These may not be as exciting as the promise of a quick fix, but they make up the foundation you need for gut and overall health. Let’s dive in!
No surprise here, what we eat matters for our digestive health. To help our gut function optimally and feed our good gut microbes, we need to eat unprocessed, plant based food as much as possible. Make half of your plate vegetables with some fruits, a quarter of your plate with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet, and the other quarter of your plate with protein like eggs, fish, poultry or plant based protein like tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and legumes. When you eat this way, you give your gut (and yourself!) the fiber, fat, and protein it needs to be healthy.
Notice that I didn’t say “Exercise” because it’s not about hitting the gym X3 per week. This is about moving your body in a way that feels good to you so you can be consistent over time. Interestingly, moving our body keeps our gut microbes healthy and contributes to having good diversity and balance in our microbes. So, if you enjoy going to the gym, that’s great! If not, it can be as simple as a daily 30-minute walk, a bike ride, a game of tennis or a yoga class. And if you are dealing with constipation, moving your body is key to get the colon in action and get things moving!
Our modern lifestyle is full of daily stressors like social media, emails, our job or taking care of a young family. We are in a state of chronic stress but our body’s stress response was only meant to be for acute situations. We are so used to being in a state of stress that we don’t even realize it anymore. But our body and mind know. Stress slows down digestion and reduces our capacity to break down food and extract its nutrients. And that’s when we can experience digestive issues. Make sure you take time for yourself everyday, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes, to destress. Choose a practice that speaks to you like deep breathing, meditation, enjoying a hot cup of tea or taking a bath at the end of the day. Journal and check in with yourself to see how you are doing and what you need.
Sleep is often where we compromise the most when it comes to our health and it does have an impact on our digestive health. We cut on our sleep to catch up on work, watch another episode on Netflix or just hang out on social media. Does cutting a few hours on our sleep really matter? You bet! Your circadian rhythm is off, you are more prone to make poor food choices and to eat more. Make sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, have your last meal of the day 3 hours before you go to bed, avoid technology one hour before bed so you are not exposed to blue light and make your bedroom a relaxing environment.
There you have it! These are the 4 pillars that will foster good gut health. Don’t be intimidated by all these practices, start with one area that you want to improve and slowly build in other practices. You will find your digestive issues improving overtime and if you choose to add on other protocols, you will have the foundation to reap their benefits.
HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT ONE OF THE PILLARS FOR GUT HEALTH? A PILLAR YOU WOULD LIKE ME DEEP DIVE ON? FEEL FREE TO LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENTS!
To your health,