Hippocrates said that “All disease begins in the gut,” and it’s as true today as it was 2,000 years ago. A healthy gut is one of the core foundations of having vibrant health.
When your digestive system isn’t working properly, it affects every single system in your body, from cardiovascular to immune. Because it begins in your mouth and ends in your rectum, think of it as a continuous tube that is technically still exposed to the outside environment. The lining of the colon is only one cell layer thick and therefore very susceptible to environmental disruption. Common disruptors can come in the form of unhealthy foods, antibiotics, birth control pills and other medications, alcohol, and even emotional stressors.
The good news is that our digestive lining renews every 72 hours. The bad news is that most of the time it has no chance to recover from the constant onslaught of toxins. This also creates malabsorption of key nutrients. You could be eating the healthiest organic diet, exercising daily, and sleeping 8 hours a night—but if your gut is imbalanced, you can still feel unwell.
Gas, bloating, and general discomfort on a regular basis are your body’s signals of something deeper going on, and it’s important to address them as soon as possible. Below are some other common symptoms of digestive dysfunction:
- Acid reflux
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Nasal congestion or allergies
- Skin conditions (acne, eczema, dermatitis)
- Food sensitivities
- Joint pain and/or muscle aches
- Brain fog
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Hormonal imbalance
- Chronic fatigue
- Mood swings/irritability
- Sugar cravings
HACK YOUR DIET FOR A HEALTHIER GUT
Creating and maintaining a healthy microbiome requires paying attention to what’s on your plate at every meal. But there are other things you can do as well. Here are 3 simple ways to support your gut health.
- Fermented foods. Adding kimchi, kefir, miso, kombucha and other fermented foods to your diet helps to keep high levels of healthy bacteria in your gut. Keep in mind, though, that more isn’t always better. I recommend no more than a tablespoon of kimchi or 6 oz. of kombucha in one sitting. Pro tip: If you notice that these foods cause an increase in bloating or constipation, please seek professional medical advice. While they are an excellent source of healthy bacteria, they can worsen conditions like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Bitters. Supporting adequate enzyme levels helps you digest and absorb the foods you eat. If patients report symptoms of excessive belching or heartburn, I recommend they take some digestive bitters before meals. They now come in many flavors and even a pocket-sized spray to take with you anywhere.
- Intermittent fasting. By giving your digestion a rest for an extended period of time, usually 14 to 16 hours, you allow your body to reset. While intermittent fasting is usually safe for most healthy individuals, it’s best to proceed with the guidance of a health coach or physician.
And here are some additional ways to ensure your gut is healthy and happy:
- Try an anti-inflammatory drink
- Incorporate more good bacteria boosting foods into your daily menu
- Drink warm water with lemon every morning
Hungry for more?
- Why Your Gut Controls Your Life
- 11 Foods to Ease Stomach Trouble
- 5 Surprising Ways to Improve Digestion