5 Steps for Better Gut Health

Gut health information is everywhere right now!!  The information isn’t always easy to go through, but the benefits of investing in gut health basically cover all aspects of life!  If you digest well your physical, mental and emotional health can all benefit. So here are 5 ideas to improve your gut health.

As with all of my recommendations, always follow your own body and what feels best for you.  Please see these as areas to explore rather then static must-dos.

1. Eating in a relaxed way

We, myself included, often like to jump to the quick fix pill/supplement, but please don’t underestimate the power of eating in a joyful and relaxed way.  Being relaxed when we eat means that we are in the parasympathetic system – or “rest and digest.”

A few practices to try:

  • Taking a couple of deep breaths before we start eating
  • Pausing a couple times during a meal to take deep breaths
  • Chewing and chewing and then chewing some more – this is especially helpful for people for whom mindful eating creates anxiety, boredom or other negative emotions.  It can give you something to focus on.
  • Focusing on the enjoyment of the flavours
  • Eating away from desks, TV, and other distractions/stressors

2. Fibre is currency

Fibre can bring up a lot of meanings for people, but it can be absolutely amazing for a lot of us.  Generally, most of us are not getting enough, so you can increase your intake with fibre rich fruits and vegetables or by even taking psyllium husk or inulin.

Tread gently with fibre if you find it causes you issues.  Move up very slowly or seek treatment with trusted practitioners (for example Acupuncture/TCM and Dietician/Holistic Nutrition Consultant) if that isn’t working.  People on low FODMAP diets may wish to stick to sources that fit the diet until after they are finished and are feeling better.

3. Fermented Foods

No list for gut health would be complete without fermented foods.  You can certainly use probiotic pills, but my own bias is generally to traditional ways of eating and I believe we are only starting to scratch the surface on all the health benefits of getting probiotics from whole food sources.  There are so many different types of fermented foods to make or buy, that most people can find ones they actually enjoy.

Some examples:

  • Kombucha
  • Kefir (dairy, coconut, water)
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut (unpasteurized)
  • Fermented Pickles/Vegetables
  • Fermented Mustard/Ketchup
  • Cultured Vegan Cheeses
  • Raw Dairy Cheese
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Fermented Hot Sauce
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (with mother)

For people with conditions such as SIBO fermented foods may increase symptoms.  You may need to treat the condition first and then work up to eating ferments.

4. Prebiotic Foods

Hand in hand with ferments is eating prebiotic foods that contain types of fibre that help nourish the gut microbiome.  

Some examples:

  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Asparagus
  • Capers
  • Banana (especially under-ripe)
  • Potatoes cooked and cooled
  • Jerusalem Artichoke/Sunchoke
  • Chicory Root
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Konjac Root

As with the above note under fiber, people on low FODMAP may need to avoid some or all of these until the treatment is complete.

5. Listening to Your Body

I can’t emphasize this one enough.  Listen to your body – do some of these foods make you feel worse?  Are there foods that cause you bloating, problematic bowel movements or sore joints?  Continue/consider avoiding or reducing those foods to help support gut health. Do you have certain cravings?  How do you feel after following them? Do you eat until you are satisfied? Listening to your specific body will always be the best support for healing.

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