5 Ways to Heal Your Gut Through Food
Want to heal your gut?
The ONE thing that’s been found to affect your gut micro-biome the most is…DIET.
Your gut micro-biome is basically the ‘environment’ in your gut. It’s made up of trillions of bacteria and plays a huge role in helping control your digestion, as well as almost every other process in your body. When your gut micro-biome is balanced, you feel great! However, dysbiosis (an unbalanced gut micro-biome) will lead to digestion problems, like bloating, constipation and diarrhea…as well as lots of other health problems. It’s really common these days because of all the processed food in our diets, the amount of antibiotics we take and the amount of stress we’re all under. What this means is that a lot of us are suffering with uncomfortable guts that we don’t want to be stuck with forever.
Good news - you don’t have to be. The great thing is that you are able to change your micro-biome (yay!), and the best way to do this is through your food. There are lots of ways to improve the your micro-biome and heal your gut, through exercise, sleep, stress, etc. However, your diet is the place to start.
Here are some simple ways you can change your diet to heal your gut and address all of those uncomfortable symptoms.
1. CUT DOWN ON PROCESSED FOODS
There are so many processed foods available to us today, which are part to blame for the huge numbers of people with damaged guts. Processed foods get absorbed really quickly into your small intestine without any help from the good bacteria in your micro-biome. That means your greedy gut bacteria aren’t fed, so they start eating the walls of your intestines. This wall acts as a barrier between your gut and the rest of Boru body, so when it’s eaten and broken down, bits of food can enter your blood stream. This can cause inflammation and lead to lots of digestive, and other, problems.
The other thing that happens when you eat processed foods and refined sugars is that you feed your ‘bad’ bacteria. The unhealthy bacteria feeds off these foods. When they do this, they grow and they overpopulate the good bacteria. This causes an imbalance of Boru micro-biome.
I’m not saying you have to ban all processed food from your diet, but try making small changes to reduce the amount you eat. Even making some simple switches from processed to ‘real’ foods will make a big difference. E.g. you could swap a cereal bar or a pack of crisps for a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.
2. ADD IN MORE FIBRE
Fibre is not just for those of us with constipation. It’s fantastic for helping everyone maintain a healthy digestive system. It helps to increase the numbers of good bacteria in your micro-biome, support digestion and promote healthy bowel movements. This works to help with both constipation and diarrhea.
Fibre is a complicated topic and it’s a great idea to tailor the type of fibre you eat to your specific gut symptoms. I’ll do another post to help specifically with this. However, linseeds and oats have been found to have the best effect on all types of symptoms. The other great way to get more fibre into your diet is through upping your fruit and veg intake. Great sources include kale, avocado, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and carrots.
3. INCLUDE FERMENTED FOODS
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about probiotics. What probably comes to mind, though, is powders and tablets…probiotic supplements. However, there are loads of ways we can get more probiotics into our gut through our food, without even thinking about a supplement. This is a fantastic way to heal your gut.
Probiotics are bacteria (usually) that live in our gut and have a HUGE host of benefits, including promoting great digestion. In the ‘olden days’ people in all cultures used to regularly eat cultured and fermented foods, like miso, kimchi and sauerkraut. These foods contain loads of amazing probiotics. The thing is, w don’t eat these foods as staples in our diet any more, as processed foods have replaced them, so we rely on supplements.
It’s so much healthier, not the mention cheaper, to get probiotics from foods, rather than supplements. Try adding a little bit of fermented, living food into your diet every day to strengthen your digestive system.
Here are a few ideas:
Raw vinegars e.g. apple cider
Note: Just be aware that, if you’ve got gut problems, you might notice a bit of gas, bowel changes and bloating when you first introduce these foods into your diet. This is just your gut micro-biome adjusting.
4. EAT MORE VEG
It’s great to get more probiotic bacteria into your gut but, once you’ve got it there, you want to help it to work for you. Polyphenols can help you do this.
Polyphenols are the nutrients in plants that give them their colour. These polyphenols have a whole load of health benefits. The interesting thing about them though, is that they have a symbiotic relationship with probiotics. What this means is that probiotics need them and they need probiotics. What happens when you eat kale, for example, is that the healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut digest the polyphenols in the kale. This feeds the probiotics and allows them to grow, but it also enables the nutrients in the polyphenols to do their job in your body.
So, eat more veg! In particular, leafy green veg will help bring lots of healthy and diverse bacteria into Boru gut.
Note: Be sure to get a balance of healthy fats and proteins with each meal too.
5. TRY A FOOD ELIMINATION DIET
If you get uncomfortable symptoms like cramps, bloating, or constipation after eating, it’s likely your gut is sensitive or allergic to certain foods. The most common actual allergies are milk, soy, peanuts, corn, eggs and gluten. So, it’s worth testing to see whether you’re allergic to any of these foods. However, in most cases, you’ll probably have an intolerance/sensitivity rather than a full on allergy. Working out what foods you’re sensitive to is a great first step to help heal your gut. Once you’ve identified and removed these foods, you can focus on more of the tips above.
The low FODMAP Diet is a type of elimination diet that cuts out foods containing certain groups of sugars that aren’t properly absorbed by the gut (learn more about it here). You then gradually reintroduce these foods, group by group, to work out which foods are triggering your symptoms. The end goal is to learn what foods your gut is sensitive to, so you can choose to avoid those and improve Boru gut symptoms for life!
You can also do your own, less formal, version of an elimination diet. If you suspect your gut is sensitive to something, e.g. gluten, dairy, you can try cutting it out. I’d recommend cutting it out for 30 days and seeing if your symptoms improve.
Note: Be sure to keep a food diary whilst doing any one of these diets to allow yourself to identify trigger foods.
SO, HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE TO WORK?
You might be surprised to know that you can make significant changes to your gut micro-biome in just 3 days. A healthy gut can create a new lining in 2-3 weeks. However, this will take more like 13 weeks if you’ve got a food sensitivity. The good news is, your gut health can be changed with some simple changes to your diet, and it doesn't have to take years. You can start right now and see some changes within a few weeks.
An unbalanced gut micro-biome will lead to a whole host of health problems, but particularly digestive problems.
You can heal your gut, and the best way to do this is through your diet.
Changing your diet to heal your gut:
Swap processed food for real food
Up your fibre intake
Try fermented foods
Eat more fruit and veg
Try a food elimination diet
By making these changes, you should be able to notice changes to your gut within a few weeks.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Which one are you going to try? Let me know in the comments.