One of the first lines of defence against an unhealthy gut is diet! The food you eat has a direct effect on the balance of bacteria in your gut. Fibre and complex carbohydrates feed the good bacteria, while sugar and processed foods feed yeast and allow pathogenic bacteria to grow.
To keep your gut healthy, avoid sugar and processed foods, fast foods and junk foods. Include plenty of high fibre vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins in your daily diet. Focus also on getting plenty of prebiotic foods like asparagus, flaxseeds, artichoke, leeks, bananas and onions and garlic. Prebiotics help feed the good bacteria in your gut so that it can multiply and push out the bad.
Many studies, and in my own experience as well as treating other, proves that eliminating gluten and high FODMAP foods also help, especially if the dietary therapy is combined with probiotics.
2: Include Probiotic supplements and fermented foods.
Probiotic supplements and fermented foods can help bring your microbiome back into balance by directly introducing good bacteria into your gut.
Probiotics are like good cops; you’re putting in the good guys and they keep watch over the bad guys.
Studies show that taking a probiotic supplement supports digestive health without any adverse effects. They can also provide nutritional support for chronic and acute gastrointestinal disorders like IBS.
In addition, to probiotics, you can also include fermented foods like Yoghurt, Kefir, Kimchi, Miso and Sauerkraut in your diet. However, I don’t recommend doing this in the beginning and I also recommend introducing these foods slowly.
3: Identify and eliminate your specific triggers.
While there are some foods like refined sugars, that are known to contribute to poor gut health across the board, its possible that you have specific food intolerances thar are causing a problem even though the food itself isn’t inherently bad for the gut.
If you keep eating the offending food, it can lead to inflammation that contributes to poor gut health. The key to good gut health is identifying and eliminating your food triggers to allow your gut to heal.
The simplest and most cost-effective way to identify your food intolerances is an elimination diet, in which you eliminate common food triggers for a minimum of 30 days and then slowly re-introduce them, looking out for symptom flare-ups. I recommend doing this with the support of a holistic health practitioner. If you can identify some of your food triggers, eliminating them for a longer period will greatly assist getting your gut on the path to healing.
4: Move your body regularly.
Getting regular exercise is also an important step in getting your gut into balance. The effects of exercise on the microbiome can increase the number of bacteria in your gut and contribute to overall bacterial diversity.
While any movement can help, it appears that the more physically fit you are the more diverse your microbiome is. If you’re sedentary, start small by exercising 2-3 days a week, then work your way up to including exercise as part of your regular, everyday routine.
5: Manage Stress levels.
Stress wreaks havoc on your entire system, and your gut is especially susceptible. Chronic stress causes an inflammatory response that contributes to Gut Dysbiosis and Intestinal Permeability, a condition more commonly known as “Leaky Gut”.
This effect is seen with any type of stress – physical, emotional and environmental. While its impossible to get rid of stress completely, it’s very important to get all types of stress levels under control. You must find what best works for you. Some common stress reduction techniques include:
• Reducing your workload
• Getting enough good quality sleep
• Making time for fun
• Supplementation with adaptogen herbs (ashwagandha, reishi, Siberian ginseng to name a few)
• Cleaning up your environment by using non-toxic personal care and cleaning products
6: Try Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent fasting, or going without food for a certain period of time, usually about 14-16 hours, may also help get your gut health back on track. Giving your gut a break can reduce inflammation, shed water weight and reduce bloating. As it gives your body time to repair as it is not having to work to break down food constantly.
Some research points out that regularly intermittent fasting can also keep your gut healthy and working correctly as you age.
Intermittent fasting can be tricky for those with certain health conditions like thyroid issues, Insulin Resistance or HPA Axis Dysfunction. For these reasons and others, I recommend trying this under the guidance of a certified holistic health practitioner like myself or someone who is qualified to support you.
7: Consider other Supplements.