5 Tips to Ultimate Gut Health
When your mom used to tell you, “All that matters is what’s on the inside,” she was one smart cookie.
Ultimate health starts from within especially deep inside your gut.
I know from experience that a happy gut equals a happy, healthy life!
That was one of the biggest problems I faced when I was going through recovery after struggling for years with an eating disorder.
My gut was all out-of-whack! And getting it back on track was a nightmare, however, a very necessary one!
I learned the hard way that if you want to flourish, you must nourish that gut, baby!
Here are my 5 top tips for a healthy gut, which will ultimately lead to healthy skin, sleep, and so much more!
#1. Time Your Water Correctly for Ultimate Digestion
Whenever you go to a restaurant, what is the first thing the waiter/waitress asks you? Would you like something to drink? There is a cultural element to having a beverage at mealtime, however, you may do better skipping on the drink and sticking with the main course. Drinking a lot of any liquid during mealtimes can slow down your digestion. Having a lot of water, soda, or tea in your stomach before you eat, dilutes your stomach acid and can make the breakdown of your meal take longer. This is why a lot of the times if you drink a bunch of water during lunch, for example, you find yourself feeling very full and bloated when you may have barely eaten!
I recommend drinking liquids 30 minutes prior to a meal and then waiting about 30 minutes after, as well. This will allow your stomach to digest the food more efficiently and make you overall feel lighter and more energized verses feeling weighed down by your meal.
#2. Diversity, Baby
This is a huge one! I am a very type A person with a busy schedule, so for convenience sake, I find myself eating the same foods over and over again! It is a great tool for organizing a busy life and for budgeting purposes, however, it is not the best if you are trying to really heal that gut!
Eating diverse foods is a huge step in creating the perfect, strong stomach biome for ultimate digestion. I have started to really try eating a variety foods each day with different colors, vitamins and nutrient profiles. Don’t get me wrong, fruits and veggies are never bad! But, you can easily lack some vitamins here and there if you constantly eat the same foods!
Try mixing up your meal plan this week! Incorporate a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. and see how much it will help your digestion! I know for me, it helped clear my skin and improve my digestion immensely when I started to eat the rainbow! Even eating a healthy, clean diet can leave you lacking certain micro-nutrients that are necessary for gut function if you eat relatively the same constantly like I found myself doing.
It is also a really fun challenge to try new recipes, foods, and meal prep ideas, so have fun with this step for sure!
#3. Get That Pre-Digestion Going
Your tummy is FULL of microorganisms that aid with digestion and other functions in your body. When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I was not eating a lot of diverse foods and I was especially not eating a lot of fermented ones either. Fermented foods like Kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, apple cider vinegar dressings and so many others help your stomach predigest food. The bacteria that comes from the yeast/fermentation process in these foods feeds on the sugars in your gut and helps your stomach predigest. This makes digestion quicker, easier, and more efficient for your own tummy.
When I first added fermented foods into my diet, I found that I was not nearly as bloated after meals as I was prior. I also had a much easier time going to the restroom, if you know what I mean! *TMI Warning*
Fermented foods really have become a staple in my diet! They not only help my gut health, but they also have seriously helped clear my skin, as well! Kombucha is for sure my go-to fermented food and I highly recommend you check it out and see the different it can make for you and your tummy!
#4. Eat fiber, but not too much fiber!
Fiber. We all know we need it. We all know oatmeal has it. Yet, do we really know how much we need? Fiber can be tricky! This tip for sure takes a lot of self awareness mixed with trial and error. I know personally, I can eat a great deal of fiber and feel amazing! I hardly ever feel too full or bloated from fiber-rich foods, but that is not the case for everyone!
My good friend, for example, cannot digest cruciferous vegetables very well. They leave her feeling bloated and uncomfortable, so she should stray from those!
Fiber is very important for gut health and digestion, but learning how much works best for you and also what types of fiber-rich foods your body tolerates the best is the first step! Try to isolate fiber-rich foods at meals and see how you feel. For example, eat a bowl of oatmeal tomorrow morning for breakfast, but keep it plain. Don’t add fruit or flax-seed, which are other fibrous foods. See how you feel. If you feel lean and mean and ready to take on the day, awesome! But, if the oatmeal makes you feel heavy and sluggish it could be too much fiber for you to digest at once, so maybe try fruit and yogurt for your go-to breakfast ideas!
I recommend keeping a food journal at first! I did this when I was going through ED recovery. It helped me evaluate and track how certain foods made me feel! I could then see which foods made me feel my best and which were hard for my body to digest and made me feel the worst. Don’t stress about writing down every food, every day! But, it can be super beneficial to write down the foods that are hard for your body to break down especially if they continuously make you feel sluggish or bloated.
Overall, when it comes to fiber, you want to eat enough, but not overdo it! Too much of a good thing can definitely be a bad thing especially when it comes to overwhelming your gut! Take the trials slow and do not get discouraged if some foods just do not sit well with you! It takes time, however, your tummy will thank you later for showing it the love it deserves starting from within.
Probably the most important, but sometimes hardest to control.. Stress.
Stress tummy is a real thing and it can be a real pain.
When you are stressed out, your digestion slows down. Your brain tells your stomach it is entering the ‘fight or flight’ mode of survival and to send excess blood, which aids in your digestion, to your heart and muscles. It is a survival response that is triggered by feeling overwhelmed, poor sleep, stress, and many other factors.
Having anxiety, I can definitely attest to stress tummy syndrome. I notice a huge difference in my gut health when I am in a highly stressful period in my life or even simply a stressful day in the office! The worst part about stress tummy is the more you stress about having it… the worst it gets! For me, I would feel bloated, constantly full, and even sometimes constipated. *TMI Warning once again!*
But, there are tips to help calm your stressed out gut and they have helped me out a ton!
a) Practice standing/sitting up straight-- this helps align your body with your intention. Posture is huge when it comes to relieving stress from the body and being able to
breathe deeply and properly.
b) Deep breathing and light stretching throughout the day
Whenever I am stressed, my breathing gets all out of whack! This results in too much air
being forced into my stomach and causes me to feel panicked and bloated. Whenever I
feel this way, I try to do deep breaths allowing my stomach to expand fully. This will help with anxiety, stress, but also bloat during a busy, hectic day!
c) Distraction is key to a stressed out tummy! Like I said earlier, the more my stomach was
tied in knots, the more I worried about it being tied in knots! Try going for a walk, reading a good book, distracting yourself from being stressed and allowing your body, mind, and of course, tummy, to relax and release some of the stresses you have been feeling! Hot showers are my favorite way to just shut my mind down and focus on deep breathing and self-care.
Finally, remember all of this takes time! Do not quit or get upset if at first you feel bloated, uncomfy, or like throwing in the health towel! It takes our bodies time to heal and get used to new things even if they are ultimately good for us, there can be periods of discomfort. That is totally normal. Focus on why you want a healthier gut and how much better your will feel once that is achieved.
Health and happiness ultimately start from within and then lead to you shining on the outside, so here is to a healthy gut and a healthy, happy you!