Taylor’s Top 5 Tips for a Healthy Gut
My name is Taylor and I am a holistic health and wellness coach specializing in gut health, and a Mind Muscle Spirit ambassador. The talk about gut health has been increasing lately because many studies are revealing that gut health is the root cause for various ailments like skin conditions, mental disorders, candida overgrowth, obesity, and SIBO. Here are five tips to help you take your gut health to the next level!
Think of your gut (stomach and digestive tract) as a garden. In it you have different varieties of plants (good gut bacteria) that like to grow. A lot of the seeds that grew into these plants were planted at birth. The bacteria that inhabit your gut gets there starting from the day you are born. When your mother gave birth to you, you swallowed bacteria from her birth canal, and when she breast fed you this was another way that your body was given good bacteria. This good bacteria that resides in the gut sets up the foundation for your immune system throughout your life. The more bacteria you consume early on in life the stronger your immune system will be (letting kids eat dirt is actually great for their gut health). For those of you who may have been born via C-section or maybe were never breast-fed, a daily probiotic is that much more important for you. Probiotics are the strands of good bacteria that like to live inside the gut. These bacteria die off whenever you take a round of antibiotics or eat highly processed or sugary foods. In order to help counteract those effects taking a daily probiotic is very beneficial. The best kind of probiotic to take is typically one that is considered “shelf-stable.” This means that the strands of bacteria in the probiotic are stable to still live in the capsule so when you take it you are getting exactly what the label says is in there. If a probiotic is not shelf stable, odds are all the strands of bacteria in there are already dead and won’t do any help to your gut. There is also spore based probiotics. These probiotics are strands that are found in soil, and typically have a longer lifespan in the gut. These are the strands that are especially important to replenish after taking antibiotics. Spore based probiotics also don’t need to be refrigerated which is nice when it comes to travel. You can also get probiotics from consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, tempeh, or any fermented vegetable.
In addition to building good gut bacteria, probiotics also help with improving digestion, reducing inflammation, support immune function, lower blood sugar, enhance healthy skin, and improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Going back to your gut as a garden if your garden is growing all of these beautiful plants you would hate to forget to water them, right? Think of prebiotics as the food for your beautiful gut garden. Without prebiotics none of the good bacteria in your gut could flourish. Whole foods with high fiber content are good prebiotic foods. Prebiotics not only nourish all that good gut bacteria, but they also improve digestion, reduce inflammation, support immune function, improve cholesterol levels, lower risk for weight gain and obesity.
Here are some great food sources of prebiotics (also, remember when buying produce it is very important to buy organic because conventional produce has many toxins that are harmful to good gut bacteria):
- Nectarines & Peaches
- Hemp seeds
- Green peas
- Black Beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Kidney beans
- Navy beans
Drinking plenty of water in a day has a huge impact on gut health. Typically people think that fiber is the only thing that matters when it comes to healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. While fiber is very important, water is equally as important. If you are dehydrated you can still become constipated even if you are eating enough fiber.
Everyone’s water needs are as unique as you are, but a good basic rule of thumb is for women to drink 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters per day. This number will increase the more physical activity you do in a day, but those numbers are a good place to start.
Some other benefits to drinking enough water include have fewer cravings for sugar, glowing skin, better mental focus, and more energy over all.
Certain types of exercise helps to increase blood flow which stimulate the digestive system and bowels. Exercising for 30 minutes a day at least five days a week will improve your gut and overall well being. Exercising even helps to increase the diversity of bacteria in your gut, which the more bacteria diversity in your gut means a stronger and healthier immune system. Exercising even helps with reducing inflammation, constipation, and bloating which are all signs of an unhealthy gut.
Some specific exercises that support good digestion include, yoga, tai chi, walking, running, cycling, or jumping rope.
5. Sit Down, Please!
The last tip for a healthy gut, which is probably the most important in my opinion, is to sit down when you eat. When you sit down to eat (with good posture) it allows your small intestine, large intestine, and stomach to relax instead of being tensed up from standing. When these can relax they are able to better break down the food you consume, which allows your body to get more of the nutrients from what you’re eating. Also, by sitting down when you’re eating your digestive is in a more natural position for digesting, which helps your bowel movements move along more naturally. When you sit down to eat you also tend to eat slower than if you were standing. By eating slower you tend to consume less calories because your body has a minute recognize when it has had enough. Also, when you eat standing up or even on the go, you get hungrier sooner because your body isn’t taking the time to recognize that it is actually eating food. Eating a meal should be treated a moment to relax and take time for you are your body. So sit down and treat your body right.