My health and my family’s health is my top priority, and I know you probably feel the same way. What if I told you that if you could focus on healing one thing, that it should be your gut? Would you believe me? Gut health affects so many other parts of the body and is not only responsible for proper digestion and metabolism, but also optimal emotional and mental health.
This is one of those things where if you can commit to a healthy gut diet, everything else will follow. Gut health has a huge effect on the rest of your well being, so if you want to improve overall health than you’ve got to give your gut a little love. Keep reading to learn all about how to improve gut health naturally.
Why Does Gut Health Matter?
In this era of go-go-go, fast foods, high stress, processed meals, and sugary sodas, it’s no wonder why we are seeing a rise in gut health issues. The importance of gut health has started getting some attention lately, so let me give you a little back story about how this part of our body works.
The cells that line the gut are designed to be a little flexible. A healthy gut will allow nutrients to escape and get into the bloodstream while keeping toxins and waste inside the intestines to be flushed out. So good stuff gets out, and bad stuff stays in, makes sense right?
But when gut health becomes compromised because of antibiotic use, a stomach bug, food sensitivities, or a bad diet, it can lead to something called leaky gut. Basically what happens is that those already flexible cells lining the wall of the gut–which we’ll define as the small intestine, large intestine, and colon– become inflamed. Over time, this chronic inflammation can cause the lining to tear, and holes to open even wider hence the lovely name, leaky gut.
Side Effects of Poor Gut Health
Irritable bowel syndrome is one of those catch-all diagnoses that comes about when there is a lot of stomach and intestinal discomfort, along with alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea. If there is no obvious problem like colitis, Crohn’s disease, or an obstruction, then doctors will often diagnose it as irritable bowel syndrome.
But it could be that irritable bowel syndrome is caused by the inflammation that comes with leaky gut, along with an imbalance of good bacteria and bad bacteria. The longer we let this generic syndrome wreak havoc on our gut, the worse the problems will get.
This might be the most common issue that can come along with leaky gut. If you aren’t eating a healthy gut diet and instead you’re chowing down on processed foods and non-organic produce loaded with glyphosate, pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals, you might be contributing to leaky gut and food allergies.
I know everyone loves their bread and cheese, but the most common of these food allergies are dairy and gluten. This is connected to leaky gut because there are certain enriched proteins in these foods that leak into the bloodstream. The body interprets these as an invader, creates antibodies against them and voila you have a food allergy. Are you starting to see why a healthy gut diet is essential?
Having an autoimmune disorder is one of the worst things that can happen when people have a leaky gut and one that you might be surprised about. Over some time, chronic inflammation can wear on a person’s body, which can contribute to the development of a chronic autoimmune condition.
The other side of this is that proteins from foods can leak out of the little holes in the gut and into the bloodstream, aggravating the immune system and putting it into hyperdrive. When people talk about autoimmune disorders as the body attacking itself, this is what they mean. Fortunately, one of the easiest ways to start healing these issues is by eating a healthy gut diet.
How does an unhealthy gut affect mental and emotional health? I know it might not be the first thing you associate with your gut, but this is a huge link. The gut (specifically good bacteria in the gut) is responsible for up to 90% of our serotonin production.
This is incredibly important for our mental well-being, especially when it comes to depression. And while this certainly isn’t the only reason you might feel anxious or depressed, eating a healthy gut diet and taking probiotics can help get you on the right track.
Here’s the thing, there are more neurotransmitters going from our gut to our brain than our brain to our gut. This means that what we eat directly affects the way we think and feel! Ever heard the saying you are what you eat? Well, if you’re eating a crappy cheeseburger filled with antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, junky fillers, and chemicals- your hormones will be altered and you are going to feel like a crappy cheeseburger!
So now that you know why it’s so important, let’s get into what lifestyle changes you can make to restore gut health naturally.
8 Steps to Restoring Gut Health
You can’t go wrong if you dedicate yourself to making these eight changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Add In Healthy Gut Diet Foods
I know a lot of people focus on what not to eat, but when trying out a healthy gut diet, I prefer to start adding in the foods you should eat which will crowd out the “no” stuff. Make sense? Here are the best foods for restoring gut health.
Fermented and Cultured Foods
What fermented foods are best for restoring gut health? You’ve got options. Sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and kimchi are all amazing for promoting gut health. That’s because they are loaded with beneficial, (alive!) bacteria that will begin to repopulate your gut with the probiotics it needs to properly digest food, absorb nutrients, and repair gut lining.
You could make your own fermented foods or try buying a few and seeing what you like, I love adding a few spoonfuls of sauerkraut or kimchi to meals as a little side dish, and many cultures around the world expect that a ferment will be part of it.
You can’t practice a healthy gut diet plan without adding in bone broth. Bone broth is packed full of rich collagen and amino acids that will help to line the gut, heal inflammation, and knit those little permeable holes back together.
Bone broth is a superfood and it’s something we used to eat all the time when we were living closer to the land. Think about it, when everyone used to farm chickens and other animals, once they were butchered, there were all these bones to deal with. Your grandmother or great grandmother was probably throwing those in a big stock pot with a ton of leftover vegetable scraps and making broth for soup. This would have been a great part of a healthy gut diet and building immunity.
Check out my youtube video that teaches you the best way to make bone broth. If you want your bone broth to be quick and easy checkout Bare Bones Bone Broth– our fam’s absolute favorite when I have no time to make my own.
Lots of Organic Fruits and Veggies
Remember those good bacteria we’ve been talking about? They like to eat insoluble fiber, the kind that you’ll find in fruits and vegetables. The more you feed these good bacteria and keep things moving along with enough fiber, the better your gut health will be.
What kinds of produce are best for restoring gut health? are especially great as they are packed with nutrition, fiber and will also keep you hydrated! Remember to always buy organic when you can or to at least purchase the dirty dozen organic.
Organic and Non-GMO produce will have way less heavy toxic metals, antibiotics, and chemicals that bad bacteria feeds off of and destroys our gut lining.
A collagen supplement is also a wonderful alternative to bone broth. Our Beauty Collagen Complex is a yummy vanilla honey powder that you can add into smoothies, tea, lattes, coffee, anything!
Cut Out the Unhealthy Gut Diet Foods
Chances are, if you start incorporating lots of vegetables and fruits, as well as nourishing yourself with bone broth and good ferments, you’ll already notice a difference in how you feel. When we start giving our bodies the healthy gut diet they crave, our desire for so called “bad” foods will start to diminish.
But to help yourself along with that process there are definitely some things you could cut out!
Yep that’s right, your days of morning croissants and afternoon pastry pick me ups should be put on hold for now. Gluten can be highly irritating to anyone with leaky gut and is definitely not part of a healthy gut diet. You don’t necessarily have to avoid bread forever, but see how you feel after cutting it out. You might be surprised that a lot of your digestive discomfort starts to diminish.
GMO foods and Canola Oil
Genetically modified food and cooking oil are not on the gut healing diet list. In fact, these are the worst foods for gut health. Thy are inflammatory and people with food sensitivities or any kind of gut issue will react very badly to these kinds of foods, which are artificial and not really food at all!
Okay ready to get grossed out? The cows from conventional dairy farms don’t live in nice conditions, and their udders can get easily infected from being overworked. These farmers will saturate their cows with antibiotics so this infection doesn’t get passed into the milk. Those antibiotics are not part of a healthy gut diet and can destroy your microbiome.
What I’m saying here is that if you are still consuming dairy products make sure it is organic, hormone, and antibiotic free- and if possible RAW! And to be honest, if you stick to things like ghee, raw butter, and yogurt or kefir you’re probably better off than drinking lactose heavy milk.
The beauty of ditching dairy these days is that there are so many other options that taste just as good if not WAY better than conventional milk. Almond milk, cashew milk, macadamia nut milk (my fav), cashew milk, coconut milk, and oat milk. If you’ve never tried these- now is the time.
Make Some Lifestyle Changes
Along with your healthy gut diet plan there are some pretty straightforward lifestyle choices that can make a huge difference in your health. Remember that a lot of your serotonin is made in the gut and in fact it has a whole nervous system of its own.
Keeping stress at a minimum is key. Along with getting enough exercise and sleep. I feel like these are probably the most basic rules for well-being: eat well, sleep well, exercise, and reduce stress! Easier said than done, but try making this commitment to yourself.
Take A Good Probiotic
When it comes down to how to restore healthy gut flora, probiotics should be at the top of your list. These will help crowd out those bad bugs in you gut that cause inflammation and recolonize it with bacteria that will support your gut health. There are a few things to look for when choosing a probiotic (3).
This means colony forming units, and you’ll want to find a probiotic with at least 1-10 billion CFU’s in it. Sometimes higher doses are used for people suffering from particular issues that need extra support, but if you’re just trying to maintain gut health 1-10 billion should be enough.
Look for a probiotic that has multiple strains of bacteria in it, as the more diversity, the better.
3rd Party Certifications
I’ve shared before about the importance of supplement purity, and that definitely goes for probiotics too. Look for brands that have 3rd party seals of approval. This means that the labels are accurate in the amount of CFU’s and strains. And that they don’t have a lot of excess toxins.
Incorporate Gut Health Supplements
There are a lot of supplements out there worth trying, so shop around and see what speaks to you. Some of my other favorites are:
Slippery Elm Bark
This herb acts like it sounds. If you suffer from constipation, taking about ¼ teaspoon of slippery elm in 8 oz of water will help move things along. It’s also a mucilage herb, which means it acts as a lubricant, lining the intestinal tract.
Some of the best supplements for restoring gut health are coconut oil and other coconut products that are rich in medium chain fatty acids. These are much easier to digest than other fats and are also highly anti-inflammatory. This is crucial for a healthy gut diet.
This amino acid is important to help your body build proteins and cells. This means it can help your gut lining regenerate itself quite quickly especially when you’re eating a healthy gut diet too (5).
How Long Does it Take to Restore Gut Health?
Okay the bad news is that an unhealthy gut can lead to a ton of other (seemingly unrelated) health problems. But the good news is that restoring gut health is totally possible and may be easier than dealing with other ailments. In fact, these little cells that line your gut regenerate every 2-3 weeks (6).
This means that a healthy gut diet along with good supplementation can help you regenerate your gut in anywhere from 2-12 weeks! If you can just follow this guide and fully commit yourself to making some changes, you could completely transform your health. So what are you waiting for? If you want to know even more about how the digestive system works and some other suggestions for helping it work better, check out this article.
I know I’ve given you a lot of food for thought here, and I hope you feel inspired to take some positive action. I believe everyone deserves a healthy body and mind, and often that starts with the gut.
I would love to know what you think about all of this. Do you have some experience with leaky gut or other digestive issues? And have you been able to heal it naturally? What have you found to be most effective? Please leave a comment below and share your experience with me!
- Paddock, Catharine (2015). “Gut Microbes Important for Serotonin Production.” Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292693.php
- Group, Edward Dr (2016). “5 Tips to Help you Restore and Maintain Your Gut Health.” Retrieved from: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/5-tips-to-restore-and-maintain-your-gut-health/
- Miller, Danika (2019). “The Best Probiotic Supplements.” Retrieved from: https://www.reviews.com/probiotic-supplement/
- Ramos, Modi (2015). “How Coconut Oil Benefits Digestive Health.” Retrieved from: https://www.guthealthproject.com/how-coconut-oil-benefits-digestive-health-infographic/
- Myers, Amy Dr (2019). “Why L-Glutamine is the #1 Ingredient For Healing Leaky Gut.” Retrieved from: https://www.amymyersmd.com/2018/08/l-glutamine-repairing-leaky-gut/
- Cole, Will Dr (2019). “Here’s Exactly How Long it Takes to Heal Your Gut + Microbiome.” Retrieved from: https://drwillcole.com/heres-long-actually-takes-heal-gut/