How to Heal Your Gut
And Keep It Healthy
The strategies outlined in this post can help you heal your gut. How?
By increasing your body’s ability to heal itself and decreasing things that hurt not only your digestive health, but your health overall.
Signs that you might have problems with your gut include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn.
These can indicate that your gastrointestinal (GI) tract might be having problems processing your food and eliminating the waste.
Other issues can be food sensitivities, unexpected weight changes, and constant fatigue.
This is critical because problems in your gut can lead to long term, whole-body health issues.
When your GI Tract is not working correctly, your intestinal membrane can become thin and weak.
When this happens, pathogens, bacteria, and undigested food particles can pass from your stomach into your bloodstream.
This is the syndrome known as “leaky gut.”
Your body has a system for fighting off pathogens and bacteria that get into your body. Your immune system uses inflammation.
Inflammation, in itself, is not a dangerous thing. It’s how your body prevents wounds from becoming infected and helps you recover from sicknesses, like a sore throat.
When your system is working well, the inflammation concentrates on the area where the problem is. This is why your sore throat is red and swollen.
However, in the case of leaky gut, your immune system is turned on because of the bacteria and particles that pass from the intestine to your bloodstream.
This means your body is continually fighting, causing low-grade, persistent inflammation.
When your immune system keeps fighting but can’t solve the problem, it can start to attack healthy tissue. This is what is known as an autoimmune disease.
So healing your gut can help prevent and mitigate many whole-body health ailments. Let’s take a look at some simple strategies you can start doing today.
10 Ways to Heal Your Gut and Promote Digestive Health
1. Eat Gut Healthy Foods to Support Your Immune System and Reduce Inflammation
Eating fruits and vegetables can help heal your gut through two unique properties. They contain dietary fiber and flavonoids. (Source)
Dietary fiber is the part of plants that you cannot digest. It helps maintain a healthy gut by moving through your system, normalizing bowel movements, and maintaining bowel health. (Source)
Fiber also lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. Most Americans do not get nearly enough fiber in their diet, and increasing your intake can help your overall well being.
Plants also contain flavonoids. Flavonoids are phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that give fruits and vegetables their color.
Flavonoids are antioxidants that boost your immune system and decrease inflammation. (Source)
All plants have flavonoids, but the plants that are the highest in flavonoids are the ones that are the most vividly colored.
Red, blue, and purple berries and grapes and apples all are high in flavonoids.
Other plants with beneficial flavonoids are citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. Citrus fruits also contain large amounts of Vitamin C, which is also helpful for your immune system.
2. Avoid Inflammation Producing Beverages
Three of the most popular drinks in the Western diet are also some of the hardest on your system. Alcohol, carbonated beverages, and sugary beverages are all problematic.
Alcohol impairs your gut and liver functions. Chronic use can lead to persistent inflammation and, ultimately, to organ damage.
Alcohol kills cells in your body. Your immune system uses inflammation to remove these dead cells.
The other problem is that when your microbiome metabolizes alcohol, it creates a waste product called lipopolysaccharide. Lipopolysaccharide is a trigger for inflammation. (Source)
Plus, beware of mixers. Many alcoholic drinks are mixed with soda, juice, or other sugary beverages. Soda, juice, and sugar-rich beverages are problematic on their own.
For one, carbonation can be challenging for some people’s stomachs. And most carbonated beverages also include sugar or other sweeteners, artificial colors, and preservatives.
To heal your gut, you will want to reduce or eliminate all of these.
3. Reduce Sugar and Processed Foods
The grocery store shelves are stocked with foods high in fat, sugar, and artificial colors and preservatives.
Research has shown that processed food alters your intestinal barrier and makes it more porous. (Source)
When that happens, your tissues become infiltrated by bacteria, which causes your immune system to activate. Some of the symptoms of immune activation due to leaky gut include IBS, pain, and diarrhea.
That is not all. A study just completed in January showed that high concentrations of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin cause cell death in intestinal barrier cells.
And even at low levels, sucralose and aspartame increased gut barrier permeability. (Source)
4. Journal Your Food
We’ve mentioned several problematic foods for gut health. But there are also foods that can be very healthy, which cause gastric difficulties for some people.
Different people have different food sensitivities and digestive issues. It can be hard to know what is triggering your problems.
One of the best ways to start to narrow it down is by journaling your food and being mindful of what you are eating. Some people have problems with wheat-based products; others have issues with dairy.
Take the time to note what you are eating and how you are feeling afterward. Reactions aren’t always immediate; some take a while to show. But journaling your food can help you identify patterns.
5. Lower Your Stress
I know this sounds easier said than done, especially if you are dealing with health issues, which can be stressful.
But, when you are stressed, your body releases cortisol. Cortisol serves an important function; it regulates your immune system and inflammation.
However, if you are constantly flooded with cortisol, your body can no longer recognize it. It’s like trying to pick out one note at a rock concert.
There are some proven strategies for helping with stress. Meditation, walking, spending time laughing with friends, and yoga can all help relieve stress.
If you have severe anxiety, counseling and therapy can help.
6. Reduce Antibiotics and Aspirin
Sometimes we get ill and have to take antibiotics. However, antibiotics’ role is to kill off bacteria, and it does not discriminate between what is making you sick and the healthy bacteria you have living in your gut.
Unfortunately, in the past, antibiotics have been overused. Try to limit them for when you really need them.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen are known to decrease your intestinal barrier’s strength within 24 hours of being taken. (Source)
Like antibiotics, there are times when you need these products; however, try to limit their use.
7. Consider Supplements
There are a few supplements that can help you heal your gut. Zinc, for example, is taken for boosting your immune system. It has also been shown to help strengthen the gut lining and limit permeability. (Source)
Another supplement that may be beneficial for healing your gut is probiotics.
Probiotics contain live microorganisms that can improve your microbiome. Another way to assist your microbiome is to eat fermented foods, which also contain live microorganisms.
Finally, glutamine has been reported to help with intestinal health and regulate the intestinal barrier. (Source)
8. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep helps with the health of your entire body. When you are sleeping, your body releases hormones that help repair cells.
It also helps your immune system work properly and modulate stress hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are at risk for cardiovascular problems, obesity, and infections. (Source)
Getting the proper amount of rest will help you heal your gut and the rest of you.
9. Incorporate Movement
Having a movement practice doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym for a strenuous sweat fest. Any movement, from long walks to yoga, can help heal your body.
Exercise promotes blood circulation and strengthens your heart. It also reduces weight, and extra fat on the body can lead to long term inflammation.
Even if you aren’t looking to lose weight, exercise increases anti-inflammatory molecules in your body.
Find a type of movement you enjoy and set a regular schedule for it during your week. (Source)
10. Get Outside
And if you can, spend some of that time moving outdoors. Being in nature reduces stress and is good for mental health.
Spending time in green enviroments has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Being in nature also helps increase sleep. (Source)
Besides, being outside will expose you to a natural variety of bacteria that can help your immune system.
Problems with your GI Tract can lead to systemic problems throughout your body. But when you learn how to heal your gut, you can help your body heal itself.
There are steps you can take every day to help your body heal and repair itself. Doing these ten things will improve your gut health and contribute to your overall well-being.
You need good healthy food, proper rest, and time for relaxation. If you can, spend time outside and avoid things that can exacerbate health problems, like artificial sweeteners and alcohol.
Most importantly, pay attention to your body and how it feels. By listening to your internal signals, you can find things that trigger your intestinal issues.
While healing your gut can take time, it is worth it for your health and peace of mind.