How do your heal your gut? That is the question! Ask 10 different health practitioners and you’ll get 10 different answers!

Should you go vegan? Cut out gluten? Take lots of probiotics—and, if so, which one?!

The world of healing your gut naturally can be overwhelming…until now. Before even thinking about spending a ton of money on lab tests, supplements or swearing off anything that tastes yummy, first incorporate these 8 non-negotiable “gut love” habits into your daily routine.

Whether you have leaky gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), dysbiosis, chronic constipation or IBS, or any other gut-related pathology (like acne, ADHD, autoimmunity, anxiety, hormone imbalances and beyond), when you dial in the foundations to heal your gut, the results may amaze you.

How to Heal Your Gut: 8 Habits to Do Now

8 Habits to Heal Your Gut

  1. Breathe
  2. Water
  3. Absorption
  4. Nutrients
  5. Elimination
  6. Sleep
  7. Movement
  8. Connection

 

  • Are you you breathing fully, and taking in clean air?
  • Are you drinking enough clean water?
  • Am I nourishing my body with a variety of nutrient-dense foods?
  • Is my body breaking down my food?
  • Am I sweating and pooing daily?
  • Am I optimizing sleep, recovery, and not overextending myself?
  • Am I moving, sweating, flowing? And, once more, not overexerting myself?
  • Connection and joy. Do I have community and connection? Do I feel connected to purpose, meaning, and things that bring me joy in my life?

#1. Breath

Are you you breathing fully, and taking in clean air?

We can go 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water but only a 2 to 3 minutes without breath. Oxygen and breath is essential for diminishing inflammation and oxidative stress. Additionally, complete, deep breathing is essential for HPA Axis balance (less stress) and digestion. Ever heard of the “rest and digest” mode? Your gut requires the “parasympathetic state” (rest and digest) for optimal digestive enzyme and stomach acid production, as well as gut motility—pushing food through the GI tract.

Here are a few ways to get more “oxygen” and breath into your daily routine:

  • Yogi Breathing. In your “off” moments; practicing yogi breathing–10 seconds in through your nose, 10 seconds out through your mouth for 5-6 cycles at least–see how that helps.
  • Morning Routine & Evening Routine. I call these “breath” breaks—times to reset, refocus and disconnect from emails, social media, demands, etc. Create a phone free solid morning and evening routine (unless of course you are using it for meditation!).
  • Mind Body Practice. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, space for creativity and flow, restorative movement, qi gong, prayer and quiet time with the Lord. Something you do every day—maybe even during your morning and evening routine.
  • Pause at Meal Times. Before digging in, pause to take 4 to 6 deep breathes, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Eat sitting down and unhurriedly (not on the go). A complete balanced meal should take approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

#2. Hydration

Are you drinking enough clean water?

Like breath, water is essential for life! Without water, you would NOT exist (you spent 9 months in your mom’s womb in water!).

Water helps “unclog” your lymphatic system and ensure that food particles, toxins, bacteria and other debris move through the digestive system and go where they are needed (either to cells, organs and tissues or out into your body’s elimination channels—like in your poo, sweat, lungs and urine). Folks who also drink a pure, clean water source (as opposed to tap water) and remain hydrated have less microbial pathogens and more gut diversity.

To heal your gut naturally, drink half your bodyweight in ounces of clean, filtered water—preferably in a glass or stainless steel water bottle, like Hydroflask or Glasstic. Plastics leach chemicals into our bodies and brains. Also, invest in a quality filter like the Berkey Water filter or an under-sink reverse osmosis system; or buy filtered water at a local natural foods co-op or online. (I love Mountain Valley Spring Water). The pitcher style filters are OK for some of the basic contaminants, but if your health can afford it, you can do better.

#3. Absorption

Is your body breaking down your food? 

We can be eating food but still starving at a cellular and bacterial level if our body is unable to digest our nutrients optimally. Common “absorption problems” folks run into may include:

  • Low stomach acid
  • Low digestive enzyme production (pancreas)
  • Clogged and congested gallbladder
  • Sluggish liver and detox pathways
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Gut infections (like a parasite or pathogenic gut bacteria)

Consider working with a gut-literate healthcare practitioner to figure out your unique “gut problems”. In the mean time, there are several action steps you can do now to optimize your digestive mechanics including:

  • Chew your food really well and pause to take 3-5 deep breaths before meal time (rest and digest)
  • Swig an apple cider vinegar shot or take 1-2 HCL capsules with meals to boost stomach acid and bust bloating
  • Take 1-2 digestive enzymes with meals to aid in absorption and anti-inflammation
  • Support your gallbladder health with cholagogue rich foods(beets, celery, dandelion, ginger, turmeric, apples, artichoke, fenugreek tea, fennel) and digestive bitter capsules or digestive bitter drops with meals
  • Address any “gut problems” (SIBO, candida, dysbiosis) with a practitioner.

#4. Nutrients

Are you nourishing your body with a variety of nutrient-dense foods?

Food is medicine. No amount of supplements can outperform a poor diet. The prescription for healing your gut? Balanced, whole food, nutrient-dense eating—including all three macronutrients (healthy fats, organic proteins and fiber—aiming for 2-3 different colorful veggies at meal times, especially green things (Note: Not a veggie person for breakfast? No sweat! Start the day off with some green juice or celery juice in the morning, eat 1 piece of fresh fruit or just get more colors at lunch and dinner).

A few additional hacks optimize your nutrients to heal your gut include:

  • Focus on real foods. Swap out the non-real foods [like refined grains, industrial seed oils (canola, grapeseed, rancid olive oil), gluten, conventional dairy, soy, sugar, artificial sweeteners (even stevia extract or Reb A stevia that’s not ‘true leaf’ stevia)] for nutrient-dense foods: if it didn’t grow on the land, swim in the sea or roam the earth, it’s not real food (most real foods contain 1 ingredient and don’t require a label). I love to shop local and get my produce and meats from the farmer’s market when I can!
  • Rotate your foods—try to not eat the same thing every single day, at least for dinner, mix it up! As for breakfast and lunch, pick between 2 to 3 different rotating breakfast and lunch ideas.
  • Stick to 1-2 servings of fruit per day to keep blood sugar stable and in balance. Also, if you snack, reach for a protein, healthy fat or veggie based snack to balance blood sugar too, like a cup of bone broth, a handful of macadamia nuts, half an apple with coconut butter or cucumbers and guacamole.
  • Properly prepare grains, beans and nuts. If you tolerate grains like rice and gluten-free oats, beans or nuts, “properly prepare” them by soaking them in clean filtered water for at least 7+ hours with 2-3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar before cooking and consuming them to help remove any phytates and some of the lectin content from their outer shells to improve absorption. 
  • Use natural seasonings like Himalayan sea salt, coconut aminos, fresh herbs, bone broths (sautéed veggies) and paleo friendly salad dressings to flavor your meals.
  • Eat for your body (no one else’s). No two bodies are alike! So your personal “food list” will not be found on a keto, carnivore, vegan, paleo, low FODMAP or any other food list website or book. Some people tolerate dairy, others do not. Some people feel great with white and brown rice, others get bloated. Some people can handle bananas and pineapple, others get an instant blood sugar spike. Some people can do almond butter others can’t, but sunflower seed butter is just fine! If you go on a “therapeutic” diet (ie. Carnivore, AIP, keto, vegan, etc.), view it as a reset, then aim to include an abundance of nutrient dense foods uniquely built for your body—not a food list. Choose quality sources above all (ie. Grass-fed dairy, gluten-free oats, organic pesticide-free grains, etc.).
  • Be a food snob & practice 80/20 balance. If you eat something “imperfect”, make it delicious! 80% of the time, eat real food, 20% of the time, let life happen. When in Rome, try the pasta! On your birthday, eat a slice of cake. Incorporate 1 “gut love treat” into your daily life (something imperfect) and be a food snob about it—such as 70-100% dark chocolate after dinner, or real homemade-from-scratch Mac and cheese (no boxed Kraft here). A big part of nourishing our gut bugs includes enjoying our food (read: not eating chicken and broccoli every single day.

#5. Elimination

Are you sweating, pooping and eliminating toxins daily?

We live in a toxic world. There are over 80,000 unregulated chemicals in many products, foods and circulation that we use on a daily basis—even in products and foods labeled “organic” or “natural” (this is called “greenwashing”). Research shows that of the 287 chemicals found in newborn umbilical cord blood, 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests (all these before a human even enters the world!).

Daily elimination is necessary to ward off pathogens, toxins, bacteria, etc that fight to “take you down.” You have a total of 8 primary “elimination pathways” that help your body do the job including—your kidneys, colon, gallbladder, liver, skin (sweat), lungs, lymph and circulatory system, and there are several ways to support these channels in your day-to-day life:

How to Support Elimination

  • Drink green juice or celery juice on an empty stomach in the morning (after drinking water)
  • Opt for clean, filtered water (no plastics) and drink out of glass bottles or cups
  • Toss plastic everything—water bottles and tupperware (even if it’s labeled “BPA free”)
  • Replace your personal hygiene and cleaning products with non-toxicS
  • Sweat daily—Infrared sauna, steamy hot showers & detox baths, warmed yoga
  • Get your lymph and circulatory exercise flowing with daily exercise
  • Breath work (10 seconds in through your nose, 10 seconds out through your mouth, 5-7 cycles of breath)
  • Dry brush your skin in the morning and night
  • Do rebounding or jump roping for 5-10 minutes or practice invention lying (lay upside down)
  • Take a soluble fiber supplement (pectin, partially hydrolyzed guar gum, flax)
  • Take a daily binder like coconut activated charcoal or chlorella
  • Poop daily (see tips) 

Poo Daily Tips

Pooping daily is essential for daily detox.

#6. Sleep

Are you optimizing sleep, recovery, and not overextending yourself?

Sleep is a nutrient—just like bone broth and green things—for a happy gut. Your sleeping window is the time when body and brain detox, recover, rebuild and restore. Gut microbiome diversity is actually associated with the quality of your sleep (in other words: the better and deeper you sleep, the healthier your gut). A few notable sleep hacks to optimize your “beauty sleep”:

  • Get morning sun exposure (at the same time everyday) to regulate circadian rhythms (sleep / wake cycles).
  • Finish your last meal at least 3 to 4 hours before bed
  • Earthing… Go barefoot on the grass/ground OFTEN.
  • Cut the Wi-Fi at night: Turn it off, PLUS put your phone in airplane mode and use “WiFi” protectors on your computer and phone.
  • Your sleep temperature should be between 64 and 68.
  • Use blackout curtains and blackout blinds or a sleep mask: Your room needs to be pitch black. No battery lights, no night lights, nothing!
  • Use Himalayan salt lamps or red lights at sunset in your home instead of regular lighting.
  • Wear UVEX safety goggles at least 2 hours before going to bed… this one is seriously a big deal. They cost $9 and they make a huge difference.
  • Breathe through your nose and experiment with mouth taping to help you sleep sounder..
  • Sleep cool. 68 degrees or less. Bonus: Take a warm shower or infrared sauna before bed to heat up before you cool down. Check out the ChiliPad for better sleep too!
  • Consider an adrenal adaptogen or cortisol support with ashwagandha or phosphatidylserine.
  • Wake up in the middle of the night? Try eating a small protein snack like a protein shake or bone broth before bed and/or also taking ashwagandha or phosphatidylserine. Waking up can be a sign of hypoglycemia and high adrenaline.

#7. Movement

Are you moving, sweating, flowing daily? And, once more, not overexerting yourself? 

Daily movement and exercise aids in shaping a healthy microbiome.

Exercise fosters butyrate-producing bacteria (healthy gut bacteria) that keep pathogens and toxins at bay and promotes the ability to tolerate a wider variety of foods as well as gives you a boost of energy (you have more gut bugs to digest and uptake the nutrients you eat). Exercise does a gut good—as long as you don’t overdue it.

Overexercise, frequent high intensity or long duration, repetitive exercise (like running marathons or chronic cardio) can have major consequences for the digestive system, including reduced blood flow to the gut; along with chronic symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain and IBS. Frequent, intense or long duration exercise also creates the perfect environment for leaky gut—if you don’t integrate “yin yang” into your training (ie. work hard, then recover).

The best types of exercise for healing your gut include a blend of the following:

  • HIIT/Dynamic movements (bootcamp, circuits, springs, CrossFit, etc.)
  • Walking/hiking
  • Strength training
  • Yoga/pilates and mobility
  • Dance
  • Fun, play and sports
  • Low intensity aerobic activity

Mix it up and have fun with it. If you like to do cardio activities like running, spinning or elliptical, aim to keep intensity low (at 70% VO2 max or below)  Basically…cut the chronic cardio and balance your fitness to heal your gut.

#8. Connection

Do you have community and connection? Do you feel connected to purpose, meaning, and things that bring you joy in your life?

Our gut health is a sum of the people closest to us. In other words, close social relationships correlate with human gut bacteria health and diversity. For example, married people in loving, close relationships have greater gut bacteria diversity and richness compared to those living alone or married couples in unhealthy relationships. In fact, loneliness can result in decreased stability of the gut microbiome and reduced resistance and resilience to stress thanks to systemic inflammation. Our gut bugs feel the “vibes” from others— humans were not made to be alone.

Ever heard of the Roseto study? In it, researchers wanted to know why the people who lived in the small town of Roseto were healthier, lived longer and had less heart attacks than their surrounding city neighbors. The Roseto people were by no means drinking green juice or working out daily—they smoked cigars, ate processed and red meat and drank alcohol regularly. Answer: Connection. The Roseto people had deep social connections.

Quality relationships and communities are a powerful HPA Axis (stress) regulator—consequently diminishing oxidative stress and inflammation via the gut-brain connection.

Some considerations for building tribe include:

  • Joining a community service organization
  • Connecting with a fitness community or two—yoga studio, gym, fitness classes
  • Bible studies, church, temple or other spiritual communities
  • Local meet ups around hobbies that interest you—hiking, cycling, photography, etc.
  • Business-related groups and organizations
  • Support groups
  • Groups around likeminded goals in your life
  • Pay it forward: Share kindness with others

Connection also involves feeling connected spiritually—do you have something or some One greater than you? Are you connected to your life purpose—do you feel like you know your life purpose, what you are here for (your gifts, passions, talents, strengths, mission)? Are you connected to hobbies, activities and endeavors that make you “tick”? If not, perceived stress and internal inflammation (again, thanks to the gut-brain connection) is a byproduct.

Your Turn

There you go, 8 “gut love habits” to heal your gut. Before turning to tons of supplements or detoxing parasites or clearing up candida, I encourage my clients to do a “gut check” and ensure they are optimizing these 8 essentials first.

Looking for support in healing your gut? Reach out and apply to join me at my virtual clinic today. We’ll help you love your gut back to health!