Six tips to improve digestion and gut health.
By Dr. Lauryn Lax
If you’re suffering from bloating, constipation, gas, breakouts and hormonal imbalances, the issue likely lies in your gut. But even those who follow a clean diet, cut out triggering foods and take a daily probiotic may still have issues, so what gives?
Even as a nutritionist, I still struggle. After years of eating processed foods, chronic dieting and medication, I have to pay close attention to my gut to keep it healthy. Did you know 75 percent of Americans suffer from some sort of digestive issue? It was not until I went through nutrition school that I realized the power good gut health has on our overall health and well-being, and I realized just how poor my own gut health was.
Even though I have healed tremendously through probiotics and digestive enzymes, and understand more about what foods do and don’t agree with my body, sometimes that just isn’t enough.
How to Heal Your Gut
- Mix up your probiotic. Probiotics provide your gut with a punch of good bacteria. But if you stick to the same brand every month, you may be missing out on certain strains. A few of my favorites include Prescript Assist’s soil-based formula and Garden of Life’s Primal Defense Ultra.
- Watch the fermented foods. Fermented foods, including those such as sauerkraut and kombucha, do a body good unless you have candida or bacterial overgrowth. If you consume these regularly and still find you have gut issues, consider taking them out of your diet for a while to see how you feel. Fermented foods contain sugars that bacteria love to feed on and can ferment in your gut. On the flip side, if you are not regularly consuming fermented foods, you could be missing a critical piece to take your gut health to the next level. If you don’t have candida or bacterial overgrowth, consider adding sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented yogurt or kimchee to your daily diet.
- Be aware of how foods make you feel. Even if you’ve had food-allergy testing done, there’s more you may not know. While most tests reveal true allergies, they can’t tell you if you are sensitive or intolerant to certain foods. A sensitivity can still cause gut health issues, skin rashes and breakouts. Try keeping a food log to report how you feel throughout the day, side effects and all.
- Don’t overdo it. Digestive enzymes do a body good, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. When you take enzymes, hydrochloric acid or other digestive supplements, it can further weaken your GI tract. When deciding on how to treat your gut health issues, it is beneficial to work with a knowledgeable nutritional therapist or other health-care provider to help you find your right dosage.
- Don’t overload your digestive system. Instead of eating three large meals a day, try eating four or five mid-sized meals and a couple of snacks during the day. Eating this way can keep blood-sugar levels stable and makes sure you are getting enough calories in to support your body’s basic metabolic needs. Undereating can also lead to poor digestion.
- Don’t overthink It. Stress is the No. 1 underlying factor of all disease. So, it makes sense that when we are hyperfocused on our gut health and how we feel, we can easily feel more sensitive to particular foods. This is not to undermine the irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or bloating you experience daily, but try taking a moment to relax before each meal and give thanks for the food you are about to enjoy.