Gut Stuff: 9 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health Today
MMMMM gut health. Just one of my favorite topics.
It’s been on my heart lately (holy shit, I am officially a southern, I can’t believe I just typed that) because I’ve had some weird stuff goin’ on - some anxiety (ok not SOME anxiety but extreme anxiety), depression, MAJOR BRAIN FOG, and sleep issues.
Holy brain fog, guys. Like staring at my computer and like 20 times/day being like, “wait, wtf was I just doing?”
“Wait, Megan, what does brain fog, anxiety, and depression have to do with your GUT?”
Symptoms of a Damaged Gut
Let’s dig in a little - because while we often associate a healthy gut with healthy digestion, it’s so, so much more than that. Your gut health affects your ENTIRE body and well-being.
Mood, Anxiety, and Depression
95% of serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin, if you don’t know, is your happy neurotransmitter! When your body doesn’t produce enough of it, it can cause depression, anxiety, and yes - major brain fog.
I feel like a few years ago EVERYONE was talking about inflammation as the root cause of disease. Now EVERYONE is talking about leaky gut or poor gut health as the root cause of disease. So, who’s lying?
No one. Chronic inflammation is often CAUSED by leaky gut.
Wait, what’s leaky gut?
Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. When your gut lining gets damaged over and over (we’ll address in a sec why this happens), it becomes permeable and starts to “leak” toxins into your system. This is going to cause an inflammatory response (hello! Your body attacks foreign invaders!) over and over again.
Inflammation leads to a myriad of diseases and problems like autoimmune conditions affecting the thyroid (Hashimoto’s) or joints (rheumatoid arthritis) and heart disease. There is also mounting evidence that chronic inflammation is a leading cause of depression. Pair that with your serotonin deficiency and you’re on the fast-track for an altered mood.
It’s estimated that your gut lining is lined with 70% of the cells that make up your immune system. So you can imagine if your gut it out of whack, your immune system will be too!
You knew this was coming, right?
Research suggest that certain strains of bad bacteria send more calories into your body, where they’re likely to be stored as fat. But in addition to this, scientists from New York University Langone Medical Center have found that the bacteria H. pylori is involved in the regulation of ghrelin - your hunger hormone! Antibiotics are a huge culprit of wiping this bacteria out.
This is a no-brainer, right? If your gut-flora is off, your digestion system could suffer. I mean, all of this is happening IN your digestive system! If you are struggling with gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea...chances are, you’ve got a gut issue happenin’.
Acne, dry, patchy skin, rosaca, rashes, eczema, psoriasis - your skin is your biggest detox organ so if you’ve got toxins floating around in your body that have been leaked from your gut….guess where they might end up eliminating themselves? Through your skin.
Do I have an unhealthy gut?
So at this point, you might be asking yourself, well...with ALL these issues and symptoms that are stemmed from leaky gut or poor gut health, how do I KNOW if I actually have a problem?
Well, this is a tough question because gut issues can manifest themselves in a lot of different ways and leaky gut might look different on you than it does on your co-worker or your best friend.
But if anything that I’ve written above pops out at you (I’ve been having skin issues, my digestion sucks, depression/anxiety has been creeping up on me in the last year, etc), then it’s time to start taking a look at what you may be doing that has caused the gut issue, and how to reverse it.
Feel healthy as a horse and think your gut is fine? Good! But stay with me, because maintaining a healthy gut is WAY easier than fixing a damaged one. Maintenance is key, and I’ve got some tips for you at the end!
So, what are causing my gut issues?
Could be one or several things - but here is a pretty solid list of what could have caused it.
Processed foods, sugar, and unrefined carbs.
Unrecognized food sensitivity (sensitive to dairy but you ‘power through it?’ Bad idea!).
Repeated antibiotic or NSAID use and birth control.
Highly inflammatory foods like omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils.
A low-fiber diet.
Living in America. Jk, kind of. Our food supply is full of chemicals that damage the gut!
To heal your gut, you want to REMOVE anything that could be causing the problem, REPAIR any damage that’s already been done to the gut lining, and REINTRODUCE healthy bacteria. Here are some simple steps to get you there!
9 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health Today
Cut anything from your diet that might be causing the problem. If you’re not sure what it could be, I can help with this!
Eat your fiber! Try to get at least 25g/day. [high fiber meal plan?] Fiber keeps things moving in the digestive system (which is a GOOD thing for gut health!), and certain fibers add healthy bacteria. I always add my favorite soluble fiber - acacia fiber - to my morning coffee.
Take a good-quality probiotic to add good bacteria.
And supplement with a prebiotic. I’m a big fan of adding 1 tsp of modified potato starch to my smoothie. It’s a very high-quality prebiotic that’s cheaper than buying supplements!*
Incorporate probiotic-rich foods everyday. These include fermented foods like kefir, plain yogurt, raw sauerkraut, low-sugar kombucha, and kimchi.
Manage your stress like a boss. For real, guys. Stress is a HUGE contributor to poor gut health. Here is a great article on simple ways to start managing your stress.
My favorite supplements:
Perfect Supplements takes care of most of my gut health needs, and bonus, they’re reasonably priced and their products are VERY high-quality. You can use NUTRITIONADDICTION to get 10% off, too!
PEACE, LOVE, GUTS -
OH, ALSO: You should definitely grab my step-by-step guide with 5 “Healthy Habits” To Break to Lose Weight (and improve your energy!!) by clicking HERE!