How Can I Create and Maintain Optimal Gut Health?

Awakening a Healthy Gut

The importance of gut health is something that I discuss early and often with new patients in my weight loss program. To reach our weight loss and wellness goals, we must maintain a healthy gut.

Gut Health Affects Our Overall Health:

  • Digestive system
  • Immune system
  • Endocrine system (hormones)
  • Metabolic system (fat burning and weight management)

    10 Tips for Optimal Gut Health

    These are the top ten tips I share with my patients to help them achieve and maintain optimal gut health throughout their journey.

    1. Get your carbohydrates from vegetables and low-sugar fruits. Eating a lot of leafy green vegetables will help create healthy bacteria. Get a balance of healthy fats and hormone-free protein with each meal as well. Evidence shows that polyphenols increase healthy microbes and reduce harmful pathogens in your gut, which helps to keep your microbiome in optimal balance.
    2. Remove sugar and processed foods from your diet. Refined carbohydrates, sugar (including alcohol), and processed foods get absorbed quickly into your small intestine without any help from your microbes. That means your gut microbes stay hungry, so they begin snacking on the cells that line your intestines, causing what they call a Leaky Gut. Your intestinal lining is meant to be a strong barrier between your gut and the rest of your body. When your intestinal wall becomes leaky, particles of food enter your bloodstream, causing your immune system to attack them, and ultimately your own tissues. This leads to inflammation and many other conditions, including autoimmunity.
    3. Eliminate artificial sweeteners. While the link between artificial sweeteners and weight gain is not clear, one thing research does show is that artificial sweeteners alter the gut bacteria in a way that causes glucose intolerance. Use Truvia or Stevia instead.
    4. Use a high-quality probiotic supplement. Probiotics help maintain your gut’s ecosystem as well as the ecosystem of your respiratory tract and urogenital tract.
      To learn more about probiotics, see What Are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?.
    5. Try to limit your use of antibiotics. They are necessary sometimes and can be life-saving, but most antibiotics are over-prescribed. Be sure to take probiotics during treatment to re-fuel your gut with healthy bacteria.
    6. Unless you know you have high stomach acid, reduce taking antacids! Many people overuse antacids. Try 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in a little water before each meal to improve symptoms, such as gas, bloating, and heartburn.
    7. Create a relaxed state. Use a mantra. One of the most important factors to healing your gut is your own consciousness. Your gut is your second brain. If your microbiome is out of balance, you may feel anxious, depressed, experience memory problems, or brain fog.
    8. Make preparing your meals a ritual. Turning your meal prep into a ritual doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. It helps to bring awareness and intention to your meal and mealtime. This relaxes you and sets you up for better digestion.
    9. Try to get into a meditative state prior to eating by removing stressors. If you are eating with others, try not to talk about negative subjects. When you sit down to eat, take a deep breath, pause and give thanks to all of the plants, animals, and people who helped create your food, and be grateful for the energy you will receive from it.
    10. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been associated with obesity. Sleep deprivation can cause weight gain because it significantly changes your gut flora. In fact, your gut flora can affect your sleep patterns, so in order to get a good night’s sleep, you must improve your gut.