Your gut is an incredibly complex system—It’s responsible for breaking down food, and digesting and absorbing every single nutrient your body needs. A healthy gut is crucial for a strong immune system, proper detox function, and can even impact your mood and hormones.
When caring for your gut and digestive system, it can be difficult to know what it needs. Should you do cleanse? Eat more fiber? Stay away from certain foods? A healthy gut needs 5 main things, and if you follow these basics you’ll be well on your way to taking care of your most influential body system.
1. Know When to Let Your Gut Rest
Like any other body system, sometimes your digestive system needs a temporary break from breaking down proteins, digesting fats, and processing carbohydrates.
Giving your gut a rest has several benefits, like allowing your migrating motor complex to fully activate and cleanse your gut, and optimize blood sugar balance to promote healthy fat burning.
Your migrating motor complex works by “sweeping” particles of food and bacteria down further into your colon, or large intestine (1). Your MMC is actually an electrical impulse that you feel as your stomach is rumbling, and it occurs in waves that happen about 2 hours after you’ve eaten, and in approximately 90-minute cycles.
So if you’re a frequent snacker, your MMC might not have a chance to do its job, resulting in a greater chance of bacterial imbalance or digestive discomfort.
Another benefit of letting your gut rest is decreasing inflammation caused by food intolerances, or if you have a gastrointestinal bug your body is working to eliminate.
How will you know if you should rest your gut? If you’re experiencing digestive discomfort, like diarrhea, or uncomfortable gas and bloating, it might be a good time for an overnight fast followed by a period of lighter, easily digestible foods.
- Overnight – Eat your last meal of the day prior to 8 pm.
- In the morning – Delay your breakfast as long as comfortable. Typically a 14 or 16 hour fast is sufficient.
- Sip electrolyte-rich liquids like bone broth or a mineral supplement.
- What to eat – Focus on easily digestible vegetables, fruits, and proteins. Omit red meat for the time being.
The 10-Day Jumpstart provides the tools you need to discover your weight loss type and begin optimizing gut health for increased weight loss and energy.
After you’ve given your digestive system the reprieve it needed, you might then find it necessary to continue with the next gut-healthy tip!
2. Rebuild Your Gut
Your digestive system uses specific proteins and nutrients from your diet to maintain the integrity of many different working parts. When your friendly bacteria and your gut aren’t working in harmony, you can experience decreased nutrient absorption and inflammation which can lead to digestive imbalances (like Candida overgrowth) if left unchecked.
How should you go about rebuilding your gut?
First, make sure you’re including the right amino acids, or proteins, your body needs to rebuild and repair certain structures within your gut.
Collagen makes up the connective tissue which is literally the “glue” that holds your body together. Your gut uses collagen to maintain the lining that separates your gut from the rest of your body. You can get collagen from food sources like bone broth, or by taking a collagen supplement.
Belly Fix contains 1000 mg of collagen peptides, in addition to the gut-building amino acid L-glutamine, and anti-inflammatory Ayurvedic botanicals.
L-glutamine is beneficial for repairing your gut especially if you suspect you may have leaky gut, or experience other digestive issues. L-glutamine is an amino acid essential for your digestive system to repair tissues within your intestines (2).
L-glutamine can also help modulate intestinal inflammation by normalizing your gut-immune response (3). It’s also been shown to reduce intestinal permeability, which is commonly known as leaky gut (2).
Fuel Your Friendly Bacteria
Short-chain fatty acids are the main source of fuel for the cells in your colon or large intestine. By giving these cells the support they need, you can support normal (and comfortable!) digestion, and protect the lining of your intestines (4).
Check out 7 Foods for a Healthy Gut for more info.
SCFA are what’s made when your gut bacteria digest the dietary fiber you eat. Then, these SFCAs help maintain homeostasis in your gut–and can even inhibit the growth of bad bacteria (5).
So where can you find short chain fatty acids to fuel your gut?
Well, the best way to help your gut make more of its own short-chain fatty acids is by eating plenty of dietary fiber from plant foods. High-fiber foods such as whole, unrefined grains, fruits, and veggies promote the production of SCFAs.
3. Identify (and Avoid) Your Trigger Foods
The third (and maybe most important) gut health rule is to avoid your personal trigger foods after you determine your sensitivity level.
Common allergen foods include wheat, eggs, soy, corn, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy.
Your trigger foods may differ from these, but because of their high tendency toward allergy and food intolerance reactions, it’s important you learn to spot signs of a potential sensitivity or intolerance so you know which foods to avoid.
Signs of Food Sensitivity or Intolerance include:
- Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
- Gas, bloating
- Joint pain
- Allergies or persistent runny nose
- Skin rashes or eczema
If you notice you’re reacting to many different foods, you may benefit from an elimination diet to reduce your immune burden.
4. Fast for a Healthy Gut
Intermittent fasting has dozens of well-researched benefits ranging from improved fat burning to cellular health, and much more. Fasting allows your digestive system to perform essential cleansing mechanisms, in addition to letting your gut rest to resolve inflammation.
You learned about the MMC which occurs between mealtimes, but when you fast for several hours including overnight, your body steps its optimization strategies up a notch.
Fasting can improve insulin resistance, thereby supporting healthy blood sugar balance and promoting increased use of body fat for fuel (6). This means you’ll be more likely to have greater metabolic flexibility and be able to use your own body fat for fuel when you need more energy (7).
Fasting also supports autophagy, or the natural clean up of old and damaged cells. This is important because it prompts your body to regenerate newer, healthier cells (8).
When there is a new meal coming down the pipeline every couple hours, it’s easier for your body to prioritize making new cells instead of optimizing the efficiency of the cells already present. So by encouraging this natural clean-up process, you can support cellular health in your digestive system and all over your body.
5. Cure a Stressed Gut
Stress can negatively affect digestion and which nutrients you absorb (9). Your enteric nervous system, which is the arm of your nervous system located in your gut is sensitive to physiological stress symptoms.
Due to the demands of modern life (including what I call ‘super woman syndrome’), you might often find yourself eating in chaotic or uncomfortable environments, such as the car, your office, or my favorite–quickly finishing your kids leftovers while standing at the kitchen counter.
Unfortunately, the above eating environments aren’t really in-tune with our biology and can make it much harder for your stomach to break down your meals.
Stress can also affect how quickly your food moves through your digestive system, causing either constipation or diarrhea.
Stress especially affects people with chronic bowel disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. This may be due to the gut nerves being more sensitive, changes in the microbiome, how quickly food moves through the gut, or an altered gut-immune response.
Your Healthy Gut Plan
A healthy gut is one of your biggest assets for better health. When your digestion is functioning properly you’ll experience less belly bloat, a more stable mood, healthier hormones, and even clearer skin thanks to better detox function.
These rules for a healthy gut can help keep you in balance by giving you the tools to cleanse your gut, heal a stressed-out digestive system, and identify your food sensitivities.
Do you need 10 days of simple and delicious meals to get you back on track? Check out the 10-Day Jumpstart.