The last step in our series on healing your gut is all about creating new gut-healthy habits. If you missed the first three blog posts in this series, they can be found here:
- Ten Ways You’re Hurting Your Gut
- Top Foods to Support Your Gut
- Five Easy Ways to Repair and Heal Your Gut
Now that you’ve taken out the irritants, added in healing foods and enhanced your gut with supplementation, it’s time to also look at other lifestyle factors that could really use a tune-up as you move forward on this journey towards optimal health and a vibrant life.
Here are a few more lifestyle suggestions that create even more healthy habits!
This can be a tough one for many people because it’s a lot easier said than done. “Just remove stress!” But think about how you react to the “happenings” of life. You can choose whether to take it on as something really stressful or see it as something that just happens. Your internal reaction to these life events impacts your digestion. Your digestion not only digests your food, but it also digests your life. So the more your gut has to digest life and its stress and overwhelm (and the hormones that are released due to these feelings), the harder it has to work to digest food. This often leaves the gut with fewer resources to call on to digest your food as they are being used to absorb the stress hormones that are being released.
2. Commit to Daily Movement
I’m not saying you have to go to the gym for an hour (although that would be nice), but simple movement, breath work, and an increased heart rate will aid in your digestion. Ten minutes of movement a day will help oxygenate your cells and digestive organs, allowing your body to heal and rejuvenate. Doing deep breathing exercises is another great way to stimulate your body and bring in added oxygen. Keep an eye on things. Yes, I mean to have a look at how things are going in the poop department. Your gut will tell you whether it’s happy or needs more TLC by the texture, color, and amount it’s excreting. If you see abnormalities, like really loose stools or really hard stools, or you aren’t excreting much in a day, then it’s time to go back to Step 1 and 2 of this checklist. I’d also suggest speaking to me, if problems persist.
3. Chew Your Food
You think I’m kidding; I’m not! The average person chews 4 times before they swallow, which sends foods partially whole down into your stomach and the enzymes need to work harder to break them down, thus compromising your gut health. And your teeth are an important step at the beginning of the digestive cycle. When you chew your food slowly and consciously, you allow for important digestive enzymes to be released from your mouth and mixed with your food. You also break down your food into smaller pieces of food, making it much easier for the next step of the cycle to assimilate and digest even further.
4. Cut Back on Alcohol & Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine can be big “feel goods” in our lives and when we don’t feel well, we tend to lean towards foods and drinks that make us feel better. But these two are directly working against our gut health. Caffeine is a stimulant which can irritate the nerves in our gut and trigger the release of stress hormones. This impacts the transition of food through our bowels and can interfere with the absorption of nutrients. On the opposite end of the spectrum, alcohol is a depressant and is metabolized very quickly into acetaldehyde – a toxic chemical which the liver has to clear from our system. Many types of alcohol are also high in sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut and can cause other complications like candida or leaky gut. I’m not saying you have to get rid of it all, but be conscious of your consumption, and the more you can move away from these two things, the happier your gut will be.
5. Drink More Water
Most people aren’t properly hydrated. Water helps digestion to keep things moving. Drink a minimum of 64 oz. of water a day. It’s also highly suggested to drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up (warm lemon water is a bonus). This helps to lubricate the digestive system, which has been working through the night on different digestive processes, and sends a message to it saying, “Time to wake up and get ready for more food”. This message often sends the next signal to get rid of yesterday’s waste, thus often people have to do a #2 first thing in the morning. This is a really good thing, and drinking water first thing will help it get moving.
So, there you have it! These four posts are very comprehensive but don’t be overwhelmed with all the suggestions and knowledge. Health and healing is a journey, not a destination – so take one step at a time. And if you need to take baby steps, that’s okay! Even if you started with just one of these items on this checklist, you’d be helping your gut, and most importantly, helping yourself.
I’d love to hear how it’s going!