If you’re setting yourself some healthy new year’s resolutions that are more than the cliché ‘I’m going to eat better’ or ‘I’ll join a gym’, healing your gut might be the best place to start. With a growing list of chronic conditions linked to the health of your gut, getting it sorted this year could pay off for years to come.
But where to start? From elimination diets and exercise, to identifying the root-cause of issues, here’s a list of 8 gut health resolutions Ali Hutchinson recommends that will put you on the right path.
1. Try an elimination diet
We all know that nutrition has a massive impact on our overall health. The quality of foods we choose to fuel our body with impacts the quality of our microbiome - the assortment of microorganisms in our gut that breakdown and absorb what we eat, synthesise the vitamins within our food, support our immune system and protect us from bad bugs. Eating real, whole and nutrient-dense foods gives our bodies access to the fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients that our microbiome needs to thrive.
I work with clients to eliminate known allergens for 2-4 weeks so you can assess how you feel and understand what is triggering issues for you. We increase protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables as a way of crowding out the empty calories processed foods often provide.
2. Eat fermented foods
Probiotic-rich foods are a great way to help repopulate the gut and improve the balance of beneficial species in your microbiome. I use a range of different sources with my clients. Look for organic yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, miso, microalgae such as spirulina and chlorella (often found in superfood supplements), tempeh and kimchi. Having gained popularity over the last few years you can often find these at local farmers markets or health shops. Try to incorporate a small amount of at least one type of fermented food each day to boost your gut health.
3. Exercise for energy
Exercise is a tricky topic when it comes to gut healing as exercise only helps if it is not causing added stress! Exercise should make you feel energised, not exhausted afterwards, so things like walking, swimming, pilates and yoga can be very beneficial while signing up for a triathlon probably won’t help!
4. Manage your Stress
You’re probably planning on working on your gut health because you have frustrating or embarrassing symptoms like bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea or reflux that can all be really stressful. Poor gut health can also bring about brain-symptoms like worry, low-mood and anxiety. Incorporating stress-management techniques like meditation, breath work, journaling, watching uplifting movies, listening to music you love or EFT (tapping) can really help.
These techniques move the body away from the sympathetic nervous system stress response of fight or flight, to the parasympathetic nervous system response, allowing you to rest, digest and heal.
5. Reduce the environmental toxins in your life
Common environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides, BPA (in plastic) and fluoride, as well as pain relievers with Aspirin, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen can contribute to gut dysfunction. They irritate the gut lining, which acts like a second skin inside the body and stops harmful toxins entering our bloodstream. Limiting your exposure to things like this can give your gut space to heal.
Swapping all your personal care and home cleaning products to natural options is another area to focus on to enable you to limit toxin exposure.
6. Get some sleep
Sleep is often overlooked when it comes to gut health and healing. We should be working towards having our eyes closed by around 10pm and getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night. Physical repair and regeneration of the body, and especially the gut, happens while we are asleep.
7. Focus on building your immunity
Building a strong immune system means you aren’t so susceptible to infection and won’t have to reach for antibiotics so often. While antibiotics are often a life saver, they should only be used as a last resort as they not only target bad bacteria, they can often have a damaging effect on the number and diversity of good gut bacteria too.
8. Stop taking poor quality supplements - they don’t work
We’ve all heard people saying natural supplements don’t work, including probiotics. What people often fail to realize is that the problem is most commonly brand-specific. Specific probiotic strains are extremely well researched and evidence-based, but the generic, cheap brand you bought at the supermarket probably wasn’t!
In a market that is still emerging and isn’t very well regulated, it’s important to use brands trusted by your practitioner. You get what you pay for, so don’t be taken in my clever marketing.
Speak to me about what I commonly recommend and look for products that contain multiple strains and have CFU (colony forming units) in the millions.
I hope these resolutions give you a ‘gut healing’ start to the new year but for further help or advice please get in touch via one of the links below.
Find Out More: If you’re experiencing gut issues and would like to have an informal chat to see how we might work together, please get in touch.