A customer sent us an email asking for help healing her gut.
The next day, a relative asked for help after a gut 'episode' he had recently. He said 'I was fine one moment and then...I HAD TO 'GO!'
I could tell there was still a bit of panic in his eyes.
Even though it had been a few days since the 'episode,' he was reluctant to leave the house. He passed on going to a restaurant. And he passed on going to a movie with the family. And if he did venture out, his thoughts were about location and availability of restrooms.
Flights, long car rides, movies and other out-of-the-house activities were all off the table. That's a tough way to live...he was missing out on life.
Based on the volume of questions we get from our customers, he's not alone in feeling this way.
Staying home next to the bathroom is emotionally costly. It can cost you mobility, freedom, possibly employment and even relationships.
You often hear about the billions of dollars that the common cold costs the economy. I am certain gut health issues are the same.
How do you heal your gut?
'Healing your gut' is an overused term that's become somewhat meaningless, but even those without gut issues understand the discomfort and panic.
We’ve said this before but it is worth repeating: if you have gut issues, the first place to start is not supplements.
Diet, is a good place to start. But definitely not supplements.
Most people hate hearing this, but it is the truth. Supplements should never come first.
It might be odd reading this on a supplement company blog. But read below and you'll see why.
10 Steps to Help Improve Gut Health:
Work with a medical doctor, preferably an Integrative or Functional Medicine MD, to rule out anything serious or dangerous. (No, our Legal department didn't make us say that.)
- You may have infections that probiotics or prebiotics or dietary changes may not cure. You may need medical treatment.
- You may have SIBO or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, which also requires medical oversight, especially if you need a course of Rifaximin.
- You may have food intolerances that you are not aware of. Sometimes, identifying these unknown intolerances will go a long way towards achieving comfort. All of these tactics require a medical practitioner. Don't wing it.
- Eliminate sugar and alcohol. There isn't an ailment that sugar and alcohol doesn't seem to worsen. This isn't news to you, so we'll leave it at that.
- Eliminate flour, gluten, and processed foods. Oh, gluten! Hating gluten is the new black. (Mocking gluten avoiders has also become an online cottage industry.) Gluten-haters aren't entirely wrong. Even for those of us without Celiac, at best, gluten is a lousy protein that's barely digested. At worst, it can cause your gut lining to be more permeable, driving inflammation and an over-reactive immune system. As for processed foods, they eventually spike blood sugar, feed harmful bacteria, provide little or no nutrients, and increase likelihood of obesity.
- Add a variety of vegetables to your diet. We suggest 25 different vegetables per week (this does not include fruits). Most people find this very difficult, but that's the point. Different veggies have different fibers and polyphenols that feed different gut bugs in different sections of the gut. This builds up a nice, healthy layer of mucus inside the walls of the gut. This mucus is highly protective. The byproducts of a thriving gut microbiome helps all aspects of health, especially gut health.
- Add glycine (collagen) and glutamine to your diet. These amino acids are great for gut healing.
Add polyphenols to your diet. Polyphenols are plant compounds that seem to have a lot of gut health benefits. Plants use these compounds to protect themselves from UV or bugs. Here are a few good sources of polyphenols:
- Green tea
- Cocoa or dark chocolate
- Spices and seasonings
- Red wine (yay!)
- Add exercise and physical activity – this increases microbiome diversity.
- Add sunlight exposure – this too increases microbiome diversity. Vitamin D helps increase gut microbiome diversity. It specifically improves healthy bugs and lowers the level of unhealthy ones.
- Add a variety of fermented foods and probiotics.
- Add prebiotic fiber supplement. On occasion, when you're unable to do all of the things listed above, reach for the prebiotic supplement. If you do, make sure you start small (can initially cause some bloating) and that the supplement has a wide variety of soluble prebiotic fibers.
Consuming veggies is far more important and needs to come before taking prebiotic supplements. No matter how easy popping a pill might seem.