5 Ways to Protect Your Gut

Our guts are incredible, so let's learn how to take care of them.

Our guts are incredible. A lot of people don’t know this, but they do so much more than just digest our food. While digestion is a huge part of their job, they are also responsible for helping us do a lot of other things. This includes absorbing vital nutrients, aiding in immune support, balancing hormones and mental health, and removing harmful toxins from our body. This is why gut health is so important. Everything we do flows from our gut. When our gut is healthy, we thrive in our physical, mental, and emotional health. When our gut is sick, we become irritable, uncomfortable, and unmotivated. Protecting your gut is one of the greatest things we can do to support our overall well being. So, you’re probably wondering, “How do I protect my gut?” Here’s a few ways you need to know to help support your gut.

1. Incorporate prebiotics & probiotics.

Healthy guts are naturally full of good, healthy bacteria (also called microflora). When this microflora gets disrupted or “unhealthy” our bodies respond. Probiotics help to fill your gut with that good bacteria, whereas prebiotics are designed to feed the good bacteria that lives in your gut. Both are important in maintaining good, gut health. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or found naturally in the food that you eat. Some common foods that contain probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, kefir, just to name a few. Prebiotics on the other hand are found in many fruits and veggies. Look for fruits and veggies with complex carbs (like fiber!). Common foods that contain prebiotics include bananas, oatmeal (make sure it’s truly gluten-free if you have Celiac’s Disease), apples, asparagus, onions and so much more.

2. Listen to your body.

Our bodies were created to tell us when there’s something wrong. When something isn’t right inside, we naturally feel “off.” Don’t ignore that feeling. Listen to what your body is telling you. Maybe it means making changes in your diet like adding in more nutrients you might not be getting enough of. Or maybe it’s eliminating foods that make you feel sick. Whatever the case might be, listen to your body! (If gluten is the culprit for you, and you need some encouragement, check out this blog on how to live gluten-freely.

3. Get your booty moving.

When we sit still, our gut has a hard time digesting and doing all the things it’s supposed to do. Getting up and going for a walk or going to the gym gets your blood flowing and your gut moving therefore improving gut motility. In addition to the obvious impact exercise has on our bodies, studies also have shown that exercise actually changes and improves the microbiome of your gut. Even just 30 minutes a day can make all the difference.

4. Drink your water.

It’s no secret that staying hydrated is one of the best things we can do to support our bodies. But what does water actually have to do with gut health? Well, drinking water does a few different things. First, it helps our guts break down food when we eat. Which assists our intestines to do their job of keeping the nutrients we need, and getting rid of the stuff we don’t. In addition, just like exercise, water also helps promote gut motility and prevents constipation. Lastly, one of the more obvious but extremely important benefits of water is preventing dehydration. When you are dehydrated, especially from rapid water loss (think sweating/vomiting/diarrhea) our bodies shunt the blood to our important organs like our hearts and lungs and withholds it from our “lesser” vital organs. This means we can’t properly digest because there isn’t any blood fueling the digestion process because it’s busy trying to sustain our vital organs.

5. Limit stress.

The brain-gut connection is huge and oftentimes underestimated. When we are stressed, our body goes into survival mode. It perceives whatever is happening around us as a threat. That’s why we feel sick to our stomachs when we are about to speak in front of a lot of people or are about to have a difficult conversation with someone. Our bodies respond to what our brains are thinking. Just like I had mentioned in #4, when we are stressed our bodies go into fight or flight mode. They decide which organs need support and which ones don't. And unfortunately our guts don’t make the cut. Eliminating stress is not an easy task, but it is so important for our gut health. Going outside, getting enough sleep, spending time with people you love, and taking time to relax is crucial in stress management.

*Quick disclaimer: It’s always a good idea to consult your PCP before making any drastic changes to your diet or supplements.