The gut microbiome (or gut garden as I like to call it) is the diverse community of bacteria that lives in our digestive system. Just like the soil of a garden needs to have the right mix of nutrients and nourishment – so does our gut! With around 70% of our immune function found in the gut, it is no surprise that a well nourished gut helps to keep our overall system working to it’s full capacity.
Developing a healthy gut is one of the most important steps we can take in improving energy and immune health. During my healing journey, when I was able to address and treat my leaky gut, I was able to remove a whole range of symptoms and turn my health around. I haven’t looked back since!
Your gut garden will generally need a little (or often a whole lotta) love and nourishment to keep it balanced, particularly during sickness, antibiotic use, high-stress periods, or if you are facing an autoimmune condition (like I have.)
You have the power to positively alter your gut health and improve your overall wellbeing – so check out the tips below….
Some simple tips to begin healing and balancing your gut garden:
Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Anti-inflammatory foods such as green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, low GI fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, omega-3 rich fish, nuts and seeds, olive oil and spices including turmeric, garlic & ginger.
Eat high-fiber whole foods
Focus on high fiber foods like whole grains, beans, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Soluble fiber acts like a powerful broom that works to sweep waste and toxins from your digestive tract.
Reduce (and try to avoid inflammatory foods)
This includes ingredients such as food additives, refined sugar, processed meats, fried foods, high fructose corn syrup, and white flours/gluten.
Boost the gut with probiotic-rich fermented foods & drinks
By increasing our intake of fermented foods, we can ensure our gut bacteria are thriving, diverse and well populated. Probiotics found in fermented foods, increase and balance the gut bacteria to a healthy state. This can help the immune system realign itself. Just a spoonful of fermented foods every day can ensure that you are providing your gut with trillions of bacteria. This can include fermented foods like cabbage and beetroot, or fermented drinks like kefir and kombucha. Introducing too much probiotic-rich food or drinks too fast, could lead to symptoms like bloating, as the gut bacteria balances. So be sure to start slow, and build up gradually, to allow your gut garden to slowly rebalance.
Boost the gut with prebiotic foods
Your gut bacteria use prebiotic foods as fuel to grow and multiply. Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber compounds that help probiotics to thrive (essentially they are like food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.) To keep your gut bacteria thriving and well fed – eat prebiotic foods like carrots, bananas, asparagus, garlic, onion, pears, leeks, and Jerusalem artichokes.
Consider supplementing with a good quality probiotic.
Although research is still in its infancy, probiotics have been studied for a wide variety of conditions including IBS, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression and even skin disorders like eczema. Some of the research has shown that probiotics can help to remove symptoms from the above-mentioned conditions, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, increase nutrient extraction and also balance the immune system. If you choose to use a probiotic, I’d be sure to grab one that has a large variety of strains, and a high amount of viable bacteria (known as ‘CFU’ – Colony Forming Units). Once again, it can be helpful to speak with a naturopath or nutritionist about which probiotic would be most beneficial to your individual situation.
Check for Underlying Infections
Underlying infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and yeasts can trigger an immune response and cause an unbalanced gut garden (which can result in a wide variety of symptoms.) A functional medicine practitioner or naturopath/nutritionist can help you with identifying and removing (or keeping these infections in check.)
Check for Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities (or food intolerances) are different from food allergies. They are thought to present with symptoms such as bloating, IBS, joint pain, headaches, anxiety or reflux – either a few hours or up to a couple of days after, consuming trigger foods. This inflammatory response then becomes triggered every time the reactive food is consumed. It is thought to lead to malabsorption of nutrients and produce further intestinal permeability (leaky gut.)
Food sensitivities vary person to person, however, gluten and dairy are commonly associated trigger foods for leaky gut, particularly in autoimmune conditions. Many people see a huge reduction in symptoms of joint pain, lethargy, brain fog, skin breakouts or gut symptoms after they remove the foods they are reactive too.
A functional medicine practitioner or naturopath/nutritionist can help you with implementing an elimination diet to identify reactive foods, or they can run a food intolerance test.
Remember healing and rebalancing your gut can take time.
As you go through the above list, try to resist the need to implement everything at once. Just pick one or two points that you think you will be able to fit into your lifestyle and try them out. Note down how they make you feel and see whether you feel any health improvements. Writing a health journal can help with keeping track!
I use (or have used) each and every one of the above tips in my (& my family’s life). I have no doubt that they have played a huge role in improving our overall energy, immunity and digestive health.
I hope you find them beneficial too!
Big Support, love and light to you! xx