There's no better time than the present...
Isn't that the saying that means get your butt in gear and start now?!?
Well, when it comes to healing the gut, I couldn't agree more. It can (easily) start today. And why wouldn't you want it to?
Your gut is linked to nearly every known chronic disease and all of the biggest life threatening conditions here in America (heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes). Plus, it is typically at the root of what is causing us to feel crummy, so why not start healing it now? Let's do it!
Here are 4 gut healing practices you can start implementing now!
1.Eat 30 different plants a week.
Ok, that might sound big and scary and unattainable. That's ok, keep reading.
The number one predictor of a healthy gut is the diversity of plants you consume. Read that again. Let it marinade. Write it on a sticky you put on the fridge. It's so important to remember for your overall health. You need to start consuming more plants and a variety of them.
The fiber in plants (prebiotics) feeds the probiotic bacteria in your gut. The more probiotic bacteria you have in your gut, the healthier it will be. Now, if you are getting all kinds of diverse prebiotic bacteria in there, your probiotic bacteria is even happier and will start to make short chain fatty acids. SCFAs do a whole bunch of amazing things for your body. I will dedicate an entire blog post to them sometime soon, but trust me, you want lot's of them, and the best way to get them is through a variety of plants.
If 30 plants sounds like too many in one week, start with 3 new plants next week. What are some plants you haven't had in a while? Chickpeas? Wild rice? Watermelon? How about arugula, oats, or pistachios? Get out of your plant rut and try something you haven't had in a while.
Remember, plants include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and sea veggies. How many different plants can you consume this coming week? Be a little more intentional about mixing it up or try something new!
2. Get a minimum of 30 grams of fiber a day.
Now that you know why fiber is so important (feeds probiotic bacteria), aim to get at least 30 grams a day. If you are consuming 30 different plants throughout the week, you should easily be getting 30 grams of fiber.
Aren't sure how much fiber or how many plants you are eating each week? Make a list of your plants and/or use an app like Foodvisor or My Fitness Pal to track your fiber intake. You might be surprised at the results.
If you find that you are signiciantly under those 30 grams, try upping it a little the next day. If you are only hitting about 15 grams of fiber (average daily American intake), what can you add to your plant intake to increase that? My favorite fiber rich plant- raspberries! 8 grams of fiber per cup, which is perfect for adding to smoothies! Other easy to eat high fiber foods include chia seeds, chickpeas and avocado.
Take a look at some of my recipes to find high fiber + high plant recipes!
3. Do something daily to manage stress.
Chronic stress (the kind we are worried about) has a number of negative health implications.
First, it changes the way our body produces hormones, throwing them out of whack. When our hormones are not functioning properly, we often experience weight gain, mood disorders, irritability, blood sugar imbalances, infertility, and gut related issues.
Also, chronic stress affects the way our body produces cortisol. When stressed, we produce too much cortisol, one side effect being that it shuts down our digestion. This has a negative affect on our gut and can cause dysbiosis, leading to leaky gut, a candida overgrowth, and all kinds of other gut disorders.
Consistency is key with managing stress. We don't want to wait until we feel stressed to do something about it. Be proactive. Do something every day that makes you feel more peaceful. A few common stress management ideas:
Working in the garden
Taking a walk
Talking to a loved one
Taking a bath
4. Implement a consistent bedtime and wakeup time.
Going to the bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time has been shown to be incredibly beneficial to your overall health. When your body gets into a routine, it starts to anticipate what's to come. When it starts to expect the same bedtime each night, it will be able to shut down faster, helping to improve your sleep. And when it knows when you will be waking up, it helps you along with that process as well.
High quality sleep does so much for your gut. It helps boost your immune system, and as 70% of your immune system is in the gut, that boost is important. They work together to keep you healthy so you want to give your immune system support by getting high quality sleep.
Sleep is also a time for your organs and digestive tract to flush things out and repair themselves. When they get ample time to repair from high quality sleep, your body has lots of time to digest your food, making way for easier digestion the following day. This means less energy expelled on digestion and more energy left for you to enjoy.
There you have it, four gut healing practices you can start implementing now!
If you are interested in learning ever more about the gut and how to heal it, my next Gut Health Group is starting June 22nd, 2020! Learn more about the group by subscribing to my site here.