As a gut health expert and nurse practitioner with years of clinical experience working with patients in that area, I understand the frustration and feelings of impossibility when it comes to hoping for better health.
As someone who went through her own health journey, I know without a doubt that massive improvement in overall health can be made when gut health is addressed at the foundational level.
Let’s dive into this master roundup of information and resources on all things gut health.
How do you know your gut needs some attention? Your body will tell you by its symptoms!
However, you might be surprised to find that many unwanted symptoms rooted in poor gut health actually appear unrelated to the gut at first glance.
For example, did you know that skin issues such as acne and eczema are likely caused by sub-optimal gut health? This can also be the case with joint pain, allergies and even fungal infections.
Here are some commons signs and symptoms that your gut health needs care:
Skin problems (acne, eczema, hives, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea)
IBS, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, reflux
Mental health disorders (anxiety, ADHD, depression)
Fungal and/or yeast infections
Chronic inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
For a more in-depth look at some of these symptoms and how they might be related to gut health, I have several other related and informative articles:
By now you might be finding that your gut health isn’t optimal. I want to walk you through some actionable steps to take when restoring gut health at the most basic level.
The first thing I advise when beginning a gut-healing journey is to cut out foods that are irritating to the gut. Everyone could benefit from ditching highly refined vegetable and seed oils, foods with added sugars, artificial sugars, and highly processed packaged foods.
In addition, foods to which many people are commonly sensitive to and may want to consider eliminating during a healing journey are gluten, dairy, soy, and eggs.
A food sensitivity or allergy test could indicate which foods are causing a sensitivity reaction and should be cut from the diet during the healing process. The goal would be to cut these out of the diet during healing, but eventually add them back in.
For more on autoimmunity, gluten, and whether you should ditch it from your diet, read this from the blog: Hashimoto’s and the Gluten Connection: Should You Ditch Gluten?
Now that we’ve addressed what should be removed from the diet, let’s talk about what we should be sure to include in the diet. Because food truly is medicine!
As a rule of thumb, consume as many different fresh fruits and vegetables as you can! The key to a strong, diverse microbiome is to eat a diverse array of different foods!
In addition, healthy fats, clean proteins and complex + whole carbohydrates should make up the majority of your diet.
My top gut-healing foods include:
Bone broth (I love FOND bone broth. Use code TAYLORDUKES for 20% off)
Fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, coconut yogurt
Prebiotic foods (onions, leek, garlic, bananas, artichoke)
Dandelion greens and bitter greens
To read more about some of these specific foods and their healing properties, check out these articles from the archives:
I know what you might be thinking – what’s sleep got to do with my gut?! The answer is, a lot!
During sleep, our body enters into its most restorative state and does its deepest detoxification. Research studies have found that more optimal sleep is positively associated with strong microbiome diversity. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, was negatively associated.
Here are a few tips to improve your quality of sleep:
No screens 1-2 hours before bed
Wear blue light blocking glasses in the evening
Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day
Get natural sunlight to the eyes during sunrise and sunset hours
Stress reduction is key to improving gut health. Stress can actually reshape the gut microbiome through stress hormones, inflammation, and autonomic alterations. With such negative effects on the gut, it’s important to get serious about managing stress in a healthy way.
Some of my favorite ways to downregulate stress and all of its negative effects are:
Prayer, meditation, journaling
Magnesium bath or sauna
Environmental toxins are hugely disruptive to our health in more ways than one. Whether it is to heal your gut or balance your hormones, removing toxins from the environment is key.
Toxins are likely found in your garage (paint, pesticides, fertilizers, weed killer), your bathroom cabinet (personal care products, skincare, makeup, bathing products), your laundry room (cleaning products and solutions, detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets) and even on your built-in shelves or walls (candles, plug-ins, air fresheners).
You can choose to go cold turkey and massively clean out the toxins from your home, or you can gradually switch over to non-toxic products as you run out of conventional and toxin-laden alternatives.
The important thing is to begin to make the change to non-toxic products as much as you can in as many areas of your home as you can.
On my instagram page, I’m constantly sharing non-toxic swaps to inspire you in your journey.
From NSAIDS to antibiotics to prescription drugs to birth control, medicines can actually wreak havoc on your microbiome. Steroids and antacids could be included in the list as well.
Many of these meds are known microbiome disruptors. They can contribute to conditions such as leaky gut, decreased microbiome diversity, and IBS.
It’s important to be taking a powerful probiotic and feeding your gut bacteria plenty of probiotic-rich foods if you’re taking any of these medicines. Furthermore, any medication – over-the-counter or prescription – should be taken with full awareness of its side effects.
Some medicines are absolutely life-saving and necessary, but consider working with a provider to wean off any unnecessary medications you may be taking.
Here are a few articles from the blog on antibiotics and NSAIDS:
You may have heard me say my motto before: “Don’t guess. Test!” When it comes to healing the gut, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re working with.
Perhaps your gut problems can be linked to an underlying infection. Maybe they’re exacerbated by food sensitivity. Or you could be battling against SIBO, Candida overgrowth, or parasites.
I’m a huge proponent of comprehensive testing in order to paint a full picture before coming up with a plan of care. In my experience, healing outcomes are so much better when testing is done in order to uncover specific conditions from which you may be suffering.
Check out my article on the Top Gut Health Tests to Ask Your Functional Medicine Provider About if you’re interested in taking the next steps in testing.
Functional medicine absolutely changed my life. After seeing all sorts of specialists, undergoing invasive procedures, and sinking thousands of dollars into my health with no improvement, I skeptically gave functional medicine a shot. What did I have to lose?
It turns out, in taking a functional medicine approach to my health, everything changed. Through functional medicine, I started my healing journey at the foundational level – the gut. As my gut began to heal, all of my other mysterious symptoms began to disappear.
A functional medicine practitioner will look at your body as a whole and help you connect the dots. You’ll walk through testing, nutrition, lifestyle, medicine, supplements, and beyond. And without a doubt, you’ll address gut health as a pillar of overall health.
For more on functional medicine in the role of improving your gut health, read these:
Have you tried all of the things above and yet find yourself still struggling with unwanted gut-related symptoms? Take heart! There are still solutions!
It is likely at this point you need a stool test to make sure you have adequate healthy bacteria and no pathogens or overgrown bad bacteria, parasites, or yeast. You will also want to make sure you are digesting your food and that inflammatory markers are low, a stool test can tell you all of this.
If you need access to a stool test, a gut health expert, and personalized protocols, the Get Your Gut Right program might be the right fit for you. This is a very comprehensive program that also focuses on nutrition, detox pathways, the nervous system, clean environment, and more. Click HERE to learn more.
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