The number one thing my clients ask me about is ways to support gut health. The majority of individuals I work with are dealing with many food sensitivities and commonly have leaky gut syndrome and/or dysbiosis. Gut health is near and dear to my heart, probably because I totally destroyed mine during a ten year period where I was on antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, and birth control (you can read all about my own healing journey here).
This is a subject I have spent years researching in order to improve my own gut health, and is something I am passionate about when working with clients dealing with similar issues. Of course there are no one size fit all protocols and that is why working with a knowledgeable practitioner is so important, but there are several ways that you can consider trying to help support your gut. Below are some of my favorite ways to support a healthy gut, and all are part of my daily life/regimen.
*The information below is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice. Please consult a botanically knowledgable practitioner before adding in new herbs or supplements.*
Eat a Plant Heavy Diet
When I talk to clients about diet, I never recommend one specific diet type (like paleo, vegan, keto, etc) because I firmly believe that the needs of one person are not necessarily the needs of another. With the number of sensitivities that so many are experiencing, I work with clients to find creative ways to consume the healthiest foods possible to provide optimal nourishment to their individual body. One of the things I do recommend to just about everyone, is to eat more plants!
One of the biggest factors tied to microbial balance in the gut and overall gut health is the diversity of plants in the diet, and the amount of fiber in the diet. Most Americans are eating 10 or fewer types of plants per week, and we should be shooting for closer to 30. And, 95% of Americans are not getting the daily recommended amount of fiber**, which is mind blowing, and has so many implications on overall health. One of the best things you can do for gut health is to begin eating a diverse amount of fiber rich plants everyday.
You can take this slowly and one step at a time. Every time you go grocery shopping, add in one thing you don’t normally eat. This can be fresh fruit and veg, or frozen if things are out of season. In the summer, go to a local farmers market and pick out veggies that are local to your area, they will be fresher than anything you can buy at a grocery store, and higher in nutrients. I have gotten into the habit of doing a weekly veggie roast and changing up the ingredients every week. This past week I did butternut squash, acorn squash, red beets, red onion, and brussel sprouts. I covered them in a seasoning blend recipe called Dr. Gregers favorite spice blend, at 425 degrees for 40 minutes, then drizzled the veggies in balsamic reduction. It is SO simple, and SO delicious. Next week, I am going to try golden beets, sweet yellow onion, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips. You can get creative with this to keep things interesting!
Avoid Potential Sensitivities
This one may seem like a no brainer, but I know it is easier said than done. If you think you are sensitive to dairy, try cutting it out for 30 days and see how you feel. The same with other common sensitivities including soy or gluten. If you haven’t pinpointed what you are sensitive to, but suspect a sensitivity, keep a food diary and track how you feel after you eat these types of foods. Once you cut it from your diet for 30 days, you can slowly reintroduce it and see if your symptoms return.
Drink Bone Broth
Bone broth is truly one of the most healing foods on the planet. I have been on a mostly plant based diet for 8 years, but bone broth is something I try to drink everyday, and something I think most humans should be consuming. It is healing to the gut due to its gelatin and glutamine content, and also super supportive to the joints (it's also very helpful if you've had the Balanced Health scan and tested low for glutamine). And it is very high in trace minerals, another important aspect of thriving health!
This is a mainstay in my supplement regimen. As someone who was on antibiotics for ten straight years and suffered from severe acid reflux, improving my gut health has been my number one focus for the past 8 years. Digestive Bitters are supportive for individuals who get frequent heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and it can assist with nutrient assimilation. The bitter action of the formula helps to signal to the stomach that it is time for digestion, which in turn can support the gastric juices that help to break down food.
You can also get the same action of taking digestive bitters by eating bitter foods. The practice of eating a salad before a meal is a great way to do this. Some bitter food options would be bitter lettuces like arugula, kale and dandelion leaf. You could also drink a bitter tea after a meal to help support healthy digestion with herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, or chamomile.
If there was one supplement that I could recommend to just about everyone, it would be Ion Biome, *especially* for individuals dealing with a lot of food or chemical sensitivities and/or autoimmunity. It has been clinically proven to tighten the junctions of the gut lining, which is imperative when working to fix leaky gut. The microbiome is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. The majority of the human immune system is located in the gut, and we are all exposed to toxins every single day that can harm the microbial balance of the gut. Some of the largest impactors of gut health include taking antibiotics, eating highly processed foods, high stress levels, poor sleep, and pesticide residue (glyphosate) which acts like an antibiotic in our system, which is why choosing organic whenever possible is so important. If organic food is not in your budget, you might consider looking at the dirty dozen list and just purchasing organic for the foods that contain the highest amount of pesticides, or avoiding the foods on that list if you cannot buy organic.
The creator of Ion Biome (Zach Bush) is a wealth of knowledge on the microbiome. If you are interested in this topic, I highly recommend listening to his multiple interviews on the Rich Roll Podcast, which you can find here.
ACV If you struggle with acid reflux/heartburn, or have had a Balanced Health scan and tested for low hydrochloric acid, apple cider vinegar can be really helpful for this. ACV is very acidic and can help break down food, and may help to increase gastric juices. If you have never tried ACV, start out with a very small amount (1/2 tsp) mixed with a couple of ounces of water, and drink it before meals. Over time, if you are able to tolerate it, you can work your way up to 1 TBS mixed with water.
As part of my gut healing journey, digestive enzymes were imperative when I was rebuilding acid and teaching my body to digest food again. Digestive enzymes are especially helpful when eating large meals or heavy foods. I take them with my two large meals of the day (normally lunch and dinner), I don't take them for smaller meals like salads. They will help your body break down food and assimilate nutrients. Again, a Balanced Health scan can show energetic nutritional imbalances, including any enzymes you are low in (lipase, amylase, protease, etc).
If you are interested in exploring your own sensitivities and the health of your gut, you might consider getting a bioenergetic scan through Balanced Health (a sample scan can be viewed here). This is a scan I use in my clinical practice, and it has provided incredible individualized insight into the health of the clients I am working with. You can learn more about the scan here, and you can get the scan for $20 off using the code RAVENSMOON. I am also offering a free 30 minute call to go over the results through the end of February. If you have any questions about this scan, anything in this blog post, or if you are interested in working with me one-on-one, please reach out!
*This post includes affiliate links. I only recommend products/classes that I have personal experience with and that I stand behind. Thank you for your support!*