Lately you’ve taken a keen interest in gut health. You realize you are having gut issues as you are struggling with bloating, constipation and sometimes diarrhea.
You’ve read about gut dysbiosis, leaky gut and natural ways to heal your gut after a round of antibiotics.
You are ready to make a change, but just don’t know where to start!
Good News! I have some simple steps you can take to improve your gut health. You can start taking these steps immediately. Keep reading to begin your journey in healing your gut!
Step 1: SLEEP
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our gut health, as well as our overall health. Not getting enough sleep can increase inflammation in the body and can lower the immune system. I wrote a blog post here on the importance of sleep.
There are a few studies that have been done that show sleep deprivation can alter the gut microbiome. Therefore, aim for getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If this seems unattainable, then start small. Tonight, start going to bed 5 minutes earlier then you normally would, then slowly increase this time until you are getting the hours of sleep that work best for your body.
If you are having trouble getting into this routine, a visual reminder or an alert on your phone can help you to remember to go to bed earlier. I use the “Bedtime” icon in the clock app of my phone to remind me that it’s time to go to bed. This reminder helps me to keep on schedule and not be tempted to watch “just one more show” on Netflix.
Step 2: Stop Eating 3 Hours Before Going To Bed
For those of you who love to snack before bed, this one may be hard. However, one of the best ways to begin the journey of gut healing is to STOP eating after dinner.
Digesting food takes a lot of energy for your body. If you eat a big meal, or a sweet high calorie snack too close to bedtime, then your body will not be able to properly digest this food. Your body needs energy to sleep and also needs energy to digest food and absorb nutrients. However, it cannot do both things at the same time efficiently.
Eating too close to bedtime will cause poor digestion. This means that your body will not have digested the food properly. Not enough of the food will be broken down properly, leaving excess food particles in your gut. This food then sits fermenting. This fermentation then feeds the opportunistic bacteria.
Eating at least 3 hours before bedtime gives your body the time it needs to digest the food, and break it down for the nutrients to be absorbed properly into the blood stream. Then when it’s time for bed, your body will be able concentrate on making necessary repairs to your body as you sleep.
Step 3: Exercise
Want to improve your gut health? Then start moving that body!
You don’t have to go out and join a gym or pay for a yearly online workout program to get your body moving. If this seems overwhelming or something you are just not ready for, then a simple daily walk is a great start. Plus going for a walk outside is great for your body and gut microbiome.
Decide what you like to do and just start doing it! Pick a time of day that will work best for you. A time when you won’t be disturbed by kids or by daily demands. I wake up early and do my workout in the morning as I know I will have fewer distractions and won’t be disturbed by my kids.
Step 4: Hydrate
Our bodies are made up of about 75% water. We lose water every day through breathing, going to the bathroom, and sweating. Our body is in a constant state of balance between fluid intake and fluid loss.
Drinking water daily helps to keep the body in balance. When the body is out of balance and doesn’t have enough water, that is when dehydration occurs. Not drinking enough water can cause constipation and acid reflux. Both of these issues can do a lot of harm to the gut flora.
Aim to drink about half of your body weight in ounces. My daily water intake goal is 70 oz. Some days I drink more then this, and other days I don’t quite make that goal.
I find drinking plain water can sometimes get a tad boring so I will usually add some lemon juice and ginger to my water. I will even add a few drops a Stevia if I’m looking for a bit of that lemonade taste without the sugar.
Fruit infused water is also another great way to stay hydrated while drinking water that has a yummy flavor to it.
Step 5: Eat Until You Feel 80% Full
At one point in time or another, all of us have over eaten. You know the feeling, your stomach feels heavy, you feel tired and your guts gurgle and are gassy. This over eating puts a lot of stress on your digestive system. Overeating causes food to ferment, and this fermented food becomes food for opportunistic bacteria, yeast and fungus.
To avoid overeating, follow the 80% rule. This rule is simple: eat until you feel 80% full.
It’s as simple as that. This rule is covered in the book Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger, M.D.
Following this rule will help you to slow down when you are eating and to take mental note of how your are feeling while you are eating. As soon as you feel satisfied and full (but not overfull…..if you know what I mean), then STOP eating.
Take Back Your Gut Health!
Starting on the journey of healing your gut can seem daunting, however, these five steps will help you to get started.
The great thing about these steps is that none of them cost any money and you can begin incorporating them into your life TODAY!
What are you waiting for? The power to change your health is in YOUR hands!
What do you think?
Are these steps attainable for you? Comment below and let me know!
The Gut Nerd
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