16 Ways To Improve Gut Health

From Kimberly Snyder, Nutritionist and Author of Radical Beauty.

Even though our gut is tucked way inside, it has a profound impact on our health, energy and yes, our outward beauty! Optimizing digestion as way to support your glow and beauty is something I’ve been talking about for years – in fact, since my first book, The Beauty Detox Solution. Referred to as Agni in Ayurveda, excellent digestion is at the center of our health and our beauty. You are not what you eat, but what you digest.

The body expels solid wastes through the digestive tract, but if there is a blockage or an inefficient flow of elimination, then toxins build up. This can even lead to the reabsorption of toxins into the bloodstream, filtering through the wall of the colon (a problem commonly known as leaky gut). The toxins come from the normal by-products of metabolism (endogenous toxins) and from the endless chemicals, pesticides, pollutants and more from the outside world (exogenous toxins).

There is a strong connection between your gut health and the quality of your skin. Is your skin breaking out? Breakouts can indicate toxic buildup in your system. Your elimination organs may be overwhelmed, which can encourage impurities to push out through your skin. There may be excessive phlegm buildup from overeating congestive, difficult-to-digest foods (such as dairy), or your digestive system may be compromised. So when you want your skin to be better, great products, while super important; simply aren’t going to cut it! You need to go deeper to get deeper, better results.

More efficient digestion can also allow you to clean out toxins more productively and make it easier to restore and maintain your natural weight.

Here’s some key ways to improve gut health:

Eat more SBO Probiotics.

I’m obsessed with these because they helped me heal myself from chronic bloating, constipation and low energy/nutrient absorption, and have been of tremendous help to my clients. When it comes to probiotics, don’t be fooled by all the high culture counts (80 billion! 100 strains!). What counts is being aligned with Mother Nature. Our ancestors all used to eat some soil on carrots and other veggies pulled right from the garden, and they didn’t have running water to scrub everything. That soil contains the perfect mix of bacterium to balance the soil, and also our guts, as it did for our ancestors. It is also hearty enough to survive our stomach acid and become resident-forming in our guts, so it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Eat more fiber.

Fiber sweeps out waste and helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Increasing fiber is also a great way to naturally control portion size without obsessing over calories. To increase your fiber, eat more veggies in general and include them at all meals, as only plant foods contain fiber. Try my Glowing Green Smoothie, (recipe on my blog and in our cleanses at Glow Bio), as a daily dose to increase your beauty and better digestion, day by day. Just remember that when you do increase your fiber it’s common to get bloated at first, as your body adjusts to you ingesting much more. Be sure to drink lots of room temperature water in between meals to help combat this.

Drink hot water with lemon.

Drinking hot water in the morning with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in can encourage your bowels to let go and allow for more efficient elimination. This practice is also great for getting rehydrated after a typically dehydrating night of sleep and adding more Vitamin C into your life.

Time your meals wisely.

Try waiting at least 3 hours between meals. Also, try simplifying your meals by using lesser components. This helps ensure that your body can break down and digest your meals efficiently and completely!

Use spices strategically.

Boost sluggish digestion, or Agni in Ayurveda, with spices like turmeric, cumin, black pepper, and ginger. You can sparkle these spices into stir-fries, soups, and salad dressings, or try adding them to hot water and make your own spice tea. As Westerners we haven’t all grown up having these spices all the time, but once you get used to cumin and turmeric you’ll find it’s super easy to throw them into a whole variety of dishes and add depth of flavor.

Try a detoxy Magnesium-Oxygen supplement.

This nonlaxative, non-habit-forming aid helps clear out accumulated waste in your system. Constipation and waste buildup may also contribute to bloating. It’s key we give our bodies a boost when it comes to clearing out and making more space for oxygen and nutrients to circulate around your body. It’s an incredibly powerful anti-aging practice. You can take these in the evening before bed, as I do, 3 or so times a week.

Take digestive enzymes before meals.

These are capsules you can take to help your food break down more efficiently and support better digestion and assimilation. Proteases break down proteins, lipases break down fats, and amylases break down carbohydrates.

Avoid fizzy beverages.

The carbon dioxide that makes soda and even plain seltzer bubbly can cause or exacerbate bloating.

Steam your veggies.

If your system is rebuilding, try steaming your veggies instead of eating them raw. This can help break down the fiber and make them easier to digest.

Eat more slowly and don’t overeat.

The latter probably seems quite obvious, but if you scarf down your lunch while hunched over your computer or lap up a huge plate of food in record time as soon as you get home after a long workday, you may find that eating quickly has a sneaky way of contributing to overeating. Slow down your consumption and you’ll leave the space in your stomach needed to break down foods, which can help abate bloating.

Limit the amount of dense fat in each meal.

Fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates and can make you feel uncomfortably heavy if you consume too much of it at once. Avoid bloating by limiting fats in your everyday diet. A little bit of oil, such as coconut oil, goes a long way when cooking. Try getting a ceramic nonstick pan that allows for easier cooking and cleanup while letting you use less oil overall.

Soak beans, legumes, and grains overnight.

These foods contain sugars called oligosaccharides, enzyme inhibitors, and phytic acid, which bind to essential minerals and inhibit their absorption. Soaking can help deactivate these substances, which in turn assists in preventing bloating while improving nutrient absorption.

Choose your vegetables wisely.

Brassica or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens are fantastically high in nutrients but can be particularly gas inducing due to the sugars and starches they contain.

Eat pineapple.

Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which helps break down proteins in your body and aids digestion. Try using pineapple as the fruit component of your Glowing Green Smoothie or having a bowl of cut-up pineapple mid-morning.

Avoid spicy and pungent foods.

Especially if your system is sensitive, hot sauces and spices like chili powder, garlic, onions and vinegar can cause irritation in your stomach that can lead to bloating. Try using flavorful fresh herbs such as basil, oregano and parsley instead.

Avoid straws.

Drinking through the straw makes it easier to swallow excess air, which can contribute to bloat. Along those same lines, give up chewing gum, which traps air and gas in your system, contributing to bloating. Chewing is a signal for your body to start breaking down food and begin digestion.

Want more from Kimberly? Check out her one day cleanse.

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All content on The New Potato (even when supplied by a medical professional) is intended for educational and conversational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any new diet, exercise regime, or wellness routine.