6 Tips to Keep Your Gut in Tip-Top Shape

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This post is sponsored by iHerb, but all thoughts and opinions are of course my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Body Unburdened and make the work I do possible!

It’s all in the gut.

Everywhere I look, it seems like more and more science is pointing to the importance of gut health in just about all aspects of our overall health and wellbeing, from our immune system and inflammation to our skin and our moods.

And one thing’s for sure: when we’re not digesting our food properly and our gut is irritated, we just don’t feel our best. Bloating, gas, discomfort – they’re just no fun!

Luckily, there are some really simple ways to boost digestion and keep your GI system healthy.

6 Tips to Keep Your Gut in Tip-Top Shape

1. Protect the gut lining

Certain foods help protect and nourish the gut lining. Coconut and aloe juice are two of my favorites and the simplest to include in your diet.

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known to be a powerful anti-microbial agent. For this reason, it can help keep unhealthy yeasts and pathogens in the gut in check. It’s also anti-inflammatory, helping to soothe the gut lining. The best part: it’s SO easy to start incorporating coconut oil into your diet — I always have Nutiva virgin coconut oil and Barlean’s butter-flavored coconut oil on hand for cooking and baking.

Aloe similarly is anti-inflammatory, helping to soothe the gut lining, and also contains enzymes that can aid digestion. I add a few ounces of Lily of the Dessert aloe juice to my smoothies, or simply drink a few ounces before meals.

2. Add probiotic-rich foods to your diet

A healthy and robust gut microbiome is key for proper digestion as well as overall health and wellness. Not only do the trillions (yes, trillions!) of beneficial gut bacteria aid digestion and the assimilation of nutrients, but they also synthesize critical short-chain fatty acids as well as biotin and vitamin K2. Eating probiotic-rich foods helps to keep the gut microbiome populated with these beneficial bacteria.

Look for ways to include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and cottage cheese to your diet, as these are loaded with probiotics. And recently, some awesome new products that include probiotics have been hitting shelves! I’ve really been enjoying Purely Elizabeth’s gluten-free probiotic granola. Both the Chocolate Sea Salt and Maple Walnut flavors are delicious! Sprinkle them on top of some (organic whole-fat) yogurt for an extra boost of probiotics.

3. Supplement with a probiotic

Particularly if you don’t get many probiotic-rich foods into your diet, supplementing with a probiotic can be very helpful. But quality matters! Look for a supplement with at least 10 different strains of probiotics to promote diversity and at least 5 billion CFU (“colony forming units” or the total amount of bacteria in the supplement). Hyperbiotics Pro-15 from iHerb is a great example, plus is gluten-free and was created to protect the beneficial bacteria until they are deep in the GI tract to the large intestine, where the gut microbiome resides. Although it’s on the lower end of the CFU spectrum, I’ve received really great (not going to lie, I was really surprised!) results with it since it does have this time-release feature. And Hyperbiotics carries a range of probiotics for specific needs — like immune support, dental and oral health, kids’ chewables, and prenatal support — which is really awesome. Since it’s a good idea to switch up your probiotic supplements to get a variety of strains, I’m going to go with the women’s support probiotic blend next!

4. Feed probiotics with prebiotic fiber

Your probiotics will go a lot further if you ensure they have enough prebiotic fiber to feast on. Green-tipped (slightly unripe) bananas, onions, asparagus, artichokes, dandelion greens, leeks, apples, and cabbage are especially great prebiotic-rich foods.

5. Limit sugar and sugary foods

Sugar, sugary foods, and high-glycemic foods (like white flour, corn, and potatoes) feed the bad gut bacteria and yeasts also found in the gut microbiome. In a healthy gut, the beneficial bacteria keep these bad bacteria in check. But a diet high in sugar can cause an overgrowth in bad bacteria, impairing digestion and causing digestive distress.

6. Soothe indigestion naturally

Mint and ginger are both great for supporting the digestive tract and easing indigestion. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “peppermint relaxes the muscles that allow painful digestive gas to pass” (however, if you have heartburn as a result of GERD, best to stay away from peppermint). Ginger similarly relaxes the digestive tract, helping to reduce gas and bloating from indigestion. This is why I always keep peppermint and ginger tea on hand! I really enjoy Tumi organic Moroccan mint tea and Bigelow organic lemon ginger tea.

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