Healing your damaged gut is a journey – It is full of trial and error and It can feel like a rollercoaster ride. There are also countless healing modalities and approaches out there, all competing for your attention and making it even more confusing to know what strategy is right for you. As a registered dietitian and gut health expert, I have witnessed some of the most common mistakes people make in improving gut health and how these mistakes slow them down and increase their frustration. If this all resonates with you, I want to share some common mistakes to avoid in improving gut health so that your healing journey will be smoother, easier, and less stressful.
Mistake #1: Assuming that improving gut health happens overnight
The number one mistake many people make is expecting complete gut healing in a short period of time. While short-term symptom management is achievable and important so you can get on with your life, it is important to understand that controlling your symptoms does not mean that the root of your gut issues are fixed. Healing your gut lining is extremely important, but it takes time. This is especially true for people who are struggling with chronic digestive problems like leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and autoimmune conditions. A good rule of thumb to help measure expectations is to assume that it may take one month of healing for every year of being unwell.
As humans, we are generally impatient and look for quick solutions to our problems. But you did not start suffering with digestive issues overnight or in a week or two. It took many days or many weeks or even many years to feel this way. So when it comes to fixing your gut and improving gut health, it is particularly important to understand that gut healing is different from fixing any other damaged part of your body.
For example, If you have a broken arm, you keep that arm in a sling so your arm gets rest and it heals faster. But your digestive system is in use almost all day, every day. So when you are trying to fix your gut, your digestive system is healing while it’s still working, hence sometimes it can take longer to feel better. So even if your healing journey feels long, patience and consistency are essential for long term results.
Mistake #2: Using a one-size fits all approach
When it comes to improving gut health, no two people are ever the same. Every individual is different and that includes their gut microbiome. So when it comes to the treatment plan, it also has to be different in order to meet your unique needs. Some important variables to consider when determining an appropriate treatment plan include:
- Underlying root cause
- Triggering factors
- Medical history
- Lifestyle factors
- Food sensitivities
- Exposure to environmental toxins
For all these reasons, reading about someone else’s success story or following someone else’s protocol most likely will not work for your unique needs and won’t give you long term results. So identifying your underlying conditions and symptoms is very critical to designing and implementing an effective gut healing protocol.
Mistake #3: NOT getting to the root cause
I strongly believe that there has to be a cause for your symptoms. You are not dealing with your symptoms without any cause. So if your practitioner ever tells you that there is no identifiable reason for your digestive issues, you definitely want to take a second opinion. So many of my clients have told me that their practitioner has said, “We have done all the possible lab and tests on you, and everything comes back normal, so it’s all in your head”. Have you had that experience before? Unfortunately, I don’t agree with this.
Every individual struggling with digestive issues has a different underlying root cause tied to their triggers. Period. You will not be able to move forward on your healing journey without first identifying the root cause of your gut issues so you can be on the right path towards healing. There are many contributing factors to gut health issues such as:
- Method of childbirth delivery (i.e. C-section vs vaginal birth)
- Antibiotics and antacids
- Food choices
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- GI infections and any past GI surgeries
Without first identifying exact root causes to your problems, your treatment plan will just feel like throwing spaghetti on the wall.
Mistake #4: Expecting that nutrition alone will solve your problems
Now, this is a big one. Many of my clients tell me that they mostly eat salad and meat every day, but still feel bloated and they are constipated all the time. Healthy, clean eating is extremely important and a diet that focuses on fiber and has no processed foods and added sugar will definitely help manage your symptoms. However, it will not necessarily heal your gut and give you long term results.
In addition to a healthy diet, most people need a comprehensive protocol that includes:
- Supplements to support digestion and heal gut lining
- Lifestyle factors like stress management
- Regular physical activity
- Developing a good sleep schedule
- Improving negative relationships in your life
- Reducing exposure to toxins
Fixing and healing your gut is like solving a puzzle. You want to work on each and every piece of this puzzle to feel 100% better and to feel normal in your body.
I hope this information helped to clarify some of the common mistakes and misconceptions around improving gut health issues. If you are unsure about how to start your gut healing journey, I have created a free guide called “Fix Your Gut” that you can download today. This guide provides you with a step by-step framework on how to start your gut healing journey on the right track. Download your free copy today!