Our gut is home to trillions of microbes that play a crucial role in digestion, immunity, and even mental health. Neglecting this essential aspect of our being can lead to a cascade of health issues, leaving us feeling drained, irritable, and disconnected. In today’s blog post, we will discuss 10 sustainable gut-friendly habits for healing gut health that you can seamlessly incorporate into your daily life. There is absolutely no need for drastic measures or overwhelming lifestyle changes; I strongly believe in the power of small, deliberate actions that create lasting impact.
Healthy Habit #1: Incorporating Lean, Good Quality Protein
Protein is essential for numerous bodily functions, including building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and supporting a healthy immune system.
Without adequate protein, fats, and micronutrients, your digestive tract may not adequately do its job of absorbing nutrients. Glutamine is the main amino acid and energy source for the cells that line the intestinal tract, therefore adequate glutamine is needed to keep digestion working at its best. Our body makes some glutamine on its own but when you are dealing with digestive issues, your glutamine production can be impaired. Foods that are high in glutamine are red cabbage, Fish and seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, soy and dark leafy green veggies.
- Balanced Meal Planning: Incorporate a serving of lean protein in each meal. For example, enjoy grilled chicken breast with a side of steamed vegetables and quinoa for dinner.
- Healthy Snacking: Prepare protein-rich snacks to keep you satisfied between meals. If you are not sensitive to whey, having a Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds and a drizzle of honey makes for a nutritious and filling snack.
- Meat Substitutes: Explore plant-based protein options like tofu, tempeh, or legumes as alternatives to meat. A lentil-based soup or a tofu stir-fry can be delicious and satisfying.
Healthy Habit #2: Aim for At Least 8 Hours of Sleep Each Night
When you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones can become unbalanced, and the stress hormone, cortisol, can rise. Increased stress can cause leaky gut—where undigested food particles, unwanted substances and toxins are able to pass through the intestine and into the bloodstream. This can lead to a host of issues including bloating, inflammation, food sensitivities, and gut dysbiosis.
- Establish a Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to regulate your internal clock. Turn off all electronic devices at least 1 hours before your bedtime
- Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine: Engage in relaxing activities before bed, such as reading a book, practicing deep breathing, or taking a warm bath.
- Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Make your bedroom conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains and white noise machines if needed.
Healthy Habit #3: Getting Sunshine and Connecting with Nature
Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while promoting a sense of calm and overall well-being. The lower your stress levels are, the healthier your microbiome is which is essential for healing gut health. Some studies have even shown that getting sunshine and vitamin D improves microbial diversity. It also helps to keep the gut lining tighter and closes the loose gaps in-between.
- Morning Sunlight: Start your day by spending a few minutes outside to absorb natural sunlight. This can help regulate your circadian rhythm, improve mood and helps you get a dose of vitamin D
- Outdoor Activities: Incorporate outdoor activities into your routine, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or picnicking in a park.
- Mindful Nature Experience: Practice mindfulness while in nature. Focus on the sights, sounds, and sensations around you to fully immerse yourself in the present moment.
Healthy Habit #4: Adding a Variety of Plant-Based Foods
A diverse plant-based diet provides an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and dietary fiber. Studies show that plant-based diets are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. They can also support weight management and promote healthy digestion and helps improve diversity within your gut microbiome.
- Eat like a rainbow: Aim to have a colorful plate at every meal, incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Different colors represent different nutrients.
- Explore Whole Grains: Experiment with whole grains like quinoa, barley, millet and amaranth as alternatives to refined grains. These provide more fiber and many other nutrients.
- Plant-Based Snacks: Replace processed snacks with plant-based alternatives like carrot sticks with hummus, mixed nuts, or fruit salads.
Healthy Habit #5: Adding Electrolytes in Water
Electrolytes help regulate the movement of water in and out of cells and facilitate the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, including muscle contractions and the secretion of digestive enzymes. Maintaining optimal electrolyte levels is essential for supporting a healthy gut environment and promoting the growth and function of beneficial gut microbes. A well-hydrated and electrolyte-balanced environment in the gut can create favorable conditions for beneficial bacteria to thrive. In turn, these beneficial microbes can help maintain the integrity of the gut barrier, reduce inflammation, and enhance nutrient absorption.
- Natural Sources: Incorporate natural sources of electrolytes into your water, such as coconut water or citrus fruits.
- Add electrolyte drops/mineral drops in to your water especially when it treated with reverse osmosis
- DIY Electrolyte Water: Create your electrolyte water at home by adding a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon, and a touch of honey to your water.
Healthy Habit #6: Starting Your Day with Movement
Morning movement can kickstart your metabolism, boost mood, and enhance cognitive function throughout the day. Physical activity also helps increase the diversity of the gut microbiome and improve the growth of beneficial bacterial species. Improving the health of your gut microbiome keeps your body in homeostasis and has beneficial effects on not only your digestion and healing gut health but also your immune system and metabolism.
- Morning Stretches: Start your day with gentle stretches to wake up your muscles and improve flexibility.
- Quick Home Workout: Perform a short workout routine, such as bodyweight exercises, yoga, or a brisk walk, to get your blood flowing and energize your body.
- Move Regularly: Incorporate movement throughout the day. Take short breaks from sitting to stretch or walk around.
Healthy Habit #7: Mindful Eating
Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the eating experience, savoring each bite, and being present in the moment. This practice helps prevent overeating, and enhances the enjoyment of food. Eating slowly, chewing mindfully and paying attention to your food promotes a relaxed state for your body and mind, and helps promote optimal digestion of food. Eating mindfully also helps prevent common digestive issues such as constipation, bloating, gas and indigestion.
- Eat Without Distractions: Avoid eating while watching TV, working, or using electronic devices. Focus solely on your meal to better tune into your body’s hunger and satiety cues.
- Chew Slowly and Savor: Take time to chew your food thoroughly and savor the flavors. This allows you to appreciate the textures and tastes while aiding in digestion.
- Recognize Hunger and Fullness: Before and during meals, assess your hunger level. Stop eating when you feel comfortably full. The rule of thumb is to eat until you are 75% full.
Healthy Habit #8: Stress Management and Mindfulness
When we’re stressed, hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the body which can negatively impact gut motility. Stress can affect the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut, resulting in gut dysbiosis. Ongoing stress can increase gut barrier permeability which may increase the chances of developing a leaky gut.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Incorporate short mindfulness meditation sessions into your day. Find a quiet space, focus on your breath or a specific point of attention, and observe your thoughts without judgment.
- Deep Breathing Exercises: Practice deep breathing exercises whenever you feel stressed. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat several times.
- Mindful Breaks: Take short breaks during the day to practice mindfulness. Engage in activities like mindful walking, stretching, or simply taking a few minutes to be fully present and aware of your surroundings.
Healthy Habit #9: Self-Care – Massage, Socialize, Hobbies
Engaging in self-care activities can reduce stress, boost mood, and improve overall well-being. Self care practices support optimal digestive function by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the gut. Massage helps relieve muscle tension and promotes relaxation, while socializing and hobbies provide a sense of connection and fulfillment.
- Self-Massage: Set aside time for self-massage using foam rollers or massage balls. Focus on areas of tension, such as the neck, shoulders, and back.
- Socialize Mindfully: Spend quality time with friends and loved ones. Engage in meaningful conversations and create strong social connections.
- Prioritize Hobbies: Dedicate time each week to hobbies or activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s painting, cooking, dancing, or gardening.
Healthy Habit #10: Practicing Gratitude
Gratitude practice involves regularly expressing appreciation for the positive aspects of life. Studies have shown that cultivating gratitude can reduce stress, enhance overall well-being, and improve mental resilience. It fosters a positive outlook and promotes feelings of contentment and happiness. Gratitude practice affects our brains – and our health – more powerfully than other types of positive emotions. Positive emotions also send strong signals to our gut microbiome, allowing the most beneficial bacteria to thrive and in that way contribute to healing gut health.
- Gratitude Journal: Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you are thankful for each day. Reflect on these positive aspects regularly.
- Express Gratitude to Others: Take the time to thank someone who has made a positive impact on your life. It could be through a heartfelt message, a phone call, or a handwritten note.
- Gratitude Reflection: At the end of the week, review your gratitude journal and take a moment to immerse yourself in the positive emotions associated with the things you’ve written down.
Remember, it’s the small, intentional choices that lead to profound changes for healing gut health overtime. Embrace these transformative practices, and let them become the stepping stones to a healing gut health in a more sustainable way. If you are suffering and struggling with digestive issues, if you have been to multiple doctors already and still looking for answers to your gut problems OR if you are new in your gut healing journey, and unsure how and where to start, I have a free guide called Fix Your Gut that you can download today. This guide provides a step-by-step framework to start your gut healing journey the right way.