Want To Improve Your Gut Health? Do These 6 Things First
After years of struggling with mysterious health issues and illnesses, visiting doctor after doctor, taking test after test, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on my health, it all boiled down to one simple answer for me: toxicity.
Our bodies were built to deal with natural pollution created by digestion, respiration, and metabolism, but they're not designed to handle the enormous amount of artificial pollutants we're exposed to in today's chemical-filled world. The only way to deal with this toxic overload is to assist the body's natural self-cleansing mechanisms with detoxing. One way you can start detoxing today is by supporting your gut microbiome, the place where over 70 percent of your immune system lives.
Hunger and appetite together drive you to do one very important thing: eat. When you feel that pang of hunger, you know what you need to do. But eating is about more than just quieting your appetite. You do not subsist on calories alone; you need a spectrum of nutrients and vitamins to feed your body on a cellular level.
Foods have so much more to them than calories, and yet many people think caloric intake is the bottom line. Au contraire, my friend! The number of calories a food has is merely information, and as with any other kind of information, less isn't necessarily better, just as more isn't necessarily bad.
A 100-calorie snack pack is in no way equal to 100 calories of an avocado. Counting calories is the last thing you should worry about when you're trying to eat clean. A handful of nuts may be calorically dense, but there's a lot of goodness packed in there you can't get somewhere else.
Choose foods based on how they nourish every cell in your body rather than by how many calories you believe they will glue to your waistline. When you're eating clean, believe it or not, those calories don't add up to love handles because those foods will be supporting your microbiome and nourishing your body.
Here are a few ways to detox and support your gut microbiome on a daily basis.
1. Eat clean.
It's important to remove processed foods from your lifestyle as well as inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and refined table salt as well as nonorganic animal products (such as conventional milk, cheese, meat, poultry, eggs), which are full of antibiotics and growth hormones. These foods can create inflammation, allergens, and other negative effects in our body, increasing our risk for unwanted symptoms.
In my best-selling cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, I talk about the importance of detoxing our body daily by eating whole foods.
Foods like sprouted walnuts, leafy greens, ground flaxseeds, avocados, and berries are anti-inflammatory and are great options to eat.
2. Remove pathogens.
It's important to work with a functional M.D. to remove the bad bacteria, parasites, and yeast in your gut. Think of this removal like pulling out the weeds in your garden: You have to get rid of the bugs before you can plant the flowers (probiotics and prebiotics).
3. Drink filtered water.
Drink filtered water throughout the day instead of tap water to avoid anything that could be lurking in your tap water that can do more harm than good for your gut health.
Tap water is full of fluoride, which negatively affects your thyroid, the lining of your gut, and other organs. Make sure your water filter removes all heavy metals and fluoride. Here's my favorite filter.
4. Eat more green veggies.
It's important to feed our microbiome by eating more dark leafy green veggies, which keep the health of our microbiome balanced. Leafy green veggies are a great way for us to feed our good bacteria so they can keep us healthy. Plus, they're full of fiber and nutrients to fuel our bodies.
5. Focus on the good bacteria.
Taking a high-quality probiotic will fill your microbiome with good bacteria to help your immunity and digestion. Look for probiotics that contain a variety of strains of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. Talk to your functional M.D. about what strains of good bacteria are right for your body.
6. Eat prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods.
Add in good bacteria to promote healthy gut flora by eating probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods and drinks. You've probably heard of eating probiotic-rich foods such as chickpea miso, kombucha, pickled veggies, kimchee, and coconut water kefir that feed your microbiome, but it's as important to feed your gut prebiotic-rich foods that are nondigestible short-chain fatty acids that help feed your good bacteria.
Garlic, asparagus, jicama, chicory root, dandelion greens, gluten-free oats, and onions are great examples of prebiotic-rich foods that feed your gut flora, which nourish the cells in your body.
Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.