Gut Trouble? Here's A 1-Day Detox To Get Your Digestion Back On Track
It's that time of the year again! Holiday meals and parties are filling up your social calendar, and everyone's in the mood to celebrate. And that's a great thing! But it can also be hard on your gut.
As an integrative medicine doctor, I often recommend a gut reset to my patients. It can help them get back on track in a way that addresses the root cause of digestive upset—without resorting to pills, tricks, or shortcut promises. This real-food, science-backed approach to resetting your gut is something you can do any time but is especially helpful to call upon over the next couple of months.
The foods that will help you reset your gut.
During your gut reset, you should be including foods from four major categories, including:
1. Prebiotic fiber from vegetables.
Vegetable fibers like those in broccoli and artichoke are essential for the gut. These types of plant-based fibers are actually food for the good gut bacteria. To make it easy on your stomach, make sure that when you eat these foods they are well-roasted or steamed.
2. Leafy greens
Leafy greens like spinach contain fiber and are very easily digestible. They are also a great source of antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals from processed foods and sugar—which will likely find their way into your gut more than once in the next month.
Certain spices like turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon have been shown in medical studies to be anti-inflammatory and great for gut health. They also have calming effects after the frenzy of the holidays.
4. Fermented foods
Eating tiny amounts of miso, kimchi, or pickles is a great way to reset the gut. Study after study shows that food-based probiotic bacteria is hardy and does not get degraded by the time it gets to the colon! Adding more fermented foods is a great way to get those gut bacteria back in action.
Other foods like healthy fats from avocado have also been shown to be beneficial for the gut both for their fiber content and fatty acid profile.
Exactly how to reset your gut in one day.
Since we're trying to reset the gut and give it a rest from all the digesting it's been doing, the first thing you should do is try to fast for at least 16 hours, which means you leave 16 hours between your last meal of the day and breakfast. This is called intermittent fasting, and it's a great way to give the gut a rest and improve hormone and bacterial balance. The other essential lifestyle component for natural detox is sweating and nature—which are all included in the detailed plan below.
So without further ado, here's exactly how your one-day gut detox plan might look. Feel free to adjust based on your activity level and personal health goals.
First thing in the morning: Drink water and apple cider vinegar.
Wake up and drink one full glass of water, then go outside (barefoot for at least two minutes is best) and stretch in nature. Getting two minutes of sunlight in the morning can help reset your circadian rhythm and energize you for the day. A little later on, take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar dissolved in water; it's been shown to have blood-sugar-balancing properties.
For lunch: Break your fast, and break a sweat.
Break your fast after 16 hours with roasted or steamed vegetables and berries. At some point during the day, break a sweat. This can take the form of warm or hot yoga, a workout, or sitting in a sauna for 20 minutes. If you want to snack throughout the day, stick to fermented veggies.
At dinnertime: Make some soup, and take some extra magnesium.
For dinner stick to soup and root vegetables like sweet potato. If you can, go for a brisk nature walk after dinner. When you're getting ready for bed, try a five-minute meditation and a magnesium supplement—which you can get in a powder, capsule, or even in the form of an Epsom salt bath—to help you wind down and get a good night's sleep. As an added bonus, spend time with positive family, friends, and pets that bring joy into your life. This will help bring down your anxiety, which can help your gut recover and decrease inflammation and is the perfect way to end your 24-hour gut detox.
You can do this gut detox as often as you'd like over the next couple of months. It should help mitigate the negative side effects of indulging a little too much, while still allowing you to live in the moment and enjoy the holidays and time with family and friends.
Dr. Amy Shah is a double board certified MD with training from Cornell, Columbia and Harvard Universities. She was named one of mindbodygreen's Top 100 Women In Wellness to Watch in 2015 and has been a guest on many national and local media shows. She helps busy people transform their health by reducing inflammation and eating more plants, utalizing the power of the microbiome to help digestion, natural hormone balance and food sensitivities. She is an expert on intermittent fasting for women and has a 2 week guided group program.