How Spending Time Outside Transformed My Gut Health

How Spending Time Outside Transformed My Gut Health Hero Image
Photo: Morgan Oliver Allen

I have notoriously suffered from gut health issues for my entire life. My parents say that I came out of the womb with stomach problems. Colic, acid reflux, food sensitivities and allergies; you name it, I’ve had it. Always. I used to scream every time they would feed me. How's that for developing a positive relationship with food?

My journey to ease my gut health and try to get my stomach issues under control has been a long one with a very windy road. I always say that as much as my stomach problems challenge me, they have also been my greatest blessing. Without them, I wouldn't have become so passionate about health and wellness.

Now wellness, nutrition, exercise, and overall seeking every opportunity to feel good and write about it has become my career, so I guess I should say, "Thank you, gut health problems."

Getting outside and grounding.

One thing I have found that helps immeasurably with my stomach problems is getting outside, immersing myself in nature, and moving my body intuitively. Active recovery outside has become my refuge, and my body now craves it from the inside out. It sounds so simple, but returning our bodies to the earth is one of the most healing things we can do for ourselves.

Have you ever heard of grounding? Here's the concept: When we touch our bare feet to the earth—i.e., walking on the wet sand, standing tall in the dirt on a hike, wiggling our toes in the grass—then we soak up the natural, subtle energy that nature has to offer us. In essence, grounding our feet into the earth re-connects us to who we are at our core.

Photo: Morgan Oliver Allen

The infusion of energy is incredibly powerful! I do this as often as I can, which means that yes, I am that girl who takes her shoes off at the top of a hike in order to feel the dirt between my toes. Call me crazy, but the proof is in the pudding. Nature has so many healing properties, including massive amounts of stress reduction.

Stress and the gut.

It’s no secret that so many of our gut health issues are related to the stress of modern life. I don't know about you, but I have to make a conscious effort to wake up and not look directly at my text messages and the rising number in my email inbox. Instead, I make the choice to re-connect. To myself, and to my true intentions for the day and how I want to show up for myself and the people in my life.

Getting outside and moving intuitively is one of the key ways I am able to stay consistent with those choices. It’s not about rejecting technology—I built my blog and brand solely off the beauties of technology and social media!—but about learning to balance the intake of electronics and being "on" with being able to totally shut off and return to nature.

It’s also no secret that I have gotten pretty "hippie" over the last few years. If you’ve followed my arc on Instagram alone, then you know I have made some serious shifts in my lifestyle to include so much more self-care, downtime, intuitive movement, outside time, and soul-nourishing activities. The shifts have changed everything about me in such a positive way, from my gut health to my business.

Photo: Morgan Oliver Allen

Less bloating, easier digestion.

A few gut-health benefits I have experienced from my intuitive movement outdoors (i.e., going on a walk or a hike instead of a hard-core run or an indoor HIIT class) are less bloating and pain, more ease with digestion, and much more access to my intuitive sense about the foods I need each day to nourish myself and feel my best. When I feel that rising ball of stress in my stomach, I pop outside and go for a walk. Even better, I try to make my way to the beach or to the mountains for a hike.

It’s also not about rejecting those more intense workouts or indoor exercise but rather about balancing them with getting outside. Vitamin D has so many healing properties too, not to mention it will make you a happier person overall.

If anything, I try to focus on doing the things that make me feel my best from the inside out. Being outside makes me happy, helps clear my head, gives me more access to my creative stimulation and new ideas, and of course—eases those gut problems! It’s simple and far more basic than all of the other things I do for my gut health. We all deserve to feel our best every day after all, and the medicine of nature is there for us at any time of day, always.

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