Did you indulge in a few too many sweets and/or drinks over the holidays Are you feeling a bit more bloated, gassy, or irregular right now? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you might need a gut reboot. But don’t worry, it’s not going to be difficult and it won’t break the bank.
Why do we need to do a gut reboot anyway?
Our gut is more than just the source of an embarrassing bit of wind or some rumbly indigestion. It’s the source of the building blocks for every cell in your body.
It’s true! Our digestive system breaks down all of the macro- (carbs, fats, and protein) and micro-nutrients (vitamins & minerals) in the food we eat and brings them into our body so we can literally make all of the cells and tissue we need.
This process is so complex that our gut is loaded with brain cells (neurons) to control and manage it—so much so that our gut has been called our “second brain”.
While indigestion may seem like just a mildly annoying condition, it’s actually a sign that you’re not fully absorbing and assimilating your nutrients properly.
The power of our inner rainforest
Cell for cell, we are more bacteria than we are human. These little visitors play an enormous role in our health and they mostly live in our gut.
In a nutshell, they help us digest food, regulate our metabolism, balance our immune system, balance our mood and reduce our risk of obesity, heart disease, auto-immune conditions, and diabetes.
Let’s just say they do A LOT!
The cornerstone of a gut reboot is making our gut bacteria as happy and healthy as possible—while also adding in some gut healing foods to make their home as lovely as possible.
3 Steps to a Gut Reboot
Step 1 – Reseed your gut with a human-strain probiotic
In the past, our gut bacteria colony stayed strong because it was constantly being reseeded by bacteria that was naturally found in our environment.
We had strains of bacteria in our drinking water, our veggies came straight from the probiotic-rich soil, and we had less-than-stellar sanitation.
Today (thankfully), we have beautifully clean water and great sanitation, although these modern conveniences have weakened our gut bacteria.
I’m definitely not willing to trade away my clean water and sanitation, so instead I choose to reseed my gut with a good probiotic supplement.
We all need to take a probiotic semi-regularly to make up for this lost bacteria input (at least one or two per week). But for the gut reboot and anytime you’re dealing with any indigestion symptoms, one to three per day is key.
My favorite is Flora’sAdult Blend Probiotic . I’ve been taking it for years and my gut LOVES it. Flora has a full line of refrigerated and shelf-stable probiotics, so you can find exactly the one for you.
They’re all human-strain, multi-strain, and will survive the digestive process. This means they’ll get into your intestinal tract where you need them. Woo!
Step 2 – Feed your gut bacteria with dietary prebiotic fiber
Picture your gut bacteria as a beautiful green lawn. First, we need to add seeds and then we need to feed the seeds with some water and fertilizer. Without feeding the seeds, they won’t grow.
The best “fertilizer” for your inner ecosystem is plant-based fiber. They LOVE it and it helps them grow into a strong community.
Enjoy lots of fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. They’re all amazing, so enjoy what you love.
Wanna kick it up a notch? Add some fermented foods.
Fermented foods are an extra potent fertilizer for your gut. They can be fermented veggies like sauerkraut, fermented dairy like yogurt or kefir, or fermented supplements like Flora’s Green Blend / Beyond Greens.
All you need is one serving of your fave fermented food each day.
Step 3 – Heal your gut lining
If we go back to the lawn analogy, the lining of your small and large intestine is like the soil for your seeds.
Your gut bacteria need a healthy gut lining to adhere to so they can grow and multiply.
Aloe vera juice, slippery elm, and L-glutamine are wonderful gut healers and are especially good if you’re feeling any pain or irritation in your digestive system.
My favorite everyday gut healer is chia chocolate pudding<1>. It’s amazing that something so delicious can also be gut healing.
When we soak chia seeds, they create a gel-like fiber. This fiber feeds your gut bacteria and soothes and heals your gut lining. It’s also a gentle dietary fiber that can help balance any irregularity.
Plus, it’s delicious! If you use a good quality cocoa or raw cacao, you also get a dose of the calming mineral magnesium.
I bet you can see why I like it so much.
Just follow these steps for four weeks and your gut will be happier and healthier in no time.
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of LisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.