The holidays are behind us, and perhaps you had some over-indulgence that made you feel not so great in your gut. You may be looking to start new healthy habits to improve your gut and overall health. I would love to offer my best tips to do this based on scientific evidence.
5 Ways to Love Your Gut in the New Year
1. Say “no” to fad diets or detox programs
First and foremost, avoid falling into the trap of starting a fad diet, or detox program. Or giving in to the pressure to eliminate entire food groups. No matter what the clever ads or other people say, these strategies are not based on science. Indeed, they are unsustainable and can be harmful. There is no one-size fits all diet for gut and overall health. Furthermore, your body is very well equipped with all the detoxification mechanisms you need.
2. Eat 30 plants a week
Look after your gut and it will look after you. Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that help influence pretty much any aspect of your health: gut health, immunity, your metabolism, mental health, and more. The best way to take care of your gut is to feed your gut bacteria their favorite food – fiber! This way, they can keep thriving and multiplying.
The best way to do this is to eat a variety of plant foods: at least 30 different ones each week. These include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas & lentils), nuts and seeds, and even herbs and spices.
If you find that many of these foods cause your gut symptoms, work with a dietitian to figure out your triggers. This can help you expand the variety in your diet. Plus, the next point…
3. Eat fermented foods
We know from research that adding fermented foods to your diet can improve the variety and abundance of your good gut bacteria and decrease several markers of inflammation.
Add foods that contain live bacteria every day. Try yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha (just watch out for added sugar in many products), pickles, and miso.
If you don’t tolerate lactose, there are lactose-free versions of yogurt and kefir. And, you can find low-FODMAP serving sizes of fermented vegetables.
4. Avoid focusing only on food
We are quick to blame the last meal or a specific food for our gut symptoms. Sometimes we may be right. But many times, there are other factors at play such as stress, lack of sleep, or exercise.
Managing stress, moving our body in a pleasurable way, and having enough good-quality sleep, are key to gut and overall health.
5. Be kind to yourself
Start slow, with a few small changes. Practice self-compassion as you are working toward your goals and celebrate milestones and small wins along the way. It will feel less overwhelming and ensure that you keep at it and do not quit after a short time.
Most of all, give yourself the love and compassion you would to a child or your best friend. Above all, avoid negative self-talk.
Are you still struggling with IBS symptoms such as bloating, gas, and unpredictable bathroom habits? I can help!
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