Are you ready to have your mind-blown?? Did you know that we have more bacteria in our body than human cells?! That may sound crazy, because if you think back to science class, you know we are taught that our body is made up of human cells, trillions of them. Science has come so far in the last decade, and medicine is starting to understand how important and encompassing our bacterial balance is to our overall health, especially our Gut bacteria! This bacteria has many responsibilities, but it also greatly lines and aids our digestive tract. Our digestive tract plays an important role in transporting food to our stomach and converts that food into nutrients and energy that keeps our body functioning properly. The body is pretty amazing, in my opinion!
A healthy and happy microbiome is critical to the normal functions of your body. It’s comprised of approximately 40 trillion bacterial cells that have a direct impact on your heart, immune system, mental state, and other chronic illnesses.  When you have poor gut health, you won’t be feeling your best and may even experience pain, depression, skin problems, digestive upset, or other discomforts. I’ve been in your position and trust me that is no way to live! Today I’m here to share six ways to help naturally restore your gut health, so you get back to feeling like yourself again!
1. Take a Daily Probiotic
It’s super important to keep the good bacteria in your gut happy because they play an important role in breaking down and digesting your food, as well as many roles in keeping your immune system strong. They also help keep your gut in balance and prevent the bad bacteria from taking over, causing illness. From experience, I’ve seen first hand that a poor diet, antibiotics, acid-blocking meds, and steroids can reduce or eliminate the supply of bacteria in the gut and cause negative grave effects on your health.
A simple solution is to take a daily probiotic to quickly restore a healthy balance to your body. Add a dose of 50-100 billion units per serving of a probiotic to your daily diet for the best results, make sure it’s a reputable brand with live cultures, and be sure to rotate your probiotic supplement every few months, to help repopulate as many beneficial strains as possible. Trust me, it’s a total lifesaver!.  A probiotic supplement will help re-colonize the bacteria and help you regain balance in your gut, but it’s only a piece to the puzzle! Read on:)
2. Eliminate Food Sensitivity Culprits
Each of our bodies has a difficult time digesting certain foods, and inflammatory issues and infections can occur if we don’t remove those foods that we individually don’t tolerate well. It can be very difficult to pinpoint which foods do this since we eat so many different foods each day, and there is no one food that is good for every person on this planet, so below are a few common inflammation producing culprits that I’ve found to be commonly irritating to the gut, especially if you have an undiagnosed food sensitivity or allergy. 
Gluten: commonly known to cause problems related to gut dysfunction like gluten due to the chemicals used to harvest the grains it is present in, as well as its overall inflammatory effect. It is a sticky protein that can be hard for the body to tolerate or digest, especially for those with thyroid dysfunction. A few great alternative grains that I love include rice, buckwheat, or quinoa.
Unsprouted Grains: contain phytic acid and can cause irritation in your intestines. Replace with products made with sprouts grains that are easier to digest and absorb essential minerals like iron and calcium.  Look for gluten-free sprouted oatmeal, breads, or quinoa; you will be surprised how easy they are to find, even in your standard grocery store.
Cows Milk: casein, a protein in cows milk, is a very inflammatory protein overall, but milk can also cause a lot of discomfort if you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive to cow’s milk…and if you aren’t buying grass-fed organic milk, you are also exposing your body to additional pesticides, antibiotics, and added hormones. Can you say teenage acne! Coconut, hemp, oat, or almond milk are all great alternatives that will eliminate casein and help allow a happier gut. In my opinion, they still taste just as great as cows milk, and after a couple of days of trying a few, you’ll definitely be on board with the change.
Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners: sugar can cause an imbalance in gut microbes, an increase in your blood sugar, and a decrease in immune function. This can affect your mood and physical performance. It’s important to stop eating excess sweets and drinks to relieve the stress on your GI tract and your overall health. I know it can be hard to cut out sugar, believe me, I love being the taste tester when my girls made a delicious dessert, and I don’t always do well with portion control! So it definitely helps if you don’t buy sweets in the first place, or go through your house and remove any sweets laying around that might be a temptation. It’ll be much easier in the long run, and eventually, you won’t even crave sweets as much as you used to. I was able to lose the need for a ‘sweet after dinner snack’ in just three days of cutting sugar out during my last Gut Health Fix Course!
GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms): The herbicides and pesticides included can cause severe damage to your cells, gut lining, and organs, causing unhealthy inflammation. It sadly is not a law in this country to label GMO foods, so I try to buy organic as much as possible to avoid the chemically-laden food!
Alcohol & Pain Medication: The ingredients in alcohol and pain meds aren’t easy for your body to process, and can cause havoc on your gut lining. Of course, you can still have an occasional glass of wine; just do it in moderation and always listen to your body first and foremost. There are also many natural alternatives to pain meds. However, I recommend getting to the root of the problem to help correct it, versus masking a dysfunction with an OTC drug. I will make a note to do a whole blog on natural pain relief because I know this is easier said than done!
By removing these chemicals from your diet, you should notice a positive change to your gut health, and if you combine it with more methods, I think you will be very pleased with your overall progress within 30 days. Be super patient, though, and don’t give up. You won’t see results overnight, but after a few weeks without these foods, you’ll feel so much better. I know I always do, and it seriously feels amazing to feel amazing!
3. Stick with Gut-Friendly Foods
It may come as no surprise that certain foods can help improve common GI conditions such as leaky gut, celiac disease, and food sensitivities. Here are a few that will quickly help restore your gut health and have you feeling better in no time. In fact, some of these are my personal favorites that consistently have me feeling at my best! My nutritional page on the blog is full of gut-approved recipes that will help your gut stay healthy.
- Bone Broth 
- Raw Cultured Dairy (kefir, amasai, and yogurt)
- Fermented Vegetables (coconut kefir, kvass, sauerkraut or kimchi)
- Steamed Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, green bean)
- Healthy Fats (egg yolks, salmon, avocado)
4. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Do you know your body is intended to digest for 12 hours at night? A 12 hour fast sounds like a long time, but for the majority of it, you should be asleep. A healthy gut will do wonders to help improve your sleep habits, and a recent study shows that your gut’s microbiome is vital to the relationship between sleep and your mental state.  There are a few simple methods you can try if you find yourself having a difficult time getting a good night’s rest.
- Sleep In a Dark Room (blackout shades, or a sleep mask)
- Turn Your Phone’s Airplane Mode On (or move it more than 6 feet from you)
- Use Earplugs
- Use a white, pink, or brown Noise Sound Machine 
- Eat Your Last Meal 2 Hours Before Bed
- Take a Natural Sleep Aid, such as magnesium- my go to!
5. Reduce Stress
Stress can have serious implications to your health. Did you know that it is estimated that approximately 75% of all primary care doctor visits are from stress-related ailments or complaints?! Stress can even have a direct effect on your brain-gut communication and can trigger pain, bloating, and other types of discomfort in your abdomen. If you have a high-stress job or have people in your life who cause you lots of stress, it’s important to find some ways to help cope so you can feel more relaxed and relieve your stress levels to reduce the strain on your gut. A few of my favorite methods include exercise, playing music, meditation, and deep breathing to help relieve stress.
6. Exercise Regularly
One of my favorite times of the day is when I get to work out or go for a long walk with my girls. I always feel so much better after a good movement and giggle sesh, and it’s also super healthy for us too! The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, along with weight training and other physical activity.  That means that you don’t have to spend your entire day exercising, that breaks down to just 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Just get out and go for a walk or find another form of exercise that you love. It’ll help with good heart health, mood, weight loss, and improve your gut health.
Listen to Your Body
Chances are if you’ve been having stomach pain, discomfort, skin disorders, or other unidentifiable health issues, your gut is out of balance! I’ve been there, and it’s the worst! Luckily you’re in the right place to jump-start your journey to a healthier gut! The best part is you’ll create a healthier lifestyle along the way!
 Sender, R., Fuchs, S., & Milo, R. (2016, August 19). Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/
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 Eckelkamp, S. (2019, October 23). 6 Best Sprouted Grain Breads – And Why You Should Eat Them in the First Place. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a20706701/best-sprouted-grain-bread/
 Myers, A. (2019, May 30). 10 Benefits of Bone Broth Gut Healing Recipe. Retrieved from https://www.amymyersmd.com/2013/06/10benefitsofbonebrothguthealingrecipe/
 Li, Y., Hao, Y., Fan, F., & Zhang, B. (2018, December 5). The Role of Microbiome in Insomnia, Circadian Disturbance and Depression. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290721/
 Papalambros, N. A., Santostasi, G., Malkani, R. G., Braun, R., Weintraub, S., Paller, K. A., & Zee, P. C. (2017, March 8). Acoustic Enhancement of Sleep Slow Oscillations and Concomitant Memory Improvement in Older Adults. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28337134
8] Natural Sleep Aids and Remedies. (2019, October 23). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/women/natural-sleep-remedies#1
 American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. (n.d.).