My new year gut healing protocol
So I have come a long way with my gut health. Years ago, I remember dealing with severe candidal overgrowth, intestinal permeability, food sensitivities that were pages long, and all the pleasant symptoms like bloating, gas, and heartburn.
I had to unbutton my pants after every meal and lie down it was so bad.
Fast forward to today where I support my gut on a daily basis and rarely encounter any symptoms.
But at the end of 2018, I started experiencing heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and gas with certain meals.
This made some sense since my lifestyle was becoming a little hectic and my stress levels were higher than before. I wasn’t really slowing down to eat my meals or chew really well.
A wake up call. I think that’s what they call it.
So as any decent nutritionist would do, I decided to start from the basics and work on the foundations of my digestion.
And my symptoms improved significantly within a few weeks.
How did I do this ?
Below I share what I did to address my digestive symptoms naturally.
I worked on my stomach acid
Stomach acid is highly underrated. If you ain’t producing enough stomach acid you are going to encounter many problems and not just digestion wise. Low stomach acid, also known as hypochlorhydria, can result in hypothyroidism, low nutrient status, pathogen overgrowth like candida, compromised digestion, hormonal imbalances, immune dysfunction, fatigue, food sensitivities, inflammation, etc….
Some common signs of low stomach acid are heartburn, a heavy and tired feeling after eating, gas, bloating, feeling full but still hungry floating stools, anemia, frequent nausea, and undigested food. This is especially common after eating protein rich animal foods.
So what can you do? I started taking Betaine HCL (which is basically stomach acid that our stomach produces naturally) with pepsin before my dinner when I usually eat animal protein. This made a significant difference pretty much immediately as I experienced less to no bloating or gas. You may have to take more than you think so I would suggest doing the stomach acid test to make sure you are taking the right dose.
You can also take raw apple cider vinegar prior to meals or herbal bitters to promote your own stomach acid production. And make sure you drink plenty of filtered water throughout your day, but away from meals.
2. I took a broad spectrum enzyme with bile
I decided to get back on the digestive enzyme train for my heavier meals (lunch and dinner) to help me digest my foods, especially grains and fats. I made sure to include bile in the formula to help support my liver and break down fats as I had a hunch I wasn’t digesting my fats optimally. Enzymes can be very helpful if you eat heavier meals, grains, legumes, or lots of fiber as our body can have a difficult time breaking down these foods. This will also help you avoid that heavy feeling after a meal and actually help you extract the nutrients from your meals. I ALWAYS carry digestive enzymes with me when I am eating outside of home, you never know what you will be eating plus no one wants to bloat in public!
3. I took DGL + marshmallow
Soothing to the digestive tract and promoting of digestive function, these herbs are fantastic for healing and calming inflammation in the gut by supporting and protecting the mucus lining of the stomach and intestines. Deglycyrrhinized licorice or DGL is different from normal licorice as it has the glycyrrhizin removed to avoid potential side effects such as elevated blood pressure. I like taking these in tea form but you can also take them in capsule form.
4. I drank aloe vera and celery juice every morning
I love starting my day with celery juice. It’s the best poop promoter for anyone who needs extra support ;)
It also helps stimulate stomach acid production, relieves heartburn, and supports the liver to produce bile. I added 1 tbsp of pure aloe vera juice as an anti-inflammatory and gut healer to my glass of celery juice after waking up. I also love to add herbs like parsley and cilantro to support liver detox even more.
5. I had smaller meals throughout the day
For me, I need to eat every 3 or 4 hours to feel my best. Especially when 'I’m under a lot of stress. When I eat larger meals less often I feel bloated and heavy and fatigued. So I decided to implement smaller meals again and bring snacks if I needed them. So basically my day looks like this : breakfast - lunch - snack (optional) - dinner - evening elixir or herbal tea.
This routine works the best for me, my digestion, and my energy levels. It helped me digest more of my food without putting a huge strain on my digestive organs. Besides, food comas are never a fun time anyway.
5. I practiced slow eating
This is probably the hardest one out of all of them. Who just sits down and eats these days? No one I have met. Yet. The reality is we barely take time to sit down and have a proper meal and even when we do it’s usually watching TV or scrolling through our phone. This is not an optimal way to digest our food. We want to be promoting our Parasympathetic Nervous System in order to get our digestive juices going, activate our digestive process, and lower stress hormones so that our body can actually focus on breaking down the food we are about to eat. If you are in a stressed state during meals, then your body will not be prepping for food. It’s one or the other. So I have been making a real effort to time 20-30 minutes to eat my food, take deep breaths before my meal, chew properly (this means until it has become complete mush), and eat without electronics. Try it, I dare you.
6. I increased my water intake
We all know it. We should drink more water. But at the end of the day most of us just don’t drink enough. And this can severly affect your digestion as well as impact your overall health. We need to be sufficiently hydrated to be able to flush out toxins, produce digestive secretions, absorb nutrients from our food. So I have been focusing on refilling my water bottle 4 times a day to make sure I am getting enough. Add some lemon or mint to add flavor and buy a stainless steel water bottle to make sure you are avoiding chemicals from plastic materials.
*Always check in with your healthcare provider to make sure supplements are right for you.
Want more? Check out my FREE guide to kickstart your digestion here