The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Gut Health

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Gut Health

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Gut Health

Gut health is a hot topic in the wellness world, and for good reason. Keep reading to learn why. 

 In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the fundamentals of gut health, common signs of poor gut health, the primary causes, and the benefits of keeping your gut in top shape. 

In this post, you’ll explore the gut health basics, why it’s so important, and some common AND lesser known signs of poor gut health. You’ll also take away simple steps to start improving your gut health naturally from home.


Why is Gut Health so important?

Let’s break this one down easily. 

As a human, you have one body and one life. 

Your physical body is fueled by a few basic things: food, water and oxygen. 

Your lungs are the doorways for oxygen to reach your body via the pump of your heart. And the other two vital factors must pass through your mouth and into your gut, also known as your Gastro-Intestinal Tract (GI Tract).

Whatever food you eat must transit through your GI Tract and along the way get properly broken down into the essential nutrients and fuel your body needs, and whatever you can’t absorb (think of the non-soluble fiber in an apple).

That process of digestion in your gut determines the nutritional basis of your blood chemistry. Every cell in your body depends on the contents of your blood chemistry to perform its vital functions and keep you healthy, happy and productive.

More simply put, your digestion influences your blood chemistry, and your blood chemistry forms the foundation for the health of every cell, tissue and organ in your body. 

That also means if your gut and digestive health is off... then something else is bound to be off down the line. 

So if you walk away with only one thing from this article, let it be this: the health of your gut is the key to your overall well-being. It affects every process and part of your body - from your immunity to healthy, glowing skin, all the way to your mental health.

Yet, many people don’t fully understand what good gut health looks or feels like in their body, or how to know if they’re on track with good gut health, and how to fix it when it’s off. 


What is Gut Health?

Gut health refers to your ability to digest the foods you eat well and perform the two vital functions of your digestive tract:

  1. To break down, absorb and assimilate the vital nutrients in your food.
  2. To let go of what isn’t serving your body. 

One of the gifts of modern science is a growing body of evidence that relates to what is known as your Gut Microbiome and how it contributes to your ability to perform these two functions optimally. 

What is the Gut Microbiome?

Many people are still unaware that your digestive health is heavily dependent upon the balance of bacterial microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. These bacteria are often referred to as the gut microbiome. 

Some of the microbes living in your GI tract are beneficial because they help you stay healthy, while others go against your health. 

A healthy gut contains trillions of beneficial microorganisms that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. They also play a vital role in the overall functioning of your immune system, starting with what you eat. 

On the flip side, having an unhealthy balance of microorganisms in your gut can lead to a range of health issues. If you’ve ever experienced digestive discomfort after a strong round of antibiotics, this is because the antibiotics just killed off much of your beneficial gut microbiome, opening the pathway for unhelpful microbes to steal the show.

The Role of the Gut Microbiome

Modern research on the gut microbiome is in its early stages. What it has shown us is that the gut microbiome is a complex and dynamic ecosystem. 

It plays a crucial role in breaking down food, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful bacteria, viruses, yeasts and other fungi. A growing body of research shows that the balance of these microorganisms can be influenced by various factors not only limited to what you eat, but also your stress levels, exercise habits, and your environment.


How the Digestive System Works

The digestive system is a series of organs that convert food into essential nutrients and energy so the rest of your body can have access. 

If you think about going to the market or grocery store to get food, well… your whole body depends on your digestive system to get its food. 

It starts in the mouth, continues through the esophagus, stomach, and intestines, and ends at the rectum. This whole tract is basically one long tube or water slide. 

Throughout your food’s journey from one end to the other, it’s up to a harmonized synergy of digestive enzymes and bacteria working together to break down food and absorb nutrients. During this process, your body must also keep any waste products moving along to keep the environment healthy. 

As previously mentioned, the gut microbiome is greatly influenced by a number of factors beyond what you eat. The same goes for the secretion of digestive enzymes, which depends greatly on how your organs respond to your biorhythms (like sleep, timing of meals and activities) and your nervous system’s signals. 

As the CEO of your body, your role in keeping yourself and your gut microbiome healthy is to help orchestrate the collaboration of the team members involved - the gut microbiome and the organ functions, and to create an environment where they can all thrive. 

Sounds simple right? 

But how can you know your gut health is off or things aren’t working?

Signs of Poor Gut Health


If you’re experiencing multiple of the following symptoms for days on end, or even weeks or god forbid YEARS, then it's almost certain that something is up with your gut health.

Common Symptoms (the obvious ones)

Poor gut health can manifest in various ways. 

For starters, some of the most common symptoms I see in my clients include:

    • Bloating: Feeling overly full or swollen in the abdomen.
    • Gas: Frequent or excessive flatulence, sometimes smelly, sometimes just physically uncomfortable.
    • Constipation: Infrequent or difficult to pass bowel movements.
    • Diarrhea: Loose, watery stools occurring more frequently than usual.
  • Inflammation & Acid Reflux: Burning sensations around your gut. 
  • Less Obvious Symptoms

    In addition to the more apparent digestive issues, poor gut health can also cause:

    • Brain fog and chronic fatigue: When you feel cloudy, not quite yourself, persistently tired, burnt out, and like nothing can ever really refill your battery.
    • Skin Issues: If you’re in your 30s or beyond and you’re experiencing acne, pimples, blackheads or cystic acne somewhere else on your body, odds are your gut is involved. Other skin conditions like eczema or rosacea are almost always related to gut health issues.
    • Mental Health Struggles: Growing research supports that an unhealthy gut is a key factor in persistent anxiety, depression, irritability and mood swings.
    • Low immunity: If you get sick often, then your body’s cells are likely not getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy and resilient. That starts in your gut. 
    • Hormonal issues: Hormones are responsible for numerous functions in the body, from your body’s metabolism (think body weight, muscle mass and fat) to your body’s sexual functions, like libido. These molecules are made from the endocrine system organs and glands, and if those aren’t getting the essential nutrients they need from your blood chemistry… Well, you’re more likely to experience hormone-related issues, including period- and perimenopause related issues. 
    • Sleep difficulties: Your digestion sets the stage for the rest of your body’s rhythms. If something is off with digestion, it will often become more difficult to get to or stay asleep.
    • Auto-immune diseases: Auto-immune conditions like leaky gut, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and hashimoto's disease are often triggered by or worsened by chronic gut issues. Conversely, when gut health improves, it often becomes easier to manage symptoms and flare-ups. 

    Recognizing that your body’s symptoms and struggles are likely rooted in an imbalance in your gut is the first step toward addressing and improving your gut health.

    Then when you understand what’s causing your gut health imbalances, you have more information about what to do next.

    Causes of Poor Gut Health


    If you find yourself checking numerous boxes on the list of symptoms of an unhealthy gut, you probably want to know what to do about it to help say goodbye to your symptoms. But first, your next thought needs to be, what causes poor gut health? 


    When you can address the issue from the root cause, then you have a much better chance of creating an optimal environment for your gut health to improve. 


    Let’s look at the major causes of poor gut health. 


    Dietary Factors

    Makes sense right? It’s like a party at your house. Whoever makes it in, and the chemistry they have together is going to determine how the party goes down. 

    Well… if you recall your gut is populated by trillions of bacteria that play a vital function in digesting your food. So it makes sense that what goes in will highly impact how everything works in there! 

    For that reason, your diet has a significant impact on your gut health. For example, foods high in processed sugar and certain fats can harm the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut since they can often feed the negative bacteria. Processed foods for example can harm beneficial bacteria due to their preservatives content - what keeps those foods in a bag on a shelf without going rancid is the same reason your gut bacteria can’t digest it either! 

    My take on gut health is that every food you eat casts a vote. You either vote for the candidates who are helping you feel healthy, strong, energized and in balance, or you’re voting for the team that drags you down and contributes to your system. 

    There’s one particular dietary key to digestive health that is often overlooked in most current nutritional and dietary approaches - and that’s the qualities of the food. 

    Most of these approaches focus on things you can quantify - like calories, proteins, fats (all the macronutrients), grams of fiber, and micronutrients like minerals and vitamins. 

    But imagine you and a friend were going to eat the same number of calories in a meal. But one of you sits down with a plate full of chili peppers and the other sits in front of a salad. Those are going to have VERY different effects on your gut. 

    Or imagine you could choose a bowl of cooked oats versus the same amount of oats, with the exact same number of macro and micronutrients. One bowl is ooey-goey and the other is dry and crunchy. The effect is going to be different because it will affect what tools your digestion will need to break down each of the foods into a readily absorbable substance. 

    When your diet doesn’t qualitatively align with what your body and your gut specifically need, then this will also be a vote in the direction of discomfort and negative symptoms. When you can align the qualities of your food with what your unique body needs to function optimally, then your gut health will improve drastically.

    So, the moral of the story is that to optimize gut health, you need to develop an awareness of what foods you’re inviting to the party, how you treat them (like cooked vs raw), and how they all combine to vibe together (or do they have awkward chemistry?). When that party in your gut matches what your body needs, and you’ve cast enough votes in the right direction, then your negative symptoms will likely decrease quickly.

    How Lifestyle Factors Affect Digestive Health 

    Lifestyle choices such as insufficient sleep, lack of exercise, and chronic stress can further disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome. 

    Choosing to stay stuck ruminating on stressful thoughts pumps one set of stress hormones and neurotransmitters through your system. If you, like me, have ever found yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, or like you’re expected to run yourself thin with few boundaries, then you’re sadly voting using your thoughts and mood for a negative biochemistry. 

    Or on the flipside if you’ve ever felt the amazing relaxing feeling of a long savasana after a Yoga class, or that great feeling you get when your endorphins start kicking in at the gym or on a bike ride, then you know how exercise can improve your overall mood and energy levels. 

    Going out for a walk in the fresh air, bopping to your favorite music in your living room like no one is watching, or practicing even just 30 minutes of conscious breathing and movement like Yoga casts a ballot to change your blood chemistry for the positive. 

    So this all points to how your exercise and activities must also align with your body’s unique needs. For example, one person may find the intensity of running a 5k race to be medicine. For another person, trying to run this same distance could be overly stressful and put strain on their whole system. 

    You must mindfully tailor your lifestyle to meet your unique needs, especially when your gut health is off. 

    In addition, habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and even overreliance on medications to treat symptoms can harm essential mucosal membranes that need to stay healthy for absorption to take place. Numbing behaviors like substance abuse often serve as crutches to avoid addressing deeply unmet physiological or emotional needs - and the desire underlying their urges is commonly stress-related.

    Stress and Its Impact on the Gut

    The gut-brain connection is an extreme influence on your overall well being. 

    Increasing numbers of studies have found that chronic stress can alter the balance of your gut microbiota, leading to an unhealthy imbalance of bacteria. This contributes to digestive issues as well as mental health struggles.

    Earlier I mentioned how your digestion influences your blood chemistry. Your thoughts and attitude are a huge contributing factor to your blood chemistry as well. It’s not just about your experiences, but how you process and react or respond to those experiences - which is going to be more deeply rooted in your nervous system function. 

    Each thought, opinion or judgment, just like a food for your physical body, is also a vote in a certain direction for health and wellbeing or to move in the opposite direction. 

    One way to understand this is by looking at the human nervous system and its two main modes of operation: 

    Sympathetic mode - When you're engaged in activity and doing-mode OR when it’s triggering a survival response, this is the hyper-aroused fight or flight state, where your neurotransmitters signal you to ACT to get out of a scary or triggering situation. 

    This mode is when your body is dedicating the majority of its resources to navigate external circumstances. 

    Parasympathetic mode - You may have heard this as “rest and digest.” When your survival mechanisms are triggered and don’t have a sympathetic outlet, your nervous system can also swing into a hypo-responsive “freeze” state. This is an extreme use of the parasympathetic response for numbing pain and suffering. 

    At its best, this aspect of your nervous system allows your body’s resources to be drawn inwards to focus on things like cell repair and digestive functions. 

    So what does that mean for your gut health? 

    If there are things in your lifestyle or daily routines that keep you stuck in a state of chronic stress, then this keeps your nervous system in a more hyper-aroused, tense and active state, always staying ready to deal with the threats you perceive all around you (your job, your boss, your financial situation, the political climate, etc.). 

    Under a near constant load of stress, your body signals a need to hold tension in your neck, shoulders, hips and low back, and up in your head - all your extremities that have to stay in a state of high-alert, ready to act fast. Staying in that tense state prevents your body from dedicating essential signaling to your digestive apparatus. 

    But then imagine - you can finally get your shoulders out of your ears again, let out a sigh of relief, unclench your eye and jaw muscles, and soften around your belly. This shift represents moving into a parasympathetic response. This redirects your blood flow to focusing on your internal organs and GI tract, where healthy digestion and absorption can take place. 

    How Environmental Factors Influences your Digestive Health

    The environment plays an essential role in gut health. The more your body and gut are exposed to antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals, the more disruptive this becomes for your gut microbiome. 

    Even the cleanliness of your living environment can impact your gut health. It might be easy to think that a squeaky clean, totally sanitized and sterile environment free of bacteria is healthy, right? 

    Well think again… 

    Human immunity and gut health depends on having healthy, thriving cities of helpful bacteria in your gut and all over your skin serving as a first line of defense - even before any harmful pathogens could make it to your skin or internal membranes. That means if your hands are overly sanitized, or you have taken too many antibiotics without repairing your gut biome, then you’ve actually lost the outermost protective shield between you and the threats of the world. 

    Think of where most “super bugs” or antibiotic-resistant microbes are born - not out in the Amazon rainforest, but in hospitals where humans have chosen to concentrate large quantities of threatening microbes all in one place by bringing sick folks together, and then trying to sterilize everything! 

    By doing this, much of the good bacteria patients depend on for immune defense is killed off, and then some bacteria escape healthcare professional’s best attempts to eradicate them. When these disease-causing pathogens don’t fully die out, they mutate and become more resistant to our best efforts to fight them. 

    But a better bet to beat them and restore good health? The key lies in the human immune system and our microbiome, which is more diverse and even more adaptable than any single threatening microbe out there. 

    I like to think that the hospitals of the future focus on serving much better quality, gut-healthy foods to patients. I believe this would greatly contribute to quicker and longer-lasting positive health outcomes. 

    The Importance of a Healthy Gut

    So now you’ve contemplated some of the potential causes or contributing factors of poor gut health. But what are some of the real payoffs of improving your gut health? 

    Benefits of Good Gut Health

    Making changes to diet, lifestyle, stress-related factors and environment to maintain a healthy gut offers numerous benefits, including:

    • Improved Digestion: A healthy gut can efficiently break down food and absorb nutrients. This means an overall healthier body that looks, feels, performs and recovers better. Every cell in your body can improve when you improve your digestion and your nutrition: from skin, hair and nails to your muscles, joints and bones, and even your nervous system tissue and hormonal health. 

    It also means saying goodbye to symptoms like chronic or recurring gas, bloating, acid reflux, abdominal pain and even working to reverse other digestive system disorders like SIBO, GERD, IBS, IBD, diverticulosis or diverticulitis. 

    • Stronger Immune System: As we’ve touched on in this article, the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in immune function, helping to protect against potential infections. 

    A more resilient gut flora means a more resilient you! And better digestion means your cells will have more of the nutrients they need to function optimally as well. 

    • Better Moods and Mental Health Improvements: A balanced gut microbiome can positively affect your mood and mental well-being. 

    Numerous studies have come out showing the connection between mental health diagnoses like anxiety and depression and their correlation with weak digestion and unhealthy gut microbiomes. 

    Plus when you’re digesting and assimilating more of the essential nutrients your food has to offer, then your brain has a chance to perform much more optimally, allowing you to think more clearly, experience less brain fog and respond calmly and mindfully, rather than instantly reacting to situations.

    • Enhanced Energy Levels: Proper nutrient absorption translates to better energy levels and overall vitality.

    Imagine taking a multivitamin encapsulated in a hard metal shell that your gut couldn’t break down. You took the vitamins, but you’d never get the goods! 

    When your digestion and gut health are off, or your diet and lifestyle are misaligned with your body’s unique needs, then you could be taking the best supplements on the planet and eating the “healthiest” and most nutrient-dense meals ever… but never actually receive any of the benefits.  

    And yes, you should read that last sentence again. 

    Long-Term Health Implications

    Neglecting gut health can have long-term consequences. Poor gut health is linked to a variety of chronic diseases and fundamentally contributes to nearly all chronic issues. Here’s just a few to give you an idea:

      • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A chronic disorder affecting the large intestine.
      • Obesity: Imbalances in gut bacteria are associated with weight gain and obesity.
      • Diabetes: Gut microbiota can influence insulin resistance and glucose metabolism.
  • Autoimmune conditions: Conditions that can turn your immune system onto yourself, attacking your joints (like in rheumatoid arthritis), skin (like in psoriasis) or another tissue in the body. 
  • Joint and bone health: Being unable to properly absorb and assimilate minerals in your food means that your bones and joints will wear and tear a lot faster.
  • Gut health is also the foundation of your blood chemistry and your overall health… which leads me to this next thing I wish more people knew: 

    Beyond setting yourself up for chronic health issues down the line, leaving what seems like “minor” gut health issues like recurring bloating, gas, nausea, irregular bowel movements, constipation, abdominal discomfort, and other day-to-day digestive issues, you will never get to fully experience the version of yourself that you could be with your most radiant skin, your most lustrous hair, your strongest muscles, your leanest body, your most healthy joints, your most calm, centered and creative mind.

    So if you could start working today to improve your gut health, why wouldn’t you?

    And if you don’t think you can change your life and your health for the better, why settle? 

    By prioritizing gut health, you can reduce your risk of chronic conditions and get to see, taste and experience more of what life really has in store for you. 

    Improving Your Gut Health Naturally

    Now that you’ve questioned a bit of what’s at stake if you were to continue to overlook your gut health, let’s pivot to discuss ways to improve your gut health with natural and non-invasive methods. 

    While pills might provide quick-fix, fast-acting symptom relief, natural methods are, in fact, often the most efficient and effective ways to address healing the gut in the long-term. You can only get down to the root causes of disease, and of health, by going the natural route. 

    Dietary Changes

    Everything lives within the bounds of cause and effect. At the top of the list of causes for digestive discomfort AND digestive health is diet. As the saying goes, food can be thy poison or thy medicine. 

    Much of the general consensus on nutritional approaches to improving gut health say to incorporate more fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Many also say that the best way to preserve vitamins and minerals is to eat as much of your plant-based food raw as possible. 

    I’ve found from years of personal and professional experience that following this approach blindly doesn’t work for everybody, though if raw foods never cause any gas, bloating or burping, constipation, or sluggish digestion, then don’t try to fix what’s working! 

    But if you do experience any of those symptoms after eating raw plant-based foods, then it’s a sign that the non-beneficial bacteria in your gut are getting to your food before your digestive enzymes and the healthy bacteria do. This leads these harmful microbes to release their metabolic waste in the form of gasses. 

    Have you ever smelled a fart so foul you wondered, “Who died in there?” Well… your food did, sir ma’am. And the harmful bacteria started feeding off its rotting flesh because something in your gut wasn’t quite able to break it down on your own!

    A quick fix to this is to eat cooked veggies, well cooked beans and grains, and even cooked fruits. This helps to initiate the breaking down of the fibrous plant cell walls and makes the nutrients more bioavailable, which means you can more easily absorb and assimilate them.

    Another go-to recommendation in the nutrition world is probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. 

    Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed in proper amounts. Key word… proper (in a British accent). 

    I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with that come to me with some sort of intestinal bacterial or yeast overgrowth and they tell me they eat healthy and exercise and meditate and do all the right things… only to later find out they happen to eat tons of fermented foods and drink probiotic-rich drinks all day every day, almost religiously because it’s “healthy” and “good for your gut.”

    Like I’m talking religiously, as if a kombucha a day could keep the bad vibes away.

    You’ve also maybe heard kombucha is “healthy” right? If that’s the case and probiotics are so great, what could possibly go wrong?

    If you’ve ever made kombucha or yogurt yourself, or even bread with yeast, you know it takes VERY LITTLE of the starter to end up with a whole batch. It’s a living substance. And when it has warmth and moisture and sugar… Well, its population multiplies like crazy very quickly! 

    So let a lesson here be that just because probiotics can add to the ambiance at your gut-house party, that doesn’t mean you need to try to shoving trillions of more bacteria into your already crowded and struggling gut hoping it’ll make things better.

    And a follow-up lesson to that one is that more important than spending hours on researching “gut healthy foods” and then “doing all the (right) things,” is to figure out what your body ACTUALLY needs to improve your gut health, and then align your dietary choices with that. 

    It’s pretty simple actually, but it’s counter-intuitive in that you while the internet has all the possible answers out there and there’s all this science behind what’s “healthy”, you can’t just follow the rules someone else on the internet made and hope to get to your most vibrant health #thriving #sliving.

    You’re a badass, figure your own body out and make your own dang rules. 

    How Herbal Remedies can Improve Gut Health

    If you look at traditional systems of medicine that pre-date allopathic medicine, there are a number of herbs that have been used for centuries to support digestive health. And in fact, many modern medicines are derived from a certain extract or naturally occurring chemical component found in a certain plant or fungus. 

    Some go-to’s you may be familiar with are ginger, peppermint, chamomile, cumin and fennel. While these are all known for their digestive benefits, and many have scientific research to back them up, it’s important here to go back to the importance of a qualitative approach. 

    Each herb has specific qualities. 

    Just imagine this: it’s a hot, sunny, summer day and you’re at a picnic with friends. Are you going to be all about the peppermint-raspberry limeade with mineral water your friend Carrie brought, or are you going to be all over the piping hot cinnamon-ginger tea your friend Mary brought? 

    Like… What are you doing, Mary?

    But if you were glamping in the mountains, surrounded by pine forests in a gorgeous log cabin and the mist rolls in from the valley, wouldn’t a comforting cup of that ginger tea with a little bit of honey sound amazing right now?  

    And let’s apply that concept to a certain condition. Consider if you had acid reflux and heartburn. Ginger can help digestion, but do you think adding more heat to an inflamed gut would be the best approach? You can likely imagine the end results won’t be pretty! The peppermint on the other hand could be like the fire-hydrant your inflamed gut is craving. 

    So when it comes to herbs, once again, they are tools to align with what your body needs.

    And a lesser known and lesser talked-about factor with herbs that many herbalists or herb-enthusiasts overlook is how herbs can actually influence very particular gut bacteria growth as well. 

    That is to say that the gut bacteria that ginger is going to help produce is different than that which peppermint would feed. And depending on the needs of your body, your lifestyle, stress-levels, environment, and your current state of digestive health, you would benefit more from feeding certain types of gut bacteria that a particular herb or formula could contribute. 

    I maybe just left you with more questions than answers on what herb you should take to improve your digestion, but I’d actually prefer you think critically and question the qualities of those herbs and try to align it with what your body needs. 

    Herbs can be great darts, but you need to know where the bulls-eye is or you could end up causing more harm than good.  

    Lifestyle Adjustments

    You can’t take the same actions and expect to get a different result in life. 

    So when you are journeying to improve your digestive health, lifestyle changes are almost always necessary. 

    One of the easiest ways to improve gut health is to begin to incorporate at least 30 minutes of some form of exercise most days of the week. When choosing your exercise activity, aim for activities that align with your body’s current needs and desires. 

    For example, if you’re feeling exhausted, burnt out and trapped in brain fog, then HIT exercise, strenuous weight-lifting and Hot Yoga could put more stress on your system. In those examples, you’d want to aim for something more relaxing or rhythmic like dance, walking on nature trails, cycling or less intense Yoga or Tai Chi.  

    Regular physical activity that aligns with your nervous system’s needs promotes healthy digestion and can help reduce stress. An increasing number of studies back this notion up. 

    One study found that the more oxygen-rich blood chemistry that regular exercise promotes creates a more optimal environment for the good bacteria in your gut to flourish. 

    Another study showed that movement helped reduce bowel transit time (low long food spent inside you from start to finish), which essentially helped keep the pipes more clean, reducing the potential for smelly gas and bloating downstream, and things like acid reflux from food spending too long in the stomach because there were blockages further down the line. 

    I found one study FASCINATING that compared the physical strength and mental endurance of mice. One group was given an antibiotic that reduced their gut flora. The other group received no such antibiotic. The group that had the weaker gut biome produced less dopamine when incentivized to run on a wheel than the mice in the control group given the same incentive. Scientists explained this as the gut-flora depleted group giving up mentally and getting physically exhausted much more quickly. 

    So if you’ve ever struggled to feel motivated to keep going towards your dreams, what if your gut health were actually one of the keys to rekindling and fueling your motivation and staying power? 

    Exercise has also been shown to increase antioxidant levels in the blood, reduce insulin, and improve overall immune function. All of this shows that a healthy lifestyle is another key factor to creating a healthy and optimal internal environment for you and your gut flora to thrive. 

    Stress Management Techniques

    Sleep is another critical factor for a healthy gut. 

    A bit of a catch-22 here because chronic digestive issues can often disrupt your sleep patterns, making it difficult to get to or stay asleep. 

    Most scientists recommend adults aim for 7-9 hours of QUALITY, relaxed and sound sleep per night to support your overall physical health and psycho-emotional well-being.

    Because quality sleep hours are one of the top predictors of someone’s ability to manage stress, and as we’ve seen, stress plays a fundamental role in digestion, finding a way to improve your sleep is crucial. 

    Deciding to reduce screen time after sun-down is a challenging decision to stick to, but its benefits on sleep have been shown to be one of the biggest factors to improve sleep for us modern humans. 

    In addition to that, practicing stress-reduction techniques can help you get a good night's rest and further repair from the systemic effects of stress on your health and your gut. 

    Relaxation techniques such as mindful breathing, meditation, and Yoga, guided relaxation or Yoga nidra, journaling and spending time having fun with friends, loved ones and in your creative pursuits and hobbies are all extremely beneficial to reduce stress and promote a healthy gut-brain connection.

    Additionally, it’s important to consider what your major sources of stress are. 

    Are you stressed out because of work? A certain relationship? Finances? The news? 

    When it comes to external influences on your stress, I recommend you to always check in with what is within your control and what you cannot control. 

    If you can’t control it - like the overall economy, state of the world, or someone else’s behavior in a relationship, then let yourself off the hook and focus your attention on what you CAN do. 

     If you CAN do something about it, well figure out what you want to happen ideally and then take action towards it. 

    One of the main factors contributing to negative mental health outcomes are either focusing too much on what’s outside of your control, or staying stuck in the fear of the “what if” and not taking action. 

    Don’t forget, YOU are a powerful creator who came here to live your life on your terms and make a difference in the world… Of COURSE you’re going to feel terrible inside if you never take action or never take a chance on the things you care about. Taking action and putting one foot in front of the other is the only way to truly get clarity of WHAT would actually happen IF you tried anyways. 

    So get out there and change Sh*t up! Let the world see who you came here to be.  

    Maintaining Gut Health

    So this has now turned into a life coaching session, but as far as I see it, you can’t live an optimal life without a healthy gut, and you can’t have a healthier gut if you don’t work to improve your life. 

    I’d even go so far as to say you could trust your gut on this one… 

    Your gut health is a reflection of your overall state of wellbeing, and vice-versa. 

    So when it comes to keeping yourself and your gut in tip-top shape, it takes changing your daily habits, which often requires first changing your mind. 

    Daily Habits for a Healthy Gut

    Consistency is key when it comes to gut health. By that I mean the things you do most often will make the biggest difference, and if you fall off the bandwagon every now and then, it’s not the end of the world. 

    Remember the metaphor I gave about casting votes for the dark side or the good? 

    Every meal, and every day, and with everything you do, you have the chance to cast a vote in your own favor, and in favor of your gut health, or against. 

    Here are some daily habits that could help you support a healthy gut and always vote in your own best interest:

    • Stay Hydrated, but don’t overdo it at meal times: Drink enough water throughout the day, and ensure that your water has some form of electrolytes to actually support your digestion and mineral balance, and not just leach out nutrients. 

    Remember, water is a universal solvent, and if your body doesn’t have an optimal electrolyte balance, more water isn’t always the answer since it can leach out essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. 

    It’s also important to not overdo it with drinks at meal times. I grew up thinking you needed a drink with your meals to help wash down your food. And plus, the drinks were normally always sugary, bubbly and delightful additions! But when you drink too much liquid with your meals, and especially cold liquids, you dilute your stomach’s digestive fluids and inhibit your stomach’s enzymes optimal temperature they need to kickstart your digestion.


    • Eat Mindfully: When it’s time to eat, tell your mind and body it’s time to slow down. Put your fork down between each bite. Actually chew your food… thoroughly. Pay attention to how you feel in your gut while you’re eating. Be present with what you’re putting in your body, don’t just mindlessly scarf it down staring at a screen or chatting away with friends. At least try to eat more mindfully for one meal a day! 

    This helps you avoid overeating, and you get more clear on how certain foods actually make you feel. When you have more of that awareness, it’s so much easier to connect the dots and make more aligned dietary choices, without ever having to go on an elimination diet! 

    It also gives your nervous system a chance to relax, rest, and digest. 

    • Limit Preserved and Processed Foods: I mentioned earlier in the article that processed foods stay good well… just about forever. Archaeologists recently found a 4,000 year old bag of potato chips in an Egyptian pharaoh's tomb… and they were still delicious! All jokes aside, if it contains something that prevents it from being broken down by nature, then your body will struggle to get any sort of nutrition from it. 

    A hard pill to swallow for some is that most of your food SHOULD go bad eventually. If it doesn’t go bad, it likely isn’t going to do you good.

    Processed foods are also normally rich in sugar or salt, but lack true nutritional content. They might be crispy and crunchy, or sweet and yummy, but just know these are votes against your body and your health’s best interest. In your body’s democracy, sometimes  is 100% okay (and please stop beating yourself up about it), but balance it out with more votes in the other direction. 

      • Exercise Regularly: Stay active, getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. This will promote healthy digestion and reduce stress. 
  • Learn to chill TF out: There are so many practices to be able to reduce stress out there. Some of the most important ones involve getting back in touch with YOU! So make sure to schedule regular dates with yourself, with every day check-ins and loving moments if you can! 
    • Make a goal for your health, then learn what your body needs from you to get there: Once you have an idea of a symptom (or a list of symptoms) you want to reduce or manage, or you have a vision of how you could feel even better in some area of your health, you have your work set in front of you! 

    Whenever you set a goal, most people stop at what they want. What most people miss when they do that is that the goal they just set, that thing they want… requires something from them. It requires changes, choices and often, consistency.  

    The more you can get clear on what your body uniquely needs, the more informed choices you can make about what really moves your needle in the direction of gut healing and overall health. Your body isn’t like everyone else’s out there, so trying everything under the sun for your gut health can feel frustrating when you still have symptoms! You may even start to question if there’s just no hope for you to get better, or start to believe that YOU are the issue. 

    It's a much more productive use of your time and attention to get to know yourself, your body, and how you work. This helps you know what does and doesn’t work for you. It leaves you with more tools in your wheelhouse, and more knowledge under your belt. It allows you to make your own rules based on what you know is true for you, instead of hoping and waiting that one-day, someday, science will finally help you figure out your quick-fix. 

    Gut health and digestive healing often requires some time, but when your changes and choices are aligned with your unique body type and what you individually need at this stage, then that journey can be greatly accelerated. 

    Regular Check-Ins

    For most people, gut health isn’t a one-and-done thing. 

    Most of us eat multiple times a day, every day, so gut health is a journey of a lifetime! Use this as a time to do a regular check-in with yourself and assess how your gut is responding to your meals, to help you make adjustments as needed. 

    Pay attention to your body's signals and address any digestive issues promptly. Gas, bloating, acid reflux, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, burning, itching, burping - they might seem like small things and can be easy to overlook. But if this is your regular, then you can rest assured that you aren’t “regular” in your gut. 

    Getting Professionals Support for Gut Health

    If you’re struggling with persistent digestive issues, consider seeking professional support. There are many approaches to gut health out there. You can go the route of specialized healthcare and can often find some sort of diagnosis and solution based on that diagnosis. I will never knock Western medicine, since it can be highly effective for many conditions and many people. 

    I myself went down that route to try and solve my gut health dilemma, but eventually found myself disillusioned with only getting prescriptions and no clear answers. I started to resent having to shell out for pills that only helped me manage my symptoms or masked the discomfort for a short period of time. The symptoms always came back though. 

    I also started to question if there was ever a way out of digestive discomfort when I got testing and scans done only to find that all my levels were “normal” and my insides seemed to be structurally sound. Then “What in the heck is going on, and why is this happening to me?” I thought… 

    This very journey is what led me to search for alternative, complementary and natural routes to heal my gut. This eventually led me to find Ayurveda, a traditional healing practice that originated in India. I found the answers I needed and made changes to my diet and lifestyle that quickly made a huge impact on my digestive symptoms. I went on to formally study and get certified in this profession, and have been working formally to help other people learn what they needed to learn about their body and diet to heal their own chronic gut disorders and a variety of other health issues. 

    If you are struggling with gut health or suspect that your major health concerns may be linked to some imbalances in your gut, then I would love to support you on your healing journey. 

    My disclaimer is that Ayurveda is an unlicensed healthcare profession in the United States, so I would not want to and cannot legally make any claims to diagnose, treat, or prescribe anything. 

    Where I excel in getting results for my clients is in using Ayurveda’s whole-person view of health and the human body to help you spot potential underlying causes of imbalance in your diet and lifestyle that often fly under the radar of conventional medicine. From there I also help you learn how to listen to your body to better understand your unique body type and your body’s needs at this stage in your healing journey. I help my clients develop a personalized plan to improve your gut and all around health based on Ayurvedic principles. 

    I also have a unique approach in that I don’t just want your physical health to get better, but I want to see you succeed in every area of your life! My coaching and educational services are highly tailored to you as an individual at this stage of life, health and career. 

    This approach was highly effective for me, and I have seen it benefit a growing number of clients by helping them change their relationship with their symptoms, their body, their diet, stress-levels and their lifestyle. 

    If you are interested in working with me, you can book a 1:1 Discovery Call at the link below so we can meet virtually, discuss your current state of health, and see if we would be a good fit to work together. 



    Gut health is a vital aspect of overall well-being. 

    By understanding the basics of gut health, recognizing the signs of poor gut health, and implementing natural strategies to improve and maintain it, you can take back control of your quality of life. 

    A healthy gut supports better digestion, a stronger immune system, improved mental health, and increased energy levels. Altogether, it helps make you a better you! 

    And remember, small changes can make a big difference over time. If you keep taking steps every day to get better, and start incorporating gut-friendly habits into your diet and daily routine, you will likely see your health transform.

    If you took something valuable from this article, subscribe to my newsletter where I share weekly tips about gut health and natural healing methods. Just pop your email in the box below and you’ll be added to my VIP list. 



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