Here are the ten habits that I regularly recommend to my clients who need to improve their gut health.
1. Eat according to your own schedule: I recommend not eating based on a diet book’s schedule. It’s not a great idea to blindly follow someone else’s diet for long periods. Some patients I’ve seen have followed a Candida Diet for 30 years. They haven’t eaten fruit in thirty years! You can’t live like that.
If you can’t get your gut fixed up within six to 12 months, there’s something very wrong. You’re either getting the wrong kind of treatment, reading the wrong kind of book, taking the wrong kind of pill, or living the wrong kind of lifestyle. Something’s not right.
2. Drink clean, filtered water. I recommend drinking purified water that doesn’t contain chlorine or fluoride. Studies have shown that chlorine can cause harmful bacteria patterns in the gut. Chlorine can kill beneficial bacteria. By continually drinking water with chlorine in it, you’re going to affect your microbiome. I suggest getting a purifier because a lot of bottled water isn’t as clean as it claims. Drink water instead of alcohol or coffee with sugar in it.
3. Eat foods that contain beneficial fibers: Eat enough fiber but don’t eat too much. How do you know if you’re eating the right kind and amount of fiber? Look at your bowel movement. Also, your gut should be silent – no bloating, no pain, no uncomfortable sensations. Make sure you choose a fiber that suits your gut. Consider starting with vegetable fibers and then slowly introducing fiber from legumes.
4. Exercise regularly: It’s amazing what exercise can do for the gut. You don’t need to be superman or superwoman to have a healthy digestive tract. Walking everyday is enough.
5. Chew properly: Correctly chewing food is essential for achieving excellent gastrointestinal health. If you swallow everything as a dog would, you are going to have a problem moving your bowels.
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6. Manage your stress: Stress affects your gut more than just about anything. If you can manage your stress levels, the difference in your gut health will be profound.
7. Avoid processed foods: A lot of people love processed foods, but those foods don’t increase the diversity of healthy bacteria in your gut. Read labels and be careful about what you eat.
8. Add cultured and fermented foods to your diet very gradually: Many people I see jump right into body ecology kind of diets where they eat lots of different ferments. As your gut health improves, you can add larger servings and various types of fermented foods to your diet.
9. Eat on instinct: Eating on instinct means you will eat more on some days, and some days you’ll eat a little less. Listen to your gut. If the appetite’s not keen, don’t eat food. It’s important to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but give yourself some margin when it comes to time.
10. Don’t focus too much on supplements: Too many people take ridiculous amounts of supplements, thinking that more is better. They may even believe that supplements have more to offer than food. There is absolutely no comparison with supplements when it comes to food. Food will always be the best medicine.