- Hannah Aylward
Four Steps to Freeing the Gut
Four Steps to Freeing the Gut
By Hannah Aylward
By this point, we know how important gut health is to our overall health.
It affects everything from energy levels to anxiety to immunity. If you are currently dealing with a health condition or are just feeling “off”, this article is worth reading. The following steps will help build and maintain a healthy gut. Remember, this isn’t an overnight fix or a fad diet. It’s a healthy lifestyle shift.
Step 1: Remove “trigger foods”.
This may not be what you want to hear, but certain foods should really be kicked to the curb.
This even includes some “healthy” foods. I refer to these foods as “common toxic triggers”. These foods have been proven to damage the gut lining in most people. Every one of us is different, so there are no absolutes, but I haven’t come across a single client yet that hasn’t felt better eliminating these inflammation-causing foods for a period of time. When we remove these foods, the gut starts to heal itself. Consider it a big deep breath for your digestive system. These trigger foods include: dairy, gluten, soy, corn, peanuts, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
Once these have been eliminated, we can flood our bodies with healthy nutrients, allowing inflammation to subside. We can eventually begin to reintroduce the food groups above to find out which ones work for us. The severity of your unique condition will determine how long you should omit these trigger foods, if you should add a few others to the list, and whether you should or shouldn’t avoid these foods long-term. We are all individually unique with different backgrounds, tendencies, habits and needs, so health is not a one-size-fits-all thing.
Step 2: Replace with good foods.
Now, let’s get on to all the yummy foods you can eat.
Nutrient-dense vegetables (leafy greens are best!), healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, almonds, etc.) and clean sources of protein (organic animal protein, quinoa, lentils, mung beans, etc.) are the new staples. Not only does this decrease inflammation in the gut, but it also fuels us with energy, balanced blood sugar levels, and balanced hormone levels. Fruit can be enjoyed too, in moderation. I always say, more vegetables than fruits. And truly, more vegetables than anything. In addition, it is always best to stick to high-fiber, low-sugar fruits, like berries. Other fruits can be enjoyed occasionally in small amounts. No need to get crazy here though. If it is a real, fresh food with one ingredient, we’ll take it.
My top ten foods for a healthy gut are:
- ACV - Apple Cider Vinegar
- Celery Juice
- Cruciferous Vegetables - cauliflower, collard greens, kale & broccoli
- Bone Broth
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- Fermented Foods - sauerkraut, kefir, coconut kefir yogurt, kombucha, kimchi
- Omega 3 Fats + Monounsaturated Fats - extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed beef, lamb and wild-caught salmon
*Please know that given your unique microbiome makeup, this list may change and should not be substituted for medical advice.
Step 3: Consider supplements.
Probiotics, L-glutamine, and digestive enzymes are critical supplements for healing/maintaining a healthy gut. Probiotics help replenish the good bacteria and crowd out bad bacteria, which is key to gut health. They feed all the good bugs. L-glutamine is an anti-inflammatory essential amino acid supplement necessary for the growth and repair of the intestinal lining. It helps seal up the space between the tight junctions, preventing particles from drifting through. Digestive enzymes help us breakdown the food that we ingest. This allows us to get the most out of the food we eat by helping us digest fully. They also prevent large particles of food from staying stagnant in our system. We don’t want undigested chunks of food hanging out, damaging our gut lining.
Additional gut-supportive supplements include licorice root and aloe vera. Licorice is a powerful herb that helps to stimulate the release of secretin, which enhances the stomach’s mucus lining. Aloe vera contains polysaccharides that help to balance and modulate the immune system, reducing inflammation. It also has a positive effect on the microbial balance in our intestines.
Step 4: Manage stress.
Man oh man, this one always seems to be the kicker.
Stress wrecks serious havoc on the gut. Stress hormones, like cortisol and epinephrine, break down the tight junctions that hold the cells that line the digestive tract together. I know it is much easier said than done (for me atleast!), but properly managing stress can truly make or break healing. It is never going to go away fully, so we just have to get better at handling it. Thank goodness for yoga and pranayama. When we decrease stress, inflammation decreases, and the body is allowed to heal. Check out these stress-reducing yoga classes/meditations now.
This serves as a general outline for living with a healthy gut and should not be taken in place of medical advice. Getting guidance from an expert is always recommended. Of course, as mentioned earlier, everyone’s exact solution is going to vary a bit. Chances are, even that will change as we grow, expand, transform and age. If you think you may be suffering from poor gut health and want to learn more about how to fix it, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are worth taking care of.
**We recommend that you do not rely solely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. You should consult your health care professional before making any changes to your regular health care routine.
Hannah Aylward is a Certified Health Coach, nutrition consultant, fitness instructor, healthy living expert, and founder of HAN. She helps both men and women around the world lose weight, heal skin disturbances, balance hormones, heal gut imbalances and feel at home in their bodies through healthy eating, movement, mindfulness and positive self-talk. Her goal is to help others “learn the tools that they need to live the lives they deserve”. Get to know her by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.