*This post originally appeared on Erewhon
As a holistic nutritionist, it’s my passion to help others embrace a healthy lifestyle that allows them to live wholly. This is in part because I know what it’s like to live life feeling, well, less than your best. Although today I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been, it took years of nourishment, love, and some hard work to get here.
Health issues are a big part of my past and began in childhood, culminating in cancer and Hashimoto’s in my 30’s. I spent my 20’s in New York City, “doing it all” to overachieve and measure up—resulting in a stressed-out, strung-out version of myself. I soon realized this way of living wouldn’t take me far. Shortly after my move to LA, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 32. It was then that I began to give that inner voice a chance—and chose an alternative path to healing. After a lot of research, a complete overhaul of my nourishment-deprived lifestyle, and some emotional work, I began to heal!
Through this challenge came so much good. I learned to trust myself, gained a wealth of knowledge in nutrition and health, and have made it my mission to share that knowledge and empower others. Today I want to tell you about what I find to be the cornerstone of wellness: Gut Health!
Something I struggled with a lot for most of my life was digestive problems. Constipation plagued me since childhood, and throughout my health journey, I realized that when my overall health wasn’t doing well, there was a good chance my digestion wasn’t, either. Gut Health is always the first thing I talk about with my clients, and here are a few reasons why:
- Immune support and digestion go hand-in-hand
- Much of the body’s serotonin (the “happy hormone”) is produced in the gut
- The gut microbiome is now being referred to as the “second brain”
- The bacterial genes found in your gut microbiome outnumber your human genes – so you’re technically more gut bacteria than human!
If you’re struggling with health problems that you aren’t finding answers to, there is a good chance your gut needs some attention. You may be lacking good bacteria, have an overgrowth of bad bacteria, or a combination of the two. One hundred trillion good and bad bacteria live in your gut—more than cells in your entire body, and not all bad bacteria are bad, either. E. coli helps stimulate regeneration of the gut lining, making the digestive tract healthier. The underlying conclusion of gut microbiome research is that it’s all about balance. How is this balance achieved? Here are the steps I have my clients take:
1. Feed the beneficial bacteria
Probiotics are good bacteria, while prebiotics feed the good bacteria. Both are essential! Probiotic and prebiotic supplements are an option, but you can also get your daily dose through food. For probiotics, look for yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and fermented foods. Good food sources of prebiotics include chicory root, onions, garlic, dandelion greens, asparagus, banana, barley, oats, apples, flaxseed, and wheat bran, among others. One of the reasons why I am such a huge Erewhon fan is that it offers high quality, nutrient-dense food-based and supplement-form probiotics! My favorite probiotic supplement is Genuine Health 50 billion, and I always get it from Erewhon.
2. Consume adequate fiber
Fiber feeds healthy gut flora and helps everything move through the digestive tract smoothly and comfortably. It is essential for toxin removal, nutrient absorption, and overall illness prevention. Most of us don’t get enough! I advise my clients to consume a minimum of 35-40 grams per day—and once implemented, they almost always notice a difference in how they feel. Some of my favorite high-fiber foods include oats, quinoa, avocado, raspberries, beans of all kinds, chia seeds, ground flax, Brussels sprouts, and squash.
3. Lower viral loads in the gut
So many of today’s health issues stem from the toxins we are exposed to over our lifetime. They take up shop in our gut and slowly begin to wreak havoc on our health. Some ways to lower your daily toxic load include adding celery juice to your diet, supplementing with cat’s claw, licorice root, and bioactive silver, eating sea vegetables and wild-caught fish for iodine, and the last will lead us to our next step: drink lots of clean, filtered water!
Water is another thing most of us aren’t getting enough of. I know it’s an obvious one, but take a moment to consider—are you drinking enough water each day? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that a typical adult woman needs 11.5 cups of water a day, while a man needs 15.5 cups. The average person takes in around 20 percent of their water needs through food, which means women should drink about 9 cups a day, and men should drink 12.5. This is the minimum amount of water to drink daily – I like to drink as much as possible. Drink this much water each day for a few weeks, and you will see and feel the difference!
5. Add a digestive enzyme to your regimen
Enzymes are energy catalysts that are essential to the successful completion of over 150,000 biochemical reactions in our bodies, particularly involving food digestion and the delivery of nutrients to the body. These enzymes deplete significantly by the time you are 30 years old, meaning additional support is often needed. The product I recommend to my clients is Enzymedica Digest Gold. Eating bitter greens before a meal is also a helpful way to replenish enzymes. Check out my recent piece for more information on digestive enzymes.
6. Pay attention in the bathroom
For optimal gut health, it is incredibly important to ensure you are going tothe bathroom around three times every day (yes, three times per day is ideal!). This is how the body rids itself of toxins, an essential process for good health. The color, texture, and frequency of your stool says a lot about the health of your gut. For increased regularity, try magnesium, smooth move tea, exercise, yoga, increase your fiber intake, and take proper steps to destress.
Your microbiome is a powerhouse in terms of your health—and it is crucial to make sure you are using that power for good. Sign up for my newsletter to stay updated on gut health and everything else related to Holistic Nutrition!
This content is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor, or licensed healthcare provider, before trying any new supplements as they may interfere with your current medications or be contraindicated for you.