How To Build Good Gut Health?Luke Coutinho
The father of modern medicine – Hippocrates, once said, “Death sits in the bowels. And bad digestion is the root of all evil.” Even 2,500 years later, these lines stand the test of time.
How do you build good gut health? Type this into your search bar and you will find thousands of results on the internet. How many of these tips are authentic and practical is the bigger question.
Today, we want to share some simple lifestyle changes that you, your children, parents, and grandparents – everyone can follow with discipline and consistency. But before we delve into them, it is crucial to understand why your gut health matters.
Why is your gut health important?
Understand this, when you have a problem with your gut, you will experience multiple health issues with your body. Your gut health influences several bodily processes. Even Ayurveda and Yoga regard gut health as the cornerstone of wellness.
Are you struggling to lose weight?
Are you experiencing dull skin, acne, rashes, or hair fall?
Do you have food sensitivities and intolerances, low immunity, or anxiety?
Here is what you can do. You can either treat these symptomatically and individually or choose to address the root cause – your gut health.
Did you know your gut can control your happiness quotient and mental state and vice versa? Yes, the connection between your gut and brain is real. And so, it can influence your moods – happiness, sadness, depression, and anxiety. If the communication between your brain and your gut is faulty, your emotional health is likely to suffer. It is another reason scientists refer to the gut as your second brain.
Signs of a poor gut
Chronic acidity, bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation, IBS, and diarrhea – are all symptoms of a poor gut. These markers show that your gut microbiome is not working the right way. By only fixing your gut, you can address other issues you may be facing.
When you think about your gut, think of your immune system. 80% of your immunity lies within your gut. We often keep telling people that if they want to prevent cancer or recover from an ailment they currently have, they need to move their focus to build immunity and gut health.
Immunity is an intelligence most of us are born with. Yes, some of us have compromised immunity due to factors beyond our control. But the rest of us have compromised it with our poor lifestyle, sleep deprivation, excessive consumption of refined sugar and flour, lack of movement, and other factors.
Your gut microbiome is a colony that houses trillions of diverse bacteria – both good and bad. However, the real problem arises when your bad bacteria outnumber the good ones. They begin thinking of themselves as gut microbes, feed into the mucosal lining of your intestine, and start eating small holes into your gut wall. As your mucosal lining gets depleted – bacteria, viruses, parasites, and germs interact with your intestinal tissues. Toxic particles that are supposed to exit your system in your stool squeeze between the large holes in your gut and enter the bloodstream. Your immune system wakes up to counter this attack.
A phenomenon where your immune system starts attacking your own tissues can lead to autoimmune conditions (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, alopecia, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, etc.)
While managing autoimmune conditions, this is why we emphasize addressing and repairing the gut first.
How can you fix your gut?
Get the fundamentals right. We have become so obsessed with hygiene today that we don’t even feed our gut microbes with the good bacteria it needs to thrive. So, start with the basics.
Stop hopping onto fad diets and eat rainbow meals
If you blindly hop onto fad diets that do not allow you to eat certain fruits or vegetables and are restrictive, you will be left with a gut issue. In our practice, we meet people on fad diets who lose a couple of kilos but see a spike in their gut-related conditions. Get this straight. Your body doesn’t care about how much weight you need to lose, it cares about getting the right nutrition to keep you in survival mode and feed your gut microbiome to carry out other vital bodily functions.
Let your plate borrow the colors of the rainbow. Maintain a good balance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, legumes, and whole grains. Today, as we move to fad diets that deprive us of macronutrients or micronutrients – we struggle to lose weight, hit a plateau, and get sicker. Revisit your meals.
- Am I getting at least two servings or three servings of fruits?
- Am I getting three to four servings of vegetables?
- Am I getting a handful of different unsalted nuts in my daily diet?
- Am I eating a good portion of lentils, legumes, and whole grains?
A bowl of good brown rice mixed with vegetables or white rice mixed with lentils can become a complete protein. It is all about food combinations and synergies. Know more about it here.
Add fiber to your meals
Most of your gut microbes feed on dietary fiber. But overdoing fiber can start irritating your gut lining. If you follow balanced meals, you will get sufficient fiber. Only when you go on fad diets, do you need to supplement fiber. When you move out of balanced meals, no one can tell you exactly how much fiber your unique body type needs. And so many try to follow the rule book – 30 grams of fiber. While it may work for some, it may not suit you. As a result, people have inflammatory gut conditions like Irritated Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. Adding fiber to your meals helps lower cholesterol, regularize bowel movements, control blood sugar levels, attain a healthy weight, and increase longevity.
Good sources of dietary fiber include:
- Fruits (bananas, avocados, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries, and so on)
- Vegetables (carrots, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, Swiss chard, and so on)
- Legumes (beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, tamarind, and so on )
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, chia, flax, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and so on)
- Whole grains (millet, oats, barley, brown rice, whole wheat, and so on)
Play with mud
Start playing with pure and organic mud. Ensure to not use mud that is contaminated by animal urine or poop. Playing with mud can build up your gut, especially in your children. If you do not have access to a garden, order organic mud online and create a mud pit. When my daughter was growing up, I got a whole box and filled it with soil, so she could play with it every day. Good microbes stuck in your nails enter your system and feed your gut microbiome with perfect nutrition.
Remember as children how we often played with mud and came home dirty and dusty. Many of us don’t allow our kids to do that. Some parents give their kids three baths a day and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers excessively. It can reduce your children’s immunity. If you must use a hand sanitizer, ensure it is non-alcohol-based. Shop for essential-oil based antimicrobials here.
Get your prebiotics and probiotics
There are several prebiotics and probiotics you can add to your meals. We are not referring to the supplements in the market. Unfortunately, the whole gut game has become about buying and popping prebiotic and probiotic supplements. If your health demands it, go for them. There are some great supplements on the market. But you will find the best prebiotics and probiotics in your kitchen. So, if you feed the gut microbes the right way, they will behave the right way and support our immune system.
Let’s first talk about prebiotics and why they are important. Your probiotics will not work without prebiotics.
Good sources of readily available prebiotics include:
- Cacao or raw cacao nibs
- Good quality dark chocolate or anything rich in cocoa
- Flax seeds
- Apple cider vinegar
- Psyllium husk/isabgol
Ways to incorporate these include:
- Make your child hot cocoa with raw cacao nibs once in a while. Try this healthy recipe.
- Ground flax seeds and add a tablespoon of them into your porridge, meals, oats, smoothies, etc.
- If you cannot have any of the other prebiotics, add a teaspoon of psyllium husk and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Mix well and consume 2o minutes before your lunch or dinner.
What are some good probiotics?
- If you are not vegan or lactose intolerant, try homemade yogurt. Packed with live bacteria, yogurt is the best probiotic to feed your gut.
- Fresh cheese
- Kefir is easily made at home today or bought from the market. Ensure that your kefir does not have sugar.
- Sauerkraut is pickled cabbage. You can make this at home and buy it.
- Kimchi is nothing but fermented cabbage.
- Indian homemade pickles. Just ensure you use the right quality of oil and salts. Don’t overdo it.
- Kombucha made from fermented green tea and brown sugar/cane sugar is an excellent probiotic. Avoid giving it to your children under the age of ten.
A personal favorite that works brilliantly is rice kanji. Take two tablespoons of the leftover white rice. Cool and add it to a small mud pot and fill it with water. Cover and keep it overnight. It will ferment by the following morning. Have two or three tablespoons of this rice or the rice water on an empty stomach. Learn more about its benefits here.
What is destroying your gut health?
Are you paying attention to your gut health? Photo credits: Freepik
Excessive sugar and junk intake
Bad bacteria in your gut rely on sugar, processed/junk food, and simple carbohydrates to thrive and outnumber your good bacteria. So if you are someone who experiences unexplained cravings for sugar all the time, chances are your bad gut bacteria are on the rise. These bad bacteria express this hunger in the form of sugar cravings that even willpower cannot fight. If you have candida overgrowth in your system, you will experience these symptoms. Keep your junk food and sugar consumption minimum. Clean your gut by speaking to your healthcare provider and get onto a cleanse and rejuvenation plan under an integrative expert. Know more about our Rejuvenation and Cleanse program here.
A sedentary lifestyle
If you are sedentary, you will have gut health issues. Your gut requires constant blood circulation to carry oxygen and nutrients to feed its microbes. You can pop all the probiotics in the world. But it will be useless unless you start moving. Try NEAT. It stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. These are little activities you can do during the day to induce thermogenesis over and above your workout. Read more about them here.
Uncontrolled anxiety and stress
Chronic stress and anxiety will lead to inflammation in the gut. Most of our patients notice that the more they get anxious, the more their gut symptoms flare. Learn how to relax and take it easy. No matter how healthy your diet is or how rigorous your treatment is, learn to navigate from stress to de-stress. Learn a two-minute exercise here. Practice deep breathing, meditation, pranayama, swim, dance, take walks in nature, or engage in hobbies that bring you joy to unwind.
Antibiotics and heavy medication and their side effects
Are you on heavy antibiotics? Whether your doctor tells you or not, you need to be on a probiotic to tackle its side effects. Broad-spectrum antibiotics bad bacteria but land up wiping out your good bacteria too in the process. So if you are not on a probiotic, your antibiotic will make you sicker and lower your immunity. Keep nine rules in mind while taking antibiotics. Learn more about them here.
Special note to parents
To all the moms and dads out there,
Please understand that your children’s growth is dependent on their gut health. Taking them out for treats all the time is not a gesture of love. It is a gesture that is destroying their gut. I am not saying follow extremes and restrict them from eating any sugar or junk. Once in a while, give them a treat. But if your child starts getting addicted to sugar/junk, they will want it all the time. Once you start the addiction process, there is no going back. Express love for your children with junk food is a disservice to them.
Imagine if you struggle to give up your addiction to these – how can you expect a child at the age of 2, 3, or 4 who has no control over their motor and sensory skills to let it go? So when you want to start giving your child sugar and junk, do it at an appropriate age and explain the dangers of excessively consuming it. It will empower them to work with logic and make healthier food choices. Want to make your child feel loved and appreciated? Build better relationships and bonds with them.
Unfortunately, many of us start blaming our traditional meals for getting sick without paying attention to how our sedentary lifestyles, adulterated ingredients, sleep deprivation, and stress make us sick. Go back to the roots and eat as Indians have for centuries. Simple, balanced, and clean food prepared with quality ingredients within the frameworks of nature acts as a medicine and is blissful.
Keep it simple because simplicity is the new cool.
Seeking expert help
Are you facing gut issues? Photo Credits: Freepik
Almost every third case that comes to us has its roots deep in poor gut health, so addressing the gut becomes crucial in nearly every health condition. The good part is that there are several warning signs our body starts to show when gut health is getting compromised since it is linked to every bodily function. Identify and address these bio feedbacks at the right time. Need help? Learn more about our Gut Health Program here.
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Talk to our integrative team of experts today
Am really grateful. Just suffering from gut challenges. God bless you
Most welcome. I hope you can find the right guidance to rebuild your gut health. My team and I are here to help you find a way. Know more about our Gut Health Program here: https://www.lukecoutinho.com/programs/gut-health-program
You can also set up a one-on-one consult with our gut health experts by calling 18001020253 or writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank u sir🙏