12 Ways to Boost Your Gut Health (Aside from Kombucha)

gut health

Let me take a minute to tell you about your gut.  (No, I’m not talking about your six-pack abs or “fluffy” middle).  I’m talking about your digestive system!  Your stomach, liver, pancreas and everything that works together to process the food you eat and extract the valuable nutrients your body needs.

Did you know that 70% of your immune system lives in your gut?

Forget hand sanitizer. If you’re not taking care of your gut health, you’re not setup to fight off infections, diseases and other chronic ailments very well. The probiotics that live in your gut are constantly get ready to fight off other bacteria that invades your body.

But isn’t that the purpose of antibiotics? Well, no, not exactly. In fact, antibiotics rid your body of healthy bacteria, making it harder for you to fight off an infection the next time and repeating the cycle.

Chances are that you have heard of probiotics and maybe even about the big kombucha probiotic tea trend that’s huge in the health world.

The good news is that, while delicious, kombucha is not the only probiotic on the market, and it’s certainly not the newest. Believe it or not, you don’t have to spend $5 a bottle to get the probiotic reboot your body desperately needs.

Here are 12 expert recommendations on how to boost your gut health and get creative with your probiotic intake!

1.  Sauerkraut
Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD of Nutrition à la Natalie

I tell my clients to add sauerkraut to their sandwiches or burger. I particularly like Farmhouse Culture’s products because they have delicious kraut made with just 3 simple ingredients or gut shots that can be taken every day. The gut shots are a great option for those who forget to a take a probiotic pill every day because you can mix 1.5 ounces of the gut shot into juices, adult beverages (Bloody Mary with Smoked Jalapeno Gut Shots are one of our favorites), smoothies or dips, or make an easy salad dressing or marinade.

gut health

2. Coconut Oil
Valerie Orsoni, Health Expert and Founder of LeBootCamp.com

Coconut oil offers potent anti-fungal properties. It contains high levels of lauric acid and caprylic acid, which help prevent candida overgrowth, while supporting your immune system.

3. Water
Claudia Matles, Yoga, Pilates & Health Counseling 

When the body is not hydrated, it cannot remove impurities from the lymph system properly. Blood production and flow may be negatively affected, possibly inhibiting our body’s ability to carry and maintain oxygen and nutrients. I’ve also found that drinking hot water with lemon first thing when you awake in the morning helps clean the lymph system, thus promoting healthy digestion.

4.  Prebiotics
Megan Casper, MS, RDN from Nourished Bite

While probiotics are all the rage, you need prebiotics to help them thrive. Prebiotics are a certain type of fiber that is non-digestible that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Having a diet high in prebiotics can help keep you fuller longer, lower the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease, and help give you stronger bones. Prebiotics are especially high in bananas, onions, raw garlic, and artichokes.

gut health

5.  Fruits & Vegetables
Jared Gold, Board-Certified Gastroenterologist at CentraState Medical Center 

Probably 75 percent of the symptoms and diseases we see can be controlled through a low fat diet. However, with the diet of the average American filled with processed, sugary and fatty foods, the gut can become damaged over time and less functional, becoming a safe haven for bad bacteria to grow exponentially.  If you consume more fruit, vegetables and other plant-based foods – it’s what your gut ultimately craves – you will build up protective good bacteria and help your gut health!

6.  Exercise
Jennie Lynn from Matrix Success Network

We need good circulation in our body and oxygenation for proper digestion.. To keep the metabolism humming, we need to exercise even if just moderately and this also promote waste removal through the lymphatic system, which empties into our gut for excretion. If we don’t have proper motility, this can cause autointoxication.

gut health

7.  Magnesium
Dr. Carolyn Dean, Author of “The Magnesium Miracle

In addition to Vitamin B, the mineral “Magnesium” is one of the key electrolytes and is an excellent way to boost digestion naturally. Magnesium activates enzymes that control digestion, absorption, and the utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Lack of this mineral causes improper utilization of food, leading to such far-ranging symptoms as cravings as well as hypoglycemia, anxiety, and weight gain. Not all forms of magnesium are easily absorbed by the body. Magnesium citrate powder is a highly absorbable form that can be mixed with hot or cold water and sipped at work or at home throughout the day. One brand of magnesium citrate powder is “Natural Calm.”

8.  Probiotic Supplements
Ron Ledoux DC, Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of  Blue Sky Vitamin

There are digestive enzyme supplements that one can take. Apple cider vinegar diluted in water is an excellent way to help increase HCL and digestion. Of course natural probiotic supplements by doctor-trusted brands are a great option. I’d recommend probiotic products from Klaire Labs, Protocol for Life Balance, and/or Metagenics.

gut health

9.  Kimchi
Wendy Cohen, RDN

Raw, organic sauerkraut, organic kimchi, organic chickpea miso and coconut kefir are great probiotic options. I recommend eating a 1/2 cup of raw, organic sauerkraut or kimchi to many of my clients with meals. It’s essentially a raw, fermented salad packed with nutrients, beneficial flora (probiotics) and enzymes to help improve digestion, increase immunity and energy, and combat constipation.

10. Apple Cider Vinegar
Alyssa Cohen, MS, RD, LDN and Founder of Fuel My Fit

Kombucha, along with other fermented foods (such as sauerkraut, pickles and pickled vegetables, kimchi, apple cider vinegar (that contains “the mother”), yogurt and kefir provide probiotics (beneficial bacteria), which can colonize in your gut and aid in digestion (among other benefits).

When choosing apple cider vinegar, it should be unfiltered, unpasteurized and contain the “mother” – the cloudy substance that, while it may look unpleasant, is actually where many of the health benefits are found. This murky substance is mostly comprised of enzymes and pectin (an important prebiotic – a type of fiber that feeds probiotics), and will contain probiotics from the fermentation process.

11.  Fiber
Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD  from Whole Body Reboot

Consuming soluble and insoluble fibers is key for good health and weight control. Soluble fiber is one of the foods that can help control your hunger by making you satisfied for longer periods of time. Soluble fiber is found in apples, oatmeal, beans, barley and Brussels sprouts, among others. Insoluble fiber “cleans you up” and makes you regular, resulting in a healthy gut. These fibers are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. So go at it!

gut health

12.  Unsweetened Yogurt
Rachel Goodman, RD CDN with Rachel Good Nutrition, LLC

Fermented foods will provide you with the microbes (probiotics) your gut needs to flourish. The fermentation process produces strains of bacteria that have been linked to lowering inflammation, better immunoregulation, lowering cholesterol, and increasing vitamin content in foods.

[Eat] yogurt with live cultures such as lactobacillus, but always read the nutrition facts as many brands tend to be packed with added sugars. Added sugars do the opposite of probiotic foods, they can wreak havoc on your microbiota and promote inflammation. Try having plain yogurt and adding fruit for sweetness. If that doesn’t do it for you, then add some maple syrup. The point is, you have control of sugar content and will almost always use less than what’s in the store bought flavored version.

While medical weight loss is a great way to jumpstart your metabolism and achieve your weight loss goals in a safe way, taking care of your gut health is also a great way to ensure that weight loss stays long term.  If you’re still trying to decide if medical weight loss is right for you, give us a call and we can walk you through the entire process.

 

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