Holistic Family Doctor Guide for Improving Gut Health
Holistic family doctors call the gut the “second brain” due to its immense impact on all over health. In addition to its effects on biological functions such as nutrient absorption, the gut also plays a role in immune system response, emotions, and neurological functioning.
This makes maintaining gut health a key part of achieving optimal functional, integrative health.
Holistic Guide to Gut Health
As with all systems in the body, the health of your gut is impacted not only by physical factors but by emotional and mental factors as well. In this holistic guide to gut health, we discuss how to approach your gut health using a whole-person approach that encompasses mind, body, and emotions.
1 – Improve Your Diet
One of the first steps in improving your holistic gut health is improving your diet. In most cases this means:
- Identify food allergens and triggers
- Minimizing processed foods in your diet
- Reduce sugars and refined carbohydrates
- Increase natural dietary fiber
- Focus on organic grass-fed meats
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Add fermented foods to your diet such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
- Evaluate your digestive process—are you making enough enzymes and HCI to digest foods?
The purpose of improving your diet is to ensure your body is receiving the nutrients it needs while reducing toxins, avoiding inflammatory foods, and supporting a healthy microbiome.
2 – Heal and Support Your Microbiome
In most cases, eating a healthy well-balanced diet keeps your microbiome optimal. However, there are some cases in which a person can benefit from adding probiotics to their diet, such as if you’re recovering from poor dietary habits, have health issues that prevent you from absorbing some nutrients, are experiencing leaky gut syndrome, or have recently taken antibiotics.
When looking for the right probiotics to add to your diet, make sure they are low in sugar as sugar can feed candida in your gut. If you’re if you should be adding probiotics to your diet or are unsure which probiotics to consider, speak with your holistic health care provider.
3 – Decrease Inflammation
Another contributor to poor gut health is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation from underlying infections, stress, or allergies can trigger or exacerbate leaky gut, can cause damage to healthy tissues, and can impact nutrient absorption. You can help to reduce inflammation and rebalance your body by:
- Identifying food allergies or sensitivities and taking steps to remove those foods from your diet
- Avoiding inflammatory foods such as gluten or overly-processed foods
- Identifying and healing underlying infections such as sinus infections or yeast infections
4 – Improve Stress Management
While physical factors play a role in your gut health, true holistic gut health includes mental health as well. This is because there is a gut-brain connection that links the state of your gut to the state of your mind. Prolonged or excessive stress can wreak havoc not only on your overall health. That’s because chronic stress can cause inflammation in the body as well as decreasing your immunity. This is why stress management is an important part of holistic gut health. To manage stress, consider:
- Reducing stressors
- Improving sleep quality
5 – Hydrate
Keeping your body well-hydrated is also important in holistic gut health. Not only does hydration play an important role in digestion but it also impacts cell health, can help heal a leaky gut, and contributes to immunity. A good rule of thumb is to drink half the number of your weight in pounds in fluid ounces each day.
6 – Eat Mindfully
It is also important to implement the habit of eating mindfully. This can help prevent overeating as well as ensure you’re chewing your food properly. In addition, you should try not to eat when feeling stressed as your body is less equipped to digest food properly when in the fight or flight mode associated with stress.
How can we help?
Are you unsure where to start with holistic gut health or are you currently experiencing adverse health conditions that may be caused by or exacerbated by poor gut health? Let us know. We’d be happy to provide more information about holistic gut health or to schedule an appointment with one of our holistic integrative functional doctors.