How I Finally Started to 'Heal' My Gut -- Sharing my journey to better gut health & my tips for how to heal your gut through diet, fitness, and daily life changes.
This post is sponsored by Great Lakes Gelatin in partnership with Fit Approach and the #SweatPink community. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Today I have a bit of a different recipe for you today, and it's all about GUT HEALTH!
If you've been following along with me for a while now, you'll know I'm no stranger to stomach issues, and my everlasting quest to try and get to the bottom of them. I spent many nights with a sets of bloat twins twisting my innards while I tried pinning down what could have caused this stomach spell THIS time.
I've tried just about EVERYTHING. Low FODMAPs. Gluten-Free. Dairy-Free. Gluten and Dairy Free. Low carb. Whole 30. Fasting. If it mentioning anything about helping the gut, I did it. Some things helped, a lot didn't, and just left me feeling more restricted and frustrated.
I got tested A LOT in the process. From ultrasounds, to SIBO testing (not fun), everything came back hunky dory. While of course it's nice knowing you don't have anything serious going on, it didn't do anything for the constant bloating and stomach pain I was getting every single night.
After lots of trial and error, I seem to have found myself in a good place with my gut. While I can't say I don't have my days (don't we all?), for the most part, my stomach and I are on speaking terms now. So why not share what works for me. Here's to hoping my long and frustrating journey to 'healing' (I say that in quotations since it was never really broken, but rather getting it back on track) my gut can help someone take a shortcut to feeling better. Here's the steps I took to naturally start improving my gut health that I do every day.
I manage stress.
Oh, stress. You bugger, you. I can tell you right now that stress was the cause of probably 80% of my gut issues. When my stomach really started to bother me, I was in a long-distance relationship, away from family, not really knowing where my life would end up, and all the other questions that pick at your brain along the way.
On top of that, my stomach hurt. The more my stomach hurt, the more attention I gave to it, which only made matters worse. So I took action.
I started making the connection that stress affected me through my gut. Stress manifests differently for everyone, and mine just happened to be in my stomach. Great.
Meditation can be a powerful tool for managing and lowering stress, and is one of the most available ( and free) services you can give yourself for such. I use the Headspace app, which is a guided meditation service (with a British accent I might add), and try to meditate for 10 minutes most every day of the week. I use the free version, because frankly, they all sounds the same to me, and I'm cheap. Especially when I'm feeling a bit more frazzled, I can feel such a difference after a 10 minute meditation sesh.
I found my trigger foods.
After eliminating a TON of foods throughout the process, I found that most of the time, my stomach still bothered me. These types of "diets" left me felt frustrated and restricted, which is definitely not a place I want to put myself again.
What I did do though was take note of foods I commonly ate that I noticed an increase in stomach pain or bloating with. For me, those tend to be:
- Sweet potato skins
- Raw carrots (NOOOO!!!)
- Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale)
Now a few of these will give just about anyone some bloat-age (I'm looking at you beans and broccoli), so as long as I don't overdo it, I'm usually fine.
I also don't eliminate ANY of these foods from my diet. The key thing is, I'm aware. I know if I eat eggs three days in a row, I will feel their wrath, or if I indulge in one too many of my Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Skins that I will be have a bloat baby for the rest of the night. Such a dietitian term, but moderation is big for this one. Looks like broccoli and kale salads aren't anywhere in my near future.
I added healing movement.
YOGA. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, yoga changed my life. I refer to it as moving meditation, because your mind is so focused on your body and breathing much like meditation, but you're strengthening and lengthening it in the process.
Keeping a steady yoga practice (2-4 times a week), as well as getting outside for a walk most days has been extremely helpful. It gives you time to move your body, but not stress it out. I take the time outside to catch up on my podcast listening, and have used Yoga with Adriene on Youtube for 90% of my yoga practice. Living right down the street from a yoga studio has encouraged me to step outside of my living room a bit, but cannot say enough good stuff about Adriene. She is a yoga goddess.
I stopped trying.
Another big thing that helped. Not giving AF. Yeah, I gave up. I gave up cutting out foods I loved. I gave up worrying. I gave up having an issue.
Taking my mind off of focusing so much time and attention to my gut, in turn helped heal it. It didn't give it so much power over my life. I focused on the good that I had instead, and if my stomach hurt, I took note. But that's it.
Stop google searching. And self-diagnosing. Start living. Do the things you enjoy. Eat what you like (as long as it is not a serious allergy, but you knew that, right?). Have fun. I don't want people to wonder if I ever figured out what was wrong with my gut when I leave this earth. I want them to think I had a damn good time.
I added gut-healthy foods.
I saved this one for last, because I think it should be last on the list. Start with your mind, THEN move on to your diet. I'm sorry to say that there is no cure-all food out there, but they do help. These foods and additions to my diet help me stay where I am, but not if I didn't focus on all the above first. Some of the things that I try to include most everyday are:
- Probiotics. Seriously, only because I won like, a lifetime supply of them. Even so, I've been taking one every morning, and like to think all those happy, healthy gut buggers are doing some good down there. I also try to eat fermented foods with natural probiotics such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
- Turmeric & Ginger. Along with cinnamon, these are spices I truly enjoy, and have no issue sprinkling on my morning oatmeal, or my latest obsession of golden milk (more on that later). They just also happen to be great for the gut. As I say, they can't hurt, right?
- Collagen. I know collagen is one of the latest crazes out there today, but it is one I can get behind. Plus, I can definitely notice a difference in my dry and brittle nails when I use it regularly. While there's no scientific studies outlining collagen and gut health, I use it primarily for it's other benefits, that go along with other gut health-promoting ingredients like the above. I usually add a scoop of Great Lakes Collagen to my morning cup of coffee, my oatmeal, or my latest obsession, golden milk!
If you've never tried, or even heard of golden milk, it gets its inspiration from India, but is a pretty Westernized version of the traditional haldi doodh, but I do still love it. It is much like a latte made with turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger instead of coffee. It is spicy like a chai, but a little more earthy thanks to the turmeric. I have been obsessed with them lately, and added a little more oomph with some added collagen.
Make it a great day!
Have you ever suffered from gut issues?
Are you a collagen fan? What's your favorite way to use it?