Stress has a HUGE affect on how smoothly (pun intended) our gut functions.
When the stress hormone cortisol is spiked, our digestion stops working properly, backing us up and creating an imbalanced gut. If we live in a constant state of mild stress, it wreaks havoc on our gut.
Do one thing everyday that you love to help you manage your stress and feel more chill. Maybe it's a spin class, a 20 minute walk with the dogs, a daily breathing practice (see below for my fave), or read a book for 10 minutes with your favorite cup of tea- whatever helps your headspace. Stress management is at the top of the list for supporting your gut so make this a priority.
Favorite breathing exercise- 188.8.131.52
Breathe in for 4 counts - hold for 7 counts - out for 8 counts. Complete this series 4 times!
Try it while closing your eyes for extra chill vibes.
You are a busy human that struggles to get everything done in 24 hours, let alone actually cook your own food! But gut doctors and gastroenterologist have been screaming to the masses for years- if you want a healthy gut and digestive tract, you need to get in plants!
Soluble fiber feeds our good gut bacteria. The more diversely fed our gut bacteria is, the healthier our gut, thus our body, will be. Shoot for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber a day for women and 30 grams of fiber for men.
I'm talking the real stuff- fiber from plants- not from packaged goods that claim, "The miracle ice cream that has fiber!" It's not the same.
Load up on greens, veggies, fruit, beans, whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats), nuts, and seeds.
I know what you are thinking... "Sounds good, but how? I'm way too busy to cook my own food!"
I've got you.
Breakfast- Enjoy my overnight oats recipe (below) that contains 15 grams of fiber- you're halfway to your daily goal! (BTW, it takes 5 minutes to make for the week, you can do that.)
Lunch/Dinner- Have at least 3 other servings of fruits or veggies (avocado, raspberries, and apples are particularly high in fiber and really good together in a smoothie) and one serving of a grain or legume and you are covered! My favorite go-to meal is my Pantry Style Burrito Bowl. It is loaded with fiber and easy to make once and eat throughout the week.
You already get in a good amount of real foods which are a cornerstone of gut health. Soluble fiber from fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is already in your routine.
Give yourself a pat on the back or take a sec to brush yo shoulders off- whichever is more your style.
Now, it's time to kick it up a notch and get fermented food into your daily routine. Store bought kombucha is ok but it's got loads of sugar which does the opposite of supporting gut health.
I'm talking raw sauerkraut, kimchi, or braised veggies. Fruits and veggies have soluble fiber that helps feed good bacteria in our gut. But to get the good bacteria into our gut in the first place, we need probiotics through supplements and fermented foods. Without a daily dose of probiotics, our gut just doesn't function and we start to have strange side affects (allergies, skin issues, brain fog, low energy, etc.).
Start by looking for sauerkraut at your local Whole Foods, health store, or even grocery store. You want the kind that is in the refrigerated section (usually around the tofu and vegan stuff) and only has cabbage, salt, and water.
DO NOT grab the shelf stable stuff you typically see at a potluck to throw on top of hot dogs. If it has vinegar in it, it isn't raw and you don't get the good gut stuff.
Once you feel comfortable getting sauerkraut into your daily routine (start with 2 tablespoons a day until you work up to about 1/2 a cup), give kimchi a try or even go for braised veggies. If you can make these at home you will get even more health benefits and save some serious cash money!
My favorite way to get sauerkraut in? Thrown in my scrambled eggs in the morning. It's salty and delish.
I get it. You are busy. You have a million things to juggle and sitting down to an actual table and actually paying attention to your meal is low on the totem pole of things to get done throughout the day.
But your gut and digestive system are suffering because it isn't happening.
Our gut starts in our mouth. When we are chewing food, our mouth produces digestive enzymes. These enzymes help breakdown our food, opening them up so that our gut can absorb the nutrients, digest them easily, and then get them to exit our system smoothly.
If you aren't taking time to chew your food well, it makes it much harder for our body to digest. It has to work overtime to get the food through our system, making us feel tired from the extra energy being exerted (80% of our energy is spent on digestion and even more when we aren't chewing well!) and keeping our body from being able to use that energy on things like growing healthy skin and hair.
Additionally, if we aren't chewing our food well, the nutrients aren't broken down and ready to be absorbed in our gut. It doesn't matter how healthy the food is that we are eating if our gut can't absorb the nutrients from said food. Low nutrient absorption leads to things like skin issues, allergies, brain fog, and low quality sleep.
What to do?
Two times a day, sit down to an actual table and chew each bite of food until it is liquified. This will probably be 20-40 bites, depending on what you are eating.
Bonus points: Have your meals screen free and share gratitude for your meal.
Once this becomes habit it will be your favorite part of your routine!