There’s no point knowing the problems if we can’t formulate a solution. If any of the warning signs look familiar to you, that’s actually good news because now you can take action to improve the health of your gut and thereby the health of your whole body, including your brain. You may even prevent new medical conditions from arising and even reverse conditions that have bothered you for years.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to re-balance your gut bacteria in four not-as-easy-as-it-sounds, but simple steps:
Step 1 must be Stop The Sugar. Refined sugars feed the bad bacteria, encouraging them to grow and grow and grow. Sugar contributes to the acidity of the environment of the intestine, an environment in which pathogens, parasites and bacteria thrive. Changing this internal environment requires removing other toxic foods including:
Conventional Dairy from Grain Fed cows
Unhealthy oils including Canola and Sunflower oil, and heated olive oil
Stick to a diet focused on vegetables, free-range animal protein and fruits, and you’ll recreate a gut environment that’s friendly for good bacteria and unfriendly for bad bacteria.
It’s also a good idea to avoid modern toxins including but not exclusively:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil and Ibuprofen
Antibiotics (as much as possible)
Pesticides including skin sprays like Peaceful Sleep, and household cleaning chemicals – these disrupt the bacterial environment of the skin but also penetrate this barrier; what goes on goes in, for sure.
Step 2: Avoiding toxic foods and environmental toxins is a great start, laying the foundation for building optimal health. The next step is to get proactive about encouraging good gut bacteria to flourish. One of the best ways is to eat more fermented foods. These foods, commonplace in our ancestors’ diets and completely absent in ours, are full of good gut bacteria and their growth-promoting nutrients.
Great fermented foods include:
Lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables
Non-pasteurized yogurt, cheese, and kefir
*buying any of these in a can or a bottle from a supermarket means your product has been pasteurised, and all the good bacteria have died in the process. If you purchase from a health shop you are more likely to find unpasteurised versions of these uber-healthy foods*
Going from eating no sauerkraut to say… two or three bowls a day might sound like a good idea. But resist the temptation! Adding too many fermented foods too quickly can create some nasty side effects. Start small — a teaspoon or two a day and work your way up to give your gut time to adjust. The same applies to kefir and kombucha because it tastes delicious so it’s easy to overdo it.
Step 3: Even though you’re eating fermented foods, you still need to take Probiotic Supplements
In addition to eating fermented foods (a great natural source of good gut bacteria), you can restore your gut health faster by taking a daily probiotic supplement. Our ancestors were a lot less concerned with hygiene than we are. This actually helped them pick up plenty of good gut bacteria along with the soil and other dirty things they encountered. You can use probiotic supplements to “make up” for that lost good bacteria. No eating dirt needed!
There’s a wide range of probiotic supplements available. And just like with gut bacteria, some are better than others. We love E.M Probiotica and The Real Thing Probiotic capsules. Stay away from “bargain bin” prices. You get what you pay for.
Step 4 is Manage Your Stress
The second most powerful thing you can do to improve your gut health (besides changing your diet) is to make “stress management” a priority. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all method to do this. The key is to pick something you enjoy and stick with it. Making time to manage your stress — whether you feel stressed or not — will reduce inflammation, lower cortisol levels, and improve your gut health.
And make sure to get enough sleep! A sleep deficit raises cortisol levels (and harms the gut) just like any other type of stress. Try for at least 7 hours a night.
More science is emerging every day connecting issues with the gut to issues throughout the body and mind. That’s good news for you! With knowledge and smart action, you can quite literally heal yourself from the inside out. The recipe for a healthy gut is simple. Avoid toxic foods and substances, add in some fermented foods and probiotics, and make managing your stress a priority. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Changing your gut just might be the first step to changing your life .