I’m obsessed with gut health, but only because I had to be.
A few years ago, my gut was such a mess that I had to make some changes. I was experiencing all kinds of symptoms like rashes, horrible acne, food sensitivities, Candida overgrowth, anxiety, foggy brain, digestive issues, and more.
Unless you have a serious digestive issue, the topic of gut health doesn’t really come up, which is honestly pretty tragic.
Your gut is considered your second brain because it is home to over 100 million neurons. Your gut communicates to your brain and the central nervous system. Think: hormones, mental health, immune system, and more.
Our society has normalized a lot of things that contribute to poor gut health, which is why there is an epidemic of leaky gut anddigestive issues.
I’m going to walk you through the in’s and out’s of what gut health is, why it matters, and some simple thins you can do to benefit yours!
Your gut is not an organ, but instead a few different organs make up your gut or “Gastrointestinal Tract.” These organs include your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus.
In the Gut, nearly 500 different kinds of bacteria have set up camp. Some of these are “bad” bacteria and some are “good” – but together they ideally live in perfect harmony, called the microbiome. Everyone’s microbiome is entirely different and unique – it is determined by your mother’s microbiome at birth, and then from lifestyle and dietary choices after that.
The bacteria in your GI Tract affect everything in your body, from hormones to metabolism to mood to your immune system.
If this perfect harmony is thrown off, it can mean chaos for you.
You don’t need to wait until you’re sick, covered in a rash, and anxious as hell like I was, to start taking care of your gut. There are a lot of things that you can and should do.
Step one, elimination diet. Food sensitivities are a leading cause of poor gut health. If you continue to eat the foods you’re sensitive to, it’s like picking at a scab – your GI Tract is the scab and the food you’re sensitive to is- okay nevermind you probably get it. So eliminating potentially problematic foods (as in, foods that are most likely to irritate the gut), can help you figure out what is causing you issues. Many of the foods that cause me issues never showed up on bloodwork, but I had to figure them out through elimination – essentially, trial and error. CLEAN Program has a great guided elimination diet program!
Fermented foods. Foods like sauerkraut and kefir have been shown to improve gut bacteria more than a probiotic pill, and I can vouch for how great they are. Try to consume some source of a fermented food daily. These fermented foods include kombucha, full-fat yogurt, kefir (coconut, dairy, or water based), and sauerkraut. As with any food, variety is so important, so make sure you’re mixing it up and not relying on once source, because each food has its own strains and bacterias (for example, the probiotics in yogurt are not the total that you need, so don’t rely just on yogurt).
A good probiotic and prebiotic. While I don’t believe this to be the save-all that it is made out to be, there are benefits to taking a probiotic and a prebiotic. Find one that suits you and your lifestyle and then just roll with it for a while and see how it makes you feel. I’ve found that not one probiotic fits all, so just do you.
A few brands I really like:
Dr. Axe – probiotic only, use code ‘CALEESHEA’ for 20% off
BIOHM – probiotic and prebiotic sold together, use code ‘CALEESHEA’ for 20% off
Seed – formulated specifically for female or male
Garden of Life – has to be refrigerated, not optimal for travel, they have lots of different types of probiotic “types”
Please know that anything I recommend to you it is because I’ve tried it and genuinely loved it! I work with certain companies because I love their products.
Stress management. I believe that is what held me back from healing. When I’m not properly taking care of my mental health, I turn into emotional mush. Gotta work those theta waves I guess! Some things you can do for stress management: meditation, self-care, exercise, and getting enough sleep!
These tips should be able to help you maintain a healthy gut, and I encourage you to continue to do your research and understand your gut as best as possible!
If you suspect that you have an unhealthy gut and it is causing you discomfort and/ or pain, I encourage you to do your research and find a healthcare provider that specializes in gut health.
Calee Shea is a Holistic Health Practioner based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is your go-to gal for all things periods, vaginal health, and sex.