Improve Your Gut Health Naturally With These At-Home Remedies
You’re here because you or a loved one suffers from one form of digestive health issue or another. Prescription medications have provided little to no reprieve and you want sustainable, long-term solutions.
You’re not alone.
Twenty million Americans suffer from disorders of the gastrointestinal tract that range from the occasional upset stomach to acute and life-threatening colon cancer. The most common forms of digestive issues include:
- Acid reflux
- Gas or bloating
- Lactose intolerance
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- “Lazy bowel” or slowed digestion
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Don’t suffer in silence anymore. Learn how you can improve your digestive health naturally with tried and tested at-home remedies that’ll alleviate symptoms and offer intestinal support, such as:
- Consuming high-fiber foods
- Keeping hydrated
- Consuming “good bacteria”
- Hitting the gym
- Scheduling mealtimes
Stay until the end because I’ll recommend a suitable supplement that may remedy various gut ailments, for example, leaky gut syndrome. I’ll also give you tips on how to stay prepared for those unexpected digestive emergencies.
1: Consume High-Fiber Foods
If “irregular movement” is cramping your style, you need to up your recommended fiber intake by:
- 25-grams per 1,000 calories for women
- 38-grams per 1,000 calories for men
Eating a variety of soluble and insoluble fiber-rich foods, also called roughage or “bulk,” may alleviate digestive health concerns like constipation, diarrhea, and gas.
- Soluble fiber, known for lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, dissolves in water, creating a gel-type texture that makes your stool softer and easier to pass with less strain on your bowel.
- Insoluble fiber will add bulk to your “number 2,” which you want, as this promotes movement throughout your GI tract.
Consider also fiber-rich plant-based foods. They’re known to support gut health and boast many health benefits, including weight management and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Below is a list of ideal sources of soluble and insoluble) dietary fiber.
Almonds — 17.9 grams per cup
Lentils — 15.6 grams per cup
Avocado — 10 grams in 1 cup
Chia seeds — 9.75 grams in 2 tablespoons
Collard greens — 5.6 grams per cup
One large apple — 5 grams of fiber
Oats — 4 grams of fiber per ½ cup
Cooked spinach — 4 grams of fiber per cup
Fresh strawberries — 3 grams per 1 cup
2: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Heat exposure and certain medications, including excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, are examples of factors that can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration, in turn, causes the stomach to produce digestive acids that result in gut issues such as ulcers, gastritis, and acid reflux. Dehydration is also known to cause gastrointestinal tract (GI) problems such as:
- Halitosis or “bad breath” — A medical condition that causes a decrease in saliva production leads to Dysphagia, which gives you a feeling of “food being stuck in your throat.”
- Constipation from dehydration means there’s not enough water in your stool, resulting in hard, dry, and lumpy stools that lead to constipation. Not pleasant at all.
- Bloating from electrolyte imbalances and dehydration leads to constipation and even halts digestion, resulting in bloating.
Tip: Your body loses water through bowel movements, urine, and sweating. Aim to drink at least 3.7 liters and 2.7 liters per day for men and women.
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”
- Anthropologist, Loren Eiseley
If you’re not too big on drinking plain water, flavor it with a squeeze of lemon, or crush some raspberries or blackberries into the water.
3: Load Up on Probiotic-Rich Foods
Probiotics, found primarily in yogurt and various fermented foods, may affect the body in different ways, including:
- Produce live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that fight off bad bacteria to keep your body healthy
- Influence your body’s systemic immune response effectively, fights cells that cause disease
- Help your body digest food and, according to the NCCIH, ease diarrhoea, constipation, ulcerative colitis, and periodontal disease.
So, which probiotics are good for your digestive well-being? Also known as “good bacteria,” consuming probiotic-rich dairy products such as yogurt and kefir may help:
- Aid digestion for improved gut health
- Support your immune function
- Mitigate systemic inflammation
- Restore the balance within your body
- Alleviate depression and improve skin health
You might already be consuming probiotics through some of the most common strains of bacteria, such as:
- Yogurts containing L. acidophilus. The FDA associates this source of beneficial ‘live and active cultures’ with supporting the immune system. An August 2020 meta-analysis published in the journal Food Bioscience found that Acidophilus found in yogurt, milk, miso, and tempeh can help support the digestive system.
- Bifidobacterium — Found in yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, miso, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, tempeh, pickles, kimchi, including some wines, vinegar, and cured meats. According to the 2017 journal Nutrients, Bifidobacterium may help reduce inflammation and even support immune health in older adults, too
Pro Tip: Increasing your probiotics intake through consuming the foods mentioned above may help mitigate GI tract flare-ups such as:
- Yeast infections
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
While probiotic-rich foods have the best effect on the gut biome, probiotics can also be taken as supplements or to fortify foods where they don’t naturally occur. If you must take an over-the-counter probiotic, ensure your doctor prescribes it for a specific digestive health issue.
According to Cleveland Clinic, starting or taking too many probiotics, especially for someone with a compromised immune system, may:
- Cause gas or bloating
- Lead to constipation or diarrhoea
- Make you sicker or harder for your body to heal
How To Consume a Probiotic Supplement
A probiotic supplement comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Foods (as above mentioned)
- Drinks such as yogurt, milk, buttermilk, kefir, and vinegar
- Over-the-counter pills
- Powders and liquids
You can also take what’s known as Synbiotic ﹘ when a probiotic supplement is combined with prebiotics, which are complex carbohydrates that keep the microorganisms in your gut healthy.
Prebiotics include inulin, pectin and resistant starches.
Pro Tip: As you consume plenty of probiotic-rich foods for digestive health, it is equally important to keep your gut bacteria fed and happy. Therefore, up your prebiotic intake with inulin-friendly foods such as:
- Oats and barley
- Onions and leeks
- Chicory root
- Bananas and apples
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Dandelion greens
4: Boost Your Metabolism for a Better Digestion
Did you know that exercise affects gut flora balance and improves quality of life, specifically for people with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease?
Check out these key points from the peer-reviewed journal of the Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews.
Also, according to recent studies by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)is part of the United States National Library of Medicine:
“Exercise can enhance the number of beneficial microbial species, enrich the microflora diversity, and improve the development of commensal bacteria.”
Think of your gut microbiome (flora) as a garden that has both beautiful flowers (“good bacteria”) and weeds (“bad bacteria”). Numerous factors, including your diet, can impact the bacteria found in your digestive tract.
Keeping your stress down, consuming a fiber-rich diet, hydrating, taking probiotics, minimizing antibiotic use, and exercising have the potential to optimize your gut flora while preventing the overgrowth of bad bacteria and protecting your immune system.
So, even a 30-minute walk after eating will boost peristalsis — an intestinal activity that stimulates the gut to speed up the transit time it takes to move food along the digestive tract.
Some of the best workouts you can take up to improve your gut health include:
- Brisk walking for at least 30-minutes to an hour to help stimulate intestinal contraction for ease of passing stool throughout the colon.
- Sit-ups or crunches are ideal for healthy digestion as both strengthen the bowel movement and intestines, thus preventing digestive issues such as gas and bloating.
- Cycling not only helps reduce belly fat, but it’s also effective in the smooth functioning of the digestive system.
- Yoga combined with mindful breathing and meditation can help stimulate your rest-and-digest system, also known as the parasympathetic nervous system, to promote overall mind-body wellness.
Examples of Yoga Poses for Digestive Health
Seated Twist yoga pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana) to help promote bowel movement and alleviate gas and bloating.
Seated Side Bend (Parsva Sukhasana) to help support general digestion while also stretching belly muscles, obliques, shoulders, lower and upper back.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) for general digestion and posture support
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) takes the shape of an archer’s bow. It not only aids digestion and constipation but also alleviates menstrual cramps and helps stretch your back.
Yoga is generally safe. However, it may not be suitable if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have a back or neck injury
- Have high blood pressure
If this is the case, the next point will be just what the doctor ordered.
5: Supplement With L-Glutamine
You might be wondering, isn’t L-Glutamine used in the fitness industry to aid weight loss, burn fat and help preserve muscle tissue? You’re right.
L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid that’s a building block of protein, needed by your body in large amounts. Studies also indicate that L-Glutamine benefits are wide-ranging, and regular supplementation may:
- Promote brain health
- Promote digestive health
- Boost athletic performance
- Treat intestinal issues such as leaky gut
Glutamine is readily-available in:
- Animal proteins such as chicken, lamb, venison, and turkey
- Plant-based proteins such as lentils and beans, red cabbage, tofu, beets proteins, raw spinach, and parsley
- Seafood sources such as mussels, shrimps, crabs
- Wild-caught fish like cod and salmon
- Bone broth
While the body naturally produces glutamine from glutamic acid or glutamate, your doctor may recommend supplementation if they suspect that you’re deficient.
Replenishing glutamine levels with 5 to 10-grams, taken twice daily, will curb a variety of digestive health issues, including:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- An inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease
- Problems associated with leaky gut such as joint pain, rosacea, or any autoimmune response issues
L-Glutamine is safe to use. However, when taking oral glutamine long-term, it’s advisable to supplement with vitamin B12 to help control glutamine buildup in the body.
L-Glutamine Buying Guide
Here is what you need to look out for when purchasing L-Glutamine online or from your local drugs store:
- “100% Plant Based L-Glutamine” should be listed as the primary ingredient on the packaging. You’ll get the most out of the product because the active ingredient will break down and absorb into your body faster.
- L-Glutamine Source: L-Glutamine supplements come from a variety of sources, such as GMO corn and shellfish. Look for Fermented Plant Source L-glutamine. It’s superior to others as it involves fermenting plant products, breaking them down to make them super fine and bioavailable.
- Powdered OR Capsules: Choose powdered L-Glutamine. It doesn’t contain any substances used in making gel capsules such as Magnesium Stearate and cellulose that may further irritate your gut issues.
With powdered L-glutamine, you can choose the right dose for your condition, dilute it in water and drink it.
For accurate Dosage Instructions, consult an expert if it’s your first time taking L-glutamine. Otherwise, the recommended dosage when using L-Glutamine for:
- Gut health — 5 and 20 grams on an empty stomach or between mealtimes with water
- Muscle growth — 5 to 20g of L-Glutamine per day
- Weight Loss — between 70 to 100mg per kg of body weight
- Sugar Cravings — a serving size of 3 g is sufficient
Do Not Compromise Your Digestive Health
Keep these tips in mind for a healthy gut:
- Eat probiotic foods containing digestion-enhancing live bacteria cultures to promote healthy gut health (as stated earlier).
- Allocate 30-minutes a day for exercising — This will increase metabolism and boost the peristalsis process.
- Limit foods that slow peristalsis, such as meats, white sugar, and white flour, that move slowly through the digestive tract. Instead, consume lean meats such as pork loin and skinless poultry and include fiber-rich foods such as leafy greens, fresh fruits, and whole grains to help stimulate bowel movement.
- Limit or quit smoking, drinking alcohol, and caffeinated beverages as you’re likely to experience GI issues such as heartburn and stomach ulcers.
- Downing at least 8 glasses of water daily, or 3.7 liters and 2.7 liters per day for men and women, will significantly improve transit time.
A longer transit time of more than 72-hours can cause toxic waste to be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. Ultimately, this will irritate your colon and increase the risk of developing colonic diseases such as diverticulitis and ulcerative colitis.
- Eat your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks on a schedule to give your stomach optimal time to digest food and balance your resting blood sugar.
Eating around the same time will also:
- Help curb overeating which often leads to indigestion and bloating.
- Create a more sustained energy source as your metabolism remains engaged every 3 to 4 hours.
- Encourage you to eat a balanced diet because you’ll have time to plan your meals ahead of time.
- Take L-Glutamine supplements, especially if you suffer from chronic GI disorders, such as Crohn’s disease and stress-related irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Frequently Asked Questions
What can aggravate some digestive issues?
In addition to poor food hygiene and a lack of a balanced diet, stress can also interfere with the growth of “good bacteria” in your intestines, which negatively impacts gut movement, causing GI discomfort.
Learn to manage stress with yoga, meditation, or a relaxing hobby.
What are the most common digestive triggers?
Apart from what you eat and drink, some painkillers, antidepressants, and antibiotics may cause digestive issues.
If you’re susceptible to digestive flare-ups, keep a journal of what you eat and the medicines you take, and discuss these concerns with your doctor.
How can I prepare for digestive emergencies?
Keep an emergency kit that contains:
- Probiotics + prebiotics (Synbiotic) to help re-balance your digestive ecosystem
- Colloidal silver to mitigate fungus, viruses, and other harmful bacteria
- Fast-acting antacids to alleviate gas, bloating, or diarrhoea
- An extra pair of underwear, disposable pads (for incontinence), dry or wet wipes, and plastic bags to dispose of soiled clothes
- L-Glutamine supplements to help boost gut immunity and resistance to infection and inflammation