If you’ve been diagnosed with any chronic illness that affects your digestion, then this is for you. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at 17 years old in 2017. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack the villi in the small intestine when consuming gluten. This makes it hard for your body to digest nutrients from your food, often causing nutrient deficiencies, which affect your overall health. Since my diagnosis I have been on a long journey of figuring out what works for my body, and how to fix my gut health. Maintaining your gut health is incredibly important, when your gut isn’t healthy it jeopardizes the health of the rest of your body and can cause autoimmune disorders, skin problems, sleep problems, brain fog, and so much more. The first step to healing your gut, is to consistently eat a healthy whole food diet . It is incredibly important that you maintain your healthy diet, if you go back to your old ways when you start to feel better, your problems will come back and they may be worse than before. That being said, I know we all have foods that we really like that aren’t good for us, so instead of completely cutting them out, find ways to make them healthier, find healthy alternatives, or minimize how much you consume. If you have Celiac Disease, do not continue to eat gluten, this will cause more long-term damage. There are so many amazing gluten-free alternatives to most things, and there are many amazing recipes that you can find online.
Things That Promote Good Digestion
Cooked Vegetables. Raw vegetables are very hard to digest, so instead try eating more cooked vegetables, steamed vegetables are especially good for you because you aren’t losing all the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables by boiling them.
Tea. Herbal teas are amazing for your gut. Peppermint, ginger, fennel, dandelion root, chamomile, pu-erh, green tea, and oolong tea are just a few great teas that help to aid in digestion. You can find many great digestive blends at most grocery stores. If you are pregnant or nursing, please make sure these are safe for you.
Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years. Kombucha is amazing for digestion. This is one of my favorite ways to get some probiotics in my system. I like to take a few sips after eating any meal. If you have acid reflux, I would suggest only drinking a few sips at a time, because kombucha is acidic. If you are pregnant or nursing ask your doctor before consuming.
Kefir. Kefir is a fermented drink usually made of cows or goat's milk. This is full of amazing probiotics that will promote a healthy gut. If you don’t like dairy products, you can find water kefir. I personally prefer water kefir, because I try not to consume much dairy. Water kefir is also a great alternative for kombucha if you prefer something less acidic.
Probiotics and Prebiotics. A probiotic supplement is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are getting adequate probiotics. Try to get a probiotic that has prebiotics in it. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feed the healthy bacteria in your stomach, usually you get your probiotics through foods such as apples, onions, garlic, asparagus, dandelion greens and leeks. If you don’t eat these foods everyday it’s beneficial to include a prebiotic with your probiotic.
Fermented foods. Fermented foods are natural probiotics, there is a huge variety of fermented foods to choose from that all aid in promoting good gut bacteria. Yogurt, miso, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, and pickles are just a few to get you started. Here is a great article on how to make all kinds of fermented foods.
Fiber. Fiber is another one that feeds your healthy gut bacteria, eating more wholegrains, fruits, and vegetables will give you plenty of healthy fiber.
Healthy fats. Healthy fats not only promote gut health, but they are also amazing for your brain health. Don’t be afraid of the word “fat” in healthy fats, your body needs healthy fats to function, and this kind of fat will be used by your body. Here is a great article about different kinds of healthy fats and how they’re good for you.
Drink water. Staying hydrated is shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, it also helps to keep your good gut bacteria healthy.
Chew your food. When we chew our food, our mouths create a digestive enzyme called amylase that helps to break down food. It is important to make sure you chew your food enough, so that it breaks down into smaller particles and mixes with the amylase.
Exercise. Exercising helps to move food through the digestive tract.
Things To Limit
Alcohol. Alcohol can diminish your stomach's ability to kill harmful bacteria, it can cause you to develop acid reflux, and it damages your liver.
Antibiotics. We all need antibiotics sometimes, but because they can’t tell between good and bad gut bacteria, they end up killing both. During and after taking antibiotics you should focus on eating foods that will replenish your good gut bacteria.
Sugar. Too much sugar kills good gut bacteria, and creates an imbalance that will leave you craving more sugar. Try to focus on eating more fruit sugars. Fruit sugars are beneficial and will help to curb your cravings
Processed foods. Processed foods kill good gut bacteria, try to follow an 80/20 rule. Eat 80% healthy, whole foods, and save 20% for less beneficial foods.
Spicy foods. Spicy foods irritate the lining of the stomach and can cause diarrhea and acid reflux.
Coffee. Too much coffee can cause diarrhea, leaky gut, and acid reflux. Coffee does have good benefits too, try to only drink one cup a day.